Scroll saws are one of the coolest tools in the workshop. When people think of artistic, intricate woodworking, they’re typically envisioning ornate patterns and designs that were masterfully cut with a scroll saw. For a skilled woodcutter, a scroll saw has lucrative creative applications such as wood sculpting, joint making, and even crafting musical instruments.
With a scroll saw, you can create the finest and most detail shapes, curves, and textures that even the most skillful hand carver can’t match. Let’s look at some of the different types of projects scroll saws are commonly used for.
Inlay patterns are immensely popular because they add a unique flair to a project that really pops out. Not only that, but the custom inlay is typically one-of-a-kind work, so a piece with an inlay pattern is usually unique to its owner.
Inlay arrangements are designs where different styles and colors of wood are inserted into a base to create visually-appealing and repetitive patterns. Technically speaking, these patterns don’t have to be wooden at all, but of course, for your scroll saw project, you’re not going to be cutting stone or glass.
Not only does each piece have to be properly sized to its insert, but each insert has to have a perfectly precise joint in order to create flush, consistent, and attractive edges.
Marquetry is somewhat similar in its construction to inlay work in that it’s a design made from an organization of different shapes and colors of wood affixed to a wooden base. However, instead of “laying in” a preset panel, the shapes of a marquetry design all fit together on their own without a cutout frame.
Marquetry is a hotly debated art form with many practitioners insisting that “authentic” marquetry is only done by hand. However, as discussed above, a scroll saw makes fine shapes and details possible to a degree that hand-carving simply can’t achieve. For truly unique and high-precision marquetry, your scroll saw will do the best work every time.
Just don’t tell any of your art class friends that you’re using tools when they’re slaving away with their hands!
Intarsia as a design craft actually goes all the way back to the 1300s and is a successor to the inlay concept. Intarsia patterns combine complex and intricate shapes to add an illusion of depth to the woodwork.
While intarsia is a highly artistic and challenging technique, it’s perfectly learnable for the neophyte DIY-er. Besides the design itself, the most important part of a well-crafted intarsia pattern is that each piece is cut with great precision so that they fit together very tightly.
Like inlay projects, intarsia typically combines different types and colors of wood to create a diverse and attractive visual aesthetic. As a result, they take meticulous planning and careful preparation to ensure that every part of the craft fits together.
Fretwork is enormously popular, and you’ve definitely seen some examples of it even if you don’t know what it is. Think of the large ornate geometric shapes and patterns you often find decorating entryways, thresholds, or even moldings. These intricate patterns are particularly popular in Victorian-style architecture that emphasizes visual appeal to the highest degree.
Even advanced fretwork is among the easiest work you can do with a scroll saw. With some practice and the right tools, you’ll be on your way to making wooden fretwork that looks as delicate and inviting as lace fabric.
Now let’s move on to some of the more “fun” applications of your scroll saw. Making cool artwork is one thing, but your scroll saw can make all sorts of functional designs, as well. The scroll saw is, in fact, so commonly called a jigsaw, even though they’re two completely different tools! And while an actual jigsaw definitely has its place in your workshop, the scroll saw is actually far more useful for crafting what we’d call a “jigsaw puzzle.”
Each piece of the puzzle must fit together perfectly snugly, or else the solver can’t be sure the pieces are supposed to connect. Using a fine scroll saw blade, you can almost effortlessly glide through a sheet of wood to cut intricate and challenging puzzle designs.
There are lots more things you can do with a scroll saw, but before you get too fancy, grab some spare wood and start practicing! Woodworking is art even when done with sophisticated power tools, so you have to apply your craft regularly to build your skills and become a scroll saw master.