Scroll Saw vs Jigsaw: Know your saws!

A bad worker blames their tools, but using the wrong tool for the job can produce sloppy work. The best way to get the most out of your projects is to make sure you’re using the right tools.

If you’re looking for a new cutting tool, then you might have already considered picking up either a scroll saw or a jigsaw. Many beginners get roadblocked by the options available. While these tools can work for similar tasks, they’re not the same. Understanding the difference is important for getting what you want.

Figuring out which type of saw might be the best option for your requirements can be a daunting task. What’s the difference between a scroll saw and a jigsaw anyway? Is one better than the other? This page will explain what each tool is capable of and which scenarios they’re best suited for.

DEWALT Jig Saw, Top Handle, 5.5-Amp (DW317K)
WEN 3921 16-inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Scroll Saw vs Jigsaw Compared

What is a Scroll Saw?

The first thing to mention here is that scroll saws are the less portable option. You’ll need to make space at your work table, or use a model with a stand of its own. Scroll saws consist of a work surface positioned underneath a thin, reciprocating saw that is capable of making very delicate, detailed cuts for ornate projects.

The blade can be removed and slotted through a pre-drilled hole in your cutting material. This makes it possible to make interior cut outs without using an entry slot. The lighter touch of a scroll saw comes with some distinct advantages.

They run very quietly and produce a lot less dust than other options. If noise or debris is a concern, a scroll saw is an excellent option.

There are some tasks that can only really be achieved using a scroll saw. These are tasks like pierce cuts and marquetry that are only possible with a high-finesse tool.

There are a variety of scroll saw sizes available. The distance from the blade to the rear frame of the saw is called the throat. The throat size is what determines the size of your saw. The bigger the throat, the bigger the cutting capacity. Smaller saws are typically around 12 inches, while the largest commercial models are almost 30 inches.

Think about the type of materials you’re likely to be working with and pick a saw that’s a suitable size.

When Should You Use a Scroll Saw?

If your work involves a large number of intricate, detailed cuts, then a scroll saw is what you need. In some contexts, the cuts are so delicate that you won’t even need to sand any edges!

A project that’s a perfect example of where a scroll saw shines is making a jigsaw puzzle. Cutting out such a high number of delicate curves and shapes would drive you insane if you were using the wrong tool. The delicate precision of a scroll saw makes this kind of work much easier.

The level of control possible with a scroll saw makes them a popular tool for decorating projects and builds with a lot of detail. Work that demands interior cuts can be completed much more efficiently with a scroll saw.

When Shouldn’t You Use a Scroll Saw?

Larger cutting materials are the downfall of most scroll saws. It’s possible to buy tougher blades that can improve things a little, but the motors on most models can’t tackle thicker cutting pieces.

The maximum width and length you’ll be able to cut is also limited when working with this type of saw. For bigger materials, a jigsaw is probably the better option.

As scroll saws are purpose built to make delicate, smooth cuts, they’re not the best tool for straight cutting lines. The flexibility of the blade is not appropriate for making lots of straight cuts.

Pros of Scroll Saws:

They run very quietly. These are not noisy machines. Their motors and blades are a great option for people who want to work quietly.

They produce less dust. At best, dust is a nuisance and it can cause serious problems if left unchecked. Scroll saws kick up significantly less dust and debris than other options.

They’re perfect for detailed work. Projects that need intricate, smooth lines are made easy with a good scroll saw.

Interior cuts can be made without an entry slot. For certain contexts, this can save you a lot of time and make for a slicker end result.

Cons of Scroll Saws:

They’re not great for larger cutting pieces. Scroll saws aren’t designed to cut through thick, wide or long pieces. A jigsaw is the better option in this context.

They take up a lot of space. You’ll need to make plenty of room for a scroll saw in your workshop. If your work moves you around from A to B, you might want to consider a jigsaw.

Our Scroll Saw Top Pick

There is a fantastic amount of choice when it comes to picking a new scroll saw and there’s plenty of good options available. Notable brands worth considering include WEN and DEWALT.

