Illustrated Architecture Dictionary.................. Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary


C scroll

S scroll


1. Something, especially an ornament, resembling a partly unrolled sheet of paper or having a spiral or coiled form.

2. A classical frieze ornament having a spiral form resembling a loosely rolled parchment, either

C scroll: A "C" curved design.  C-and S-scrolls were essential elements of Rococo ornament, especially in frames around cartouches or inscripti.

S scroll: An "S" curved design. An alternate name for an ancone.

Italianate style features scroll-sawn brackets.


Scroll buttress

Vitruvian scroll

Flemish scroll

History of Scroll Sawing

The evolution of the scroll saw is linked to the rise in popularity of fretwork.

Although there are examples of fretwork-like decorations on early Egyptian, Greek, and Roman furniture, these were probably carved or cut with a knife.

It was not a common practiced to saw delicate wooden shapes until the late 1500's, when a German craftsman (most likely a clock maker) devised a method for making fine, narrow blades.

Soon thereafter, a Parisian began to develop specialized hand tools for cutting these intricate designs. He designed a U-shaped fret saw which was originally known as a Buhl Saw (Buhl) a corrupted pronunciation of the man's name) very similar to a coping saw.

As Mr. Boulle's work gained notoriety, the craft was legitimized and quickly spread to Italy within a generation.

Fretwork was introduced to America in the mid 1800's as Sorrento wood carving. Sorrento is so named because of the area in Italy that it was most popular.

By the 1860's, the first mechanical fret saws -- called scroll saws -- began to appear in the U.S.  And so a great art form and hobby were born.

Today there are over fifty models of scroll saws available with many options.
- Leslie's Patterns, Ltd. (online May 2017)

 The Evolution of the Scroll Saw

By the 1860s, the first mechanical powered scroll saws began to appear in the United States using a foot-powered treadle, a hand crank, or a pedal mechanism.

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 Woodworking and Crafts (online May 2017)


An S or C curved design

A spiraling and convoluting line, like a rolled piece of paper, makes the scroll

An artistic invention in ornamentation, used with acanthus leaves, laurel oak, ivy, and wheat.

Cabriole leg - an S-shaped scroll

Bonnet top / Swan's neck pediment - 2 shaped curves ending in spirals (volutes)

Flemish scroll: An S or C curved ornamental form in which a scroll is broken by an angle. Used in Flemish Renaissance furniture and also in the English Carolean (Charles I or II) and William and Mary styles.

Flemish leg: C-scroll shape terminating in a spiral foot

C-scroll foot used in Late Classical style

Examples from Buffalo:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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