I have heard this question a million times, should I use a band saw or a scroll saw? And to be honest there isn’t a right answer to this. It all depends on the material, material size, width, etc. Down below I will explain to you why.
At the first look, both the band saw and the scroll saw look the same. Especially to the ones who never used one before.
They both have a work table and a blade that most of the time is located in the middle of the machine. But just because they look the same, does that mean that they are the same? No. Actually, band saws and scroll saws have a lot of differences.
What’s the difference between a Band Saw and a Scroll Saw?
The first difference you may notice between these two is the blade. The Scroll Saw blade is thin and short.
Scroll Saws are used more for small projects, they are perfect for detail work and you can use them for inside cuts too, mostly they are used to design wood. But since their work table is not that big and their blade is smaller that means that they can only be used with small objects.
At the other hand, band saws blades and bigger and flexible. They are more powerful and they can easily handle big projects. With the right blades, they can even cut metal. But, they are mostly used for woodworking and cutting big wood objects.
So, the difference between these two is the purpose. Scroll saws are used for designing and detail work while Band Saws are used to cut big wood and sometimes metal too.
Want to learn more about how they work and what they are? Then read down below.
Note: If you don’t already have a band saw then I recommend you to check our blog post ” Best Band Saws ” that will help you choose the best one for you
What’s a Scroll Saw?
As we said before, a scroll saw is a saw that has small blades, most of the times the blades are no more than 45 inches in width. The blades move up and down at a high speed.
They use electricity, and they allow you to control the speed that the blades move by just pressing the pedals, which can be very challenging at the beginning, but after a while, you will be able to control it easier.
Scroll Saw Throat
If you are looking online to buy a scroll saw, you must have seen that most of the manufacturer tell you the “throat” size. The throat size when it comes to Scroll Saws is the distance between the blade and the rear part of the saw.
Depending on the material and the object you are working you may want a longer or shorter throat. To understand this better I’m gonna give you a simple example on how scroll saw throat works and how to choose the right one for you.
Let’s just say that you bought a band saw that has a “throat size” of 15 inches. That means that you can use it on materials that are 30 inches across. Why the double? Because think about it. The blade can just reach the center of the material, then you can turn the material upside down and work with the blade at the other side. So, if your object across size is 40 inches then you should buy a scroll saw with at least 20 inches throat.
But you have to keep in mind that you should always leave a little space. So, if your object is 24 inches across, then make sure to choose a throat size of 13-14 inches. Usually, throat sizes come from 12 inches to 30 inches.
Another thing that you may want to consider before buying a scroll saw is that the blades are only 6 inches long. The blades are not good with thick materials, because they have to move up and down that means that they can’t cut thicker than 2 inches.
And even that is hard to archive. So, to get the best of the scroll saws is better to use materials that are 1-inch thick.
Of course, there are different blade models that can help with this. When it comes to changing blades, you would be surprised on how easy is to change blades on scroll saws. The only thing that is somehow considered hard is to get the tension right. But, using a tensioning knob this can become easier.
As we mentioned earlier, blades are the first thing you may notice when it comes to differences between these two tools. Actually, they are the biggest difference. And scroll saws allowing you to do inside cuts can be another thing that sets these two machines apart.
What’s a Band Saw?
We talked a little about scroll saws, but now what’s a band saw? As we said before, scroll and band saws look almost the same. So, band saws too have a working table and they too have blades.
They are a lot of times more powerful than a scroll saw. Actually using the right blades you can even cut metal, but they are mostly used for woodworking.
You can even use a long wood object for band saws, that because the band saw is open to the front and rear. So, as long as you can fit something on the table then the band saw will probably cut it.
It’s always good to leave a little space between the blade and the object, but you get the idea. Band saws are perfect for contractors who don’t have a big workplace, they don’t take a lot of space and they are fast and powerful.
The best thing about a band saw is its versatility. There are a lot of different blade options that you can use for this machine. There are small blades that can be used for small and detailed work, and there are big and strong blades that can be used to cut metal.
They can be used for almost everything. Speaking of blades, band saws blades are circular and flexible. Most of the models use a two-wheel system one that is above the table and the one below, there are some models that use a 4-wheel system.
Should I buy a Band Saw or a Scroll Saw?
When it comes to buying one or another, then you have to know what tasks you are gonna use them and then you can decide. The truth is that these two do look quite the same, but they are used for different tasks.
You can use one to do the other’s job, but you won’t get a clear and quality cut. So, when should you use these machines and when you shouldn’t use these machines?
Scroll Saws: As we said before, scroll saws do not have the same power as band saws do. That automatically means that you should only use this machine for small tasks.
If you have to work with thin and small materials then you definitely should go for scroll saws. These machines do a good job when it comes to creating a clean and intricate cut.
Some of the things you can do with scroll saws are :
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Making numbers or letters from wood
- Detailed Cuts
If you have to work with long and thick materials then scroll saw isn’t the right tool to help you cut them. Sure, you can upgrade the scroll saws blades but even that doesn’t help a lot, it doesn’t come near the power that band saws have.
Basically, they are made just for small tasks, so if you have to cut a wood object in half or make a big cut then you should look for other choices, scroll saws can’t handle that. That’s why it’s always good to know the materials and projects you are gonna do before buying a saw.
Band Saws: If speed, accuracy, and power is your concern then band saws is your go-to. They can cut almost every material, thick or thin it doesn’t matter, as long as it fits on the table then the band saw will be able to cut through it.
While scroll saws can’t make a straight cut, band saws are known for aggressive & fast straight cuts. And this is all thanks to the blades that always go in the same direction.
Except for straight cuts, band saws can also be used for angled cuts. If you have a high-quality band saw then you can tilt the table to make cuts up to 45 degrees.
When it comes to band saws, then you just have to be a little creative and you can do almost everything. Although there are a lot of things & projects that you can complete using this machine, here are something that I use them for :
- Planter Boxes, etc.
While band saws can be used for a lot of things, there are some things that you can’t use them for. One of them that we mentioned here earlier is that you can’t use this machine to do inside cuts. Imagine if you have to make the letter Q or O.
With a scroll saw you would easily make a hole at the middle and make these letters, but you can’t do that. And even if you found a workaround to do it, the cut won’t look clean and quality. and at most cases, it will make the wood weaker.
If you don’t have a large budget then you should know the price differences. Power tools will always cost a lot. So, be prepared to spend at least xxx$ amount of money for one or another.
If you compare the price of these two, then scroll saws are cheaper. They cost less and they are mostly used by DIYers and beginners. At the other hand, band saws cost a lot more money. There are band saws that cost xxxx$. A reason for this is because they are more commercial and are used by contractors or professionals.
Since they look quite the same and their name may sound the same, one can get confused and think they are the same tool. But, in fact, they are used for completely different tasks.
If you read the entire post then you already know the differences between a scroll saw and a band saw. But if you didn’t then scroll saws are more used for decorative projects, such as making wood letters or numbers, and band saws are more used for a bigger project, such as making furniture or cutting a thick wood object in half.
If you are a contractor, or if you do a lot of wood projects and thinking on becoming a contractor or starting your own company, then maybe you should buy them both. They are really helpful. You can use band saws to cut the wood, and then you can use the scroll saw to make the wood look better by adding figures.
So, if you are thinking of doing a lot of woodworking projects then I recommend you to buy both. If not, then you should know the types of project you are gonna be used the machines before buying them. You should check our blog post on safety tips that every DIYer should know.