A scroll saw is one of the most popular saws that people buy when they are starting to grow in their woodworking hobby. Not only is it an easy machine to operate, but it’s also relatively safe.
Renters are always looking for ways to practice their woodworking hobby while living in an apartment or townhouse when a garage or shop isn’t feasible to work in. Due to the noise constraints that renters face, often times, the scroll saw is looked at as the most viable option to purchase.
In the article below, I will explain my recommended scroll saws for using in a quiet setting as well as other options available to you to help reduce the sound that it makes so you aren’t disturbing your neighbors.
Sound Levels Explained
Before we get into the best scroll saw and soundproofing methods that will allow you to continue your woodworking hobby, it is important that you understand the basics of how sound it measured.
The loudness of sounds is measured in decibels. This is the standardized unit of measure for noise. Sound is measured from a low of 0 up to a max of 194.
A measure of 0 is absolute and complete silence, which is something that you will rarely, if ever encounter due to the high sensitivity of the decibel rating. You may assume that the noise that the sound of a pin dropping is near silence, but it produces around 10 decibels.
On the other end of the spectrum, a rocket launch near the blast zone is estimated to be around 180 decibels. Anything that is greater than the maximum 194 decibels becomes a shockwave!
Now that we know the extreme ends of the sound scale. It’s important that you understand what is normal. A computer puts out about 40 decibels, while a normal conversation is measured at about 60 decibels. Scientists have determined that any prolonged noises over 85 decibels can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Best Quiet Scroll Saws
Based on what I have found, I think there are two scroll saws on the market right now that are great options for using in an apartment or other small space where noise is a concern. Both of these saws are great options. One significant difference in the two options I’ve laid out below is price. The Dewalt model is significantly more expensive than the Shop Fox.
If you have done much research on the sound levels made by scroll saws, it’s likely that you have struggled to find a solid answer. For some reason, this is not a metric that many saw makers measure. I recently spoke with the people at Dewalt regarding the noise levels put out by their DW788 scroll saw. They were the one company that I found that does measure take a lab measurement of the sound levels of their product. Based on their testing in a controlled environment, they found that their DW788 put out around 89 decibels of sound when turned on. To give some perspective, the average lawn mower emits about 90 decibels of sound.
One thing to keep in mind is that the measurement is only with the scroll saw turned on. During the cutting of any material, there will be an increase in noise levels. Another thing to keep in mind, is that the noise levels can vary a bit from machine to machine depending on the location and you particular setup.
The Dewalt DW788 is, in my opinion, the best hobbyist level scroll saw on the market right now. Unless you are looking to get into a commercial level scroll saw, the DW788 is the one you should consider if you are serious about using a scroll saw.
The most visible feature that you’ll see on this saw that sets it apart from others is the large table. This is extremely helpful when cutting because it allows you to cut larger items without worrying about your material becoming unbalanced. Having the large table will make life much easier when cutting. The table on the DW788 is measured at 20 inches which is the largest that I’ve found on a consumer grade scroll saw.
The less than visible feature that I consider the most important feature on this particular saw is the ease to change blades. If you are using a scroll saw, then it’s likely the project your are cutting has intricate details and requires tight cuts. Most often, those cuts will be needed in the middle of your material. Therefore, the only way to get a blade in the middle of the material without cutting from the edge is to drill a small hole in the center, and inserting the blade into the hole.
At first, this may not sound like much, but if you have several center cuts to make, you will need to remove the blade from your scroll saw numerous times. The DW788 allows you to remove blades without any tools. This is a significant time saver, as you are able to quickly disconnect and reconnect the blades due to the clamping system that Dewalt uses to keep the blades in place. If you read the reviews on Amazon, you’ll see comments like “easiest blade to change ever” repeatedly.
Shop Fox W1713
If the Dewalt scroll saw is out of your price range, there are other options available. Show Fox makes a great scroll saw (Model W1713) for less than half the price of the Dewalt model. The Shop Fox brand may not be as recognizable as Dewalt, but they have been around for decades and produce a wide range of woodworking tools.
When I reached out to Shop Fox, they did not have official lab tests of the noise levels for their scroll saw, however, from the research I’ve done, it is comparable to that of the more expensive Dewalt model, however, I’ve been unable to do any official noise comparison tests.
The Shop Fox W1713 comes with a table that is slightly smaller than the Dewalt version, is still a hefty 16″ wide which should be plenty big enough in most cases.
A couple of very nice features on this saw is the built in light as well has the dust collection ports. Even though scroll saws are small, they can but out a considerable amount of dust. If you are using a scroll saw in an apartment, you’ll certainly want to ensure that you have something in place to control the dust.
This saw is also designed with quick blade changes in mind.
Additional Steps to Reduce Noise Levels
All saws are going to create some amount of noise due to the motors and the fact that a steel blade is being used to cut through wood. There are some additional steps that you can take to help muffle the noise that is created.
Noise reduction tips:
- Since you can’t eliminate the noise that is created from a saw, you can help reduce how much is passed through the walls of your apartment. Try to place your saw in a room that is furthest away from a neighboring unit if possible.
- Since a scroll saw is relatively light (approximately 35 lbs), they are easy to move around. Check with your apartment complex to see if you can make cuts on your balcony or in the parking lot when weather permits. Many complexes have common areas with covered areas that you could sit under and work assuming there is a nearby electrical outlet.
- Build a box that muffles the sound put out by your vacuum. A great example of this can be found on Fine Woodworking’s website by clicking here.
- Run a small cable or rope along the top of the wall around the room that holds your saw. Then hang sound deafening curtains around the room like these found on Amazon.
- If your apartment complex will allow it, consider painting the walls with sound deadening paint like this.