Pedal-powered scroll saw

My little brother and I went to the Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center in Asheville, NC, today and ran across this very cool piece of maker history — a scroll saw operated by a pulley powered contraption resembling a stationary bicycle. Pedal punk?


  1. I wonder if (with a sufficiently finely-toothed blade for minimal drag) you couldn’t do this with a treadle (like old-school sewing machines).

        1. So I type out an entire paragraph comment reply and hit post and then I have to sign in and it wipes out my typed comment?  Weak.  Also, are .pdfs that much of a security risk to warrant yelling? (caps)

          On topic though I found this great book on Google books that shows quite a few models of early human-powered scroll saws.  Well, not early human but possibly early 20th Century or late 19th perhaps…  I particularly like the ones powered by tensioned members and treadles.  Using a bow to power a saw is pretty cool. <- not a .pdf.  

          1. Also, are .pdfs that much of a security risk to warrant yelling?

            It’s not because they’re a security risk; they’re a huge, sometimes-unstoppable data dump that many people will not want to deal with and may be trapped into downloading completely.

            And we don’t allow any URL shorteners except for obvious, proprietary ones like Amazon or YouTube. About 90% of URL shorteners are from spammers linking to attack pages.

          2. I didn’t know .pdfs were that big but I get it.  Also I used the Google URL shortener for the link I posted above.

          3. Google URL shorteners aren’t safe. They’re quite popular for spammers. Disqus truncates the appearance of URLs, so there’s no need for a shortener, anyway.

    1. Yeah this is sort of unique in that it isn’t a treadle, they used to make lathes that way as well. My dad collects antique tools and is constantly pissed he doesn’t have room for one. 

  2. You may also chance upon one of these in operation at Tamarack, along the West Virginia Turnpike. The last time I visited, an artist was scroll-sawing designs in her wooden bookmarks. Couple of ’em went home with me.

    Even if you’re not interested in the saw, I recommend a visit. It’s an impressive and affordable body of work from artists (and artisans) statewide.

  3. Loverly!  Asheville has the neatest things.  I love that city. Last time we visited, they actually had a Laurie Anderson exhibit at the downtown art museum.

  4. Maggie – Welcome to Asheville!  I live very close to the Folk Arts Center – really a cool place.

  5. Wow… making delicate patterns in wood with a sharp saw blade while peddling your ass off. Nice craftsmanship!

  6. I’ve seen a couple of pedal power scroll saws in various antique shops along the Appalachian mountains.  While my wife is searching for her Fiestaware I usually end up around the tools..

    I’m honestly surprised I never find old electronics, like test gear stuff.  Sure the old occasional Betamax player or box of random vacuum tubes shows up but I never find scopes or even ham radio stuff..

    And if you are a fan of Arts and Crafts/Craftsman style you should really check out the Grove Park Inn, it is drool worthy.

  7. I saw a reciprocating garden hedger at the museum of garden history that took two operators, one did the work on a hand crank. Same feeling that I got from this, they probably put children on those pedals.

  8. The Detroit Historical Museum has one of these in the basement.  There’s a recreation of an old street there, which includes a woodworker’s shop.  I saw one of these in the window.

  9. My friends dad has an old band saw, that I assume was from a lumber mill. Must have a 60″ fly wheel with a 18″ cutting slot. Small foot pedal to get it going. Once that wheel is spinning you can cut for 10 minutes before it even begins to slow down. He has to keep a sign on it at the shop that its “not to be used” as it has nothing close to an emergency stop is is very not OSHA.

Comments are closed.