Scroll Saw vs. Band saw: Which is Better for You?

Scroll Saw vs. Band saw: Which is Better for You?

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw

The kind of power saw that you have in the workshop will always determine the speed and efficiency of cutting your workpieces. And with the many power saw types out there, sometimes picking just the right one for your projects can be a little overwhelming.

One of the decisions that many woodworkers and hobbyists will have to make at some point is whether to buy a scroll saw or band saw.

While the professional woodworkers will have both, most regular DIYers and hobbyists might only need to get one of the two. 

Questions like which one is best for your projects and how they work will probably come to your mind as you try to pick between the two handy saws. And so the only way to choose between the scroll and band saw is to know more about each of the two handy power saws.

What's scroll saw

source: toolguyd.com

If you are into crafts or even just tend to cut small lumber pieces that require precision often, the scroll saw will be a good purchase for you.

Scroll saws will use a thin, short blade that will be in most cases less than 1/4-inch in width. And you can get a variety of blade types for this saw for use when cutting different materials types.

The blade will move up and down and it attaches to an arm that runs from the back to the front part of the machine. This blade is at a 90-degree angle and parallel to the table that holds the workpiece.

In most instances, the scroll saw is what woodworkers and craftsmen will use to make jigsaw puzzles. And this is thanks to its ability to make clean, precise and intricate cuts.

Scroll saws are also very useful for making circular cuts and plunge cuts (cuts that start in the middle of the material) and this makes them one of the best tools for crafting in wood. And you can even use them to make some overly intricate designs in wood.

Another great thing about scroll saws is that the cuts they make are not only precise and accurate but also quite smooth and in most instances, you will not even need to do any sanding.

Pros

  • Best for crafts. Whether you want to make some cool jigsaw puzzles or want to make some carvings and other crafts to sell or to decorate your house the scroll saw will be very useful for you as it can make most of the cuts you need for these pieces.
  • Precise and accurate. The small blade on the scroll makes some very precise and extremely accurate cuts and it will also be ideal when you want to make fine and smooth cuts that require minimal or no sanding at all.
  • Cuts on the inside of the material. The ability to cut inside the material or make plunge cuts is one of the things that make the scroll saw special. By inserting the thin blade through a hole the scroll saw will help you cut intricate designs or even just a circle inside the material without having to pass through the outer perimeter of the workpiece.

Cons

  • Not suitable for thick materials. The thin blade on the scroll saw might be very reliable when you need to make some precise and intricate cuts but it will struggle a lot when it comes to cutting thick material. Any materials that are thicker than 3/4-inch will be pretty hard to cut with the scroll saw.
  • Not ideal for straight cuts. Although scroll saws can make straight cuts they are not the best power saws to use for this. And this is because they tend to swerve or wander when making straight cuts which can affect the quality of the cut.

Band Saw

band saw

Having a power saw that can make a variety of cuts is always a great idea because it means that you can make almost any cut without living the workshop or have to rent a special power saw.

There are many power saws out there that can be that workhorse for your workshop but the band saw is one of the best ones.

The band saw is a powerful tool that uses a long and continuous blade that will in most cases have a width of at least 3/8 inches.

And unlike the scroll saw blade that will oscillate at high speeds, the one on the band saw will rotate in a continuous and downward circle around two rubber wheels.

Band saws have an ability to cut materials that are at least 2 inches thick or more.  And depending on the blade that you have in the saw, they will make more aggressive cuts and with rougher edges than the scroll saw.

You can use the band saw to make a variety of cuts in thick materials. However, they seem to excel when it comes to making aggressive straight cuts.

Many of these power saws will also have a fence that makes rip cutting possible. And you can also get various jigs for these saws to help you cut arches, circles, and various other shapes.

Bands saws can be extremely versatile as you can use them to make both common and specialty cuts. But, their speed and accuracy are its greatest advantages.

This saw is what you should turn to when you need to cut thick materials, build cabinets and also for industrial purposes.

Pros

  • Best for thick materials. The band saw is way much better than the scroll saw when you want something that you can use to cut thick materials. And with the right blade, it can also cut into various materials.
  • Cuts straight lines. With the tougher and bigger blades on the band saw, cutting straight lines will be way much easier than when you are using a scroll saw.
  • Speed and accuracy. One of the greatest advantages of the band saw is its ability cut thick materials with some impressive speeds and accuracy. Whether you need to make some straight cuts or lots of cuts at odd angles the band saw is always the perfect tool. And one of the things that make it handy is that with band saws your hands are free to handle the workpiece for better control of the cut and accuracy.

