Bandsaw VS Scroll Saw

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Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, selecting the right saw for your woodworking projects isn’t always a straightforward process. With so many cutting tools out there, it can get confusing, especially since different saws are designed for specific patterns and curves.

So in this guide, I’ll dive deep into a comparison between the band saw and the scroll saw, aiming to illuminate their unique strengths and help you discern which tool aligns best with your project needs.

Bandsaw Vs Scroll Saw

What is a Bandsaw?

A band saw is a stand-alone cutting tool that mostly runs with a powerful motor and a long sharp blade suited to produce long detailed cuts and rip cuts. This type of saw also features wheels equipped with an equally-distributed set of metal teeth. 

Although its wheel system usually comes in two, it still depends on the band saw model itself. And from my experience with band saws, there’s a lot to consider. 

Whether it’s the handy portable ones known for their maneuverability or the specialized wood and metal band saws designed for precise straight cuts and curves, there’s quite a variety. Based from years of experience, I’d strongly recommend reviewing your project’s needs before settling on a particular model [1].

JET JWBS 15 1.75 HP Bandsaw Pure White

If you’re wondering why band saws are often confused with a scroll saw, everything comes down to its design. Both cutting tools feature a flat work table and extended column with a horizontal arm that holds the blade. 

Other than that, the kinds of materials and projects a band saw could handle differs entirely from a scroll saw, which we’ll further discuss in this comparison. 

Advantages of a Bandsaw

Despite many similarities in appearance and design, bandsaw reigns superior over scroll saw in terms of power. Equipped with a high-performing motor, you can use a band saw to cut thick materials without any hassle. 

And because band saws also operate at a high variable speed, the productivity of the cutting operations is naturally on another level. It also has an extensive throat size that allows easy handling of long and thicker pieces of wood. 

You can also use a band saw for projects that require cutting of various thick materials such as softwood and hardwood, metal, pipes, or even meat.

how to use band saw

It also has a versatile blade that can cut through pieces of wood or any material thicker than 2 inches. However, always remember that the distance between the blade and the work table still determines how many inches long a band saw could further cut. 

As I pointed out earlier, this tool typically runs on two to four wheels, depending on its design. These wheels drive the saw’s blades in a continuous loop, ensuring that the teeth cut in a consistent downward motion.

There are times wheels or tires need replacement, and in order to get your bandsaw at the optimum, you need to know the ways to measure band saw tires for speed and performance. 

Purpose and Uses of a Bandsaw

In addition to their ability to deliver precise straight cuts and rip cuts for woodworking projects, band saws have a range of other applications. 

Thanks to their generous throat size, which enables blades and arm columns to move freely, they are commonly employed in timber-cutting tasks. Their versatility and functionality make them an indispensable tools in various woodworking operations.

On top of that, it has flexible blade functions that make it easier to be used in metal fabrication, especially metal cutting band saw models with horizontal design. Integrated with a powerful motor engine, it’s no surprise that this tool can cut through pipes and other metal-type materials. 

There are also specific band saws used for meat cutting purposes. Designed in stainless steel construction, this cutting tool has impressive durability and is expected to serve its purpose for a long time. 

Bandsaw Projects

While a band saw might not be the best choice for highly detailed work, many modern workshops are now turning to this tool for projects with thicker materials. It’s especially handy for crafting vertically mounted pieces, such as cabinet stands, tables, or benches.

Edwin's bandsaw box

What is a Scroll Saw?

Like a band saw, a scroll saw is designed with a flat work table, one column at the back of the saw, and a horizontal arm integrated with a small blade that runs vertically. Most scroll saws in the market, like the WEN 3920, have a blade with a total length of 6 inches. 

Unlike the band saw’s, a scroll saw blade can’t cut through material that is thicker than two inches. Depending on the type of material, scroll saws may even have a hard time dealing with pieces of wood that’s 1 to 1.25 inches thick.

Even though its smaller blades present a minor limitation, I’ve always found scroll saws to be exceptional for detailed cuts and intricate work, particularly when dealing with extremely thin materials.

Advantages of a Scroll Saw

A scroll saw’s most significant advantage over a band saw is its variable speed. Thanks to its tension adjustment knobs, you can change blades easily and plunge inside cuts over the material swiftly. 

scroll saw stand

Apart from its speed, what really stands out to me with this saw is its distinct throat size. The throat size indicates the maximum inches of material the scroll saw can accommodate.

