Picture of The Sewingmachine Scrollsaw
This project aims to design and build a scrollsaw based on a sewing machine.

For months I had an old sewing machine standing in the corner of my workshop, not really knowing what to do with it. It had been thrown out by the previous owner because it didn't really work anymore. The most important components, however, still functioned. I hoped I would be able to fix it.

But, whilst taking a closer look at it the other day, I figured out two issues about it:
- I couldn't find the sources of its many problems.
- I actually don't need a sewing machine.
A scrollsaw, on the other hand, was something I could find use in.

All materials used in this project are extracted from the sewing machine or is scrap wood.

I don't suppose you do have the exact same sewing machine, so I'll be a bit more general with the instructions: no measurements or dimensions. Not that there ever were any..

This project takes about a weekend.

Watch me explain it:

Step 1: What we've got

Picture of What we've got
Let's start out with disassembling the machine. I'll remove all components, I wouldn't need.
It is important not to destroy any of the components, since they might come in handy later on. So put away you saws and hammers, and get on about this with screwdrivers and time.

I was surprised about the inside. This thing is like a clockwork! And build to survive an atomic attack.
Everything is shiny stainless steel or molded aluminium - rarely plastic. Thanks to the rather modular design of the machine, it will be rather easy to disassemble the parts not needed, which is like 90% and quite allot.

The mechanism for the needle will stay, as well as the drive shaft and the motor. The presser foot and its lifting mechanism will later be used for the other end of the cutting blade.
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Congratulations for your nice project.
You solved two important issues about converting a sewing machine into a scroll saw: geting a "positive" push on the saw blade and finding more room for moving the piece being sawn. And all this in one magic stroke: puting the sewing machine ( or what was left of it) "under" instead of "over" the working piece. Once again, congratulations. I wil make one myself.
SDX42 (author)  joaogoedert1 year ago
Exactly! I've been looking into others peoples work and found a remarkable, similar instructable from bongodrummer (http://www.instructables.com/id/From-Sewing-Machine-to-Scroll-Saw-a-Christmas-tal/). He had the described issues. The lack of a positive push was solved, rather inconveniently, by leaving the presser foot. However, the issue of finding more room wasn't. I took all that into consideration when designing this.
I'm already about to solve the structural issue with the arm by sandwiching it in metal-plates. Also, what I discovered after having used the saw for a few days now is, that one does have to give all mechanical parts a bit oil before using it.
Hope that helped.
gbroad1 year ago
You could stiffen up that arm by sandwiching it between two pieces of plywood. Keep the inside of the "C" the same but make the outside bigger. Might be able to get rid of that weight.
SDX42 (author)  gbroad1 year ago
I've been thinking about doing that with a metal plate. Cut out the shape of the arm and sandwich it. Should give me decent strength as well.

Interesting, but isn't the thing about a sewing machine-it's not that powerful? Or is it? How does this compare to a regular scroll saw power wise? What do you think the chances are of being able to turn a jig saw into a sewing machine. I am looking at the price difference between regular sewing machines and industrial sewing machines and just wondering, why such a jump in price? A thicker needle? A stronger motor?

Hi, I've started mine following this procedure and I'm near to be finish but I have few questions to ask. First, is this forum still active in order to ask questions? Thanks. G

SDX42 (author)  guillaume.benoit.940611 months ago

Just go ahead my friend!

Hello, after spending my week end and few nights of the week, I finally managed to solve 2 out of 3 issues. The last one being: how do you keep a constant tension in the blade?

Well, I'm now at the stage of connecting the Frame to the top of the blade. I choose to separate the Frame in 3 elements: the top, the upper arm and a nice piece of wood connecting the table to the upper arm.

I hope it make sense to you.

I've built my support onto the machine, the top and the frame out of plywood (top) and straight grain Mahogany for the rest. With few screws and all this wood I've managed to reach a heavy base, a stable top and a very strong frame. Despite all of that my worries are around the actual mechanism itself; not from the machine but from the top of the blade/ upper frame. I'm re-using the springs and the metal arm from my sewing machine and I can't get a constant tension between the top arm (from the frame) and bottom arm (from the machine). I've tried to alter the length of the springs, the high of the arm, the high of the frame, the position of the blade and I keep facing 2 or 3 problems.

So far I've only done hand tests, I'll see later how it will works with the foot pedal.

The first one: inconsistent tension resulting of a broken blade each time.

The second: the upper steel arm does not spring back sometimes, in order to pull up the blade.

