So, you are new to the woodworking business and wondering whether to buy the band saw or the scroll saw? Well, to someone who is absolutely new to this the difference is easy to miss.
Although the band saw and the scroll saw look very similar at the first glance, they both have the same setup, a blade set in the middle of the saw, a worktable but the differences are quite significant to a pair of expert eyes.
After going through this article, you will also be able to tell the differences between these two amazing tools and decide which one suits you the most.
What is a Band Saw?
Band saws and scroll saws are nearly identical visually. Both of these machines have a long motor-powered blade attached in the middle of a worktable. Despite these similarities, band saw and scroll saw are quite different.
Firstly, the blade in a band saw is bigger than that of a scroll saw. The blade in a band saw looks more like a saw which makes it more powerful and capable than that of the scroll saw. The blade is more like a ribbon attached to 2 or more wheels. With the band saw you can even cut non-ferrous metals with proper blades.
The bigger blade which is also adjustable allows for cutting both smaller and larger boards with ease. Due to the blade size and speed adjustment, you can make a clean cut each and every time on both thinner and thicker pieces of lumber.
The dimensions of the band saw are not that big either. So, if you have a smaller workshop you can fit in a band saw with ease. The band saw can be equipped with blades of different shapes and sizes which makes it really versatile.
If you want to cut a smaller object or want to cut delicate decorative cuts, then all you need to do is change to a smaller blade. When you need to cut large and thick lumbers or non-ferrous metals, then simply replace it with a bigger blade. That’s it. It’s that simple.
Advantage of Band Saw
- You can cut different sized board by just shifting to a different blade.
- If you equip the band saw with a blade with a higher tooth count then you can cut any non-ferrous metal including tin, copper, brass and many more.
- By adjusting the blade clearance, you can fit in boards of any size and shape.
- You can turn your band saw into a meat cutter by equipping a blade with higher teeth count.
- You can make angular and curved cuts using the band saw which a great thing is to have when cutting joints.
- The band saw can be used for resawing purposes. Resawing is the procedure of cutting a large piece of lumber into thinner slices. You can resaw by equipping a blade that is wider but with more teeth.
- The band saw uses a powerful motor that helps in cutting any type of lumber.
- It has a dust chute installed to collect all the sawdust.
- It comes with a fence to protect the boards from slipping out of the cutting area.
- Most of the higher-end band saws come with a quick tension release option which can release the tension of the blade by just turning a knob or by pushing a button.
Disadvantage of Band Saw
- It’s a common problem of slipping off the trunnion when you attempt to tilt the worktable.
- Band saws can be more expensive than the other options available.
- The table, fence, and a bigger blade make the band saw add to its weight.
What is a Scroll Saw?
A scroll saw is much smaller than a band saw. The blade and the work-board both are smaller in size than that of a band saw.
A scroll saw’s blade resembles more like a wire. It’s thin and small than a band saw’s blade. Due to the size of its blade and the worktable, a scroll saw is suited for cutting larger materials. Instead, it is mainly used for detailing work or cutting smaller boards.
Scroll saw is powered by an electric motor and the speed can be controlled by a pedal. It may seem a bit uneasy at first but as you use it more often, you will get used to it.
Blade of Scroll Saw
Blade is the major difference between the band saw and the scroll saw. The blade in a scroll saw is really thin and has a maximum width of 45 inches and a length of 6 inches.
Once you turn on the motor, the blade moves in up and down rapidly to make the cut. Due to this up and motion and the length of the blade, the scroll saw really struggles with heavier and thicker material.
Boards and lumber of more than 2 inches in thickness are almost unmanageable in a scroll saw. For optimum results, it’s recommended that you use boards not more than an inch in thickness.
But if you really want to push your scroll saw to the limits then you can definitely try and upgrade its blades. It’s pretty easy to change or upgrade the blade of your scroll saw.
Once you change/upgrade your blade, you must set the tension right. It can sometimes get a bit trickier to get the tension right.
You need to use the tension adjustment knob to fine-tune the tension of your scroll saw. The thinner blade enables the scroll saw to make inner cuts which come in handy to make decoration on your boards.
