Choosing The Best Wood for Your Next Scroll Saw Projects

The scroll saw stands out for the cleanest and most precise cuts on wood.

However, it’s critical that you choose the most suitable wood for your scroll saw projects.

A good wood choice saves you frustration, loss of materials, and time.

Here, we discuss several kinds of wood that are ideal for your projects. I will also let you know why they are the best.

Related: How to Use Scroll Saw

The Best Wood for Scroll Saw Projects


cherry wood

A cherry tree mainly consists of heartwood, which is light reddish-brown. It has a minimal amount of light-reddish yellow sapwood.

Most woodworkers love cherry due to its beautiful rich coloring.

Cherry wood grain is incredibly even, making it perfect for intricate fretwork.

Being a soft hardwood, cherry is easy to cut with a scroll saw blade compared to other woods. However, it provides less strength for heavy items.

It also darkens over time, especially when exposed to sunlight, and can warp as it dries up.


walnut wood

Walnut trees are predominantly North American and, surprisingly, the only dark hardwood trees on the continent.

Walnut heartwood can either be purple or rich brown. Its sapwood is white, with an even straight grain.

Though not as strong as maple or birch, walnut is slightly harder than cherry.

This wood is better considered for pieces that do not need much weight.

When it comes to hardness, we mostly categorize cherry and walnut together. The choice between the two would be mostly in terms of color.

If you are looking for a higher contrast look, walnut would fit the bill. Otherwise, cherry is good for a warm, wood color.


maple wood

Maple is among the predominant hardwoods in North America. It’s much lighter in color compared to cherry or walnut.

It is slightly cheap, readily available, and easy to find hardwood. As such, it is a common wood of choice for the scroll saw project.

Its sapwood has a white appearance, is clean, and with an even grain. Its grain is both curly and fiddle back patterned.

Generally, maple exists in two: hard maple and soft maple. Just like the names suggest, soft maple is a softwood and slightly cheaper than hard maple.

Soft maple is also easy to cut, and your scroll saw blade would not dull fast. However, if you are working on a project that requires dense wood, hard maple would be the best option.


birch wood

The most commonly available variety of birch is yellow and has very little sapwood.

Its heartwood is creamy white and has a curly grain.

Birch compares to maple in terms of hardness, color, and workability.

The curly grain also tends to absorb stain irregularly.

In terms of usage, birch is a wood of choice in the making of cabinets.


ash wood

Ash is a lightweight but very strong hardwood. Much like oak and birch, ash wood is usually a bit unforgiving to your scroll saw blade.

Its grain pattern is also unique and has features quite intricate details.

As such, your project will, most likely, show these grain patterns.

The heartwood has dark brown sections, and the sapwood is slightly lighter. This combination is ideal for a high contrast look.


hickory wood

Hickory is among the readily available and cheaper hardwoods. It also rates highly in strength-to-weight ratios.

Among all the woods we have discussed above, hickory is the hardest of them all. As such, it easily wears out saw blades since it’s not that easy to cut.

Its sapwood is rather pale, whereas the heartwood is darker brown or reddish-brown.

However, hickory has an amazing appearance under any lighting and stains relatively well. 

The other critical aspect of hickory is how cost-friendly it is. Hickory is cheaper than many of the woods we have discussed previously.

Given its hardness, you will find it rather economical to work with.

It features straight-grained sapwood and heartwood. It also has unique patterns that you can count on for extra beauty on your finished project.

​Its straight, consistent grain makes it ideal for your large scroll projects.

When Can I Use Softwood for Scroll Work?

Mostly, softwoods are usually not the best choice for scroll saw projects.

They are relatively brittle and fragile, thanks to their softness.

Softwoods such as basswood and pine are not ideal for finer work. They are brittle and hard to stain.

However, if you are practicing with a scroll saw, you may opt for softwoods. They will offer you little resistance.

Keep in mind that a scroll saw is ideal when you intend to make tight, intricate cuts. As such, you need to choose the wood that will allow you to make tight turns and cuts.

One major downside of softwood is that it may easily break when cutting tighter turns.

​However, softwood would also be the best if you are learning how to cut shapes in wood. You can easily make your cuts without dulling your saw blade.

When Can I Use Hardwood?

A scroll saw helps you make sharp, precise cuts. Such cuts require you to have wood that is strong enough.

For this reason, hardwoods make a better choice for scroll saw projects. They can hold on tight even as you make those tight, curved designs.

Many softwoods would not stand these intricate designs and cuts. As such, they will break easily and ruin your project.

On the contrary, hardwood is strong enough to withstand any type of design cut.


There are numerous types of woods available in the market. As such, it’s usually not an easy task to decide which wood is the most appropriate.

You have to keep in mind some of the critical factors to help you choose the best wood. This is especially so for scroll work projects.

Pay special attention to the hardness of the wood. A good hardwood will withstand those intricate cut designs.

Pay attention also to the appearance and grain structure of the wood. They will contribute to the final outlook of your project.

If not sure, you can always take time to experiment. Only then can you be sure of what works and what does not work for you.

Marcus Weldman

Marcus Weldman is the main author of Marcus is a tool and DIY enthusiast. He spends his time discovering the comparative differences and practical limits for all kinds of tools.