Third one: I've only clamped the upper wooden frame so when I reach satisfaction I'll be able to screw and glue it in place. It's a 40mm by 30mm thick piece of plywood and mahogany without a 45 degree angle at the end. Therefore every time the blade goes down, the spring goes down, resting on the top but bringing the whole wooden frame down too.

I hope I haven't confused you as I have a tendency to specify everything in tiny little details using a too complex grammar.

Thank you so much for your patience and your fast reply.


ABSOLUTELY FAB!!!!! Thanks a lot for this idea. Definitely doing it :)

rich_29101 year ago
Is it possible to modify the..... round white thing attached to the motor... and use it as a sander?
SDX42 (author)  rich_29101 year ago

That's really not a bad idea at all

alcurb1 year ago

I admire the cleverness required for recycling discards into something extremely useful. Great work.

bmoreau11 year ago
I would suggest using an old hacksaw game as the arm. Premade and ready to go.
foobear1 year ago


Excellent Job. Sewing Machine is one of the greatest inventions mankind ecountered. And ur subject is quite great.

yanismwa1 year ago

Great project. Thank you

Stone_UFO1 year ago

super cool

parasee1 year ago
I have just purchased a scroll saw and I love it. but I want to make something like this but pedal powered, so no need to mess with the motors.
bgunville1 year ago
Very creative but I do not think it would do for small veining cuts.
I did not see blade size mentioned any place. Blade looks large and if they break well!!
But kudos price is right
SDX42 (author)  bgunville1 year ago
The blade I'm using is a No.2 blade, 22.5 teeth per inch, 13cm long. Maybe the video tricks a bit, since it is zoomed in quite a lot when it shows me cutting
I did this about 20 yrs ago with an old singer treadle that had been converted to power. It worked well until it wore out because of dust getting into the works. I was never able to solve the problem, until working on my 10/22 which uses graphite for lubrication instead of oil. Dust and particles will not stick and stay as it will with oil. Something to think about. les
SDX42 (author)  stickystuff1 year ago
I've been thinking about that issue. Solutionwise, I've gone as far as thinking about adding a mount for the dustcollector. But graphite wasn't something I've been thinking about. Thanks for the tip, I'll give it a shot.
very good
Ok, let us know of your improvements.
tw70031 year ago
you're stepping in the steps of the inventor of the jigsaw, who put a sawblade into the sewing machine of his wife:
SDX42 (author)  tw70031 year ago
Uh, interesting! Thanks for sharing.
Very nice work sir! Loving the table-on-top solution to get more workpiece clearance. Nice vid too! Consider it voted for ;)
As you say, the presser foot solution on mine was a bit inelegant, and limited the thickness of the wood you could cut (though the rest of the machine couldn't really cope with more than 10mm anyway).
Looks like the tilting table (nice touch) could benefit from a sacrificial zero clearance insert to make changing blades easier?
Again, I really like the ingenuity and clever reuse of materials :) Thanks for the share.
SDX42 (author)  bongodrummer1 year ago
Hi bongodrummer, nice to see you here.
Changing the blade can be done rather easily now: I just tilt the table and fasten/loosen the needle/blade mount with a screwdriver.
However, a zero clearance insert would indeed be useful, since the blade cuts into the table at times when pushing or pulling in the workpiece, which would make the hole rather big over time.
karan131 year ago
dud this is brilliant..last night only I was thinking to have a scroll saw..n today,going through instructables I actually got a method to make one..thanx a lot..I would also like to make an instructable on it when I will start building one..actually it would be my 1st one..thanx again to share this idea
SDX42 (author)  karan131 year ago
I'm very much looking forward to see your results
amorawala1 year ago
Excellent. I was just looking out for a motorized scroll saw. I tried the old fashioned hand saw, but being out of practice for years, I messed up my work. I have my mother's old Singer sewing machine, an antique really, with a motor drive. I have to take off the covers to access the mechanics. Will take some time since I have a full time job. But this is really great.
Brilliant! Nice work and some admirable creativity!
jimwi1 year ago
Nice job.
Just an idea, try laminating the arm frame like plywood. this will strengthen and stiffen up the arm making it more stable but still let it flex.
rimar20001 year ago
Very neat work, congratulations.
chabias1 year ago
Well done! Yours sounds much quieter than my scrollsaw and looks to handle better too!
You are amazing, I will be making the required adaptions to an old sewing machine that has been hanging around on my porch taking up space.
I know a guy who does this hack without destroying the body of the sewing machine, but i believe he used much older machines, either way it's brilliant.
SDX42 (author)  bobby sissom1 year ago
Great to hear! Just don't do what I did wrong about this project, and I suspect you'll be pleased with the result. Looking forward to see your result.
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