Scroll Saw vs Jigsaw – Which One to Choose?

Scroll Saw vs Jigsaw

For any sort of intricate woodwork, you’re going to need a scroll saw or a jigsaw. These saws are fairly similar, but also have a few key differences. They are both used largely to make curved cuts, which are nearly impossible for other saws to do. Both saws are also used for making small, intricate designed. Still, they have a few differences that are important to note.


Jigsaws are more popular than scroll saws. These handheld machines can be corded or cordless. They have a small blade that is attached only on the top, allowing it to cut into the piece of wood from above. These saws are very versatile and small, allowing you to cut a variety of materials and designs. Read more jigsaw reviews here.

Jig saw

Why You Should Get a Jigsaw

Jigsaws can accept a variety of different blade configurations in width, length, and teeth type. This feature allows the saws to cut through a variety of materials – wood, PVC, plastic, metal, or ceramic tile.

They can cut straight lines, curved lines, and even perfect circles. Jigsaws were once used to cut pieces for jigsaw puzzles, so they can do even very fine designs. These saws are also very inexpensive. Typically, you can pick up a cheaper model for $50. 

You do have to actually hold the saw while you’re using it, so they can cause fatigue if used for extended periods. 

Due to their small size and non-stationary design, they can easily be carried from Jobsite to Jobsite in a tool bag. You can even buy cordless jigsaws, which makes them even more portable. 

However, jigsaws cannot do everything. They are not very good at making very small, intricate designs. For that, you’ll need the scroll saw

Scroll Saw

A Scroll saw is a neat addition to the woodshop. They look like a mix between a sewing machine and a jigsaw. It is stationary and is typically set on top of a table or stand. It has a small thin blade that is attached vertically and moves up and down – much like a sewing needle on a sewing machine. Due to the really small blades so they let you get into much tighter spots than you could get with something like a band saw. To use it, you set the wood on the table and move it into the blade. They are not considered as dangerous as other saws, however, it can still cause you, hand and finger injuries at contact at the point of operation.

It is a great way to get your kids started in the hobby that you enjoy so much.

scroll saw
Image credit: Bradjustinen, Flickr

Why You Should Get a Scroll Saw

Scroll saws are some of the most precise tools out there. They can make very fine details quickly and accurately. They can also make inside-out designs and fractional cuts, allowing you to cut out the inside of a piece of wood. This is great for signs and projects that involve lettering. You can make Pierce cuts like when you want to cut internally. You can take the blade out of the machine get inside to put the machine back together and make those internal cuts.

They are also incredibly easy to use. All you have to do is draw your design on a piece of wood and then guide the blade along with your markings. Within minutes, you’ll have a finished piece of work. Scroll saws are safer than many other saws due to their small blade and sewing-machine-like design.

Scroll saws also make very smooth cuts. There is very little sanding that needs to be done after you use a scroll saw, saving you even more time on your project. They also produce very little amounts of dust so you don’t have to worry about sweeping up your workspace after each project.

Scroll saws cannot cut through very thick materials, however. Their blade is small and narrow, which means the wood you cut has to be very small and narrow as well. Your working material must also be small enough to fit on a scroll saw’s table. For bigger pieces of wood, you need a jigsaw. 

One of the things that’s pretty neat on a scroll saw is having variable speed like means you can control the speed which then, in turn, gives you better control over cuts.

Conclusion – Jigsaw or Scroll Saw?

While both of these saws are designed for small, intricate details, they have quite a few differences, as you have seen. 

Preferably, you will know what sort of project you’re planning on doing before purchasing a saw. For intricate work on small pieces of wood such as signs or children’s toys, choose a scroll saw. This saw is also the best option if you’re planning on introducing a child to woodworking. They’re incredibly easy to use and one of the safest saws around. 

For work that involves larger pieces of wood, go with a jigsaw. These saws are mobile and can, therefore, be used to very large pieces of wood. They are also best for demolition work since they can cut through almost anything. 

If you do not have a permanent shop and need something portable, a jigsaw is also the best option. Scroll saws are stationary and not designed to be stored or moved in most cases. 


About the Author David Vieria

David has been a woodworker for most of his life — in his dad’s cabinet shop. After using the tools himself, he decided to share it his woodworking and power tools knowledge with DIYers. Read more about him

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