Wood products suitable for scroll sawing include various solid woods and wood sheet materials like plywood and Medium Density Fibreboard (supawood). Particle board (chip board) is not suitable for scroll sawing. Selecting the type of material you will use is very important for the final outcome of your project.
Hardwoods come in a variety of species, colours and grain patterns, and are more attractive than plywood. However, they are more expensive and also time consuming, as they require more sanding and hardwoods are more likely to warp.
Plywood, on the other hand, is less expensive, requires less sanding, and comes in a variety of standard thicknesses. It is also less likely to develop cracks or warp. The commercial grades of ply often have voids in-between the layers, making it less ideal for scrolling – purchase the best quality plywood available.
Supawood (MDF) is stable, less expensive, easy to cut and suitable for painted or stained projects.
I like to use Imbuia, Maple, African Mahogany and Blonde Mahogany and have been fortunate to work with exotic woods such asBrazilian Cherry, Purpleheart and Zebrawood. Oak, Cherry and Rose wood char easily and you need to slow down your saw and change blades more often when cutting these woods.
For a beginner scroller, I would suggest woods like Jacaranda, Red cedar and Poplar, which cut easily and finish well. Softwood likeClear Pine is also a good choice if you choose to paint your project. Be sure the wood you choose is knot-free. Try to obtain off- cuts of solid wood, plywood and MDF/supawood from a furniture manufacturer or cabinet maker while you practise your skills on the scroll saw.
Hardwood finishes beautifully. Always try to find and use wood with a nice grain pattern and a lot of “character”. Regardless of how expensive the wood is, your finished project will be seen and felt for years to come, so use the best material you can afford when making a special project.
Paper, fabric, steel, brass, plastic, stone and even glass can be cut with the scroll saw (with specialised diamond-tipped blades)