Given that the scroll saws and jigsaws both fall in the reciprocating saws category, it is easy for some users to assume they are designed for the same thing which could not be further from the truth.
Besides the obvious differences in their appearance, these saws will differ in various other aspects which means they will be ideal for different uses.
For the more experienced users, the differences between them are very clear and many will even have both in the workshop for different applications. However, the same cannot be said for a huge chunk of DIYers, and so most tend to have difficulties deciding on which one to buy.
But with the right information in mind, the choice between these two saws should be a more straightforward one given their many differences. Below we highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each saw and also explain what sets the scroll saw and jigsaw apart.
Scroll Saw Overview
Scroll saws are stationary power saws designed for use from the workshop or one spot on the job site, and they are very popular with DIYers and craftsmen.
These saws will use a small, thin blade that cuts in a reciprocating motion to make highly precise and delicate cuts in woods and will mostly be used to cut intricate designs which is what makes them great for crafts.
With a scroll saw, you get a highly specialized tool that might not be the first thing that comes in mind for many beginner and novice DIYers shopping for their first power saw. These saws will instead be preferred by the more experienced users that understand their specific uses. But when compared to jigsaws, these will be easier to handle.
And just like the jigsaw, the scroll saw will cut through a wide variety of materials. All you need to do is make sure you have the right blade.
Also, their design will include support for the material which is one of the reasons why they provide more precise cuts. Despite being powerful enough saws with larger motors, these saws are surprisingly quiet.
When compared to the jigsaws, these are often larger and bulkier machines that will not be very convenient for carrying around. And because they are specialty tools, they are not very versatile.
- Makes more precise cuts
- Quieter operation
- Great for crafts
- Easier to handle for beginners
- Bulkier and less portable
- Relatively less versatile
Whether you want to make a curved cut or rip through rough stock, the jigsaw will always come in handy. Despite its relatively smaller size, it is one of the most versatile saws you can have around.
This small handheld saw also cuts in a reciprocating motion just like the scroll saw, and it will use a straighter and narrower blade. The blade will only be attached to the top part of the tool and it moves up and down fast to cut.
Besides being able to handle a wider variety of cuts, a jigsaw will also cut various other materials besides wood with ease including plastics, laminate, ceramic and PVC. All you will need to do is choose the ideal blade length and thickness to suit the material you want to cut.
Thanks to its relatively smaller and lightweight size, the jigsaw will also be easier to carry around, and you will hence not have to use it from one spot in the workshop.
With that said, you should not expect to get the same level of precision you would get with a scroll saw when cutting with the jigsaw as freehand cutting is not very accurate. Also, the overall size and power that these saws can generate make them less efficient when handling larger workpieces.
- Highly versatile saw
- Smaller and easier to carry around
- Cuts a wide variety of materials
- Not very efficient when cutting large materials
- Freehand operation makes it less accurate
Small, thin blade
Straight, narrow blade
Max Cut Depth
Up to 2”
Up to 4”
Detailed/intricate wood art
Making straight cuts, curved lines and perfect circles on various materials
Poses greater risk
Safer to use
Size and Weight
Bigger and heavier
Small and lightweight
Average Price Range
$100 to $500
$50 to $300
Scroll Saw vs. Jigsaw
There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to picking between the scroll saw and jigsaws. Besides the obvious differences in their appearance, many people still do not know how they differ. To make sure that you know which saw will suit your intended use, it is important to understand the following differences between these saws.
Given that these saws are designed to cut in a reciprocating motion, they will have quite similar blades but they are not the same.
Scroll saws will come with a smaller and thinner blade while the jigsaw uses a straighter and narrower blade. Both the saws will also allow you to choose from different blade types and sizes depending on the material you will be cutting. The blades on the scroll saw will have a maximum size of 1/8-inch and the jigsaw blades can be up to 3/5 inches.
Another key difference between their blades is that while the scroll saw holds its blade both from the top and below, the jigsaw’s blade will only be secured at the top which is what makes it possible to rip through materials.
While still at the blade, it will also be worth noting that while the scroll saw will use a simple plain blade, the jigsaws will either have a T or U shank blade.
2. Max Cut Depth
The maximum cut depth that you will get with either of the two saws will depend on various things such as the material type and thickness given that both saws can handle a wide variety of materials.
