Scroll Saw or Jigsaw: Which is Better for You?


Cutting different materials and different designs is as easy as ABC, once you have identified which tool you need, and for what purpose. A scroll saw and a jigsaw is the commonly used tools. In this article, we are going to analyze the two as one is always mistaken for the other.

What is a Scroll Saw?

A scroll saw is typically an electric or pedal-operated tool that is used to cut twisted curves in materials. It is often mistaken for a jigsaw but here is a detailed analysis of the scroll saw.

A scroll saw has the ability to create intricate cuts as a result of its small blade. A blade is conventionally measured by how many teeth it has per inch (TPI) and the greater the number of teeth per inch, the more precise and intricate work it can handle. The number of teeth also affects the speed of the blade such that the greater the Teeth per inch, the faster the blade will make turns.

A scroll saw has a foot that allows a user to secure the workpiece to the saw. Setting the right tension is a key step as it will affect the precision of the blade. We will need to first tighten the blade. After installation of the blade, if one can move the saw blade then you need to re-tension your scroll saw blade. The blade should not also be made too tight as it will result in the blade breaking.

When making straight cuts, one should consider the fact that a scroll saw tends to swerve over to the side. For this reason, it is prudent that the workpiece (most likely a wood) be fed into the machine at an angle from the right. When removing sharp edges, we hold the workpiece at an angle and feed it to the blade while rotating it.

Applications to consider.

A scroll saw has a variety of applications to consider as it is an all-rounded cutting tool. Scroll saws are mainly used by woodworkers, craftsmen, and artisans.

The chief purpose of a scroll saw is to cut twisted profiles, patterns, and joints on wood, plastic, and metal. It is commonly used to create artwork, scrolls, and ivory carvings. You can easily make intarsia, marquetry and lettered signs on wood using a scroll saw.

If one needs to make wooden toys and jigsaw puzzles then a scroll saw will do.

What is a Jigsaw?

First of all, a jigsaw is a tool and secondly, it is a saw. Simple right? That’s what I thought. Let us dig deeper and find out all there is to know about a jigsaw.

A jigsaw operates under a mechanism that uses a bartering blade to cut asymmetrical curves such as shape designs in wood, plastic, metal, and other materials. Jigsaws with single plates have a yaw function that cuts acute angles to a maximum of 45 degrees relative to the normal.

Before the emergence of jigsaws, scroll saws were often called jigsaws. If we want to use a jigsaw, we first attach a blade accessory to it. Blades are readily available in the market and they come in a number of shapes and sizes.

Bosch was the first company to introduce a tool-free blade changing system that allows for a quick change of blades without using a tool. There are two types of blades used with a jigsaw; U-shank blades and T-shank blades. T-shank blades are the most popular as they are durable and they fit perfectly into the blade tool.

A blade’s performance is influenced by the tooth design. For optimal performance and speed, getting a blade with the right tooth spacing, tooth shape, and cutting at the right angle is key. A side set of teeth blade provides optimal results when cutting wood and plastics. Milled teeth work perfectly with coarser cuts in wood and plastics. Clean cuts in wood can be obtained using a ground and a taper-ground tooth.

Blades are usually made to fit their purpose by combining different materials.

  • A blade made from high carbon steel will be used to cut lightweight materials such as wood and plastics.
  • A blade made from High Speed Steel can typically handle all types of metals.
  • The Bi-Metal (BIM) is used in demanding applications to give the much-needed flexibility and versatility.

Jigsaws are basically used to make intricate curved cuts in wood, plastic, metal sheets, ceramic tiles among many other materials. They can make immersed cuts, straight cuts, and bevel cuts in materials. They come in handy when we are working away from our usual setup as they can easily be moved.

Scroll Saw vs Jigsaw: Main Difference

Identifying the differences between a scroll saw and a jigsaw is an ambiguous task, to say the least if one is not keen. We are going to analyze the underlying differences between the two.

They share a similar function but one thing about scroll saws that nobody mentions is that they are big, stationary tools that lie on a table. For us to use it, we need to feed it with the material to be cut into the little delicate blade. Jigsaws on the other hand are handheld tools where in order to cut a material we will need to move the blade to the material being cut. It is more flexible than a scroll saw.

Jigsaws are common and much more practical and efficient as compared to a scroll saw. Its docility enables us to do several things that we cannot do when using a scroll saw. A jigsaw is a crude tool that will not offer fine cuts if that is what we are looking for. Jigsaws can cut wood, plastic, PVC, and hard metal not forgetting curves, irregular shapes, and circles, tasks impossible to achieve with a scroll saw.

What makes a scroll saw stand out is that it can give us fancy shapes and designs due to its blade fineness. Scroll saws cannot handle materials thicker than 2″ thick but their thin, tiny blades allow us to turn the workpiece we are working on in several angles.

A scroll saw is environmentally friendly as it generates a little amount of noise and dust. There is quite a number of things we can do with a scroll saw that we can’t do while using a jigsaw; cutting 3-D designs, pierce cuts, intarsia, and marquetry. All these are a touch of quality, art, and creativity.

The Downside of a scroll saw is it is a bulky tool that will take up a lot of space it will not be a good option if we are looking to do small Do it Yourself projects. They come in handy for commercial craft artists.

In terms of blade sizes, a jigsaw primarily has two blade types; U-shank type and T-shank type. Scroll saws have a pinned or pinless blades. It is upon us to decide which blade we need and for what purpose.

A scroll saw is more powerful than a jigsaw as it uses power directly from the main supply outlets while a jigsaw can be cordless. When it comes to matters size of the material, a scroll saw has a limited size whereas a jigsaw can handle practically any size of the material provided you have the gusto and time to do the work. The size of the throat of a jigsaw determines the width it can accommodate in its chamber. For a jigsaw, all we have to worry about is the thickness of the material to be cut in order to select the right blade for the task. A jigsaw cuts up to 4-inch deep which is double the depth a scroll saw can handle.

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Quick Safety Tips for a Beginner

  1. Always wear safety gear such as goggles before working with any saw as the blades can break off anytime.
  2. Put on a dust mask before using a scroll saw as it produces a lot of dust.
  3. Always ensure that the material being cut is dry.
  4. Carefully read the user manual before operating any of the saws.
  5. Make sure that the blade is always sharp before working on any material.
  6. Do not force the blade of the saw through any material, instead, reverse and try again.
  7. Keep your fingers away from the blades always.

How thick of wood can a jigsaw cut?

Several factors affect how thick of a material a jigsaw can cut.

  1. It is impossible to cut a material thicker than the length of the jigsaw blade.
  2. The number of teeth per inch determines how thick of a material it will cut. A smaller number of teeth will enable us to cut thicker materials.
  3. Type of the material to cut is another factor to consider. We can cut thicker materials with a jigsaw if they are relatively soft.
  4. The power of the motor is also key as it limits how thick of a material you can cut.

Final Words

In a nutshell, the scope of work to be done always determine what tool to select. After going through this article, it will help you make an informed decision on what tool to go for when and why. Our choice of tools to work with should be informed by the nature of the job at hand and the tools available.


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Jason D. Turner

Hi there! My name is Jason, a keen enthusiast in power tools and their mechanisms and the sole mastermind behind the Noisy Tools. Working in a multi-national construction firm in Brooklyn for over a decade, I have developed a fair flair for different construction devices, gadgets, and their diverse operational aspects. By the dint of this platform, I have researched and reviewed various tools with utmost details of even the most trivial matters that will provide valuable insights for any prospective user.

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