If you’re looking for the best scroll saw for your woodworking crafts and projects, you’re in the right place. Although most of the models available for professionals can cost thousands of dollars, the market now offers several mid-range priced models to choose from.
In a rush? Then check the quick picks below. Get your feet wet with the budget option from WEN or go straight for the top of the range Excalibur. If you’re still not sure, check all the reviews below.
Table of Contents
- Quick picks
- Best Scroll Saw in 2020
- Buying Guide
Best Scroll Saw in 2020
Let’s have a closer look at the best scroll saws that are available on the market. For those of you who are just starting the scrolling adventure, I’ve prepared a short guide to help you understand what features you should look for in a perfect scroll saw.
Best overall-Excalibur 16″Tilting Head Scroll Saw
The smallest of the 3 Excalibur models has a 16in throat and can work with materials up to 32in. The surface of the table is rectangular and, therefore, bigger compared to other 16in saws. Unlike other models, it stays flat at all times. To make a beveled cut, you tilt the head 30° left or 45°.
You also get the dust blower and dust collection port with a shute to collect the sawdust through the holes in the table.
This saw that it’s very easy to set up, runs very smoothly, and has virtually no vibrations. This makes it very quiet to the point that you can easily have a conversation without raising your voice.
Its compact size and lightweight make it quite portable. Still, at the same time, the high quality of the materials used in this machine means it is a very solid piece of equipment. Did I mention no vibrations even without bolting it down?
Easy access to the top and bottom arm makes the blade changes quick and easy. And no tools necessary. This is important if you do a lot of fretwork. The lifting arm makes it even easier.
The tilting head is awesome- the table is always flat, and you have more control of the workpiece.
All control buttons, knobs, and levers are placed in front of the saw for easy access. The only one that is at the back of the arm is the tension knob. So if you change your blades a lot, this could be a small drawback. Although I’d say more in the bigger sizes(21″ or 30″), which would make you stand up every time to change the tension.
Unlike in the DeWalt or Delta models, the switch protection device included in the design prevents accidental start-up. This was one of the complaints that users of these two models had.
Another safety feature found in this model is the top and bottom finger guard that prevents you from accidentally touching the operating blade.
Not too many complaints here. One of the main ones is that the tension flip knob tends to wear out quite quickly. While not a deal-breaker can be a pain. But you should expect that some of the parts used often will require replacing at some point.
Another drawback is the table is spray painted, and therefore it scratches. With the paint coming off, the surface is not as smooth as it should be and can scratch the workpiece. The solution here would be to powder coat the table if you can or apply a thin layer of wax on top to lubricate the surface(before the scratches occur).
Some of the users found that the blade happens to slip from the bottom blade clamp. In this case, the tension might be too high, so try to play with the settings.
Overall excellent scroll saw that offers a range of great features. One of the best on the market. It would be great for a beginner or professional alike. The only thing is that it’s quite pricey. While this can be justified if you use it for professional work, if you are just starting out, it could be too big of a financial stretch.
Best value for money –
Delta 40-694 20″ Scroll Saw
This scroll saw is practically a Dewalt twin. It has pretty much the same set of features, but a smaller price tag and the replacement parts will fit both. Is it of the same quality, though? Let’s have a closer look.
You get the same motor power at 1.3 Amp and a variable speed between 400 and 1750 SPM. A flexible range of speed for different materials and cutting tasks.
You also get a tool-free blade clamp for easy blade replacement. The parallel link arm design reduces vibrations and loudness of the saw. The table tilts up to 45 deg each way, allowing for bevel cuts. It allows for cutting 2-1/8″ material at 90°and 1-5/8″ at 45°.
This scroll saw from Delta has a parallel link arm design and lots of cast iron, which helps to reduce vibrations. Although the throat size is the same as Dewalt, the table is round, bigger, and very smooth.
The On/Off switch, speed dial, flexible dust blower, and blade-tensioning lever are all conveniently placed at the front on the arm for easy access.
The tension lever and blade release are both very well thought out and simple to adjust. it’s very important because they’re used a lot during scrolling. The tensioning of the blade is easy and repeatable, as is the blade change. Especially crucial if you do a lot of fretwork.
