Convert Your Jigsaw Into a Scrollsaw





Introduction: Convert Your Jigsaw Into a Scrollsaw

About: From time to time one of my many projects will reach some state of completion. A smaller proportion of those have a mostly linear method that I can trace back to a purpose. Of those, some I document, and end...

After trying to cut out intricate shapes using a jigsaw (to no avail), and seeing guyzo35's Instructable on the subject, I knew I had to make one of these for my own. In this instructable, we'll convert a handheld jigsaw into a bench-top scroll saw, allowing us to cut small and complex shapes from light materials with ease. We'll also see if we can improve guyzo35's method, to make the scroll saw more functional.

What you'll need:

-The Sacrificial Jigsaw: Don't worry, we wont break it.

-Scrap wood: You'll need some ply wood and something a bit thicker for the supports.

-Wood Screws


Tools: Drill, Sandpaper, Clamps, Measuring implements

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Step 1: Cut Out the Top and the Base

Mark out a two 250mm X 300mm rectangles from a sheet of plywood, and cut them out using the jigsaw. These will serve as the top surface, and the base of our scroll saw. Give the edges and surfaces a good sand, particularly the piece you choose to use for the top surface.

Step 2: Make the Front Supports

Measure the length from the base plate of the jigsaw to the top of the handle. The supports we make must be longer than this to accommodate the jigsaw. Mine just just over 180mm, so, using some thicker wood, I cut out 2 lengths of 200m each. I then clamped the two pieces together, and cut another 5 mm or so off of each side, to ensure both were exactly the same length.

These can now be screwed onto the base as shown. Be sure to pre-drill and countersink your screw holes, or you'll risk cracking the wood.

Step 3: Mount the Jigsaw to the Top Surface

-Remove the metal base from the jigsaw using its included hex key. There is a single hole already in the base, but you'll need to drill three more, so there is one in each corner.

-In the center of the plywood surface we cut out earlier, mark the position for the jigsaw base to be bolted, as well as the position that the blade will protrude.

-We can now drill out the 4 matching holes in the plywood, countersinking them with a spade bit, so the bolts lie flush to the wood surface when we're done. We also need to drill a large hole for the jigsaw's blade.

-We can now reattach the jigsaws base onto the jigsaw, and place the plywood surface over the top, so that the jigsaw blade sticks through.

-Place a washer into each hole in the wood, and run the bolts through, fastening them with a nut each on the other side. The bolts are a bit tricky to tighten, I held them in place with a flat screwdriver and tightened them with a spanner from the opposite side.

Step 4: Mount the Jigsaw to the Base

Place the assembly from the previous step onto the base we made earlier, and screw them together from above, remembering to pre-drill and countersink all screw holes. The jigsaw shouldn't touch the base, but should be suspended from the top. It's important that the screws are flush with the top surface, or they'll get in the way when trying to use the scroll saw.

At this point I also cut some remaining wood used to make the supports to shape, and added two more supports to the back of the machine, this made it much more rigid.

Step 5: Stop Now, or Go Further!

At this point our scroll saw is functional, by clamping it to our bench-top, its is quite rigid, and works for many applications. This is also where guyzo35's Instructable ends.

While our scroll saw is much better at cutting intricate shapes than the original jigsaw was, I found two main issues with its operation:

- The Blade was not held in place well enough, and drifted from side to side (especially at higher speeds)

- The Blade has a much higher width than a typical scroll saw blade, leaving much to be desired when cutting tight curves.

Step 6: Decrease Blade Width

Decreasing the blades width will allow you to cut tight curves and around corners much more easily.

Move the blade so that it is at the highest point in its movement, then be sure to unplug the jigsaw.

Mark the lowest part of the blade that sticks out, we don't want to grind any of the blade below this point.

Remove the blade from the jigsaw, and using a bench grinder, grind the back side of the blade down to the desired width. Dip the blade in water to cool it off as you're grinding, if you let it get too hot it may lose its temper, and will cut very poorly. Discoloration of the metal is a sign of this.

When you're happy with the width of the blade, you can install it back into the jigsaw.

Step 7: Make a Blade Guide

A blade guide will keep the blade from drifting side to side while cutting, particularly after lowering the blade's width, and at higher speeds.

I used a small piece of PVC for this, though I suspect a hardwood might work better if you have some laying around.

