Differences Between a Scroll Saw and a Jigsaw

The scroll saw and jigsaw tend to be similar in that they both make curved cuts. This tends to confuse many woodworkers who wonder the difference between the two and why they should choose one over the other.

The two saws have differing and special uses and are not ideally substitutable. This article outlines what each saw can and cannot be used for, as well as the differences between the two to enable you to choose the one that best fits the work at hand.

Scroll Saw

A scroll saw is a physically small and fixed power tool. It is fixed as it comes with a table whereby you can place the material you intend to work on. Its most distinguishing feature is its super thin blade measuring 1/8 of an inch or less.

The blade is held on either side of the end under tension. Materials cut using a scroll saw should be no more than 2 inches thick.

What is a scroll saw used for?

This is a very special tool for making intricate designs in materials as well as very delicate tiny cuts. Examples of projects that can be done with a scroll saw include creating engraved phrases, toys, and wall drawings.

It is perfect for smooth, 90-degree cuts, sharp angles, and waves. The workpiece can be moved around the thin blade to enable you to make very accurate curve cuts. A scroll saw is, therefore, your go-to tool for creative fine crafting.

Materials must be very thin to avoid straining the blade as this could cause it to snap. Special cuts you can make with a scroll saw include 3D fractals and the pierce cut.


A jigsaw is a handheld tool which has a narrow, straight blade about 3/8 inches thick. Its blade is held by the tool on one end while the other end moves up and down with the help of a motor.

Some jigsaws have an orbital action where the blade moves forward during an up stroke and backwards during the download stroke.

What is a jigsaw used for?

A jigsaw is a versatile tool, able to make different cuts including plunge cuts, holes, curves, and all manner of complicated patterns. It can maneuver and make cuts in hard to reach places where other saws may not be able to reach.

It comes with different blade types to cut through different materials including wood, plastic, ceramic, and metals. A jigsaw is mostly used for home improvement for example in cutting out frames for windows, making stylish shelves, installing countertops, cutting leather, cardboard, and other carpet materials.

The saw will, however, strive to make delicate and accurate cuts in contrast to the scroll saw.

Differences between a scroll saw and a jigsaw

The following are the differences between the two types of tools that will help you make head and toe of where and when you can use either of them.

  1. Portability

The jigsaw is handheld whereas the scroll saw is stationary, usually mounted on table or bench. Moreover, a scroll saw takes up a lot of workshop space in contrast to a jigsaw which takes up less space in addition to being lightweight.

  1. Expertise

It requires some expertise to use the scroll saw as it requires very delicate cutting and some love for creativity as compared to the jigsaw.

  1. Accuracy of cuts

The fact that jigsaws are handheld makes them less capable of making accurate cuts; they cannot provide fine, smooth cuts. Contrarily, scroll saws are perfect for accurate, detailed, fine, and smooth cuts.

  1. Types of blades

A scroll saw holds a small blade that limits it to cutting smaller materials that are not thick. The material should be less than two inches thick as a thicker material will destroy the blade. A jigsaw is strong enough to cut through bulky materials.

  1. Functions

A scroll saw can do tight radius cuts exceptionally well, and also detailed and intricate cuts; for example, on jewelry boxes. Jigsaw blades are wider and can do wide cuts and curves.

In a scroll saw, you bring the material to the tool while in a jig saw; you take the tool to the material. The jigsaw is also wider in scope in terms of the cuts it can make including angled and bevel cuts.

  1. Uses

A scroll saw is more of a hobby tool for making creative cuts. One can make gifting using a scroll saw. A jigsaw is more helpful to most woodworkers for general home improvement such as making DIY shelves.

  1. Safety

Scroll saws are safer to use because the blade is small and moves at a slower speed. In case of any unforeseen contact between your fingers or hands and the blade, no serious injury may result. The blade on a table saw is exposed, which is a safety concern.

Frequently asked questions

The following are some of the most common questions about the use of scroll saws and jigsaws.  I hope they will be useful in answering some of the questions you may have about these power tools.

  1. Which scroll saw blade should I use for my craftwork?

This can depend on factors such as hardness and thickness of wood as well as the intricateness of your cuts, and whether your scroll saw accepts a pin or pin-less blade and so on.

For example, the more teeth a blade has, the more intricate work it can be put into. Fine blades of about 50 teeth can cut through thinner materials while those with about 6 TPI can do for thicker materials.

  1. Which materials would a scroll saw be able to cut?

A scroll saw can cut various materials including bone, rubber, wood, metal, and leather. The best material to cut using a scroll saw is hardwoods such as oak, walnut, and mahogany of between ¼ and ¾ inch thickness.

Baltic birch can be used for jigsaw puzzles, boxes, and clocks as it does not break easily. Plywood is good if you are looking for attractive edges.

  1. How thick can a jigsaw cut?

When using the right blade, a jigsaw can cut through wood containing embedded nails, mild steel which is 1/8 inch thick, pipes which are non-iron, and up to 10 gauge thick sheet metal.

Concluding Words

The jigsaw is the most recommended tool for the DIYer as you will definitely use it 99% of the time, compared to a scroll saw which is much more specialized in its function.

An artistic or creative person will enjoy coming up with craftings as part of their hobby using a scroll saw, but if you need to build something solid for your home and make a number of home improvements, the jigsaw will serve you for a very long time.

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