The arm lifts and locks making changing the blades even easier. This one feature(the locking of the arm) is missing from Dewalt, though. You can buy a separate device, but designers at Delta showed that it can be done and for less money.
No vacuum port and no light. Since it’s the same design as Dewalt no surprise there. The blower does a decent job of removing sawdust out of the cut line. As for the light you can buy an inexpensive one like this: Gooseneck-Magnetic-Mounting LED light.
Or invest a bit more and add a light/magnifier if you need to: Magnifying Glass LED Lamp.
While the ability to lock the arm is excellent, the pin to hold the blade arm is located at the back of the saw. But considering that you have to buy an additional device for DeWalt to have this function, it’s a small price to pay.
The on /off switch is in a place where you usually grab the arm to lift to change the blade or adjust the tension and can be accidentally switched on. Not ideal. My advice is to buy a foot pedal that will prevent this from happening. And it will also allow for working with both of your hands having more control over the workpiece.
This saw is a great value for money. It’d be a good fit, whether you’re a beginner or semi-professional.
Best budget –
WEN 3921 Scroll saw
This saw is the budget pick on the list. And although it costs considerably less than its competitors it has a lot of features the more expensive models have. Let’s have a closer look at what it has to offer.
A 1.2 Amp power motor and variable speed between 400 and 1600SPM. A bit less than the top models but still enough for it to be a good contender.
You get 16in throat size, and while this may not be enough for bigger cutting tasks, it should be enough for most crafts and basic projects.
Saying that it has a 90 deg adjustable blade mount that allows for cutting sideways. So there you have the availability to cut/rip larger pieces.
It also comes with a light, a dust blower, and a dust port. The table tilts up to 45 deg to the left.
And it takes pinned as well as pinless blades.
Although it’s quite lightweight at only 27lbs, it has little to no vibration, even if it’s not bolted down. But by doing so you will reduce the vibrations even more. The variable-speed operation is smooth, and the loudness is no more than of a sewing machine. Because of its weight and compact size, it’s very easy to store away. So if you don’t have enough space for a stand or have limited space on your workbench, it’s light enough to take out and then put away to store.
It takes both pinned and pinless blades. Pinned blades are super easy to set up and change quickly. I recommend buying good quality blades like the Olsen PGT or Flying Dutchman blades. Start with pinned blades to get used to the feel, and then get some #5 pinless ones.
The dust port can be easily hooked up to a shop vac, but some users complained that being at the front it’s somehow in the way.
The light and dust blower are adequate for the price. Don’t expect miracles. The dust port can be easily hooked up to a shop vac, but some users complained that being at the front, it’s somehow in the way. If you want my opinion, it’s great that it has a dust removal system at all considering the price.
Included blades are not suited for thicker stock cutting but are great for rough cuts without tight corners. Invest in better blades like the ones mentioned above.
Pinless blades take more time to change as they need adapters to do it. If you do a lot of fretwork, this could be a serious drawback. You can swap the blade holders for https://wenproducts.com/products/upper-lower-blade-holder– you’ll lose the sideways cut availability. Still, changing blades will be a lot easier.
In summary, this WEN model is perfect for crafters and occasional DIYers. Everything you need in an entry-level saw for occasional use for basic projects and getting the feeling of using a scroll saw.
DeWalt DW788 20″ scroll saw
This Dewalt saw is one of the top scroll saw models available on the market in the mid-price range. It’s packed with a lot of features that even a professional woodworker will appreciate. It’s not cheap, but the price is reasonable compared to some models that can be as high as 2000 dollars.
You get a 1.3 Amp motor that provides variable speed 400-1750 SPM. This gives you flexibility and allows for adjusting the cut speed to your project( i.e., type of material and its thickness, types of cuts, etc.)
Double parallel link arm design reduces vibrations to nearly non-existent. This, in turn, makes the saw work quietly, no louder than a sewing machine.
The tool-free blade clamps allow for quick and easy blade change. And the 20in throat gives you a lot of space to work with projects up to 40in. Large cast iron table tilts 45 deg both sides allowing you to make bevel cuts if you ever need to.
This saw is easy to set up and use even for beginners. As I mentioned above, the blade change is quick and easy. The pinless blades are secured in a clamp using a knob, and there is no need for extra tools to change them.
