The 6 Absolute Best Scroll Saws for Beginners

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You have decided that a scroll saw is a next addition to your woodworking shop, now you must decide what is the absolute best scroll saw for a beginner. 

If you’ve already started researching, then you know that the options are plentiful.

What are the absolute best scroll saws for beginners? The 6 absolute best scroll saws for beginners are:

  • Shop Fox W1872
  • Porter-Cable 18” Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand
  • Delta 40-694
  • DeWalt DW788
  • Shop Fox W1713
  • Wen 3921

In this article, we will cover what you should look out for in a scroll saw as a beginner as well as give in-depth reviews of each of these scrolls saws so that you can make the best decision based on your needs and budget.

How Much Do Scroll Saws Cost

How much do you have to spend?  You can buy a scroll saw at almost any budget level. 

There are scroll saws on the market for less than $100 and well over $1000.  

The compromise of cost versus features is one that we make in every purchasing decision.  It is no different for tools.

That is why we always suggest that you consider your must-have features when you start exploring the market for any product. 

To start our list of the absolute best scroll saws for beginners, we need to look at features and decide what needs to be on that must-have list.

The Must-Haves

beginner scroll saws

Scroll saws can be complex little tools, especially if festooned with every possible accessory and feature. 

Manufacturers roll out new features and gadgets regularly, trying to capture a bigger piece of the scroll saw market pie. 

To select the absolute best scroll saw for beginners, it’s important to determine what are the must-have features on a scroll saw.  

We determined that a beginner’s absolute best scroll saw should have the following at a minimum:

A Front or Top-Mounted On/Off Switch

A front or top-mounted on/off switch is as much a safety issue as it is a convenience item. Scroll saw break blades. 

That is a fact of life that you must learn to live with if you are working with a scroll saw. A broken scroll saw blade can become a deadly piece of work as the rocker arm continues to move up and down with a piece of hardened steel flailing around uncontrolled.

The ability to quickly shut down the saw with a minimum of effort is a must. 

You should be able to shut the saw down without having to reach under the saw, around the saw, and without having to search under a dim worktable for the switch.

Variable Speed Control

Many consider this a luxury, not a necessity. 

The problem with considering variable speed control a luxury is that without variable speed control, you are limiting the versatility of your saw. 

Different materials require different saw speeds. 

As a beginning scroll saw user, you may be more comfortable with a slower saw speed and a slower feed rate through the saw. 

As you gain experience and confidence, your speed will increase. You may want to cut different materials that work better at a different speed. 

Blade Type

Your absolute best beginning scroll saw should use pinless blades. One of the great advantages of a scroll saw is the flexibility of the saw for different projects. 

Whether you are doing inlay, intarsia, puzzles, scrollwork, or veneers, the scroll saw can adapt. The key to many of these different types of projects is using the correct blade.

Pinless scroll saw blades come in a wider variety than pinned blades, which allows you a much bigger world of project opportunities.

As you become more skilled and tackle more details and intricate projects, you will appreciate the larger selection of blades available in the pinless format.

Blade Mounts

Speaking of scroll saw blades, the next feature that we will explore is the method used to mount and hold the blade in your absolute best beginner scroll saw. 

Blade mounts come in two types, tooled and toolless. Convenience would dictate that a toolless blade mount is an obvious choice.

However, tooled blade mounts tend to be more secure and to offer better holding than toolless mounts.

Having said that, toolless blade mounts are the way to go. There are some other things to consider. 

Some saws require more than one tool to do a blade change. Keeping track of several tools to do a blade change can be frustrating. 

The absolute best beginner scroll saw will have a toolless blade.

Blade Tensioning

We seem to be spending a lot of time on blades for the best beginner scroll saw, but you must remember that it is the blade doing all the heavy lifting on your saw. 

Scroll saws break blades, and the blades can quickly dull.  You will spend a lot of time changing blades, which require tensioning the blade.

Whatever tension mechanism the absolute best beginning scroll saw has, it should be convenient for you to use. Whether it is a cam, a lever, a knob, or a screw, it should be easy to access and use. 

Rocker Arm Type

The last of the must-haves is a smaller rocker arm assembly. The rocker arm assembly is what drives the blade in the up and down motion. 