Suppose you have a throat size amounting to 15 inches, this means your saw scroll can accommodate material as wide as 30 inches (76 centimeters = 30 inches). Even though it’s generally understood, I always recommend using a 26 to 28-inch material if you’re aiming for thin detailed work and inside cuts. This is a tried-and-true practice in my book.

Having specific throat size measurements also make it convenient for beginners to select the right materials for their project, avoiding any unintended mishaps amid the cuts. 

If you’re working on wood material, using something like the 1.3 amp motor Dewalt DW788 scroll saw could save you an ample amount of time as it produces smoother and better cut finishes than a band saw. 

You wouldn’t need to sand the wood as much as you regularly do. Some manufacturers also integrated a dust blower to this tool to eliminate hindrance in users’ line of sight.

scroll sawing with kids

On top of that, you can control your blade’s motion and the precision of your cuts better with its foot pedals. Through this, you can freely use both hands especially when using a powerful scroll saw like the Porter-Cable PCB375SS to do inside cuts or cut along any thin materials, whether you’re aiming for straight cuts or rip cuts.

Purpose and Uses of a Scroll Saw

Thanks to the small but powerful blades of a scroll saw, it can cut intricate patterns, unlike other cutting tools such as the band saw and table saw. Because of this, scroll saws are widely used by artisans, craftsmen, and woodworkers.

Scroll saws are purposely integrated with small-scale blades that are not only meant to do inside cuts. but also make every cut precise, making it possible to achieve detailed work on different wood joint varieties, metals, and even plastics. 

Scroll Saw Projects

There are many woodworking projects where you can use a scroll saw, but one of the most interesting pieces you can create is jigsaw-like puzzles. Every cut needs to be precise in this type of woodwork, which you can exclusively get through scroll saws. 

basket full of wooden toys

Not only are scroll saws ideal for wooden toys, like jigsaw puzzles, but I’ve always seen them as essential for artistic wood carving. If you’re into wall decorations and signages, you’d be amazed at the elaborate lettering you can craft with this tool’s precision.

Differences Between a Bandsaw and Scroll Saw

A significant distinction between these two saws is the blade type. As I touched upon earlier in this comparison of band saws and scroll saws, the latter comes with smaller blades specifically designed for detailed curves and intricate cuts.

While band saws handle rip or straight cuts on thick materials with ease, they don’t yield the smooth, clean finish you get from a scroll saw. From my experience, I’d highly suggest this type of saw if you lean more towards crafting artistic pieces.

On the other hand, the blade integrated into a band saw is more suited for a big or industrial project. As it can handle wider and longer materials, users can make their workflow more productive and extensive. 

Even though the biggest edge of a band saw is its aggressive cuts, you can still make decent curves if the blade is used appropriately. 

Looking for a 100% accuracy in your band saw cutting work? Then, buying the top aftermarket bandsaw fence listed here is a smart choice. Read next!

Scroll Saw and Band saw: When To Use And Buy

When choosing between a scroll saw or band saws, it’s not really about which one is better than the other. This evaluation is more about what your small projects require. If your project includes dealing with 1-inch thick pieces of wood, you should use a scroll saw instead of a band saw. 

Band saws tend to overpower delicate materials because it’s equipped with high-performing motors and bigger blades compared to scroll saws. 

FAQ

scroll saw Vs band saw: Which Is Better?

A bandsaw is better than a scroll saw if your project includes materials as thick as 2 inches. Unlike scroll saws, band saws have blades and motors that can cut through a variety of boards. On the other hand, you should consider using a scroll saw if you’re working on a decorative piece like wooden letterings.

Conclusion

After reading this comparison review, you probably made your choice of which tool you’ll be needing in your project. The most important thing is that you’re able to consider all the requirements before making your final decision to purchase.

If you’re set on crafting a variety of DIY pieces regularly and have both the space and budget, I’d personally recommend getting both saws for your workshop. Having both not only provides versatility and convenience but also allows you to truly push the boundaries of your woodworking skills.

Leave a comment and tell us what saws do you prefer using.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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