Great news! You can spend more time mastering the saw instead of getting annoyed with installing the blades in weirdly designed adapters.
The arm lifts so the blade can be threaded from the bottom or the top into your project for inside cuts. This is important if you plan on doing a lot of fretwork.
All the controls like on/off switch, tension knob, tensioning lever, and variable speed knob are located at the front. This makes it super easy to control the operation of the saw weather you need to change the speed or the blade.
Another small but useful feature is that the tensioning knob has numbers on it, so you get the same tension each time with a new blade. No guesswork, and you get the same results.
The blower has a long, bendable arm that can be positioned precisely where you want it. It actually does a pretty good job clearing the cut line of sawdust, so you see what you’re doing.
This saw is a high-quality tool, but there are a few drawbacks. I’ll leave it to you to decide if they are deal-breakers in this case.
There is no light or magnifying glass included. Although most of the cheaper models do have the light, it’s usually not a high-quality one. If this is something you need, check these ones out: Gooseneck-Magnetic-Mounting LED light or Magnifying Glass LED Lamp.
While the blower does a pretty good job with clearing the cut line, there is no dust removal system. It might not be a problem since this type of saw doesn’t produce a lot of sawdust. But something to consider if you don’t have a workshop and use the machine in your house/apartment.
It only comes with two cheap blades, so I recommend getting more and better quality ones. If you have some experience already, get the spiral blades for easier cutting in different directions without turning the wood piece. The “Flying Dutchman Spiral Reverse # 5” is an excellent blade -virtual no sanding necessary.
While arm lift is very handy, it doesn’t lock in place, so you need to hold it with your hand. A neat solution to this problem: Dewalt Scroll Saw Lifter.
There is no foot pedal included, but it’s an additional accessory that will let you have more control over the workpiece using both hands. You may take a closer look at this one: MLCS 9080 Billy Pedal Foot Switch.
Since this machine is mostly cast iron, it is heavy. While it’s a good thing for reducing vibration, it could be an issue if you don’t have dedicated space for a stand and use a workbench instead. In this case, lifting can be problematic.
And the last thing is that the material hold down is poor quality and design. But that is something you don’t have to work with and can be removed.
It’s a well made and sturdy saw with little vibrations. The 20-inches gives a lot of room for bigger projects. It can be used for cutting plywood, common boards, hardwood, and plexiglass with ease. If you like it but don’t have a budget for it, consider the Delta saw, which is pretty much the same tool with a smaller price tag.
Shop Fox W1713 16″ Scroll Saw
An entry-level scroll saw from Shop Fox. Very similar to the WEN machine at a slightly higher price but with features comparable with my budget pick. Is it worth the extra dollar? Let’s find out.
It features a 1.2 Amp motor that produces a variable speed ranging from 550 to 1650SPM, similar to the WEN model. It also has a gooseneck work light, dust blower, and dust port. It takes both pinned and pinless blades, and the throat size is the same as WEN’s at 16in.
I couldn’t find any info on the table size, but this saw looks pretty much like the WEN, so I’d expect similar dimensions. The table tilts up to 45 deg but one way only.
It’s a sturdy, heavy machine with an iron cast table. The vibrations are low even without bolting it down to the workbench or a stand. It’s relatively quiet and has enough power for most tasks.
It will cut even hardwoods at any speed, but it may lag a little bit if you force it like any saw that it’s fed too fast. Take your time. Choose the right blade and speed combination for the type of material, and you’ll be successful at any scrolling project.
The pinned blades are very easy to insert and remove, and the pin-less adapters work fine.
The little blower is adequate. Don’t expect much, but make sure you get it set in the right position. Hook your shop vac to the dust port by connecting the 1-1⁄4 inch dust port of your scroll saw to a shop vac, and you’ll get most of the sawdust removed.
Some users reported that the saw installation can be challenging, and the light is dimmish. I recommend buying better bulbs-like Bayonet (BA15S) Base Light Bulb or BA15s Bayonet Base LED Bulb, and I’m sure you’ll see a lot of improvement in this department.
Another complaint was that included blades are not of great quality, and the saw takes time to get up to speed. My advice is to take your time and invest in better blades.
