Victorian Era Scroll Saw Patterns & Fretwork


While fretwork dated back to Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures, these scroll saw designs were hugely popular in the Victorian Era. The ornate detail of these patterns is influenced by the ornate gingerbread-style of the late 1800s.

During the Victoria Era (1850-1910), scroll saws were used to cut the delicate ornamental gingerbread patterns at the gabled ends along roof eaves and porches. Scroll saws were also used to create clocks, wall plaques, picture frames, and ornate furniture to adorn the inside of the home. By the 1920s, the term scroll saw was in common use throughout America and manufacturers, such as Barnes, New Rogers, Star, Lester, and Hobbies, began mass-producing them.

Scroll Saw Patterns

Scroll Saw Patterns

Celebrate the heritage and art of scroll sawing.

We can’t talk about vintage scroll saw patterns without talking about the master himself.

~ Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts Magazine

Scroll Saw Fretwork History Facts


Early Days:

  • Dates back to Egyptian, Greek, and Roman furniture which was probably carved with a knife
  • Fretwork lined tombs in Egypt.
  • Fretwork was also seen on Mayan and Aztec architecture.
  • The Greeks used it in pottery and painted decorations on architecture, which was later then carved.
Normandy Grandfather Clock Pattern
Corner Cabinet Pattern

Scroll Saw 1500’s:


  • In the late 1500’s a German craftsman (most likely a clock maker) devised a method for making fine, narrow blades.
  • In Paris, the U-shaped fret saw (Buhl “Boulle” Saw) was developed by Mr. Boulle.

Scroll Saw 1800’s:


  • 1829: First patent for reciprocating steel blade saw was awarded to Mr. M’Duff in Great Britain.
  • 1850-1910: Victorian Era scroll saw were used to cut delicate ornamental gingerbread patterns at the ends along roofs and porches. Scroll saws were also used to create clocks, wall plaques, picture frames, and ornate furniture.
  • Mid-1800s: Fretwork was introduced as “Sorrento” in America named after the area of Italy where it was most popular.
  • 1860s – First mechanical scroll saw appeared in the U.S.

Scroll Saw 1920’s:


  • Scroll saw tern was common use throughout America and were mass produced.

Other Titles from John A Nelson

Scroll Saw Workbook, 3rd Edition

Scroll Saw Workbook, 3rd Edition

Use this ultimate beginner’s scroll saw guide to hone your skills to perfection. New updated edition covers the latest innovations in scroll saw models and brands.

Scroll Saw Basketweave Projects

Scroll Saw Basketweave Projects

Fool your friends with these intriguing baskets! Featuring twelve never-before-published projects and step-by-step instructions. No special tools required!

For more scroll saw fretwork, check out our complete inventory of John A Nelson’s scroll saw patterns

Get the NEW version of Scroll Saw Workbook, 3rd Edition . from Fox Chapel Publishing