Scroll Saw Hold Downs

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Forum topic by Christophret posted 12-19-2012 06:32 PM 4101 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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150 posts in 2239 days

12-19-2012 06:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question scroll saw scrollworking

I find myself always removing the hold downs on my saws. For me, they just get in the way. Especially when doing 100’s of interior cuts. I stack cut many things and in the past, blade re-threading has been much more efficent without them.

Although my new saw, a Dewalt 788 the hold down lifts with the arm and I have yet to really see if I need to remove it. Although I probably will, because I see it as a distraction.

I’m interested to see what others think.


-- I cut it twice and it's still too short!

13 replies so far

View MrsN's profile


987 posts in 3764 days

#1 posted 12-19-2012 06:57 PM

I have removed all of the hold downs on my scroll saws. I also tell my highschool kids that they are welcome/encoraged to remove them if they want, most of the time they do.
I do leave the hold down on the saw I have my middle schoolers use. they tend to forget to hold the piece down and have more chatter then the older kids. I also don’t have them for as long so they don’t get as much experience with it.

View Tennessee's profile


2893 posts in 2752 days

#2 posted 12-19-2012 07:06 PM

In ten years, I cannot EVER remember using my hold down on my Dewalt, but for some strange reason, it’s still on there!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Woodenwizard's profile


1347 posts in 3281 days

#3 posted 12-20-2012 03:49 AM

Removing the hold down is the first thing I do.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View BilltheDiver's profile


260 posts in 3123 days

#4 posted 12-20-2012 04:31 AM

I find them very useful! They occupy a spot on my pegboard perpetually. They are of no use on the saw.

-- "Measure twice, cut once, count fingers"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9238 posts in 3158 days

#5 posted 12-20-2012 11:58 AM

I have always removed the hold down (or never installed it in the first place!) I think that it just gets in the way and actually causes more mistakes than it prevents. Because of the nature of scroll sawing (moving the wood through the blade manually) you really need to vary the pressure you place on the piece while working. There is no way the hold down can do this. Either it is too much pressure or not enough and the piece still chatters. Nothing replaces your own hands and sense of ‘feel’ for holding down the pieces, and as I said, it just seems to obstruct your vision and get in the way. Just my thoughts. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View kepy's profile


293 posts in 2511 days

#6 posted 12-20-2012 12:54 PM

The hold downs are just a waste of effort. Too bad we can’t come up with a good use for them. I don’t throw them away and they just take up space.

-- Kepy

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3080 days

#7 posted 12-20-2012 01:17 PM

I feel that if anyone is applying enough down pressure to their work to actually scroll, then the holddown becomes useless. Therefore, I can’t understand why they are even on there when you buy them.
I do have a nice collection though. I have an old tool bag on top of one of my storage shelves. It has holddowns off of scroll saws from the 40s, the 50s, the 90s, and modern ones. All of them are equally useless though.


View MontanaBob's profile


843 posts in 2922 days

#8 posted 12-20-2012 01:31 PM

The hold down was attached already, when I bought the saw (second hand). Never thought about taking it off learned to work with it, and I can see it would probably be easy to cut thin stock with it off…,,But thick stock, I would think the hold down would help. Will have to experiment, as soon as it warms up a little..

View Christophret's profile


150 posts in 2239 days

#9 posted 12-20-2012 02:06 PM

Thats what I figured.
Mabey we can gather them and make a sculpture.

MontanaBob ~ I tend to take a few extra steps and stack cut my fretwork projects. The few extra minutes it takes to stack and cleat my stock together is well worth it. Using 1/4” Oak stock, I can stack up to 6 layers and cut through once to produce 6 seperate pieces. it’s a real timesaver.
But even at 1-1/2” of oak, the hold down is still cumbersome.
I guess it boils down to user preference.


-- I cut it twice and it's still too short!

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3152 days

#10 posted 12-20-2012 02:16 PM

I originally got my 16in Delta scroll saw in ‘91 and most of my scrolling was with thin Formica, thin plywood, and balsa all used for modelling. I used to build RC Sailplanes and made airfoil templates for foam cutting etc. That said, “for modelling” I think the hold downs worked great.

As I quickly learned, for anything larger, hold downs are rather useless. FWIW, I never bothered to remove it and now just work around the inconvenience of it on the machine. My 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View ldl's profile


1135 posts in 2603 days

#11 posted 12-21-2012 03:15 AM

Like most I removed mine after about 2-3 projects. Have to hold wood anyway and it just gets in way for small cuttings.

-- Dewayne in Bainbridge, Ga. - - No one can make you mad. Only you decide when you get mad - -

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3080 days

#12 posted 12-21-2012 12:39 PM

I can see where the hold down may be of assistance for something like Mike was talking about. Balsa wood, such as used in models, is extremely light.
For thick stock that someone else was talking about though, I don’t see how the hold down would help. I’ve never seen one with enough downward tension on it to help keep thick stock from chattering on the table. It takes more force to hold that down.
I’m not sure though. A lot of things in scrolling is a matter of personal preference. This may be one of them. I do think though that a majority of scrollers remove the hold down.
I know if you do a lot of piercing cuts, such as some of the work I do, if it was left on the saw you would eventually get so frustrated by it that you’d rip it off.


View stefang's profile


16209 posts in 3572 days

#13 posted 12-30-2012 04:39 PM

Removed it and never used it. I also taught my grandkids without it, no problem, they got used to keeping a steady downward pressure on the workpiece fast.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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