If you’re new to woodworking, you’re surely asking: how thick of wood can a scroll saw cut? Scroll saws are versatile tools with a depth cut ranging from 1.75 to 2.25 inches. In addition, some models can cut thinner or thicker wood, depending on its build.
How thick can a scroll saw cut?
When it comes to wood, most scroll saws can handle a maximum thickness of two inches. Also, scroll saws will take longer to cut through thicker wood. If you need to cut a thicker piece of wood than this, you’re better of using a band saw.
Take note that scrolls saws are intended to carve thin materials. It’s the same reason why it uses thinner blades that could easily get damaged when subjected to thicker and harder wood.
If you’re serious about woodworking, you’ll need several types of saws to get the job done. It’s best to reserve scroll saws for carving and cutting thin wood.
Best woods to use on a scroll saw
You can use a wide range of wood types on your scroll saw. However, it’s important to consider the hardness of the wood to prevent breaking the blade. The following are some of the good picks:
If you’re still practicing, softwoods are a great pick. It’s also easy to come by and more worthwhile to work on a scroll saw.
Poplar is a good choice since it has more grain compared to pine. You can also try Baltic birch if you want a stiffer wood type without getting too hard on the scroll saw. Nevertheless, cedar and plywood are great practice woods too.
While scroll saws have fragile blades, you can still use them on hardwood. The good thing about hardwood is they retain patterns and shapes for years. It’s also the top pick for woodworking due to its durability.
For expert woodworkers, ash and maple are unbeatable choices. These are premium hardwood materials with an excellent grain profile.
However, ash and maple require a high level of sawing skill. It tends to jump up, vibrate, and smoke when used on a scroll saw. And since these wood types are stiff, it takes longer to carve and will require lower speeds to avoid injuries on your part.
The likes of oak, cherry, and walnut are also excellent materials for carving spiral lines, curves, patterns, and inlays. However, you should keep in mind that oak is the hardest to carve in a scroll saw but the top favorite nonetheless. Therefore, you have to take a lot of practice before trying your hand on this expensive material.
If you’re scared to ruin expensive hardwoods, hickory is a good starting point. Hickory is popular since it’s one of the cheapest hardwoods you can find in the market. It also has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio among hardwoods.
If you’re making furniture and items that you want to place outdoors, polywood is a great pick. This material is made of recycled plastics. It doesn’t contain any wood materials, but it’s still considered a kind of lumber that suits most scroll saw projects.
Moreover, polywood is much cheaper than hardwood. It’s an excellent choice for those who are still practicing their scroll saw skills. This is also eco-friendly and easy to find in most supply stores.
If you’re on a budget, you can try pressure-treated wood like plywood, MDF, and HDF. You can get them in varying thickness, most of which are perfect for the range of scroll saws.
However, pressure-treated wood may not retain patterns as much as hardwood does. Nevertheless, it’s a risk-free option to test your skills on the scroll saw.
Tips in using a scroll saw
If you’re new to using a scroll saw, the following tips will help you get started:
- Choose the right blade. Scroll saws can be used with a wide range of blades. The bigger your blade is, the longer it will last. Also, if you’re working on harder and thicker wood, you’ll need an equally bigger blade on your scroll saw.
- Oil your blades. It’s important to oil your scroll saw blades to increase their lifespan. It will also help keep the blade sharp and rust-free.
- Use proper lighting. As with any cutting tools, it’s imperative to work in a properly lit place. Scroll saws can be dangerous when operated in a dark area.
- Go slow. With scroll saws, you’re not supposed to rush things. Glide your workpiece slowly, especially if you’re working on the hardwood. This will prevent the piece from jumping or smoking.
- Prevent warping. If your workpiece tends to warp, you can prevent this by placing a heavier piece on top of it. This will keep your workpiece flat as you glide it into the scroll saw blade.
- Don’t use too much force. When using a scroll saw, you just need to guide your workpiece into the blade. There’s no need to use excessive force just to create patterns.
- Try stack cutting. If you need to create multiple pieces of the same pattern, stack cutting is a time saver. Just make sure that you use the blade that fits the total thickness of the stack and not the individual pieces.
- Keep practicing. Scroll sawing is a very intricate craft that requires a lot of control and skill. Keep practicing until you perfect the pattern and design you want to achieve. Also, feel free to experiment with various blade types to see which works for your project best.
Are scroll saws easy to use?
Scroll saws are easy to use, and you can use them on a variety of materials. However, dexterity and accuracy are different things. You have to practice a lot to achieve a high level of accuracy to create intricate patterns on wood.
For those who want an introductory tool for woodworking, scroll saws are a great choice. It’s small, easy to set up, and can be used on small pieces of wood. Unlike other saw types, scroll saws don’t require a lot of space.
Can you cut plywood with a scroll saw?
Yes, you can use a scroll saw to cut plywood. This pressure-treated wood has excellent tensile strength and can be very stable if you use the right blade speed.
Since plywood is soft, expect it to eat through the blade fast. It’s affordable and a good choice if you want to practice patterns without wasting expensive hardwoods.
How thick of metal can a scroll saw cut?
Aside from wood, scroll saws can also cut metal that’s no thicker than 1/8 of an inch. Also, you need to use the right blade to ensure that it won’t snap. Overall, scroll saws tolerate brass, bronze, cold-rolled steel, and copper very well.
The key here is going slow, especially with harder metals. However, expect your blades to wear fast and that the metal would spark on the course of cutting. This is why you should wear protective equipment at all times.
Can a scroll saw cut a 2×4?
You can use a scroll saw to make curved cuts on 2×4 timber. However, you have to stay patient because this thick wood will take longer to cut.
If you’re looking for a faster solution, you should use a table saw, or circular saw instead. Still, a 2×4 isn’t an impossibility on a scroll saw.
What is the difference between a scroll saw and a jig saw?
The biggest difference between a scroll saw and a jig saw is how you use it. Scroll saws are stationary and placed on top of a table. It uses a blade, and you will guide the wood piece through it.
On the other hand, you bring jig saws to work. You need to guide it into the wood, which is the opposite when you’re using scroll saws.
Nevertheless, both are versatile tools for woodworking that can cut a variety of materials.
Why do I keep breaking scroll saw blades?
If your scroll saw’s blade keeps snapping and breaking, too much tension might be the culprit. Also, you might be using too much speed on a hard piece of wood. Adjusting both of these aspects should help prevent blade breakage.
To find the right tension, you should refer to the unit’s user manual. Every manufacturer has suggested tension levels for each scroll saw.
What is the maximum speed of a scroll saw?
Scroll saws can have a maximum speed of 400 strokes per minute (SPM) or up to 1,800 SPM. This speed is adjustable and varies widely per model. You can also find variable speed scroll saws that will allow you to tweak the setting for specific wood types and projects.
How thick of wood can a scroll saw cut? Most of the time, it ranges from 1.75 to 2.25 inches. While you can cut thicker wood pieces, you risk having broken scroll saw blades. If you need to work on bigger and thicker wood, you’re better off using other saw types.
For the most part, you should reserve scroll saw for inlays, patterns, and designs. Nevertheless, you’re free to experiment to see what works best for your woodworking project.