Scroll Saw vs Band Saw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

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Scroll Saw vs Band Saw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

​Similar in many ways, both the scroll saw and bandsaw have a lot in common. ​And yet, in practice, each saw is used for very different purposes. For your woodworking and DIY projects, it is vital you understand the scroll saw vs band saw debate, and which saw is best for your need.

Although both the scroll saw and band saw are designed to cut curves in wood, each tool has a slightly different purpose. And each have different strengths and weaknesses. Before you can decide which you need, you need to know what you want to achieve.

Are you planning on using your saw to cut intricate detail into wooden panels or to create ornaments? Perhaps you are thinking of a slightly bigger project like creating arched moldings or beautifully crafted furniture.

Here we show you how to choose between these tools for what you want to do and highlight the features you need to look for to ensure you’re getting a good quality tool:

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

​At first glance, scroll saws and bandsaws are very similar.

- Both have a blade that sits in an upright fashion, perpendicular to a large platform.

- Both saws move the blade up and down in order to cut the material.​

- You use both saws in a similar fashion - ​rest the material on the table and slowly push and direct it through the blade.

However, while appearing similar at first glance, both ​saws have very specific uses. If you want the short, down-and-dirty difference between a scroll saw and band saw, here is our quick summary:

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

A band saw can cut a wide array of materials and can cut very thick materials, but it can't cut tight curves and turns. On the other hand, a scroll saw can cut very tight curves and turns, but is limited in the type of materials and thickness it can cut.

​That only tells a fraction of the story, though. It is important to understand the perks of each, and when to use which saw.

A scroll saw has a thin blade that moves up and down perpendicular to a large flat table. A will allow you to intricately make cuts for a variety of woodworking projects.

It is the perfect tool for cutting tight curves on ​ or even . It is especially good at cutting tiny arcs with ease, allowing for .

The narrow blade of the scroll saw cuts a narrow slice through the wood resulting in a thin kerf that allows for pieces to be easily slotted back together.

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

Although that feature doesn’t sound very useful for most projects, if you’re producing marquetry and wood inlays, the scroll saw is what you need.

Another feature of the scroll saw that makes it popular for more is that it can make cutout shapes in the middle of a part without cutting through an edge.

Let’s say you’re making a clock. You can cut a large ring from a piece of plywood and then create a cutout inside it for the mechanism easily with a scroll saw.

On the other hand, using a bandsaw would mean you would have to cut right through the inner ring, which would not do the job at all.

The scroll saw also has a detachable blade at one end. This allows you to drill a hole in a piece of wood, insert the blade through the hole, and then reattach it to the scroll saw so that you can make your cutout.

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

It is this feature of the saw that makes it popular with woodworkers for making highly detailed artwork such as portraits and landscapes out of wood. Most scroll saws can cut wood up to an inch thick, which is all you need for the majority of craft projects.

You also need to determine the type of you need:

Pin-end blades don’t need a clamp, which makes tensioning it relatively easy because the blade is locked-in. However, some woodworkers say they find pin-end blades to lack variety and that they are not suitable for passing through very small holes in more intricate projects.

Pin-end blades are thicker because they will not be locked into the machine properly if the metal is too thin. This can create a couple of problems.

Tight turns can cause the blades to break more easily and the pin is too large for a lot of projects the scroll saw is required for.

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

More widely available, flat blades are pinched in place by two small clamps on the scroll saw. One of the clamps is above the saw’s work table and the other is below. The blade is passed through a slot between the two.

The majority of people using scroll saws prefer flat blades. They are now considered the standard for that reason. There’s also a much wider variety of plain-end blades available to suit a broader range of projects.

There are some scroll saw machines that allow for both pin-end and flat blades for maximum flexibility.

Other things to consider when buying a scroll saw include:

- Size of the machine’s work table and throat

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