Last Updated on 2020-11-04 by Harry Masterton
To answer that question let’s look at both the bandsaw vs scroll saw in detail so we can define the difference between a bandsaw vs scroll saw.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw – What is a scroll saw and how does a scroll saw work
- 2 What Is A Bandsaw?
- 3 Bandsaw Resawing Video
- 4 Bandsaw Resawing
- 5 Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw – Types Of Bandsaw
- 6 Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw – The Scroll Saw
- 7 What To Look For When Buying A Scroll Saw.
- 8 The scroll saw features to look for are:
- 9 Scroll Saw Blades – What Type Of Scroll Saw Blades Are there?
- 10 Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw – The Final Cut
Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw – What is a scroll saw and how does a scroll saw work
A power scroll saw looks very much like a band saw but there are a couple of major differences. The blade in a bandsaw as the name suggests is exactly that, a band or ‘loop' of continuously running blade.
A scroll saw on the other hand like its hand held cousin the coping saw can have the blade inserted into the wood via a hole drilled anywhere as a starting point.
So to cut a pattern or shape with a band saw you will have to start at the edge of the wood and cut inwards to get started whilst with a scroll saw you can start where you want within the pattern or shape you wish to cut. This is achieved by detaching the scroll saw blade, threading it through your pre-drilled hole and then re-attaching.
Then off you go to cut your scroll saw pattern or shape. So there is the first major difference between a bandsaw vs scroll saw.
In a similar way to jigsaw a scroll saw uses a reciprocating blade. The hand held version is of course the ubiquitous coping saw that has been around professional woodworking shops for several centuries.
The scroll saw however has a much thinner blade than a jigsaw and will give you much finer and precise cuts allowing for much more intricate and delicate patterns to be achieved. Having the power of a scroll saw will allow you to tackle far bigger scroll pattern projects than you could with a hand coping saw.
A coping saw is also limited by the depth of distance from the blade to the saw frame whilst scroll saws will have a much larger throat depth. The size of the saw will be determined by the depth of the ‘throat' which is the distance from the blade to the saw neck at the rear.
Scroll saw depths generally range from 12″ for the small hobby woodworking shop to professional grade scroll saws with a 30″ throat depth.
Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw – The Band Saw
What Is A Bandsaw?
A bandsaw as the name suggests has a continuous toothed blade which runs taut between several guide wheels one of which will power the blade.
The wheels serve to keep the blade tight, act as a guide and drive the saw in its continuous circular motion. The bandsaw can primarily be found in wood and metal working shops.
For our purposes talking about a bandsaw vs scroll saw we will concentrate on the uses in a woodworking shop.
A bandsaw is used to cut heavier and thicker wood. A bandsaw can be used to cut curves, irregular shapes and for ripping larger pieces of lumber into thinner boards.
A bandsaw is definitely the go to power saw when it comes to cutting complex curves in thicker pieces of lumber and board. A small to medium sized bandsaw can cut lumber 4” thick while a larger commercial bandsaw can handle cuts in 6” boards. If you're looking at a bandsaw vs scroll saw then the first thing that becomes obvious is the bandsaw will cut far thicker lumber than a scroll saw.
Bandsaw Sizes – How Do I Choose.
Bandsaws are sized in two distinctly different ways. Both determine the size of wood that the bandsaw can handle. Firstly a bandsaw will be measured by the ‘throat’ or distance from the blade to the back of the saw frame.
So a bandsaw with a 14” throat could nominally cut 24” boards or rip 24” lumber allowing for clearance of course.
The next way of measuring a bandsaw capacity is to look at the depth of cut the saw can handle which is the distance between the table surface and the blade guide.
So a saw with 6” between the table and guide will be able to cut 6” lumber. If you’re cutting curves then the depth of the curve will be limited by the throat depth. As an obvious statement if you’re resawing then you will be able to rip lumber up to or just below 6” to allow some clearance and freedom of movement for the piece that you’re cutting.
Bandsaw Resawing Video
If you want to carry out some resawing then a scroll saw will just not ‘cut it’ if you’ll excuse the pun. Resawing has to be done on a bandsaw. Which raises the question, what is Resawing?
When you ‘resaw’ lumber in simple terms you are taking a thicker piece of wood or a log and cutting it along the grain into thinner strips or slabs of wood.
What Is The Best Band Saw Blade For Resawing?
The wider a bandsaw blade is for resawing the better. A wide blade will give you a straighter cut. If your bandsaw accepts ½” blades or wider with 3 teeth per inch, 3 TPI, you’ll achieve a fast but smooth cut and move that sawdust away from the cut line.
How To Choose The Right Bandsaw Blade.
Bandsaw blades vary in their use and can be defined as three main types. The main types of bandsaw blades are regular, hook blade and skip bandsaw blade.
Regular bandsaw toothed blades have a 0O rake with teeth that are evenly spaced and a deep gullet to clear the sawdust.