The Throat of the Scroll Saw
Throat is an important part of the scroll saw. It is the gap between the rear part of the saw and the blade. The scroll saw comes in a variety of throat sizes.
The choice of your throat size will depend on what kind of cutting you will be willing to do. There are both longer and shorter throats on a scroll saw.
How to decide whether you need a longer or a shorter throat? Well, there is a general rule of thumb. You will be able to cut double the size of your saw’s throat. Suppose you have a 10-inch throat on your scroll saw then you will be able to cut a 20-inch board.
Once you cut to the heart of the board then you will rotate the board to another side. This way you will be able to cut double the size of the width of your scroll saw’s throat.
Even though you will be able to cut nearly double the area of your throat size, it’s still recommended that you plan for slack of about 2 inches just to be on the safer size.
For example, your board 30 inches in the area then it will be better if you have a throat of 17-18 instead of the usual 15 inches (Which is half the width of the board you are planning to saw). Throat size is usually mentioned on the manufacturer’s brochures and online promotional materials.
Advantage of Scroll Saw
- It’s easier to release the tension of the scroll saw as it comes with a numbered tension. This lets you have a good estimate about how much to turn the tension knob.
- The blade of the scroll saw is easier to replace or change due to its no-tool clamp option.
- Due to its smaller blade, it is quite easier to control using the foot-pedal. When you press down the foot pedal the blade stops almost instantly. This enables to make precision cuts.
- The scroll saw comes with a blower to help clean the sawdust from the table surface.
- The worktable of the scroll saw can be tilted up to an angle of 45 degrees.
- The speed of the scroll saw can be accurately adjusted with a quick adjustment feature. The speed can be adjusted between a lower of 400 strokes per minute to a maximum of 1750 strokes per minute.
- The length of the stroke ranges between ¾ on an inch to 2 inches in depth.
- The scroll saw creates less vibration due to its dual parallel linked arm. This vibration-free operation helps create accurate cuts every time.
- The scroll saw also comes equipped with a cast-iron workstation. This feature also helps reduce further vibration.
- It has a blade guard to protect from possible injuries.
- The worktable can be easily assembled and disassembled due to the pre-drilled holes.
Disadvantage of Scroll Saw
- The scroll saw may feel a bit heavy compared to its size.
- It’s expensive.
Which one should you buy?
Now is time to answer the big question. Which one should you get? Which is the most bang for your buck?
A band saw? Or a scroll saw? Let’s consider the following points which will help us decide which one will be the best fit for you.
Though the band saw and the scroll saw looks quite the same, there’s a big difference in the price point of these two machines. Due to the size and versatility of the band saw, it can be quite expensive for beginners to buy.
This is why band saws are mostly used by professional contractors. On the other hand, scroll saws are cheaper compared to band saws. This is why the scroll saw is the preferred tool of choice for many DIY hobbyists.
Band saw or scroll saw? The answer lies in what you are going to with it. If you are a professional woodworker who is continuously working with bigger and heavier logs, then you must go with a band saw as it is capable of handling lumbers of any shape and size. On the other hand, if you’re into detailing work and decorative cuts then scroll saw should be your tool of choice as scroll saw’s smaller and thinner blade lets you make these intricate cuts.
Another decisive factor is versatility. With a band saw you can cut meat and non-ferrous metals alongside the regular wood. So, if you are planning to work with any of these materials then you have to go with a band saw.
Size is going to be another determining factor when choosing between a band saw and a scroll saw. A band saw is the bigger and heavier option compared to the scroll saw. If you are just a hobbyist working from your garage, then you have to take it into consideration as a single band saw itself can take up quite a bit of space.
A scroll saw on the other hand is quite smaller compared to the band saw and a great choice for beginners and enthusiasts. On the other hand, pure professionals should opt for a band saw.
If you went through this entire article, then you must feel very comfortable now when identifying between a band saw and a scroll saw. So, it’s time for you to decide which machine will best fit your needs and budget.
A band saw if you are looking to cut heavy materials, meat, metals, and looking to ripsaw or resaw. And a scroll saw if you’re looking to make delicate decorative cuts.