Scroll Saw vs Band Saw vs Jigsaw – the Comparison

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw

These three types of power saw all have their respective uses in the workshop. However, you might wonder how different are they really and whether you will need all three, or will one work perfectly well? Before we discuss the differences of scroll saw vs band saw vs jigsaw in detail, we will firstly look at each saw in its own right.

What Is a Scroll Saw?

These are small electrically operated saws typically controlled by a foot pedal. They are fitted with a reciprocating blade that goes up and down quickly. The blade can be removed and placed through a pre-drilled starting hole allowing interior cutouts to be made without the need for an entry slot. The blade itself is very fine which enables a scroll saw to be used on intricate work.

Most scroll saws are fitted with a working light that illuminates the area of work being cut, and a dust blower unit that keeps the working area free from debris.

What Is a Scroll Saw Used For?

They are a preferred choice for hobby woodworkers due to their low price, small operating space needed and the capabilities of the saw itself enables the hobbyist to be intricate in his creativity

They are comparatively safe and serious injury is reduced due to the small size of the blade and it is relatively slow speed. Even if the operator’s fingers came into contact briefly with the blade, it is unlikely to result in serious injury.

Scroll Saw – Advantages and Disadvantages

What Are the Advantages of a Scroll Saw?

When you want to work with small thin materials, working on intricate and decorative work, a scroll saw is the best choice. The thin blade makes clean intricate cuts that are very precise and you can also do inside cuts after drilling a leading hole with a scroll saw. Projects that are an ideal scroll saw work include wooden plaques with lots of detail and curved edges, jigsaws and making wooden numbers, letters or name plaques.

What are the Disadvantages of a Scroll Saw?

Any project that involves cutting thick material. Scroll saws are designed to cut material under 1 inch so anything thicker will put a strain on the motor and may affect the cutting speed and quality. They are also not designed for straight cuts. Because of the small blade size, straight cuts are almost impossible and a different saw is best for this type of job every time.

What Is a Band Saw?

These are larger saws than scroll saws but still electrically operated. The band saw blade is a large loop of flexible metal with cutting teeth on one edge running around the whole loop. This bladed band is stretched between two or more wheels inside the band saw. The wheels are powered by a motor which in turn rotates the continuous blade. These kinds of saws have been around for about 200 years. The early band saws were powered by a belt running from a steam engine.

A band saw.
Find and compare the price of band saws on Amazon.

What Is a Band Saw Used For?

Band saws are mainly used for cutting wood, metal and lumbering, or cutting freshly felled trees into planks (example on Youtube) for further work, e.g. in construction. Band saws are more popular for cutting lumber than other types of saw because they can handle larger diameter lumber and produce less waste because band saw blades are typically thinner than other lumber saws such as circular saws.

You may even see your local butcher using a small specialist band saw to cut joints of meat. These operate in the same way as a wood cutting band saw but are made of stainless steel for hygiene purposes.

Bandsaws can cut both straight and curved cuts although the angle of the curve is limited to the width of the blade so intricate working may be tricky.

Band Saw – Advantages and Disadvantages

What Are the Advantages of a Band Saw?

Of the three saws, band saws have most power so any thick material from 1 inch upwards will be best tackled on a band saw. They are best at straight cuts because the band saw blade is wider than both scroll saws and jigsaws. Because the blade always goes in the same direction, there is no up and down or side to side movement of the material as it is cut. Arches and larger circles cut with a band saw will be easier than a scroll saw however due to the continuous blade, band saws cannot do inside cuts. They are ideal for larger projects such as furniture making.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Band Saw?

Fine detail and intricate works are not possible on a band saw. Due to it being a more heavy-duty type of saw, there will also be more tidying up of the work afterwards including removal of rough edges and sanding

What Is a Jigsaw?

These are small handheld power saws sometimes referred to as “Bayonet saws” or “Sabre saws”.  They are made up of a small electric motor and a reciprocating saw blade. Reciprocating blades are blades that go up and down very quickly, typically covering a distance of about 1 inch.

A jigsaw.
Compare different jigsaws on Amazon.

The blade is typically run through a pair of blade rollers that help to steady the blade while cutting but to guide a jigsaw through a curved cut, one must steer the blade gradually and not try to force it. The biggest problem with jigsaws is controllability. The blades are small and weak and one end is completely unsupported which makes them prone to breaking if forced. It is important to always use sharp blades which will help reduce the chance of breakages.

What Is a Jigsaw Used For?

Jigsaws are easily portable and can be used both inside the workshop and on-site. The blades are quick and easy to change and many different types are available for cutting different materials such as wood, metals, brick and plastics.

Jigsaw blades can typically be set at different angles and can be used to cut up to around 45 degrees relative to the normal vertical stroke. This is particularly useful in the workshop for making miter joints (source).

Jigsaw – Advantages and Disadvantages

What Are the Advantages of a Jigsaw?

Jigsaws can be used for cutting angles, unlike the other two saws. They are the most portable and can be used anywhere that has electrical power. There are a variety of blades available which are both cheap and easy to swap making the jigsaw a very versatile saw. They can be used on very large pieces of wood that may be too big to fit into either a band saw or a scroll saw.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Jigsaw?

One of the greatest advantages of Jigsaws – the size and portability – is actually their most relevant disadvantage: it limits their versatility compared to scroll saws and band saws. Precise cuts can also be a bit of a challenge as jigsaws are harder to control than scroll saws, for instance. For most workshop jobs except for angular cutting, scroll saws and band saws win almost every time in their respective areas.

Scroll Saws Vs Band Saws Vs Jigsaws – What Are the Differences?

All three saws come with their own characteristics and have different strengths and weaknesses. The scroll saw is great for fine woodworking in a workshop while a band saw is a perfect choice for heavy-duty work like cutting lumber. Jigsaws are small, portable and allow to cut 45-degree angles which can be ideal for different types of joints.

Here is an overview of the three types of saws in detail:

  Scroll Saw

Band Saw


Characteristicssmall, reciprocating blade,
can perform interior cut-outs,
produces fine cuts.
largest type of saw in this comparison,
saw blade is a loop with cutting teeth on the edge.
small hand-held saw,
reciprocating blades,
blades are only fixed on one end.
Typical Usesintricate work on wood and other (soft) material,
fine woodworking projects,
ideal for beginners as it is comparatively safe.
cutting wood, metal or lumber,
used for heavy-duty work,
can be used for straight and curved (limited) cuts.
where high portability is needed,
smaller cuts,
angles up to 45 degrees (e.g. for preparing miter joints).
Price $$  
Check prices on Amazon
$$ – $$$  
Check prices on Amazon
Check prices on Amazon

The Final Cut

So, do you really need all three saws in your workshop? It depends!

If your typical DIY uses range from fine woodworking to heavy-duty work and also requires a portable saw for joints, the answer might be yes.

Otherwise, you can go for only one or two of them in accordance with the typical use:

  • A scroll saw for fine woodworking.
    Read more in our dedicated article.
  • A band saw for rough cuts or hard material, e.g. cutting lumber or metal.
  • A jigsaw if you need the portability.

Read more about all kinds of saws in our dedicated section and find details on their possible uses in our woodworking overview article.

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