Work with Scroll or Fret Saws


Within a few years, scroll or fret-saws have been brought to a great perfection, and the use of them, is to some a profitable employment, while to others it affords an attractive and pleasing pastime.

The products of the scroll-saw are becoming frequent in household conveniences, and in the decorations of the parlor and drawing room. The windows of store-keepers who deal in these goods, present finely, and frequently elaborately wrought designs on exhibition, which are truly works of art.

In the accompanying engravings, two specimens of scroll-work are given.—those that workmen of average skill could make in a short time. The design in figure 1, is for a carved frame for a cabinet photograph, some small painting, or other picture, the whole to rest on an easel, wrought from the same kind of wood.

scroll-saw_fig_1Figure 2 shows an easel of an elaborate design, with the picture itself in scroll-work. The number of designs, of which those given are but samples, is limited only by the skill of the artist, and that of the workman at the saw.

The dealers in scroll-saws, have a very large assortment of suggestive designs, which they distribute freely in the form of sheets and catalogues—and of themselves make a very pretty collection. The use to which scroll-work can be put in the household, are various; wall pockets, thermometer frames, brackets, card baskets, lamp mats, toilet cases, card holders, etc., etc., are but a few of the many.


Those designs that are purely for ornament, can be used to decorate the windows by suspending these near the glass by a fine thread, where they show off to good advantage, both from within and without. But in order to get the very best effect, the scroll-work should be of the whitest of wood, and then provided with a black back-ground.

Merchants have in many cases availed themselves of the attractive and pleasing contrast thus produced, by putting their names, or those of their goods, in white-wood scroll-work, and then providing it with a black back-ground, in their shop windows, or show cases.

In household decoration, nothing seems more appropriate than black velvet, but any other rich cloth of the same color would answer. Ornamental work like that shown in the engravings, may be of any size, but for ordinary mantels, a background of a square foot in area, is the most acceptable. The whole, when completed, can be placed upon an easel. The low price of scroll saws puts them and their products within the reach of all.

American Agriculturist – April, 1880

—Jeff Burks

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