This offering from WEN can accept blades in two directions, allowing for an infinite cutting capacity. Most scroll saws come with an excellent level of control, but the Wen 3921’s variable speed control settings stand out. They’re remarkably easy to use and greatly improve the versatility of this tool.

Blade changes are a breeze thanks to the tool-less switching system. Other features that caught our eye include the convenient air pump, handy onboard storage and durable design.

What’s a Jigsaw?

These are a far more practical option for many use cases; jigsaws trade finesse for versatility. There are many tasks that are made much easier with these tools. It’s worth keeping in mind that these saws don’t have anywhere near the level of precision and detail when compared to scroll saws.

Depending on where you’re from, you might also know these tools as saber saws. Just to make things more confusing, some people also refer to jigsaws as scroll saws! There is a big difference though, and it’s more accurate to describe these machines as jigsaws.

These are portable, handheld tools that run on either direct power through a cord or electricity from a lithium-ion battery. As a general rule, corded options come with a boost to power, but can be cumbersome to maneuver and tie you to an outlet. Battery powered saws are the most convenient option if portability matters to you.

Jigsaws use a reciprocating blade that’s guided by a large foot for improved accuracy when cutting. With the right blade installed, you’ll be able to cut through a wide variety of materials. These include wood, metal, PVC, and drywall.

The number of different blade types available means you shouldn’t have any trouble tackling most sizes and types of cutting material. The handheld nature of a jigsaw means you’re not tied to a specific throat size. This frees up your work considerably.

Jigsaws are able to make plunge cuts quite effectively. Once you’ve drilled an initial hole into the centre of your material, plunge and interior cuts are simple to execute. Many people prefer this method compared to scroll saws, as it doesn’t require you to remove and then reinsert the saw’s blade.

When Should You Use a Jigsaw?

The flexibility of these saws means there’s a countless number of tasks that they can power through with ease. With the right blade and power, a good jigsaw can feel limitless. There are far fewer limitations here in terms of cutting capacity. Name a cutting task and a jigsaw can probably handle it.

Of course, there are plenty of contexts where another machine might be a more perfect fit, but few tools can handle as many different jobs as a jigsaw.

Scroll saws are gentle and precise. Jigsaws are powerful and versatile. If you’re an average DIY professional or hobbyist, a jigsaw is likely the better option for you.

When Shouldn’t You Use a Jigsaw?

If your work requires a high level of fine detail and precision, a jigsaw will probably be too heavy-handed for you.

The handheld nature of these tools means there’s a much larger margin for error when working. Without a clamp or table to secure your cut, there’s much more that can go wrong. The blades on these saws aren’t flexible or delicate enough to achieve the level of precision that more ornate projects deserve.

Jigsaw Pros

  • They’re ultra-versatile. A good jigsaw is a jack of all trades. You might be surprised how many jobs are made easier by a jigsaw.
  • They’re portable. These tools are much smaller and lighter than scroll saws and are very easy to carry around. If portability matters to you, then you’ll appreciate a jigsaw.
  • There are far fewer limitations when it comes to cutting capacity. Because jigsaws are handheld devices and aren’t limited by throat size, they can handle much larger cutting pieces than scroll saws.

Jigsaw Cons

  • They don’t have the finesse of a scroll saw. Highly detailed projects may be butchered by a jigsaw.
  • They can leave behind very rough edges. You’ll be doing a lot of sanding after making cuts with these tools.

Our Jigsaw Top Pick

This 6.2 lbs machine from DEWALT is worth a mention. It’s simple to use and is a great option for both professionals and hobbyists. The modern, heavy-duty design comes with a price tag that’s hard to ignore and the three-year warranty adds peace of mind to an already compelling package.

The 5.5-amp motor can handle the toughest materials, and the adjustable speed settings let you cut anywhere between 0 and 3100 strokes a minute. This jigsaw comes with a keyless blade, meaning you can change the edge quickly without having to touch it.

