Scroll Saw vs. Jigsaw: Pros & Cons
If you are not a very experienced woodworker or DIYer, some things are likely to confuse you when shopping for power tools. And one of the most usual ones is telling apart the scroll saw and jigsaw.
It is common for many people to use the terms jigsaw and scroll saw interchangeably. But, this is inaccurate because the two are different power tools. Although their applications or functions can sometimes overlap, they are still not the same tool.
If you are shopping for a power saw for making curved cuts, you will likely end up having to pick from the scroll saw and jigsaw. While this might be an easy decision for someone that has used both in the past for most other woodworkers it can be a tedious task.
Understanding what each saw is all about, its pros and cons and the uses should make it easy to pick the right saw for your workshop.
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The scroll saw is a small and stationary power tool that also includes a table to accommodate the pieces you are working on, and it comes with a pretty thin blade (about 1/8-inch or less). The blade on the scroll saw is also held on both ends under tension.
Although there are many things that you can use the scroll saw to cut, they are mostly specialized power saws for cutting delicate and intricate designs in materials that are 2 inches thick or less.
Some of the cuts that you can make with this saw but might not be possible with a jigsaw include the 3D fractals and the pierce cut which is cutting from the inside out.
- Makes fine cuts. If you have anything that requires some super-delicate and an intricate cutting the scroll saw is your best option. It makes some smooth cuts and 90-degree cuts, sharp angle and even waves should be easy to produce with this saw. And so it always leaves a lot of room for creativity and artistry.
- Accurate curve cuts. Curved cuts are one of the primary applications of the scroll saw, and it can make some very accurate ones as it is easy to manipulate the workpiece around the thin blade.
- Very quiet. It is hard to find a power saw that does not produce any noise at all but the up and down movement of the scroll saw is as quiet as it can get.
- Good for crafts. The ability of the scroll saw to make some super-delicate cuts makes it a perfect tool for crafts. Also, the fact that it is the workpiece that moves means that it is easy to shape it just how you want. And so whether you are designing a jigsaw puzzle pieces or other complex craft projects this is the perfect saw for you.
- Cannot cut thick, hard material. The thin blade on the scroll saw cannot cut thick and hard materials, and so it will only be suitable for craft-oriented projects and not as a regular woodworking tool.
- Take up a lot of space. These are large and stationary power saws, and so they will take up a significant amount of space in the workshop.
- Not very practical for DIYer. Scroll saws are more of a specialty tool for crafts, and they will not have many useful applications for woodworkers and DIYers or even around the house.
The jigsaw which is also what many woodworkers know as the saber saw is a handheld power tool/saw that features a narrow and straight blade that is about 3/8-inch. Unlike the scroll saw, the saw blade is held by the tool on one end, and the motor moves it in an up and down motion.
Some jigsaws will also feature an orbital action which is whereby the blade will move forward when it makes the up stroke and backward on the down stroke. This movement increases the cutting efficiency while also reducing the blade wear.
The jigsaw is a jack-of-all-trades, and it is up there with other power tools such as cordless drill and table saw when it comes to versatility. And it will likely be one of the tools that you will use a lot in the workshop.
Whether you want to make plunge cuts, free-hand cut some curved shapes and even cut pieces in some awkward or confined spaces the jigsaw is always the saw to use.
With the right blade type, you can also use the jigsaw to cut ceramic tiles into various shapes. And you can even use it to make more accurate cuts on carpets than you would get when using scissors or a knife.
- A very versatile saw. If you have a jigsaw, it is probably one of the tools that you use most as it is quite handy. When you have anything to cut the chances are that it is possible to use a jigsaw.
- Can cuts a variety of material. You cannot always be sure what you will need to cut with your saw and so one that can cut a variety of different materials is the best. The jigsaw will cut everything from metal and wood to PVC, foam, and plastics.
- It is highly portable. The jigsaw will not require you to dedicate any significant amount of space to it in the workshop as it is a portable. Also, it will be in most instances a lightweight tool that will have almost no limitations on where you can use it.
