Cutting Different Materials with Your Scroll Saw

Cutting Different Materials with Your Scroll Saw

Although it’s primarily a woodworking tool, the scroll saw can also cut a variety of materials when appropriate blades and cutting techniques are used.


Corian circles cut with a scroll saw
Simple fretwork adds elegance to these coasters and cheese board made of Corian. Straight cuts and gentle curves generally pose no difficulties.

In thicknesses of 1/2″ or less, Corian can be used to make attractive cutting boards, trivets, coasters and candleholders. Even though it’s expensive to buy, you can often get offcuts from a local countertop fabricator for little or no cost. (It helps to call in advance, bring a sample of your work and cut a small project as a thank you.) Another source is eBay; check frequently, as offerings change constantly.

Making fretwork cuts in a piece of Corian with a scroll saw
When doing fretwork, drill an oversized blade entry hole and use a slow feed rate and highest feasible speed setting to reduce the likelihood that the blade will catch and twist as you rotate the stock.

While easy to cut, the material can melt if the wrong type of blade is used or the motor speed is too high. Skip tooth blades are generally recommended, with motor speed set at about 60 percent of capacity. However, after some experimentation, I found that the #5 Flying Dutchman Polar blade had no trouble handling 1/2″ Corian at the highest speed setting, while others could not do so at any speed.

Smoothing and sanding Corian fretwork
Although dense, Corian can be sanded almost as easily as wood.

This variability of performance among blades is why you should always make trial cuts on scrap with the blade and speed setting that you’re planning to use. When your project has been cut, sand it to correct irregularities, soften edges and create the desired degree of shine.


Cutting an acrylic sheet with a scroll saw and tape guide
An application of tape, skip tooth blade and sharply reduced speed setting will keep acrylic from melting as it is cut.

Acrylic sheets can be cut with a scroll saw, provided precautions are taken to reduce friction and heat. When cut, the edges look frosted; heat from a butane torch will restore the clear appearance as well as soften the edges and remove small surface scratches.

Wooden maze puzzle with an acrylic cover
A piece of acrylic, fastened in place with decorative brass screws, safely contains the bearing balls of this maze game.

Acrylic excels where transparency is desirable. When used as the center panel of a frame-and-panel box lid, it allows the contents to remain visible even when the box’s lid is closed.


Eisenhower dollar cutout made with a scroll saw
This Eisenhower dollar was cut by Randy Gloden using jeweler’s blades #3/0 and #6/0.

Equipped with a metal-cutting blade, the scroll saw can cut soft metal such as copper silver, brass and aluminum, up to 1/8″ thick, as well as 1/8″ brass rod. Sheets can be taped between pieces of 1/8″ plywood to prevent burrs on the underside, keep shavings under control and protect the saw table.

Close-up details of a scroll sawn coin cutout
He used a reduced saw speed and slow feed rate to minimize blade breakage, and 6X magnification provided a clear view of the coin’s details.

In the hands of a skilled cutter, the scroll saw can also be used to cut coins, turning these everyday objects into pieces of incredible beauty and delicacy.

Foam Core, Paper, Fabric

Foam core for a cake base beveled with a scroll saw
Once laminated to hardboard, foam core was cut and beveled.

Many craft materials can be cut quickly and easily with the scroll saw.

Wedding cake sitting on a scroll sawn base
This helped create an attractive base for a heavy wedding cake.

I’ve cut 1/2″-thick foam core glued to hardboard to make a base for a wedding cake.

Engagement ring box cut to look like a cupcake
Unique boxes, like this wooden cupcake, can showcase engagement or wedding rings.

I’ve also used it to craft a custom-sized ring holder. The scroll saw can also make quick work of cutting multiple shapes for appliqués or quilts.

Foam core ring holder cut to fit box with a scroll saw
The boxes are fitted with holders cut from foam core and covered with self-adhesive velvet.

Not all fabrics cut equally well; select those unlikely to shift, such as medium weight cotton.

Fabric pressed between plywood to be cut by a scroll saw
To cut a stack of fabric, sandwich it between pieces of plywood, then tape it securely for stability. Use a tiny (2/0) blade to minimize fraying.

Fabric can also be glued to plywood, then clamped securely to prevent cupping as it dries.

Notepad taped to wood and cut on a scroll saw
Once stabilized with plywood and tape, a stack of paper cuts easily with the scroll saw.

And don’t overlook the saw’s ability to customize notepads or make stacks of decorative cutouts.

Name cut into notepad header by a scroll saw
Scroll saw cuts let you make scores of attractive gifts with minimal time and expense.

Once you start thinking outside the (wooden) box, you just might begin to use your saw in ways that you never imagined.

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