This tool comes with a durable metal gear case and can make bevel cuts between 0 and 45 degrees. This machine’s orbital action with 4 possible positions allows for faster, more determined cuts through a variety of materials.

Conclusion

We hope this page has outlined why scroll saws and jigsaws are very different beasts. Scroll saws are all about fine details, smooth edges, and intricate designs. The headline for jigsaws is that they’re one of the most versatile tools you’re likely to add to your kit.

If you know for a fact that a jigsaw won’t be able to handle the level of detail required for your work, then definitely consider picking up a scroll saw. Otherwise, the portability, versatility, and ease of use that comes as standard with a jigsaw make them the best option for most people.

As always, the more you know about what you’re looking to achieve, the easier it will be to pick the perfect tool for the job.

Best Jigsaw: Make clean, smooth cuts every time with these 9 models

Jigsaws are portable, versatile tools that make an excellent addition to any toolkit. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, a good jigsaw can go a long way in helping you make smooth, clean cuts every time.

It’s worth noting though, that while a good jigsaw operates smoothly, a bad one can be a nightmare. The last thing you want is a saw that makes jumpy, unpredictable cuts. Make sure you find a jigsaw that’s well recommended online.

This page lists our top picks for the best jigsaws available on the market. After doing our own testing, we analysed customer reviews, feature sets, price and a number of other elements to find tools that won’t disappoint.

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
cfimvtbl-table__imageBest SellerBest SellerDEWALT 20V Max Jig Saw
  • All metal lever action keyless blade
  • position orbital action
  • All metal key less shoe level
VIEW ON AMAZON →
cfimvtbl-table__imageBest RatedBest RatedSKIL 4495-02 6.0 Amp Orbital Jigsaw
  • Powerful 6.0 Amp motor
  • Built-in laser guide for accurate cuts
  • Variable speed trigger
VIEW ON AMAZON →
cfimvtbl-table__imageBudget SawBudget SawPORTER-CABLE Orbital Jig Saw
  • 7 position speed dial 
  • 6 amp motor for more power
  • 4 orbital settings for a variety of materials
VIEW ON AMAZON →
cfimvtbl-table__imageBest JigsawBest JigsawMakita XVJ03Z 18V 
  • Variable speed motor 
  • 3 Orbital settings 
  • Heavy gauge, precision machined base
CHECK BEST PRICE →
cfimvtbl-table__imageFive StarFive StarDEWALT Jig Saw (DW317K)
  • HD jig saw kit
  • Keyless blade clamp 
  • 5.5 Amp motor deliver powerful cuts
CHECK BEST PRICE →

Best Jigsaw: Our Top Picks

1. DEWALT DW317K Jigsaw

DEWALT Jig Saw, Top Handle, 5.5-Amp (DW317K)

Overview

This 6.2 lbs machine is simple to use, and is a great option for both professionals and hobbyists. The modern, heavy-duty design of this tool comes with an appealing price tag.

The 5.5-amp motor can handle the toughest materials, and the adjustable speed settings let you cut anywhere between 0 and 3100 strokes a minute. This jigsaw comes with a keyless blade, meaning you can change the edge quickly without having to touch it.

This DEWALT Jigsaw comes with a durable metal gear case and can make bevel cuts between 0 and 45 degrees. This machine’s orbital action with 4 possible positions allows for faster, more determined cuts through a variety of materials.

The three-year warranty included with this model adds peace of mind to an already compelling package.

Pros

  • Highly stable
  • Easy to use
  • Powerful motor

Cons

  • Zero clearance insert

2. Makita XVJ03Z Cordless Jig Saw

Makita XVJ03Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Jig Saw, Tool Only

Overview

Working with the Makita XVJ03Z means making accurate, precise cuts with minimal noise or vibration. This machine has a compact and durable build and is very comfortable to use.

The blade-change system on this machine is tooless, making it easy for you to make changes quickly and keep working efficiently. The 2-finger speed trigger is ergonomic and comfortable, and the included LED torch drastically improves visibility in darker work environments.

