Choose The Right Tool: Scroll Saw vs. Jigsaw vs. Band Saw

Working with wood? You will most probably need a saw. Scroll saw, jigsaw, band saw are the most common choices for various types of crafts and woodworks. These are the most popular saw types among carpenters, woodcarvers, and woodworkers. These are also favorites among DIY crafters.

Jigsaw- Description, Uses, Strengths, and Downside

This is a handheld power saw. It has reciprocating blades for cutting through a wide range of materials. It can cut through wood and metal, as well as plastic, PVC, ceramic and drywall. It’s a jack-of-all-trades in the world of saws.

The blade is small and thin. It is mounted in the saw’s upper body. When cutting, the blade is positioned perpendicular to the work table. The blade cuts by moving up and down.

Jigsaws can be cordless or corded.

When to use a jigsaw

A jigsaw can be used for general types of work, including rough cuts and curves. It works great when the cut requires precise curves.


The type of blade determines the quality of cuts. A different blade is used for rough cuts and another for finer, delicate curves.


The blade choice depends on various factors such as:

  • Material
  • Length of cut and material
  • The width of cut and material
  • Tooth configurations of the blade

In general, blade choices follow these guidelines:

  • Wide blade for long, straight cuts
  • Narrow blade for curves
  • Larger, fewer teeth for very fast cuts
  • Smaller, more teeth for slower cuts

The teeth configuration has a great impact on the resulting edges. Larger teeth produce splintered rough edges. This may require sanding, depending on the purpose of the cut material. Smaller teeth produce very smooth edges. Sanding may not be necessary.


The jigsaw is lightweight enough to be held with one hand during operation. This weight and shape of the jigsaw also allow the user to get a feel of how well it is performing. If the jigsaw feels as if having trouble or straining to cut material, it may be too thick, or the blade is wrong.

jigsaw Strengths

  1. Small and lightweight
  2. Easy to carry, convenient and portable
  3. Cuts curves through any type of material, as well as rough straight cuts
  4. Can cut inside wood or material without cutting from outside (pierce cuts)
  5. Cuts with high accuracy, from straight lines to angled cuts to curves

jigsaw Downsides 

  1. May produce some excess waste making the work a bit dusty
  2. Greater safety requirements- Jigsaw can be operated by one hand, which requires users to pay more attention to where they place their spare hand.
  3. Corded models may cause a few inconveniences such as tangling with the cord

Band Saw- Description, Uses, Strengths and Downside

A band saw has a blade slightly thicker and larger than a jigsaw’s. The ends of the blade are connected to each other to form a circular band. The band continuously runs across two pulleys.

The pulleys are fixed. One wheel is above the cutting table, and the other is below it. This wheel and blade configuration allows for ease of blade movement. The saw teeth continuously move while the material to be cut is fed to it.

When to use a band saw

A band saw is typically used for rough cuts through thick pieces of wood. It comes in many types. The widest types of band saw are cabinet model and bench-mounted model. The cabinet model has larger motors that allow it to produce more consistent results.

This type of saw is versatile. It can be used to make different types of cuts.


The most common use for a band saw is for resawing. This means cutting the wood in half across its thickest part.


Band saw is also used for quick, repetitive cuts. It is also the choice for aggressive straight cuts.


The band saw is held with both hands. Control of the direction of the cut is directly on the hands. Simply move the band saw in the direction of the desired cut.

Band Saw Strengths

  1. Cuts through very thick wood
  2. Speedy and accurate cutting
  3. Precise, large-scale cuts
  4. Greta for precise straight cuts
  5. Good for larger pieces of lumber
  6. Saws efficiently without producing excess waste
  7. Great for resawing

Band Saw Downsides

  1. Large and heavy
  2. Sophisticated tool
  3. Requires advanced skills
  4. More recommended for experienced users
  5. Not possible for use with inside or plunge cuts

Scroll Saw- Description, Uses, Strengths and Downsides

When you use a scroll saw, you bring the material to the saw rather than bringing the saw to the material. The blade is delicate and remains mounted on the worktable. Most often, the blade is only ¼ of an inch thick. It is parallel to the worktable, at a 90-degree angle.

When cuts are made, the material if pushed towards the blade. Curves and straight lines are created by moving the material to get the cut you want. 

When to use scroll saw

The scroll saw has a very thin, sharp blade. This allows for very intricate detailed work. This is the most recommended saw for ornate designs.


These delicate and ornate cuts are possible because of the scroll saw’s very thin blade. The material can be moved in quick, sharp turns for sharp angles, 90-degree cuts, loops, and waves.


One of the most special capabilities of the scroll saw is that it can be used for really amazing, unique designs. It can be used for 3D fractals, intarsia, pierce cuts and marquetry.


This incredible ability is also a limiting factor to what a scroll saw can do. This saw cannot be used for rough, straightforward cuts.

Scroll Saw Strengths

  1. Excellent for cutting extremely tight curves
  2. Great for 90-degree turns
  3. Edge requires minimal sanding if any
  4. Does not produce a lot of dust
  5. Can be used for pierce or plunge cuts

Scroll Saw Downsides

  1. Big and stationary
  2. Must drill a hole first in the material then insert the scroll saw before pierce or internal cuts can be made
  3. Only for materials less than 2 inches thick
  4. Not recommended for straight cuts because the slightest nudge to the material can ruin the desired straight cut

Conclusion

Different jobs and materials require a different type of saw. The best choice is based on the intended use. Information on scroll saw, jigsaw, band saw pros and cons, with their recommended uses should serve to help you decide on which one is the best tool for your project.

Jason Robin
 

An experienced builder and 3 children's father. One of the original members of the placeimprove.com team to offer comprehensive recommendations and ‘how-to’ advice on home and place improvement for your residence better.

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