Hook toothed bandsaw blades have a deeper gullet with much larger widely spaced teeth with a 10O rake. A hook blade will make a much faster courser cut. Hook blades are often used to make a longer cut.
Skip toothed bandsaw blades are specifically designed for softer materials like softwoods, plastics and softer metals such as aluminum. Skip bandsaw blade teeth will have a tooth set at 90O with zero rake so the chips and material being cut are cleared quickly from the blade to avoid clogging and overheating the blade.
What Sized Radius Can I Cut With A Bandsaw?
The size and type of radius you can cut with a bandsaw will depend very much on the width of the bandsaw blade you are using. Generally speaking you can cut finer more delicate radius with a narrow blade of say 1/8”. A 1/8th inch wide bandsaw blade will cut a 1/8th inch radius. Going up the scale a 1/4 inch blade will cut a 5/6ths radius whilst the wider 1/2” blade will only cut a 2 5/8” radius.
Image curtsey of turnawoodbowl.com
Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw – Types Of Bandsaw
For the woodworker a bandsaw will come in three distinct types.
The benchtop or table top bandsaw is as its name implies designed to sit on the bench. Smaller and lighter in design so the benchtop bandsaw can conveniently be place on your bench, table top or purpose built stand.
Stationary or Vertical Bandsaw
The vertical bandsaw is designed to be free standing. The stationary bandsaw will normally be found in a professional cabinet shop or because of the price at the higher end are the territory of only the more serious and dedicated woodworking hobbyist.
With generally a much more powerful motor, larger work table and additional features will not normally be considered if you’re setting up a small woodworking shop.
Portable Bandsaw or Hand Held Bandsaw
The portable bandsaw is not a tool that would normally be found in a woodworking shop but we include it here for clarity.
Used to cut framing, piping, metal angle and strut work the portable hand held band saw will generally be found on a contractor’s jobsite.
Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw – How To Fold And Coil A Bandsaw Blade
On a larger bandsaw the blade can be quite unmanageable when it’s removed from the machine.
You might be wanting to change the size of your blade so having a technique to fold and coil the bandsaw blade into a nice neat smaller size for storage, is not only much more convenient, it’s also much safer.
Instead of trying to explain how this is done here is a great video by George Vondriska of the WoodWorkers Guild Of America on how to fold and coil and bandsaw blade for storage.
George makes it look so simple!
Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw – The Scroll Saw
So generally speaking a scroll saw is used for lighter, decorative work in finer woodworking and crafting and decorative work for fine furniture and cabinetry while a band saw should be used for heavy, thicker lumber where the shape is far less intricate. A band saw is ideal for creating curves, shapes in thicker wide boards, ripping and cross cutting thicker large lumber.
Bear in mind that the kerf or thickness of a band saw is less aggressive than a circular saw blade so there is less wastage.
So let’s take a look at the most important consideration when you're thinking about buying a scroll saw…
What can you do with a scroll saw?
The answer to that question is almost limitless! Scroll sawing as a hobby is a really great way to spend creative time and is one of the most popular aspects of woodworking.
The hobby scroll saw takes up very little space, is a great introduction to woodworking for beginners and young people. Looking at a bandsaw vs scroll saw then the scroll saw is definitely more hobby and craft orientated whilst the bandsaw is a distinctly woodworking power tool.
Scroll sawing as a hobby is becoming increasing popular with seniors and with a quiet hobby scroll saw they can also be apartment friendly.
If you’re an ardent crafter and you visit craft fares as a stall holder then the hobby scroll saw can become a source of additional income if you search out scroll saw projects that sell.
The list of projects that you can make is almost endless with the different types of crafting such as intarsia, marquetry, cutting letters and fretwork.
Scroll saw topography or the art of map making is also a very popular aspect of scroll sawing as a hobby.
You can make jigsaw and 3D puzzles, toys and games, scalloped frames for mirrors and pot stands, culinary trivets and kitchen décor, and of course when you look at all the seasonal scroll saw projects you can make the creativity is endless.
So the conclusion here is if you’re the creative type then the bandsaw vs scroll saw decision comes down firmly to a scroll saw.
Bandsaw Vs Scroll Saw – Setting Up A Small Woodworking Shop
If you are just starting out setting up a small woodworking shop and you’re considering a bandsaw vs a scroll saw then our advice has to be go for a scroll saw initially.
A scroll saw is much more flexible in terms of space when you’re thinking about how to set up a small woodwork shop and will be much more useful when you’re making smaller woodworking projects. If it's small furniture you have an ambition to make then the bandsaw wins over the bandsaw vs scroll saw because of it's ability to cut thicker stock.
What To Look For When Buying A Scroll Saw.
It’s almost inevitable what we are going to say here, ‘buy the very best scroll saw you can afford’. That way you’ll future proof your purchase and make sure as your skills and the complexity of your projects increases your scroll saw will be able to keep up.
What you don’t want to do is end up not enjoying scroll sawing as a hobby because the scroll saw you purchased does really doesn’t do what you need in terms of intricate work or scroll saw patterns.
