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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Many craft materials can be cut quickly and easily with the scroll saw.
I’ve cut 1/2″-thick foam core glued to hardboard to make a base for a wedding cake.
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.
Not all fabrics cut equally well; select those unlikely to shift, such as medium weight cotton.
Fabric can also be glued to plywood, then clamped securely to prevent cupping as it dries.
And don’t overlook the saw’s ability to customize notepads or make stacks of decorative cutouts.
Once you start thinking outside the (wooden) box, you just might begin to use your saw in ways that you never imagined.