Some saws have a rocker arm that extends the entire depth of the saw. These full-length rocker arms tend to have a lot of mass, and as they move, the vibrations they cause can become tiresome.

Shorter rocker arm assemblies employ a cam-like mechanism that is lighter and has less mass. 

Less mass means less vibration as the assembly moves up and down. Less vibration makes for more enjoyable work experience with your scroll saw.

Other Features to Consider

Of course, there are many other features you should consider when searching for the perfect scroll saw, including:

  • Throat Size
  • The Work Table
  • Dust Collection
  • The Material Hold Down Foot
  • Liftable Top Arm
  • Blade Storage
  • Work Light
  • Tool Stand
  • Ease of Maintenance

That is quite a list, but don’t let it intimidate you. Most of the items on this list are considered nice to have but not mandatory. 

We want to concentrate on the must-have items to find you the absolute best scroll saws for beginners available on the market.

**What could you do with these scroll saws? Find out some cool things you can do in this guide here!!!**

Best Scroll Saws for Beginners

To be upfront, all the saws on our list of absolute best scroll saws for beginners include all the must-have features. 

That meant we had to look further down the feature list to find the things that differentiated one saw from the rest.

#1 Shop Fox W1872

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The Absolute Best Scroll Saw for The Beginner

Shop Fox is a company not well known outside of the woodworking industry. 

Shop Fox has developed a following among dedicated woodworkers as a solid and dependable brand with good quality control.

Many woodworkers rate Shop Fox in with many of the other top brands of dedicated woodworking equipment manufacturers.

At the top of our list is the Shop Fox W1872 16” scroll saw. This little saw performs like a pro. 

Just look at the additional features that the Shop Fox W1872 brings to the top of the list.

  • A cast aluminum table and frame
  • 550 – 1650 SPM (strokes per minute) variable speed
  • 16” deep throat
  • Direct blade drive, no belts
  • ¾” stroke length
  • LED Lamp
  • Integral dust port for sawdust collection
  • 45-degree table tilt
  • Foot Pedal Switch
  • Auxiliary Rotary Tool Attachment

The Shop Fox W1872 may be the most overlooked scroll saw on our list. 

The features are comparable to all the other saws, but the addition of the foot pedal switch and the rotary tool attachment set this saw apart.

The price point tipped the scale to put this awesome saw on top of the list. 

Bringing this impressive array of features and accessories in under $200 gets the Shop Fox W1872 the top spot on our list of the absolute best scroll saws for beginners.

#2 Porter Cable 18” Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand

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Best Included Accessories

Porter-cable has been building tools for over 100 years in the United States. 

They have an amazing record of achievements in power tool innovations over the years. Their reputation among professional craftsmen is unparalleled. 

The Portable Cable 18” variable speed scroll saw is a workhorse of a saw garners the number two spot on our list for many of those reasons. 

Properly maintained, a Porter-Cable tool should outlast almost every other comparable tool.

Quality, reliability, and one outstanding feature got the Porter-Cable tool the second spot on our list. One factor kept if off the top.  

This scroll saw is the most expensive on our list, and, for a beginning, scroll saw user, that could be a deal-breaker.

Let’s start our list of features with the one that sets this saw apart.

  • Includes a sturdy metal stand to get the scroll saw off your workbench and on its own feet.
  • Cast aluminum worktable
  • Dual tilt table. 
  • Tool-free blade changes
  • Uses both pinned and unpinned blades
  • LED work light
  • Adjustable air blower
  • 500 to 1500 SPM variable speed
  • The top front of the arm on/off switch and speed control
  • Easy blade tension lever on the front of the arm
  • Vacuum port for dust-free operation

If you can manage the budget, this would be an awesome saw to have in your shop. 

The fact that it has every sought-after feature and includes a metal stand makes this a saw that the beginner can use to hone their skills yet will be able to meet the more demanding requirements further down the line.

#3 Delta 40-694

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Best in Features

Delta is another tool company that enjoys a good reputation in the US, among both hobby and homeowners, as well as professional tradesmen. 

Offering both hand power tools and stationary power tools, Delta is a leader in the power tool industry. 

From Delta comes our number 3 absolute best scroll saw for beginners, the Delta 40-694.

Sweeping the must-have list, the Delta 40-694 is a top performer in almost every other category as well. 