Cons

  • Rougher edge cuts. Depending on the blade that you are using and the material that you are cutting, the band saw will make some very aggressive cuts. And although the cuts are straight enough they will end up with rough edges or at least not as smooth as what you would get from a scroll saw. Scroll saws will cut more slowly and leave your workpieces with cleaner edges.
  • Cannot make inside/plunge cuts. You cannot make plunge or inside cuts with a band saw as you would with the scroll saw. The fixed blade on the band saw means that you will have to cut through the perimeter of the materials to get to the inside.

Bottom Line

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw - infographic

If you are a professional woodworker that does different kinds of projects and crafts having both the band and scrolls saws will be an excellent idea.

For most DIYers, hobbyists and woodworkers the band saw is a great tool to have in the workshop as it can make various cuts on thick materials and do it fast and with enough accuracy.

The band saw is the workhorse of the workshop and one of the most reliable power saws as it is hard to think of any cut that it cannot make.

However, if you are into crafts and use small materials often that require precise, intricate and delicate cutting the scroll saw is your best pick. When you want to make smooth and consistent cuts for your crafts such as jigsaw puzzles, the scroll saw will be one of your most reliable tools.

Best Scroll Saws

#1 DeWalt DW788 20-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

DeWalt DW788

The powerful DeWalt DW788 is one of the most reliable scroll saws that you can own and it will be a great addition to your tool collection.

It runs on a 1.3-Amp motor that will allow you to get speeds of between 400 and 1,750 strokes per minutes. The variable speed control makes it possible to make quick and accurate adjustments for a variety of applications.

This DeWalt scroll saw also features a unique arm design that reduces vibrations to ensure that you always get a quiet performance. And the placement of the controls on the front section of the upper arms makes them easy and convenient to access.

The power saw also has a heavy duty cast iron table that offers excellent support for any material you might be working on, and it also bevels 45 degrees to either the left or right for extra versatility.

And despite the high-quality construction, versatility and top-notch performance of this scroll saw, it still comes with an affordable price tag.

#2 Wen 3920 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw

If you want a cheap but reliable scroll saw, the Wen 3920 model will be a great pick. The scroll saw provides variable speeds of between 400 and 1,600 strokes per minute to make it ideal for a variety of applications.

This power saw has a unique design that will accept blades in both standard and 90-degree directions to give it infinite ripping capacity. And it will be suitable for all your basic demands of a scroll saw.

It comes with a spacious table that will bevel up to 45 degrees to the left side to make it possible to make angled cuts.

With this scroll saw you can cut materials that are up to 2 inches thick and it also features a cast iron base, a dust port, foot lock clamp and it also has some onboard storage.

Best Band Saws

#1 DeWalt DWM120K 5-Inch Portable Band Saw

DeWalt DWM120K Band Saw

DeWalt makes some of the top band saws in the market. Their DWM120K model is a reliable power tool that runs on a 10-Amp motor that provides enough power to withstand any job site application.

The saw provides a 5-inch cut depth when cutting both round and rectangular stock. And it also has some rubber bumpers and steel shroud that make it tough enough to withstand regular abuse.

The variable speed control lets you choose speeds between 100 and 350 strokes per minute to make this a versatile power saw that you can use for a variety of applications in the workshop.

There is also an LED sight light on this band saw that makes the cut line easy to see in dark job sites. And the power saw also has an ergonomic handle to improve control.

#2 Rikon 10-305 Bandsaw

Rikon 10-305 Band saw

For those that prefer to have a stationary band saw in the workshop the Rikon 10-305 is one of the best models out there. And it not only performs well but is also quite durable.

The table features a sturdy and durable steel plate frame that is far more durable than the plastic ones that you get on other band saws.

It also comes with a large cast iron table that provides a sturdy work surface which is quite a unique feature for a band saw. And it includes a high-quality rip fence that you can remove easily when you need to make some freehand cuts.

With its powerful 1/3 HP motor, you can always be sure of getting enough power on the blade to make even the most challenging cuts.

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