Scroll Saw vs Jigsaw – Simple Guide + Pictures

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Scroll Saw vs Jigsaw

General comparison

When you want to cut circular shapes or lines into wood, or maybe make plunge cuts, you can use saws.

Nonetheless, depending on your requirement, there is a world of difference between saws – especially the scroll saw and the jigsaw. How do they differ then?

Let’s see now … A scroll saw is a table saw. It has a small, very thin blade that is used to make very intricate, distinctive cuts in very thin material. The finish that you get by using a scroll saw is so polished that you don’t need to sand the piece.

It is detailed cutting that gives the worker a lot of control. It is very easy to handle once you get the hang of it. A jigsaw is also used for cutting curved, circular shapes, with a lot of detail, as it is usually a cordless tool which you can hold in your hand and manipulate quite easily.

This facilitates the fact that it can be used anywhere, and any time. A jigsaw comes with different blades which are designed for use with thicker material. The cuts from a jigsaw are not as refined as those that you get from a scroll saw.

Cuts made by a jigsaw usually have jagged edges, as precision is not a feature here. This is all very basic information. Its a good idea to get into a little more depth about the two kinds of saws.

A Scroll Saw – Defined

A scroll saw is a large tool, and may take up space – either some space on your worktable or its own stand. It has a working surface area with a blade going through its central plane.

The blade is affixed to the saw in two ways – underneath the work table and into the extension arm above the table.

The distinguishing feature of a scroll saw is that it is capable of cutting inner sections of wood or cuts which plunge. How does it work? You have to drill a simple hole into the surface area that you want to cut.

Then insert the blade through that. After this is done, you need to connect the blade to the saw. You may adjust the tension, and then you can start. Visualize a donut in your mind – a central hole can be cut out without having to cut the main donut.

This inside cut, or cut with a plunge, is of great benefit if you want intricate designs. The outer portion remains fully intact, making it strong and not likely to shatter. You need to take note of a few limitations of a scroll saw though – you can only cut a limited size of material.

You have to think of the throat size – that’s how much the space between the back column of the saw and the blade measures. This is the distance that is actually half of the complete width that the saw can manage.

Why only half, you may ask – because, if you want to reach the other half, what you have to do is to just turn the piece around and work on it from the other side.

As the blade’s cutting surface faces away from the column at the rear end, the material tends to move towards it as you go about cutting. This creates a limit to the length of the material as it does the width. Keep the thickness of the material in mind too.

You may get a variety of blades for use in a scroll saw, still, they work best with material that is less than an inch in thickness. This is especially important to reflect on when you are dealing with an intricate design or pattern.

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A Jigsaw – Defined

A saber saw or a jigsaw is considered a very versatile kind of saw for cutting. It is a hand held tool so it tops in convenience. It has a lot of uses, but isn’t all that great for finer intricate details.

Its the tool of preference for many a woodcutter, simply because it is more portable than a scroll saw. You can get battery operated ones too. A narrow straight blade defines the cutting mechanism of the jigsaw. The top of the blade is affixed to the saw. It moves up and down exactly like a scroll saw. A wide foot is used to guide the blade in the correct direction.

This is suspended from the top of the saw through the center of the foot. As the scroll saw does, a jigsaw can also make plunging or inner side cuts. These are obviously easier to do with a jigsaw than a scroll saw, as you don’t have to manipulate the blade.

There is no adjustment involved at all. The only thing you have to do is drill a hole into the material you’re working with. All you need to do is place the part at the bottom directly into the already drilled hole (as the blade is only affixed to the jigsaw at the top).

With the appropriate blade, jigsaws are capable of cutting through a number of materials – metal, drywall, PVC, foam, etc. You get blades in variable lengths too, some as long as ten inches. The average size of blades used is around one to three inches long. Before you get on with your cutting, do consider the thickness of the material you wish to cut.

You not only need the right kind of blade, but the right design of the blade as well. Remember, the blade is just attached to the tool at the top – so the length of the blade travels through the foot, but then, stretches outward, into the air.

What can be hazardous is a blade that is too long for the material you are working with – if too much of the length sticks out from the bottom part.

Also consider another thing you may need to be on your guard about with a jigsaw – since it is held by hand, and is not limited to the bounds of a worktable or throat size, there is virtually no limit on the size of the material that the tool is capable of cutting.

Be it wide material, or long material, the only limitation is how far your hand can go. Here is one of my favorites.

Uses of a scroll vs a jigsaw

While many uses are overlapping ones, these two tools have some very different ways that they can be used, as well as for different things. Scroll saws are used for precision – cuts that are clean and require detail, in thin material.

The lines that a scroll saw produces are so precise, there is typically no sanding needed at the end of it all. A scroll saw is best used to make jigsaw puzzles (the wooden ones). The lines are neat and the pieces are a perfect match upon assembling them.

Scroll saws are best suited to craft activities and projects that have a lot of decoration involved. Users have a good degree of control to get desired effects. A scroll saw is not the best option if you are working on thicker material.

You may get the right blades to use a scroll saw, but its motor isn’t able to manage material of much thickness. Also, it has restrictions on the size of materials you can use it with.

If a heavier blade is used to bear down on the material, results will have too much of a rough finish. Scroll saws are not the best at making cuts which are straight.

The blade is too thin and flexible for this. It is designed to make complex patterns. The throat size has limits and this completely forces you to avoid long rip cuts. Jigsaws have many uses. They offer a lot of flexibility. They are hand held so there is no limit to where you can take them.

Nevertheless, there are limits to the size of cuts they can make, as you can only make cuts to the distance as far as the distance your hand can go. Jigsaws work on material that is much thicker than a scroll saws can mange to work on.

The appropriate blade length is the key here. You can cut just about anything with a jigsaw. People have found it very useful as a go-to tool for DIY projects. You may wonder how you’ve lived without it in your life thus far!

Its smaller than a scroll saw so it doesn’t take up a whole lot of storage space. It isn’t good for precision, neat cuts – it is able to do the job, but you’ll end up with a rough, crude finish. A scroll saw works better for a more refined look.

Which one is right for you really depends on what you want to work on – the project decision comes before the tools to be used. You can find great projects and tips with detailed instructions at this comprehensive site. Its a veritable bible for woodworking projects and DIY tasks.

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