Victorian Foot Powered Scroll Saw

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Project by Rev. Jim Paulson posted 12-10-2009 12:46 AM 21762 views 16 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A couple years ago I got the bug to build a foot powered scroll saw. I had already built a treadle lathe and a spring pole lathe and so I was up to the challenge. I was also into the Victorian scroll saw designs then and I incorporated some scroll saw/fret saw designs into the body of the saw itself. I had fun building this and I believe it will be great for cutting out inlay on period pieces. It was a challenge to design the mechanism here to get everything to work together. The blade clamping parts came from a small hand fret saw. I had to use an outrigger design to suspend a heavy duty spring so I could get the return action I needed from the pedal. The drive uses a free wheel ratcheting gear that I obtained from a bike repair shop.

I built the table out of particleboard, but I plan to replace it with a new one made out of walnut.

I hope you like it. It manages to catch someone’s eye whenever they enter my shop.

Take care,


20 comments so far

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 4576 days

#1 posted 12-10-2009 12:50 AM

Just too way cool! You have created a beautiful tool! Love it!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4627 days

#2 posted 12-10-2009 12:54 AM

Hey Jim
This is outrageously cool a scroll saw with fret work on it and it keeps you power bill down too. Thanks for sharing.


View SNSpencer's profile


133 posts in 4163 days

#3 posted 12-10-2009 01:26 AM

Knowing that we (woodworkers) spend most of our time, effort and tallents making things for other people, it’s great to see those tallents turned back towards the creator from time to time. Awesome.

-- Jef Spencer - Refined Pallet -

View oicurn2it2's profile


146 posts in 4887 days

#4 posted 12-10-2009 02:01 AM

verily nice.

-- "when you think youre going to slow, slow down just a little bit more" .... Pop's

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5210 days

#5 posted 12-10-2009 02:06 AM

that’s awesome – and the scrollwork really makes it extra special

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View bigbuddha's profile


200 posts in 4269 days

#6 posted 12-10-2009 02:15 AM

That’s really cool!!!!!! How long did it take to build it?

-- helen

View Rj's profile


1047 posts in 4681 days

#7 posted 12-10-2009 02:29 AM

This is superb Jim ! I love the fact you don’t need power to do your work and your detail work is a great complement to an already great job.
You should right a book on how to make tools I’m sure you would have following of people wanting to build tools that don’t require Eletricity. ( I would be one of them)

One of a kind!!

-- Rj's Woodworks,San Jose & Weed Ca,

View Rev. Jim Paulson's profile

Rev. Jim Paulson

120 posts in 4326 days

#8 posted 12-10-2009 02:43 AM

Thanks for the compliments. It did take a while, but it is like a lot of things you have to want to do it. Some old cast iron foot powered ones were made by the Barnes Company in the late 1880’s and they recently sold for $600-700 on Ebay. That was too much money for my blood. Scroll or fret sawing was a big deal in the late 1880’s. My journey began when I purchased a design for using the free wheel ratching gear and flywheel about two years ago and then made improvements and modifications so that it became my own. My design is basically all the woodworking stuff on the saw base and the outrigger.


View paplou's profile


324 posts in 4393 days

#9 posted 12-10-2009 04:30 AM

fantastic work. love to see it work.


View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20601 posts in 4725 days

#10 posted 12-10-2009 05:00 AM

Like this one to :-)) Great job.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 5215 days

#11 posted 12-10-2009 06:37 AM

Rev. Jim Paulson,
I’ve just been out in the shop all day on a scrollsaw! This really caught my eye, and it was because of the scroll work on the saw. Really nice job. I’m just curious? How many strokes per full dresspion of the foot pedal do you get? I mean this thing is pure variable speed control, isn’t it? Congratulations on a great looking build.

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

View littlecope's profile


3119 posts in 4551 days

#12 posted 12-10-2009 02:20 PM

Beautiful Work, Jim! I would love to give that a whirl and see how she ticks… :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2852 posts in 4641 days

#13 posted 12-10-2009 02:56 PM

Really cool!!! Great job. I love the old style. Thanks for posting

-- Dennis Zongker

View Kirk's profile


42 posts in 4146 days

#14 posted 12-10-2009 03:37 PM

That is just too cool. Is that how the first scroll saws were made? I have to say, that is impressive! What would be even better is a 90-120 s video of you using it.

Thanks for sharing that, Reverend. The older I get, the more history becomes of interest – a well made piece with several touches of class.

View Rev. Jim Paulson's profile

Rev. Jim Paulson

120 posts in 4326 days

#15 posted 12-10-2009 03:51 PM

Thanks for the nice things you’ve all said here. It would be neat to make a short video clip, we’ll see stay tuned. You’re great people! Blessings on all your projects.



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