You don’t want to be selling a cheaper saw in a few months time and buying a fully featured scroll saw. Doing that you’ll only lose money so think ahead and plan your purchase.
Types Of Scroll Saw Design
There are three basic designs of scroll saw all of which are adopted by different manufacturers.
The Parallel Arm Scroll Saw – The original scroll saw design going back to the late 1800’s. Two parallel arms with the blade attached to each end of an arm moving the blade in a reciprocating up and down motion.
The Double Parallel Link Arm Scroll Saw – The ultimate in scroll saw design the parallel link system has a relatively complex system of arms and linkages that drive the scroll saw blade up and down.
If you are looking for the best scroll saw for long term use and you’re considering money making projects with you scroll saw then the double parallel link arm scroll saw is the one you should consider.
Scroll Saw Parallel Link Video – This is a very simple video but explains the concept well.
The scroll saw features to look for are:
Changing Your Scroll Saw Blades – Make sure that changing your blades and adjusting the tension is a simple tool-less process. Check the reviews and what comments buyers have made about the simplicity or otherwise of changing and tensioning the blade.
If it seems like this is a hassle, stay away from this scroll saw.
Scroll Saw Depth of Throat – What size projects and scroll saw patterns are you going to be taking on? As we remarked above, think about this for the future. A smaller hobby saw might look Ok right now but as your skills progress you’ll need a saw with a deeper throat. Look at scroll saws between 16” and 20”
Tilting Scroll Saw Table – Again look at the type of project you might be wanting to scroll in the future as your skills progress. A single or double tilt scroll saw table will obviously allow you to create much more ambitious patterns.
Scroll Saw Cutting Thickness – How thick are you going to be cutting? Give yourself a maximum of 2” and you’ll be well within the capacity of most good scroll saws.
Scroll Saw Speed – As with all reciprocating power saws such as jig saws and the sawzall the speed of a scrolling saw is measured in SPM or strokes per minute. Most modern scroll saws will have at least two speeds but even the best budget scroll saws today will be equipped with variable speed control
Scroll Saw Blades – What Type Of Scroll Saw Blades Are there?
When we’re thinking about a bandsaw vs scroll saw the biggest and most obvious difference is in the blades.
For the purposes of this article and the scrolling saw hobby we are going to stick with the six main types of blade used in woodworking scroll sawing.
Regular or Standard Scroll Saw Blades.
The standard or regular scroll saw blade is great for everyday usage cutting softer woods up to about ¾” thick. Regular tooth blades have teeth spaced evenly along the full length of the blade.
Skip Toothed Scroll Saw Blades have as the name suggests ‘skipped’ teeth along the blade length with each tooth having a space before the next blade.
Double Tooth Skip Blades have two teethe together and then ‘skip’ a tooth before the next.
Reverse Tooth Scroll Saw Blades are similar to single or double skip tooth scroll saw blades but are designed so that the ‘reversed’ teeth avoid splinters clogging the cut and overheating the wood.
The Two Way Cut Scroll Saw Blade has a two teeth downwards one tooth up configuration along the length of the blade which gives a much smoother albeit slower cut.
Crown Tooth Scroll Saw Blades have a double tooth configuration with each pair of teethe having one pointing up and one pointing down producing a cut on both the upward and downward stroke.
Spiral Scroll Saw Blades – A regular type blade that is twisted into a spiral before heat treating. A spiral scroll saw blade cuts in every direction as it moves up and down. Imagine it as a miniature router bit that isn’t spinning but reciprocating. These blades are difficult to control and need a great deal of practice to use. If you have a larger scroll saw pattern that is bigger than the throat of your saw then spiral scroll saw blades will come into their own.
Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw – The Final Cut
I think what you have to consider here when making the choice between a bandsaw vs scroll saw is the type of woodworking that you are going to be doing, the space that you have available in your woodworking shop and of course your woodworking experience.
What Type Of Woodworking Projects Will I Be Taking On
We’ve said this before in the comparison between bandsaw vs a scroll saw, if your aim is to get involved in the scroll sawing hobby and crafting with a scroll saw then your choice is obvious. Buy yourself the very best hobby scroll saw that you can afford.
If you preference is furniture making with curves and radius in thicker wood then the bandsaw has to be your choice. Chair arms, chair backs, rocker feet and a variety of woodworking furniture projects will need a good bandsaw.
How Big Is My Woodworking Shop?
If you have already or are thinking of setting up a small woodworking shop then a good hobby scroll saw will obviously fit but if you are contemplating a bandsaw then you’ll probably be better with a benchtop bandsaw.
Then again if you are a serious woodworker who spends hours in your shop and you have ideas to develop a sideline in handmade furniture and crafting business you may want to have both?
Whichever way I hope we have gone some was to resolving the bandsaw vs scroll saw debate for you and you stay safe in your workshop. And as always, let’s make sawdust!