However, the fact that the blade on the jigsaw is only held in place on one end means there will be more cutting area exposed. This allows you to use the blade to cut thicker materials and make deeper cuts.
A jigsaw can make cuts up to 4 inches deep which is double the depth you get with the scroll saw as a good model of the latter will cut only up to 2 inches deep. The key reason why scroll saws are not able to cut deep is that the throat limits how far the blade can go.
3. Typical Uses
Most power saws including the scroll saw and jigsaw can be used for a wide variety of things. Many DIYers and woodworkers always seem to find an extra thing they can use their tool for instead of having to buy new ones.
But, the scroll saws have been built for making intricate and delicate cuts which in many instances will be required for different wood crafts which should explain why they are one of the most popular tools for craftsmen. And while they can still cut other materials, they will typically be used on wood.
Jigsaws, on the other hand, will often be used to make straight cuts on wood, curved lines and even perfect circles on different materials. Woodworkers also use them when they want to rip stock. But it is important to remember that to get maximum accuracy when using these saws, you will need a lot of practice.
4. Best Feature
Each saw type always seems to have that one thing that will draw many users to it, and this is often what sets it apart from other tools designed for similar applications.
For the scroll saw, its best feature is its precision as this saw has been built to cut with more accuracy than many others out there. Whether you are making some intricate patterns on wood or even want to give small wood pieces some straight cuts, these saws will deliver way more precision than the jigsaw.
Jigsaws might not be as precise as the scroll saw, but they will be handier in the workshop as they are generally more versatile power saws. From helping you make straight and curved cuts to cutting everything from plastic to ceramic tiles, there are almost no limitations to what this saw can do.
There is no such thing as a tool that is completely risk-free. Provided there is a sharp blade and electricity involved, using these tools will always expose you to a significant danger.
When it comes to safety when comparing our two tools, the jigsaws will be much safer to use than scroll saws. Here scroll saws are more like the table saw with the fast-moving blade out in the open. If you are not careful enough accidents can happen easily.
With a jigsaw, the user does not have to face the blade directly which is what often puts you in greater danger. Also, with this saw, you will take the blade to the workpiece and not bring the workpiece to the blade. Better yet, most jigsaws will also come with a sole for guiding the blade and it in turn also provides an extra level of safety.
But the good news is that over the years, scroll saws have been getting design upgrades to make them safer to use. Key among these upgrades which is now almost a standard feature for most modern models is a shield for the upper crank.
6. Size and Weight
Since the jigsaw is a handheld power tool, it will typically come in a smaller size which is meant to not only make it easier to handle but to also allow for portability. Also, jigsaws tend to be much lighter than the scroll saw which further makes them easier to store and carry.
With most jigsaw models, you can pack and carry your saw anywhere which makes these saws great for use on the go. And better yet, some jigsaws will come in cordless, battery-operated models that will be more convenient to carry around.
Scroll saws, on the other hand, will not give you the same luxury because most models are larger and heavier than the jigsaw. What this means is that these tools will not be very portable, and you will also hardly find any cordless model which means they will often restrict you to using them in the workshop or garage only.
Also, note that while you can still get a lightweight enough scroll saw that will be more portable, these models also tend to be less accurate, and so you have to be ready to make the tradeoff.
Scroll saws and jigsaws are by far not the priciest power tools that a woodworker or serious DIYer might need to buy. But, it is still important to know their average prices as this will affect your choice between the two.
Overall the larger and more powerful scroll saws tend to be more expensive. While you can still get a model that goes for under $100, most good ones will retail for much more than this with typical prices ranging between $100 and $500.
Jigsaws are more affordable because you can get a basic model for as little as under $50 while the top tier models will hardly go for anything more than $300.
Both the scroll saw and jigsaws will do a great job in their intended areas of use, and for some users, it will make more sense to have both for different projects.
However, for the many others that have to choose one of the two, understanding how they differ and what each is best for will be crucial.
But, for the more experienced woodworkers and craftsmen looking for a powerful tool for making delicate and intricate cuts, the scroll saw is perfect. For the regular DIYer that wants a more versatile and multipurpose saw for different projects, the jigsaw is a great buy.