This heavy-gauge machine bevels to the right and left between 0 and 45 degrees, and delivers 0 to 2600 strokes per minute.

Makita have taken portability seriously here. This battery-powered, 5.73 lbs saw couldn’t be easier to carry with you. For accurate, easy cuts that you can make anywhere, this is a fantastic option.

Pros

  • Accurate cuts
  • Lightweight    
  • Durable and versatile design

Cons  

  • There is no protection from debris

3. Bosch JS260 Top-Handle Jigsaw

Bosch JS260 120-Volt Top-Handle Jigsaw,Blue,6.0 Amp

Overview

This rugged and durable machine comes with a powerful 6-amp motor that can handle a wide variety of materials. Delivering an adjustable speed of almost 3100 strokes per minute, this compact tool can perform a range of different cuts with ease.

This tool operates very smoothly thanks to a number of innovations from Bosch. The multi-directional T-shank blade provides serious grip, and the vibration-reducing design is a joy to use. The heavy-duty steel footplate makes this tool feel sturdy and reliable when making cuts.

The Bosch JS260 doesn’t require tools to change blades which is a huge boost to productivity. This machine comes with 4-position orbital cut control for smooth and powerful cuts. We feel this 6.89 lbs tool is a remarkable option for home DIY projects.

Pros   

  • Compact and durable design  
  • It’s quick and easy to change blades
  • VIbration-reducing design

Cons

  • The trigger and handle are far away from each other.

4. DEWALT 20V Max Jig Saw

DEWALT 20V Max Jig Saw, Tool Only (DCS331B),Yellow

Overview

Working cord free can be a far less irritating way of working. Without a cord tangling up and blocking your path, cuts are more accessible and comfortable to make. We think this a fantastic cordless jigsaw.

The DEWALT 20V Max is capable of delivering the same cutting power and blade speed as many corded options, which is an impressive achievement. The included fan on this machine clears dust and debris while you work, improving visibility and safety.

The keyless blade on this model can be inserted quickly, allowing you to work efficiently. With a weight of just 5.6 lbs, this machine is one of the easiest to carry on our list. The comfortable anti-slip grip on this device only adds to its portability.

The maximum 3000 strokes per minute on this model is impressive for a tool of its size. We think this is an excellent jigsaw.

Pros

  • Clean and smooth cuts
  • Three-year warranty
  • Cordless design

Cons

  • The dust blower could be more powerful

5. WEN 33606 Orbital Jig Saw 

WEN 33606 6.6-Amp Variable Speed Orbital Jig Saw with Laser and LED Light

Overview

This is a fantastic choice for those working on a budget. The WEN 33606 is great for both professional work and home DIY projects. The appealing price doesn’t mean you’ll have to compromise on performance or quality!

The 6.6-amp motor on this machine allows for 0 to 3300 strokes per minute, allowing you to handle a wide range of materials with ease. The bevel footplate and lock-on trigger switch make this a convenient tool to use.

The included fence bracket with blades for wood and metal are nice and durable. Visibility and safety are well considered with this machine. The effective dust blower and dust port that come as standard quickly clear debris from your line of sight. The LED torch on this model lights up those hard-to-see corners and edges.

The blade on this powerful tool is multi-directional, and can be adjusted to four different positions.

Pros  

  • Incredibly cost-effective    
  • LED and laser for better work    
  • Effective dust blower

Cons    

  • The blades could be thicker

6. SKIL 4495-02 Orbital Jigsaw

SKIL 4495-02 6.0 Amp Orbital Action Laser Jigsaw

Overview

The variable speed settings and laser guide on this jigsaw make it a seriously precise tool. When compared to tools with similar features, this is a very affordable option.

This jigsaw is versatile enough to handle virtually any kind of sawing. With 4-position cut control and a 6-amp motor, this beast creates cuts quickly and reliably.

The custom body of this machine prevents the blade from causing unwanted damage while working. This body is remarkably compact and weighs just 5 lbs, making it very easy to carry.

