I was considering buying a scrollsaw, primarily so my 10 year old son
and I could do some woodworking together. He's at the stage in life
where he's "bored" all the time.
I've never used a scrollsaw in my life, so I was wondering if they'd be
considered "safe enough" for a fairly mature 10 year old. He wouldn't
do anything stupid or reckless. I'd always supervise him using it.. If
by accident he did rub a finger against the blade, is it as devastating
as a bandsaw? (I'd guess not).
I'd like to have him start by making puzzles out of 1/2 plywood for his
siblings. I don't know if you can get less aggressive cutting blades to
make it safer or what.
Again, I'm totally ignorant of scrollsaws, thus I am seeking your input.
Nowhere near as dangerous as a bandsaw. Blades are much finer, so they don't
remove nearly as much material at once -- typical bandsaw blade is 3 to 6
teeth per inch (tpi), whereas 20 tpi might be a bit on the coarse side for a
scroll saw. Sticking your fingers into a moving scroll saw blade means you
need a band-aid. Sticking your fingers into a moving bandsaw blade probably
means a trip to the E.R.
Less aggressive doesn't necessarily mean safer. Match the blade to the
material, and don't worry about it.
Any power tool has the potential to be dangerous, particularly saws, but that
potential is lower with a scroll saw than almost any other powered woodworking
tool I can think of.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
I have a Dremel scroll saw. Sticking your fingers into it makes the saw
stop. It is good only for cutting up to a quarter inch thickness. Perfect
for jigsaw puzzles, perfect for children to use, otherwise a useless waste
Exactly. With a bendy pressed tin body and a fitting for a sanding disc
which also stopped when you touched it. Really a piece of idiocy but I
mention it only because I found it fun for exactly the purpose the OP had -
I could use it on the kitchen table with my kids making jig-saws puzzles,
model aeroplanes, doll's house furniture and they could use it too. You
could never have hurt yourself with it.
Doug - Agree/Disagree. I agree the scroll saw would probably do much less
damage thatn the bandsaw. When working on small, thin stock, I let my
pinkies get closer than I would the bandsaw. However my little Delta could
very easily go to the bone. That's more than enough reason to go the the ER
for stitches, shot and antibiotics.
With that aside, I would probably let a mature 10-year old use one with
close supervision. That is the way a lot of young folks learn to love being
A 13-14 year old? Ummmm, not so sure.
On Tue, 05 Dec 2006 00:26:35 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Miller)
I think the band saw is a little bit easier to learn on though,
because you don't have to worry as much about keeping the stock
pressed down (says the guy with a scar on his knuckle from the band
saw in an incident that started with not keeping the stock pressed
down). I've had the scroll saw once or twice get really angry and
shake a piece to bits on me, that doesn't happen on the band saw.
As Doug says, match the blade to the work. Then have him keep the speed
down until he gets the hang of it. Sort of a power coping saw. You can take
a tendon pretty quickly if you don't have that blade guarded and your
fingers out of the way.
Of course, if you have your blade guarded on the bandsaw and keep your
fingers out of the way....
I'd say a scroll saw is pretty safe. If you want to get even safer try
a home built version.
It shows a home built foot powered scroll saw. I figure it would be safer
than an electric scroll saw, yet easier to use than a coping saw.
They started us out in woodshop in the 6th grade (11/12 years old), the only
tool we were not allowed to use was the table saw.
I specifically remember using hand drills, coping saws, a router, a drill
press and a scroll saw. I don't remember any safety issues. It's too bad
they cut out woodshop in the schools except as a highschool elective...
Not having a kid myself, take my opinion as an observer. Scrollsaws are
very safe when handled properly and I see no reason that a 10 year old
can't follow instructions.
But clearly, it would be best for you to practice on the scrollsaw for a
month or so before letting your son do it. There are basic tricks to
learn and it's probably just asking for an accident if you try learning
with your son.
What I would suggest is that you let him watch you as you learn. When
YOU feel confident with the scrollsaw, you can slowly ramp him into
using it by starting with the basics (which by then you should have
mastered well enough to be safe).
Better yet ... look for a course in your area. And if possible, take it
with you son!
Just remember, cutting your fingers is only one of the dangers. Always
wear goggles (or some form of eye protection from flying chips) and
always wear a dust mask. I'd recommend a mask that "breathes", so that
you don't find yourself sweating up your goggles.
In conclusion ... I think it's a great idea to get him into woodworking
at this age. But as you said, kids that age get bored easily and you do
NOT want him trying to do something too fast before he's ready.
I'd say a scroll saw is one of the safer powered cutting tools. I have
a 14 year old who has used my bandsaw under supervision for several
years without injury, or even scaring me too much.
One thing to watch out for: For some reason, boys seem predisposed to
"thump" or flick small cutoff scraps of wood away from the blade. They
seem to think the short time their finger spends near the blade makes
it less scary somehow. But it's a movement that is by its very nature
uncontrolled and imprecise. Teach him early on to use another scrap to
gently brush those cutoffs away from the blade.
"Every man is my superior in that I can learn from him." - Thomas
A couple of comments:
inexpensive scroll saws are not the way to go. Too many people have
purchased very low end scroll saws, only to find there is too much
vibration, poor quality manufacturing, and too much blade wobble. They get
frustrated and abandon the hobby. Buy as much saw as you can afford. A
used DeWalt 788 just might be a better bargain than something from HF.
Scroll saw is a skill. It is an eye-hand thing. Except in rare cases,
there are no jigs, fixtures, or fences to buy or build with a scroll saw.
Scroll sawing is an easy skill to pick up, and it don't take long, but you
must build up the skill by doing. You know your son, and as you stated in
you post, you need to start off with easy. The first 20 or 30 tries will be
firewood. Expect that, plan on that, and use that fact to also learn about
applying a finish, including if you want to sand before cutting, or after.
(many times with fret work, it is better to sand before cutting.) Don't let
him get discouraged because he might lack the fine muscle tone of a 13 or 14
year old. It comes with practice and skill development. But his ability to
quickly grow skills through his youthful eye-hand coordination will amaze
Best of luck.
On Tue, 05 Dec 2006 01:17:23 GMT, "Phil-in-MI" <NO Spam &
The only thing about the dewalt is that the guard is a joke. For a
kid to use I'd rather have something they put more than 30 seconds
into engineering the guard. In all other areas the dewalt is
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