This saw ran neck and neck with the Porter-Cable and might have edged into the number two spot except for the lack of a stand and the price point.

However, the feature list is impressive, as you can see.

  • 1.3-amp ball bearing motor
  • 400 – 1750 SPM
  • Large cast aluminum worktable
  • Dual direction table tilt
  • 18” Throat depth
  • Uses unpinned saw blades
  • Tool-free blade changes
  • Three-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • LED Work light
  • Adjustable and flexible sawdust blower
  • Upper arm lifts for easier access to the workpiece
  • Cast-iron worktable
  • Onboard blade storage

You can’t ask much more than that in a scroll saw. There are a few complaints among users of this saw about small parts and connecting screws working loose during use. 

Scroll saws by nature vibrate, and good saw practice is to check your saw regularly to keep it in tip-top shape. We always put a drop of blue thread lock on anything that might vibrate loose on any tool.

This tool only missed edging out the Port-Cable by a matter of a few dollars at the price point and the stand.

However, if you have space on a workbench top and price isn’t a real concern, this will make an absolute best scroll saw for a beginning user. 

The Delta 40-694 is a saw that you can purchase and know that it will serve for many years to come.

#4 DeWalt DW788

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Best for Long Term Use

A DeWalt tool makes our list at number four. We almost had to get this saw on our list. 

It ranks so high among users online that if this saw weren’t on our list, we would not have done our job. 

On most other lists, this saw consistently ranks at the very top if not number one. 

For a list of beginner saws, the price alone is enough to keep it further down the list.

The Delta DW 788 should probably be considered a professional-grade scroll saw, and the price represents that. 

On the other hand, the price is still low enough that some beginning scroll saw users will make the investment with the understanding that they may never have to buy another scroll saw again.

Feature-wise, there are no complaints about this saw.

  • DeWalt’s double parallel-link arm design reduces vibration and noise
  • All controls located on top at the front of the arm.
  • Blade stays perpendicular to the work surface for extremely accurate cuts.
  • Tool-free blade clamps
  • Arm lifts and tilts out of the way for easy and fast work changes
  • A cast-iron oversized table that tilts both directions, left and right to 45 degrees
  • Dust blower
  • 3-year limited warranty

The big issue with recommending this saw as an absolute best scroll saw for beginning users is the price point and a couple of missing features that would be nice on a saw of this caliber and cost. 

The DeWalt DW788 is conspicuously missing a work light. It seems like a small issue, but at just under $400, you would think DeWalt would have included a decent LED work light with the saw.

Across the board, the DeWalt DW788 gets the highest marks of any saw on our list from consumers. 

The remarks overflow with praise for the quality of the saw, the smooth and precise way it cuts, and the overall satisfaction with the saw. 

The DeWalt DW788 probably has more features than the average beginning scroll saw user may need, but they are nice to have.

There are some detractors. The one consistent complaint focuses on the quality control of the assembly and packaging of the saw. 

Some users found parts missing, manuals, and documentation incomplete and saw parts out of alignment from the factory. 

These complaints are a very small portion of the overall community but are worth mentioning.

#5 Shop Fox W1713

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Best Entry Level Saw

Another Shop Fox saw makes the list at number five. The Shop Fox W1713 consistently appears on Best Scroll Saw lists across the internet. 

Outside the world of woodworkers, Shop Fox tools aren’t all that well know.  However, among woodworkers, Shop Fox has an excellent reputation.

Most of the user’s comments surveyed online were complimentary of the saw. 

Comments included praise for the cutting ability of the W1717, its lack of vibration, easy blade changes, and the quiet operation of the saw.

The W1713 is considered an entry-level saw and doesn’t offer as many features as the first four on our list. 

The price point of this saw makes it well worth the price and earns it a place on the absolute best scroll saw for beginning users.  The feature list includes:

  • 1/8 horsepower motor
  • Variable speed, 550 – 1650 SPM
  • Max. Cutting thickness 2”.
  • Max. Cutting width 16”.
  • Cast-iron worktable
  • Work light
  • Dust blower (non-adjustable)
  • Front-mounted speed control and on/off switch
  • Blade tensioner on the back of the upper arm.
  • Uses both pinned and pinless blades

The Shop Fox W1713 is certainly a good saw and for the price is not to be discounted as an absolute best scroll saw for beginning users. However, some things kept it at the lower end of our list.