I cut a small, angled notch into the PVC using the scroll saw, then suspended it behind the blade using a piece of wood held up by some thicker pieces, that are screwed into the top of the scroll saw's frame.

The drop of oil on the end of the guide helps it run better.


-The blade guide should never sit higher than the blade, at the blades lowest point in its movement.

-The guide limits the size of material you can cut, both by height and by the position of the guides anchor point. So mount the guide as high as you can (but recall the previous dot point) and place the guides anchor point as far back, and as far to one side as you can.

Step 8: Conclusion

With a little extra effort, it feels and works a lot more like a scroll saw and a lot less like an upside down jigsaw. It's not as good as a commercial scroll saw, but for a grand total of $0, I think it works pretty damn well.

Thanks to guyzo35 for his instructable, which gave birth to this one, and have fun!

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    Bow that's a Fantastic idea. Yes it's Simple yet it's Complex in what it will allow you to Accomplish. Not only that but I have been in need of a scroll saw and now I can re-purpose my Jigsaw into one,

    I was also thinking as the Jigsaw can have it's base on different angles, do you think it would still work in this purpose as in on the scroll saw. I am guessing that you would possibly need different Blade Guides for different angles, Any how it's just a thought. And I will be adding my Vote for you.

    Once again Great idea

    Thanks for Sharing.

    1 reply

    I'm glad I was able to help you out!

    I hadn't thought about that, I would have cut some more holes or makes some blanks (as GeoffM3 suggested), but I think its do-able. The only limitation I can see is the jigsaw hitting the side supports, so maybe an angle as great as 45 degrees would not be possible.

    I might have a play this weekend, I'll send some pictures if it works OK.

    Thanks for the vote and the idea :)

    very awesome idea. Jigsaw is useful but sometimes you need a scrollsaw and this idea is incredible. Thanks a lot for this.

    Nice! Blade guide looks cool and simple design.

    4 replies

    Of all things I think the blade guide could be improved. the wood's a little thin at one point and it gets the wobbles a bit. I've been tossing up ideas for making one that could be adjusted for different blade heights, or if I wanted to put a regular width blade in, for example.
    Bearings were also a thought.

    Such is the over-engineering struggle.
    All good fun.

    Try using 2 long, thin pieces of metal, as a sandwich for your blade guide. The metal will hold the blade guide, will be stronger than wood....and will still allow for items to pass underneath the blade guide! Nice project!

    @GordonD2 Great idea! Was trying to come up with solution for this problem and there... you solved it for me. Didn't have any roller bearings but have lots of scraps of metal. Might use 2 corner brackets and use my dremel to grind down to clear the saw blade teeth. Thank you for posting this!

    Good Idea! that will allow me to easily change guides for different blade sizes or if they break too.

    I'll give it a look this weekend and post some pictures if it turns out alright.

    Also, couldnt you somehow replace the original blada with a proper scrollsawblade? Or just a steel wire for lighter things

    I dont know if this has been mentioned before, but if you would drill a small hole at the tip of your blade and connect it to a spring? And and an arm from above, wouldnt that keep the blade in place?

    love it going to build my own -?

    If you turn your blade guide upsidedown and support it 5 mm higher you get a little more clearance. The simplicity of your design has encouraged me to give it a go.

    very smart i think this will probably work for me cool.

    Very nice. Thanks for the instructable. please post some pics of the work you have cut out using your jig-scroll saw

    You know the smaller you make the hole where the blade comes through the better quality cut you will get. Real nice, I think I'll make myself one, I have a project I've been wanting to do but needed a scroll saw first.

    1 reply

    Yeah that hole was a bit of a mistake, it lets a heap of dust get into the jigsaw as well..

    I'd love to see some pictures if you end up making your own! :)

    It's good project ! Thank you for your sharing.

    There have been a number of comments here on blade guides, I built a similar item some time ago but using some of these to keep everything square

    The principle is very good, but I found that a variable speed saw made a better job of it, Also consider fitting a thin "Mouse-tail" file and you'll wonder how you ever suvived without one.

    1 reply

    Maybe it's late and my brain isn't working properly, but I don't follow you on where you'd attach the mouse-tail file. Any additional info is appreciated. And thanks for the tip on using the v-groove bearings :)

    great!, i am making one. Also, a side guide could be added, like a table saw, to make straight cuts...