May 20, 2021

The Best Wood for a Scroll Saw | FAQs Answered

The best wood for a scroll saw is free of knots. You can use a fine-toothed scroll saw blade for small intricate pieces, such as a decorative border for a picture frame or small toys for kids. These blades have tiny teeth that are hardly visible to the naked eye. This allows the blade to cut through thin materials.

The best types of wood for scroll saw are pine, oak, and cherry wood. These woods come in different varieties for specific needs. You can use pine for beginner pieces as it is easy to cut and glue together. Oak is great for intricate designs as it is durable and resilient to cracking or splitting while cutting intricate designs.

The scroll saw is one of the handiest tools a woodworking enthusiast can own. It is great for cutting small pieces of wood and is used to cut intricate designs. The scroll saw is the perfect tool for anyone who wants to create a project that has precise, detailed cuts.

Wood for scroll saw projects


Cherry consists of heartwood that is light reddish/brown. It has even grain that is easy to cut and holds up well for intricate fretwork. It is not damaging to the saw blade. It gives less weight to weight-bearing items. 

It is beautiful and rich in color. After some time, it starts darkening. The fastest way of darkening is by exposing it to sunlight. It also warps with time. Cherry wood is warm and rich in color. It is ideal for décor projects.


Walnut varies from rich brown color to a purplish hue. It is one of the best wood to use for scroll saw projects. The sapwood is white, and it comes with even grain. Walnut trees give out burls with exotic and swirling grain patterns. Walnut trees are North American trees that have the popular dark hardwood. 

The heartwood and sapwood create high contrast. It is a bit harder than cherry wood. However, it is not as hard as maple. It works better on pieces that do not require much weight. You may confuse walnut and cherry.


Maple is found in North America. It is lighter than cherry and walnut. It is for scrollwork, white, and has even grain. It has a curly patterned grain that is tricky for some users. Maple wood is readily available and affordable. 

Maple has two types of wood. That is the soft and hard maple. Soft maple is softwood, and it is affordable, and hard maple is hardwood. Soft maple is easier to cut than hard maple. It is not damaging to your blade. However, hard maple is for projects that require dense wood.  


It is popular in North America. It has sapwood and a creamy-white color. The curly grain makes it hard and workable. If you are not careful, you might confuse it with maple due to the lighter color they both carry. 

The birch wood is ideal for cabinet making. The wood is known for its strength in resisting shock. It is heavy and yellowish. 


Ash is a strong wood but light wood. It is hard and a bit harsh to scroll saw blades. It has a unique grain pattern that is unsuitable for complex pattern making. It is perfect if you are looking for unique designs. 

Darker brown sections are in the ash wood. Lighter outlying sapwood produces a high-contrast look. That is what makes it similar to maple.


Hickory is available around the world, and it is affordable. That is convenient because hardwood comes with steeper prices. It makes a strength-to-weight ratio with multiple kinds of wood. 

It is stronger than other hardwoods. That is why it is difficult to cut through. It damages saw blades. The sapwood is pale. It is beautiful under a lighting situation, and it takes up stains quickly. It has a straight grain with unique patterns. That makes it ideal for large scroll projects. 

Lightweight woods

When it comes to lightweight woods, it does not mean softwood. There are strong woods that are lightweight. Ashwood is lightweight and has parts that are dark brown. It is hard but not hard to cut. However, it easily wears out blades. 

When using lightweight material, you should quickly pick the types of productions that suit your wood. The type of finish you would like to have also counts. These projects include projects that you hang on the wall. Baltic birch is another form of wood that is thin and lightweight. 

What is surprising are the five compressed layers it has. It is strong and easy to finish. It makes ornaments and wall hangings and comes in multiple lengths and widths. You use paint or stain to give it a beautiful finish. 


Hardwoods are stronger, and you have to be careful about speeding. Inappropriate speed leads to smoking or chipping. Oak is harder, but it keeps the shape of a pattern. That is why I recommend Ash and Maple. 

I do not advise beginners to go for ash and maple because they require a skilled user. In most cases, they demand skilled cuts. They tend to vibrate or jump up and down if you increase their speed. You have to master your speed to overcome such a drawback. 

The jumping of the material results in injuries, and you have to avoid accidents. Red oak, walnut, and cherry have good grains. Hickory is a budget wood material that has strength-to-weight ratios. Oak is perfect for saw art and requires you to work on off-cuts since it is the hardest. 


Softwoods are perfect for learning. You use them to familiarize yourself with the scroll saw. Softwoods bend easily under the blade. However, it is hard to keep the pattern. Softwoods include cedar and plywood.

Poplar is the ideal softwood for practice because it has even grain. You can cut it at multiple speeds without damaging the wood and your machine. Changing blades is the least of your worry. 

Plywood has good tensile strength and is stable. It is ideal for affordable scroll saw projects. However, it takes away the blade. That is why I do not recommend it over other softwoods. 

How to pick the best wood for scroll saw projects

You need to clarify the type of project you want to run. You may specialize in intricate patterns or simple patterns, and these two attract different types of wood. An appropriate material does not break your saw machine. That is why you have to research safe materials. 

Thin material allows you to stay in control even at high speed. You follow the lines of a pattern easily. Hard Material exposes you to the risk of vibrations, although it holds a pattern better. That is due to the resistance that comes with the hardwood. Wrong material leads to chipping and instability of the wood. That ruins your project. 

The thickness of your material matters to your scroll saw. Perfect carving and cutting are effortless on your saw. Standard blades cut materials that are up to 2 inches deep. However, that does not mean you do not need to exercise caution. Hardwood slows down the operation. See our Wen Scroll Saw 3921 vs 3922 comparisons.


Can you cut pine on a scroll saw?

You can cut pine wood on a scroll saw, but it’s not the best wood for a scroll sawing. Pine is a softwood and therefore not as strong or durable as hardwoods. The best wood for a scroll saw are usually from fruit trees, such as apple, cherry, or maple.

Is MDF good for scroll sawing?

MDF, or Medium-Density Fiberboard, is a type of engineered wood. It’s made from wood fibers that are glued and pressed together. MDF is good for scroll sawing because it’s easy to work with and cuts cleanly.

Where to buy wood for scroll saw projects?

You can find wood for scroll saw projects at your local hardware store or online. When buying wood online, be sure to check the seller’s return policy in case the wood is not as described.

Can a scroll saw cut hardwood?

A scroll saw can cut hardwood, but it’s not the best type of wood to use for scroll saw projects. Hardwoods are more difficult to cut than softwoods and can cause the scroll saw blade to wear out quickly.

When choosing wood for a scroll saw project, it’s important to consider the type of wood, the size of the project, and the blade you’ll be using. The best wood for a scroll saw is free of knots, easy to work with, and cuts cleanly. MDF is a good choice for scroll sawing because it’s easy to work with and cuts cleanly. For hardwoods, maple is a good choice because it’s strong and durable.

What are scroll saws used for?

Scroll saws are used to create intricate cuts in wood. They can be used to make small toys, decorative borders for picture frames, or other small woodworking projects.

David D. Hughes

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