This is one of our favourite saws on this list.

Pros  

  • Accurate cuts
  • Can perform great bevel cuts
  • 4-position orbital adjustment

Cons

  • Difficult to control at times

7. PORTER-CABLE Orbital Jig Saw

PORTER-CABLE Orbital Jig Saw, 6.0-Amp (PCE345)

Overview

This is another fantastic option that combines an effective feature set with a portable footprint.

The 6-amp motor on this machine delivers up to 3200 strokes per minute. The 7-position speed dial that’s integrated into the trigger makes it easy to adjust for a wide variety of curves and cuts.

The 4-position orbital settings are very easy to use, and the included lock button is a great bonus. You won’t need any additional tools when changing the blade on this jigsaw.

Pros 

  • Ergonomic design
  • Great locking feature

Cons

  • No dust blower or port

8. Milwaukee MLW273720 Jig Saw 

Milwaukee (MLW273720) M18 FUEL D-Handle Jig Saw (Bare)

Overview

This is a uniquely powerful jigsaw with cutting-edge battery technology.

This tough, durable, 5.75 lbs machine comes with a brushless motor that operates between 0 and 3500 strokes per minute. This design increases the strokes per minute and overall power, making the Milwaukee MLW273720 capable of cutting tougher metals and hardwood.

The modern battery technology on this machine means a single charge will last you much longer. It also protects the jigsaw from dangerous overload by establishing a safe connection between the tool, charger and the battery itself.

Quick and effective shoe adjustments are a breeze with this tool, adding to the versatility of this offering from Milwaukee. Visibility is kept clear with the included dust blower. This is a jigsaw you can rely on.

Pros    

  • LED torch
  • Counterbalance battery system
  • Efficient dust blower

Cons

  • Blade often cuts the plastic guide

9. Ryobi One+P5231 Jigsaw

Ryobi One+ P5231 18V Lithium Ion Cordless Orbital T-Shaped 3,000 SPM Jigsaw (Battery Not Included, Power Tool and T-Shaped Wood Cutting Blade Only)

Overview

This jigsaw is designed to meet the high standards of modern professionals.

Weighing just 4.4 lbs, this tool won’t slow you down when moving around the job site. The reliable orbital settings and blade-protecting features on this machine make it stand out from its competitors. At higher settings, this jigsaw can make brilliantly straight cuts into tough materials like timber. The lower settings on this device are fantastic for making smooth curves for your projects.

The lock system on this tool’s trigger gives you increased control when working, and the LED torch maintains visibility in even the darkest of work environments. The dust blower that comes as standard with the Ryobi One+P5231 is a further boost to visibility and safety.

If you need a jigsaw that can handle demanding workplaces, then this tool is up to the task.

Pros

  • Durable blade system
  • Controlled cuts    
  • Dust blower

Cons       

  • The battery could last longer

Best Jigsaw: Buying Guide

Finding the best jigsaw for your requirements can be a daunting task. There isn’t a brand on earth that will be honest with you about the shortcomings of its products. This is why the information on this page is so useful.

If you read our advice on this site, you’ll find it remarkably easy to find a suitable tool that fits your budget.

Corded vs Cordless Jigsaw

Corded jigsaws operate without interruptions, and come without the hassle of charging batteries or worrying how long a charge will last. They’re usually designed for work with materials like hardwood. If portability is a big factor for you, then a corded saw might prove cumbersome.

Cordless saws are a more flexible option for those who need to move between multiple locations frequently. These saws are perfect for outdoor use and in high-up areas that corded jigsaws might struggle to reach. Battery powered saws are typically less powerful than corded saws, and might need multiple charges or batteries for longer work projects.

Grips

Most jigsaws come with a handle that includes a speed-control dial and trigger switch. This type of handle is kept away from the piece you’re working on, which can affect visibility. When working on thicker materials, it’s best to keep your hand above the motor rather than behind it. Consider models that come with extra control features on the grip.