While this model accepts pin-less blades, you need adapters to use them. Working with adapters is a pain mostly because installing a blade under the table is cumbersome. If you do a lot of inside cuts, this can be challenging and annoying.
Lastly, the protection plastic cover obscures the view a bit and gets quickly filled with dust reducing the visibility of the working area.
All in all, it’s an excellent example of a machine for beginners, and intermediate scroll saw enthusiasts.
Does the size give you enough room to work with your piece? You should have enough room to spin the piece freely and have it supported—solid, working surface. Look at what material it is made off- durable material-i.e cast iron. Smooth surface is also very important as it allows for smoother work.
Starts from 16″ and goes up to 30″. It is the distance between the back of the blade to the end of the table. The size of the saw is the throat size.
Scroll saw blades – pinned vs. pinless
Pinned blades are used for rougher/coarser cuts and can’t be used for finer cuts. But they are faster and easier to change.
Pinless blades- you have more choice available. Thinner blade allows for more detailed cuts and tight cuts.
Look into the way the blades are changed. Is a tool needed or is it a tool-less action. Do you need adapters to use pinless blades? Are these adapters easy to use?
Blade tensioning- Levers, knobs, and cams
You don’t want the tensioning regulation at the back of the saw. Look at how easy it is to tighten the blade and what materials are used for the cams or knobs- metal,plastic?
The foot pedal/turn on-off switch
The foot pedal makes it easier to operate as it frees your hands and the saw stops as soon as you take the foot off it. The switch location has to be convenient. Switch easily accessible in case of blade breaking.
Variable speed control
Variable speed allows for more flexibility. The speed will depend on the material cut and the type of project. More intricate cuts require slower speeds.
Adjusting speed to your needs. Usually controlled by a knob/dial that should be placed in easy to reach/visible place
Dust collection/dust blower
Most models have an adjustable dust blower that clears the blade cutting path of the sawdust. Making it easier to see what you’re doing.
Don’t expect much from any dust collection/dust blower. Saying that a scroll saw doesn’t produce much sawdust so might not be a problem.
Hold down foot
It’s a device that holds your piece down in place. Is it sturdy and made out of good quality material? Is it adjustable? An excellent feature for a beginner.
Scroll saw arm type
The modern Scroll saws have two main types of arms that hold the blade- the parallel arm system and the parallel link arm system.
The former type has a longer arm moving in parallel with the one below the table-usually has a lot more vibrations and back and forth horizontal movement of the blade.
The latter has only a small part of the arm moving- hence the reduced vibrations and the blade(back and forth) horizontal movement.
Raising top arm
This feature allows for quick blade change and better workpiece positioning for interior cuts. All you do is raise the arm and change the blade. Then you can feed the blade through the piece and the hole in the table.
If the arm doesn’t move, this task becomes more complicated as you only have 2 inches of space between the head that holds the blade and the table.
You usually have to feed the blade from the bottom and through the hole and then the workpiece to be mounted at the head and underneath the table. If you have a thick piece of stock, you have to bend the blade to be able to do that.
This feature allows for changing the angle of the cut by changing the angle of the table. This is true in most cases. Some models allow for changing the arm/motor/housing angle while the table stays flat.
The saw can have a right or left tilt or both. What you’re looking for is the ability to set the angle precisely using an angle guide usually found under the table. The accuracy of this guide is also essential in this case.
Check how robust is the adjustment device and how easy it is to change the angle and if the angle guide has positive stops.
Some of the models come with blade storage. While not extremely necessary, it comes very handy especially if you need to change the blades often during cutting.
While useful and allow for better visibility of the cut line, they won’t help when you need to make very intricate cuts. In this case, a magnifier with a light is a better option.
Something to consider if you have the space, of course. Allows setting the saw completely flat, reducing vibrations. You can usually adjust its height to set it up according to your work habits(sitting or standing) and your height.
You can also build one yourself, saving some bucks, or just use the saw on the top of a workbench.
I hope you have found this article helpful and that you were able to pick the best scroll saw for yourself.
If you have any questions or you think some vital information is missing, then let me know by leaving a comment in a box below or send me a message through the contact form. I’ll do my best to help you out! Thanks for stopping by!
Don’t have time to read it all know, then pin it for later to your woodworking power tools board, thanks!
Last update on 2021-03-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API