When it comes to tools we don’t always know all the applications that a certain tool can handle. This would obviously ring true for many beginners. And for some of us that may be experienced with tools, we can at times push the limits of the purpose of a certain tool, when we know we shouldn’t. There can be a bit of a difficulty for beginners in wood working when it comes to the scroll saw vs the jigsaw and determining how to use the two tools.
Both the scroll saw and the jigsaw have a oscillating blade that can make cuts for many projects one can think of. As a woodworker for many years I have relied on the jigsaw for many projects. Later I discovered the scroll saw and fell in love with creation of scroll saw projects. I found that there are some very different aspects of these two tools and I thought I would take some time to go into detail on both tools and their applications.
With the jigsaw being a hand held tool, it is quite portable and easy to use for just about any project you can think of. You can attach various different types of blades to a jigsaw. Each blade can have a different purpose.
- Wood cutting blades are by far the ones I use the most. From what I have noticed the teeth can be a bit larger for wood cutting blades. There can still be some limitations to the width of wood you choose to cut as the length of the blade can only be so long. I don’t know that I have really cut anything too much larger than 2 x 4’s.
- Metal cutting blades I have used on occasion. I have observed the teeth on these blades are typically a little bit smaller and grouped tighter. I’ve also noted that the width of the blade is typically smaller. They are definitely designed for a slower more precise cut. A metal blade on a jigsaw can be a very good tool for many applications.
- Grit cutting blades are for cutting items such as ceramic, masonry, maybe marble, and even cement. My experience with this type of blade was cutting out ceramic tile. I will tell you right now I did not really enjoy the experience of having to try and jigsaw out a piece of tile. It is slow and go and I would try other things first before I ever went back to trying out one of these blades again.
Jigsaw blades attach to the jigsaw as two types of blades. The T shank and the U shank. I have had the experience of using both. From that experience I would recommend a jigsaw that uses the T shank. Maybe it is the horrible jigsaw that I bought at the time, but I had a jigsaw that used the U shank, and I could not not for the life of me keep that blade from popping out of its socket.
Jigsaws can have the feature of oscillation speed of the blade. I do like this feature, but I have to admit I rarely adjust this setting. I put it at a setting I like and tend to use that setting for just about any cut.
The angle feature may also be available with a jigsaw. I have used this feature a time or two and it can be helpful. Though you do need to express a steady hand and go easy as you cut. Not too easy that you burn the wood mind you, as that can happen with a jigsaw quite easily.
There can be some other various features you can get on a jigsaw. As you may note in some of my other writings I am a Dewalt fan. I actually own a Bosch jigsaw at the moment. Its a bit older and has been a fairly good tool. I think they have a new version of this jigsaw I have seen on Amazon.
Or, I am intrigued by the cordless one they have Bosch JSH180B 18-Volt Li-Ion Jig Saw. I do wonder how well that one will do on battery power…
Of course as a Dewalt fan, I can tell you my next jig saw will likely be one these two.
When I get out my jigsaw I am typically getting it for not just woodworking projects but for other applications as well. In fact I think I use it more for around the house type projects than using it for wood working.
The jigsaw is kind of a multipurpose tool and I think some would even say that it is not a wood working tool. I would say to those people they are incorrect.
I have build beds, entertainment centers, shelves, and even an arrow of light bridge for the cub scouts just to name a few wood working projects I used the jigsaw for.
The cut of the jigsaw is not a delicate or clean one. You will likely always need to do some sanding after you make your jigsaw cuts on a wood working project. Don’t forget, a jigsaw can burn the wood. Keep your blade moving along your cut. If you burn the wood, you can always attempt to sand it out.
I have cut various other items with my jigsaw; metal, ceramic, and even drywall to name a few. I just need to remember to have the right blade in. I have even gone the path of cutting plastic, though there is a warning there I have when doing that. When cutting plastic, expect the plastic to heat up, melt, and then cool off. This can lead to making your cut, then the plastic will seal back together, almost as if you never made the cut in the first place!