Barrel grips are a type of handle which incorporate the motor into their casing, allowing for greater accuracy thanks to a lower centre of gravity. These grips include a control dial at the front which makes it possible to use the jigsaw with both hands. Workers with smaller hands might find barrel grips difficult to handle.

Variable Speed

Variable speed settings are essential for those who take their work seriously. Make sure you buy a jigsaw with a variable trigger speed.

Always check the trigger settings before buying a new machine. This will guarantee you can make the cuts you want to with your new tool.

Bevel Capacity and Adjustment

Most workers need to make angled cuts at least some of the time. If this sounds like you, then you need a jigsaw that can bevel. This will significantly improve the accuracy and precision of your work.

Check the bevel adjustment settings and capacity of any tool before buying to avoid disappointment.

Orbital Action

Orbital jigsaws are used for more intricate cuts with twists and turns. If you need to make detailed cuts with reliable precision, then a saw with orbital action is a must.

You’ll need to set the blade up to make curved, straight and circular cuts. A saw capable of orbital action can help with this and handle even the hardest materials.

Laser Guide

A laser guide will show you exactly where your saw is going to cut. It’s a feature that can really push your accuracy to the next level. Look out for laser guides and LED torch features when purchasing.

Dust Blower

Dust blowers maintain visibility by removing unwanted dust and debris from your cutting line. This makes it much easier to see what you’re doing, and keeps things much safer.

Make sure you choose a saw with a reliable dust blower. Lower quality options can just push dust further into your cutting line. Dust ports that attach to a home vacuum are also available and can be a great addition to your tool.

Vibration

Vibration can make it much harder to make straight, clean cuts. It can also be really annoying, and even cause injury over prolonged periods of working. Look for saws that advertise vibration-reducing features.

Types of Blades

The most common types of blade for a jigsaw are T-shank blades and U-shank blades.

T-shank blades are found in most modern jigsaws and can be changed quickly without needing any additional tools.

U-shank blades are convex, and are found in jigsaws that use a screw to hold the blade in place.

Best Jigsaw Brands

In our opinion, DEWALT makes some of the best jigsaws currently available. As a general rule, the DEWALT brand is a mark of quality when it comes to jigsaws.

Bosch also have some fantastic cordless jigsaws.

Black & Decker make jigsaws that can use both modern types of blade, making them a versatile option.

Related

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best jigsaw to buy?

The DEWALT cordless option on this list is the best jigsaw on the market in our opinion. Its cutting-edge features, heavy-duty construction and versatile design make it very hard to beat.
The included 3-year warranty adds peace of mind to an already compelling package.

What is the best-corded jigsaw?

The top-handle offering from Bosch is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a corded jigsaw. The cuts you can make with this machine are stunningly smooth and accurate.
The tooless blade-change system, heavy-duty footplate and vibration-reducing technology on this machine make it one of the best jigsaws on this page.

What thickness can a jigsaw cut through?

Jigsaws are ideal for cutting softwood up to 1.5 inches thick and hardwood around 0.75 inches thick.
When cutting curves into thicker material, jigsaws have a tendency to bend, forming a beveled edge. If you want to make clean, square edges with your cuts, then make sure you’re using a sharp enough blade.

What is the difference between an orbital jigsaw and a regular jigsaw?

In a regular jigsaw, the blade moves in two directions: up, and down.
Orbital saws move the blade in a slightly circular motion as it moves in and out of the material you’re working on. This “resets” the blade before each new cut, allowing for much smoother and accurate cutting.

Conclusion

The most important thing to consider when buying a new tool, is what you need your tool to achieve. The clearer you are about your own demands, the easier it will be to find a saw that suits your needs.

Make sure you pick a saw that balances good features against a fair price. The options listed on this page, as well as the features we’ve explained, should go a long way in narrowing down your search.

Our absolute top pick for the best jigsaw money can buy is the Makita XVJ03Z on this list. The unique, durable design and remarkably user-friendly features come with a price tag that’s impossible to ignore.

If you had something else in mind, then use this page to help you on your search.

Good luck!