Make a scroll saw! (using only upcycled/free materials)

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Picture of Make a scroll saw! (using only upcycled/free materials)

Check it out! A battery-powered scroll saw made entirely out of recycled bits and pieces around my garage! B)

For my entry in the woodworking contest I wanted to do try something poetically geeky. Something a little hardcore, yet still something that anybody could do with a little patience.  Most of all, something useful to have which would increase the overall coolness of the shop.

It's been over a year since I published this, but I also found another variation:
It definitely trumps mine in the slap-together-itive-ness factor.  Not to mention the guy's accent is way cooler than mine.


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Step 1: So... what are we doing here?

Picture of So... what are we doing here?
So the first thing we need to do is figure out where we're headed.

After a little research, I found out that Roy Underhill (henceforth referred to as, "Da Man") has released some scroll saw plans online.

Of course, his was meant as an afterthought to his treadle lathe project.  Still it provided a good starting point for a more modernized / less difficult to fit on a workbench design.

(Also, if it helps, some nice person made a sketchup model of it.)

Now that we know where we're going, time to figure out a plan to get there.

The only thing left to do now is to erase the doodles off a sheet of graph paper and start designing!

Besides being a coping saw blade moved by oak arms, I soon found that my design was significantly different from his.  I guess that's part of the fun, though.

PS118 (author) 1 year ago

In the past month, Izzy Swan has released a youtube video where he makes a similar tool. He's also supposedly going to make written plans available soon.

Be forewarned though, his youtube channel is very addictive. It is made mostly of crack cocaine and sawdust. ;)

Do you have problems with the blade moving towards and away from you during operation? (due to arc of arms holding blade)

mrchaddavis PS11811 months ago

Dear Lord, I forgot about your warning about his channel being addictive. Two hours of my life just disappeared after I clicked that link.

z1rc0n1 year ago

2 wrds: Scotch Yoke

PS118 (author)  z1rc0n1 year ago

Oh, that mechanism has an actual name. I didn't know that. Thanks for pointing that out.

jeff-o4 years ago
I've seen "home made" scroll saws like this before, only they were foot operated. They were used by a few guys who were cutting veneers for intricate mosaics and inlays. They told me that they weren't able to use a powered scroll saw because it would tear apart the thin veneer sheets. So, they made their own!
There is an old "machine", if you can call it that, called a "chevalet de marquetrie" or Marquetry Donkey. It was hand and foot operated. The feet operate the clamping mechanism that held the veneer packet and the saw is held captive in a frame that moves back and forth on a steel rod. the operator would move the packet by releasing, shifting and reclamping it. While at the same time moving the saw frame back and forth to make the cuts. I read an article about it in Fine Woodworking years ago. I have never actually seen one but I can imagine it took some serious skill to use. 

Here's an article about the tool.
PS118 (author)  ArtisanEclectic2 years ago
Very cool contraption! And some those pictures of the work they do! Wow!!

I neglected to mention that your saw is a very cool contraption as well. I notice this 'ible is a coupe of years old so I have to ask if it is still around and if not did you at least get a lot of use out of it?

I have seen a bunch of these homemade scrollsaws. some as nice as furniture. But your has some very clever and simple solutions. Your drive mechanism is one of Most original I have seen so far.
PS118 (author)  ArtisanEclectic2 years ago
I moved to a smaller place shortly after building it, so unfortunately I really haven't used it much at all. At the moment it's on the top shelf of a utility closet I'd literally have to move my air compressor to open! :/-
manishrkp2 years ago
Pl. upload video.
To a person who has wanted a scroll saw for years but never found the occasion to purchase said saw,you are now viewed as a hero.Congradulations on a job well done.
wood wizard2 years ago
absoloutely love it.its sheer brilliance
profpat2 years ago
very nice and simple!
naplatki2 years ago
I like it. My first tool made personally was a manual drill made of wood. The drill was metal.
mikolynn2 years ago
Oh! You save my life!
yax2 years ago
This has made my day, nice one!!
princemoon2 years ago
sweet work man!
princemoon2 years ago
sweet work man!
modon3 years ago
A variation I thought of might be .... mount this to your lathe bed and use the eccentric chucked up in the spindle. This frame would mount easily to the average ways.
Ya got me thinkin! (which could be dangerous)
how about a way to angle the blade? would't be hard to do and would be quite useful :)
PS118 (author)  nickmccullough3 years ago
That's a good idea.

It may be easier to angle the table rather than the blade though (it's just a hinge on one side, really). Maybe something like this or this.

As always, if you try it, let me know! ;)

yeah table would probably be easier:)

I have project lined up after project, and i added this to my list. So wont be getting to it for some time, but this is definitely the place ill be coming for reference:)
Well, pine isn't hardwood but will it work?
Wow, after looking endlessly outside of my favorite website (in false suspicions that no one would here would have built it) for an easy DIY scrollsaw, to find a few less well documented examples, this one was just waiting for me at my favorite website. AWESOME scrollsaw! i will be building one soon.
HA! That's awesome!!! What made you decide to make a scroll saw?
samsao4 years ago
good idea ! ... nice
and i'll try it
punkhead584 years ago
I would love to see a video.
PS118 (author)  punkhead584 years ago
Sorry I haven't uploaded one yet. Having trouble digging up a camcorder at the moment.
Wo0kiE4 years ago
now the only thing I can see here that you could have done differently, a small bearing assembly on the metal rod coming from the drill would probably reduce excess vibration and make for a smoother up/down transition...

but either way, still a very nice overall design!
PS118 (author)  Wo0kiE4 years ago
Good idea! I might just try that next time I see one laying around...
Wo0kiE4 years ago
this is SUPER tempting!

sweet work man!
Mr.Sanchez4 years ago
I`ll try This...awesomeeee...
A really GOOD part of this is using the electric drill to power it. An idea I might have to pursue for a project I have in mind.
CrLz4 years ago
Good project.
greggspen4 years ago
This is beyond awesome... Its what awesome things aspire to be. I have always wanted a scroll saw and this is a clever basis to work from A+++
I thought it was hand powered at first. This is pretty neat
rimar20004 years ago
Very good idea!

When I was a child I wanted to make something like this, but after some weeks of comings and goings I left the project. I used a little turntable motor, that does not have the strength even to move the contraption!