You may be better off using a hand held saw for this unless you can express some extreme patience. Short burst of cutting with the jigsaw followed by waiting a time for the plastic to cool off.
Jigsaw Non Uses
The major non use of the jigsaw is the major use for the scroll saw. You do not want to do intricate work with a jigsaw. Though you can get some smaller blades for the jigsaw and do some level of tighter cuts, the scroll saw will be more beneficial in this regard hands down. Leave intricate detail to the scroll saw.
This is my opinion is the one major factor and difference between the scroll saw vs the jigsaw. Trying to do anything too intricate with the jigsaw will likely get you frustrated and cause you major headaches.
Scroll Saw Features
The scroll saw is not a portable tool like the jigsaw. It takes up space and can be a bit heavy. When using a scroll saw you need some space where you can sit and do your work.
Scroll saws have some very tiny blades, and they attach very differently than a jigsaw. Like the jigsaw though, they do have some different types of blades, though most of those blades are used for wood working.
The scroll saw blades can be pin-less or pinned. I use the pin-less blades on my Dewalt and they are not too difficult to switch them out. I believe the pin-less blades are typically clamped in to hold them in place. The pinned blades are as they sound. They have a little pin on each end of the blade to help you attach the blade to your scroll saw. It would seem that pinned blades are not as widely used.
The scroll saw has a long arm that I have heard many call the throat. How long this arm is can be important as it gauges how large of a project you can rotate on the table.
You have a variable speed on many scroll saw models, I’m not sure why they don’t put that on all of them, but this controls the speed of the blade cutting.
You also have tension of the scroll saw blade. This is how loose or how tight the blade is when you make your cuts. Having a proper and correct tension for the type and thickness of the wood is important when cutting out your scroll saw projects.
Other features you may find on your scroll saw are the blower, which blows some air at where you point. Typically the blower would be pointed somewhere near the blade to blow away the dust as you make your cuts. A light may come with your scroll saw to help with visibility of your cutting. The table can be of varying sizes, and I recommend a larger table if you can get it. More room to support your scroll saw project is always a good thing.
I love my Dewalt scroll saw and it comes with some great features. Though it is a bit more expensive then some of the other scroll saws, I would not trade it in for something else at this point.
There are some other choices out there with some good ratings and features. When I did my research to buy a scroll saw, I had the following scroll saws in mind when I finally made my purchase with the Dewalt.
Scroll Saw Uses
The major use of a scroll saw is for detailed and intricate wood art. So far I have not used my scroll saw for too much else other than that.
I am sure you can use it to make some other delicate cuts for things but I don’t really recommend that unless you have the right blade I suppose. (I have tried to make some slight cuts into plastic, I had some difficulty until I realized if I were going to use it this way, I need to do a burst of cutting then stop, then start up again. The heat of the blade melted the plastic!)
I have cut out Intarsia projects and various scroll saw patterns to create some very cool stuff with the scroll saw. Just to name a few I cut out an American Indian, a frog, a unicorn picture frame, and a fish. All these were intricate types of projects a scroll saw could handle.
To me the scroll saw is definitely more about art then treating it as any sort of handy man/woman tool.
Scroll Saw Non Uses
I would not use my scroll saw for anything other than wood art type projects and maybe a small cut for some other applications.
For one, the scroll saw is not portable. I can’t walk it over very easily to a project somewhere else. Two, the blades are not designed for cutting much else other than wood. You can find some different blades for other material cutting, maybe you are cutting out aluminum or copper art of some sort.
And three, the saw is just meant for intricate work. If you want quicker cuts and more versatile cutting use the jigsaw. The jigsaw is a very good tool for cutting many things, even some cuts that might be a little more intricate, but no where near as intricate as the scroll saw.
There are some obvious differences between the jigsaw and the scroll saw. The number one factor being jigsaws are for general purpose cutting and scroll saws are for intricate art type projects.
I highly recommend using these tools in that manner, and as I had mentioned above some tool users will push the limits of what the purpose of their tool are supposed to do, I would definitely not recommend that… To any extreme degree that is.
Thanks for reading my thoughts and my experiences with my jigsaw and my scroll saw.