The Shop Fox W1713 uses both pinned and pinless blades. However, the mechanism for using pinless blades is not as elegant a solution as the other saws on our list that offer the option to use both styles of the blade.

To use pinless blades on the Shop Fox W1713, you must attach adapters to each end of the saw blade. 

These adapters are essential clamp blocks that use set screws to grip the blade on each end, and the adapters then fit into the same attachment points as the pinned blade.

This arrangement of adapters raises two issues. First and foremost, the adapters have two set screws, one on each side of the adapter block.

If these set screws are not tightened equally from both sides, the blade alignment may suffer, resulting in unsatisfactory performance, offline cuts, and blade breakage.

The second issue we have is keeping track of these two small parts in a woodshop. The saw does have storage space built for these adapters into the top of the arm.

We foresee several possible problems with this. Scroll saws vibrate, and any vibration of the saw could cause the adapters to jump out of their storage space and go missing.

Also, may small shop owners routinely move their scroll saw from the workbench to storage space. 

Moving the saw open the possibility of the small adapter parts going missing during the move. 

In our view, this is less than an acceptable situation.

For these reasons, the Shop Fox W1713 comes in at # 5 on our list of the absolute best scroll saws for beginning users.

#6 Wen 3921

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Best Light Duty Saw

Wen began manufacturing power tools in the early 1950s and has since expanded into a wide range of other power equipment for the homeowner and do-it-yourselfer. 

The Wen brand is not as well-known as some of the other DIY tool labels. 

The Wen 3921 scroll saw makes our list for a couple of reasons. 

Wen advertises that their blade attachment system allows the scroll saw blade attachment in the usual method with the front of the blade facing the front of the saw. 

The Wen 3921 scroll saw also allows the attachment of the blade turned 90 degrees to the saw arm. 

Such a blade arrangement could allow the user some flexibility in a small shop where space is at a premium, and finding a place to position the saw for use makes this a valuable feature.

The price point of this saw also ticks a checkbox for the absolute best scroll saw for beginning users. At under $150, this is a saw that offers features no found on some of the more expensive saws on the list.

Looking at the feature list reveals many sought after options on a scroll saw for beginning users.

  • Unique blade mount design allows dual direction blade attachments
  • 400 to 1600 SPM
  • 16 by the 11-inch worktable
  • Cast-iron saw base for stable vibration-free operation.
  • Tool-free blade changes
  • Front-mounted speed control and on/off switch
  • Tension level on the top back of the saw arm
  • Sawdust blower
  • Work light
  • 16” throat
  • An integral 1.5-inch dust collection port

A just over 100 dollars, the Wen 3921 certainly has a place on our absolute best scroll saws for beginning users. 

If you are curious about scroll saws and want to dabble a bit in scroll saw projects, the Wen 3921 could be just what you need.  

This saw has the features that allow the beginning scroll saw user explore all the possible styles of woodwork possible with a scroll saw yet not have to make an enormous investment financially. For occasional use, the Wen 3921 deserves consideration.

On the downside, the Wen 3921 has some of the same shortcomings as the other less expensive saws on our list. 

The adapters that allow the use of both styles of blades is an issue, as is the storage of these small parts.

The quality of manufacturing and parts on these cheaper saws is always a concern, and this reflects in the consumer comments and complaints found on the internet. 

However, the saw still garners a relatively high 4.3 out of 5 from over 1000 consumers who commented on the Wen 3921.  That is an impressive piece of information.

If you are looking to give scroll saw work a try without investing an excessive amount of money, the Wen 3921 should be on your list of absolute best scroll saws for beginning users just like it is on ours.

Related Content: Top 5 Best Scroll Saws, precise and accurate tool to consider!

Finding Your Absolute Best Scroll Saw for Beginning Users

There is no hard and fast step by step list of rules for selecting a scroll saw. 

Just like choosing any other product, you need to understand your own needs and wants, expand your knowledge about the product for which you are shopping, and establish a budget.

Understanding scroll saws, the most important features, and the possibilities that a scroll saw opens to you in the woodshop should be first on your list of things to consider. 

Hopefully, this list and these tips will get you started in the right direction and help you choose a scroll saw that would fill your needs and let you enjoy your time with your saw in your woodshop.

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