- Good for home improvement and use in the workshop. The versatility of the jigsaw makes it a perfect tool for home improvement and for use in the workshop as you can use it to cut almost anything from wood to metal and even carpets.
- Not very accurate. Jigsaws are handheld saws, and so they will not be as precise as the scroll saws, and neither should you expect them to provide very smooth and fine cuts.
If you are regular DIYer or woodworker that is looking to add either a jigsaw or scroll saw to your power tool collection, you need first to consider your needs and what is more useful for you before making your choice.
However, for most DIYers and woodworker, the jigsaw is more practical because there are infinite things that you can use it for and so it will be handy in the workshop.
For the creative and artistic individuals that are looking for a cutting tool for their crafts, the scroll saw will be a good choice. With a scroll saw, you can make some cool artwork and gifts for your friends. But, also keep in mind the fact that the scroll saw is a stationary power tool that will take up significant space in the garage or workshop.
The bottom line or verdict is that both saws will be helpful in different situations and if you cannot afford both the right idea is to go for the most practical one for you.
Best Scroll Saws
#1 DeWalt DW788
The DeWalt DW788 is a high-quality scroll saw from a reputable company. It is easy to handle, and it has variable speed control to make it ideal for various crafts and when you want a smooth workflow.
This powerful scroll saw features a unique arm design that reduces vibrations and ensures that you always get a quiet operation.
The double parallel-link arm pivots from back to front to shorten the distance that it needs to cover so that users always get a smooth operation.
DeWalt DW788 runs on a dependable 1.3 amp motor that delivers a variable speed of between 400 and 1,750 strokes per minute. Also, the powerful motor makes it possible to get a variable stroke length that is between 3/4-inch and 2 inches deep.
All the controls on this saw including the on/off switch and speed control are within easy reach on the front section of the upper arm for convenient access.
#2 Wen 3920
If you are a woodworker or DIYer looking for a cheap and basic scroll saw for use when making some simple cuts the Wen 3920 will be a good pick. But despite the basic design and affordable price tag it still comes with some impressive features.
This scroll saw has a unique design that will accept blades in both standard and 90-degree directions which gives it infinite cutting capabilities. And it is also a durable saw with minimal vibrations when in operation thanks to the sturdy cast iron base.
Like most other top-notch scroll saws, the Wen 3920 offers variable speed that you can adjust between 550 and 1600 strokes per minute and all you need to do is turn a knob.
The spacious table with a 45-degree bevel capability is also a great addition to the saw design as it makes it possible to cut some awkwardly shaped pieces.
#1 Bosch JS470E
Bosch makes their JS470E jigsaw for woodworkers looking for something that is high-performing and reliable that is within a reasonable price range.
The jigsaw uses a 7 amp motor that you can always rely on to produce enough power and it can provide up to an impressive 3,100 strokes per minute. It is also safe and convenient to use thanks to the tool-less blade change system that also eliminates the need to touch hot blades.
Whether you want to make smooth or aggressive cuts, the 4 orbital-action settings will make both possible by providing different blade stroke options.
The Bosch JS470E is also quite accurate for a jigsaw which is mostly due to the precision-machined plunging system and also its low vibration design. And it also has an adjustable dust blower that will ensure your keep clear sight of the cutting line.
#2 DeWalt DCS331B
The powerful DeWalt DCS331B is a top-notch jigsaw that will be a perfect choice for those that prefer something cordless for increased portability and use in awkward spaces. And it also offers keyless blade change to make blade changing quick and easy.
This jigsaw also includes a 4-position orbital control that will give woodworkers greater control over the speed and quality of the cuts.
And it also features a variable speed setting that allows you to pick anything from 0 to 3,000 strokes per minute to make it ideal for various applications and for cutting different materials.
DeWalt DCS331B also features an adjustable dust blower to keep the line that you are cutting clear and an anti-slip grip for better control and to make the jigsaw comfortable to operate.