March 5, 2022
If you’re a beginner who wants to kickstart your woodworking career, you will soon find the woodworking world replete with various power saws, making it a challenge to zero in on the ideal power saws for your needs. Some of these power saws might look the same at first glance. If you’re not familiar with them, you might confuse one with the other.
Take, for example, the scroll saw and the bandsaw. At first look, you might think that both have the same design and applications. But upon closer scrutiny, you will soon learn to differentiate these two power saws. Knowing the difference between these two power saws will help you decide which is the appropriate tool to buy for your cutting needs.
Understanding Scroll Saw
The scroll saw is sawing equipment that makes use of short and thin blades, about a quarter of an inch in width or less. This saw oscillates at tremendous speed, and you can use it for small and detailed cutting projects. Moreover, it is used for designing wood. You can use it for cutting tight curves on your projects like clocks, artworks, and puzzles.
Its narrow blade produces a very thin kerf that lets you fit back the cut pieces as if you did not cut them apart. Thus, you will find this saw very useful when cutting a jigsaw puzzle. You can also use it to make inlays and marquetry.
The scroll saw has a small worktable, and its saw blade moves up and down at high speed. However, you can control its speed using a variable speed knob or a pedal. You can also tilt its table and lock it in place to let you make beveled cuts at different angles.
The distance between the neck and the blade determines the size of material you can deal with using the scroll saw. This distance usually ranges between 12 inches to 30 inches.
Advantages of Using Scroll Saw
The scroll saw is often referred to as a specialty saw. The reason for this is that it can make clean and intricate cuts. Thus, it is perfect for detailed and curved cuts. It allows for better control of the speed of the saw blade. You can use the foot pedal to speed up, slow down or stop the saw blade.
A bandsaw is a power tool that comes in various brands and models. It features a continuous metal band with teeth that stretch between two wheels. You can use the bandsaw for woodworking, lumbering, and metalworking. Moreover, it offers a uniform cutting action because of its evenly distributed teeth. An electric motor runs the present-day bandsaws.
The bandsaw can make curved and irregular cuts like the jigsaw. The minimum radius you can cut with the bandsaw depends on the kerf of the blade and the width of the band. Moreover, its saw blades come in a wide variety of tooth pitches and sizes. Thus, the bandsaw is a very versatile cutting tool.
Advantages of Using of Bandsaw
If you are desirous of speed and accuracy, the bandsaw is the power saw to opt for. It will allow you to perform various cutting tasks. You can use it to cut wood, plastic, and metal. Moreover, some bandsaws are used for cutting meat. You will also find industrial-sized bandsaws for cutting structural steel.
You can also rip timber using the bandsaw. Hence, you will see bandsaws in some sawmills for ripping sizeable lumber. You can also use it for resawing.
When cutting curves and irregularly shaped patterns, you may assume that the jigsaw will do better than the bandsaw. Yet, you can’t use your hand to move the material using the jigsaw. However, with the bandsaw, you can use your hands to move the material, giving you better accuracy and control of the cutting process.
Detailed Differences Between Scroll Saw & Bandsaw
To further understand the difference between the scroll saw and the bandsaw, you can check out this comparative analysis of these two saws based on the following succinct factors like purpose or applications, thickness, cutting, blade length, blade speed, size, versatility, weight, and cost:
Purpose or Applications
You can compare these two saws based on their applications and purposes. The scroll saw, for example, is meant for making intricate cuts in wood, metal, and other types of materials. It can cut more delicately than a jigsaw. Besides, it is perfect for use by hobbyists, allowing for a substantial level of creativity. You can also utilize it for cutting dovetail joints.
On the other hand, the bandsaw is designed to cut thick materials. Of course, it can make intricate cuts, likewise. But unlike the scroll saw, which is primarily used for cutting smaller objects, the bandsaw is designed for cutting more extensive and thicker materials.
As mentioned above, the scroll saw can only deal with smaller materials and workpieces. It has delicate blades as thick as a quarter of an inch and as long as eight inches. The bandsaw, however, got longer blades that are designed for cutting materials with sizes ranging from six inches to thirty inches.
A scroll saw is perfect for making circular and curved cuts. You can also use it for making detailed cuts because you can position and move the material around. After all, the scroll saw is fixed.
On the other hand, woodworkers prefer the bandsaw for making straight and ripping cuts. If you would use it for making intricate and detailed cuts, you might find it a bit challenging to use.
The scroll saw features saw blades ranging from five inches to six inches. Blades likewise come in pin-end or plain-end styles. On the other hand, the bandsaw features saw blades ranging from fifty-two inches to two-hundred sixty-one inches. Most bandsaw models can be equipped with various blades of different lengths.
The speed of the scroll saw blade gets measured in SPM or strokes per minute. Its speed may range from four hundred SPM to one-thousand eight-hundred SPM. Its ability to make detailed and intricate turns usually depend on its blade’s teeth per inch. Saw blades with higher TPI work tighter and faster.
However, the speed of the bandsaw blade gets measured in FPM or feet per minute. So, the speed of the bandsaw blade is around 3000 FPM. You will also find bandsaws that could run their saw blades at a slower pace between 1000 FPM to 1500 FPM. Moreover, you can use a slower speed to cut non-ferrous metals and denser workpieces.
The size range of scroll saw blades is from #2 to #12. This sizing is based on their TPI. The higher the scroll saw blade number, the fewer its TPI, and the better it is for cutting harder and thicker materials. Nevertheless, they will have difficulty cutting intricate corners and tight curves. Besides, saw blades with lower numbers have higher TPIs. They are also capable of more precise cuts.
On the other hand, bandsaw blades may range from 1/8″ to 1″ in size. These blades can cut radiuses ranging from 3/16″ to 7″. Wider saw blades, of course, can withstand more stress and strain, but they would not fare better when making tighter curves. However, narrower saw blades are best suited for more delicate and lighter works.
The scroll saw is more versatile than the bandsaw because it thrives in making a wide array of cuts. The bandsaw, however, is ideal for making regular cuts. It is also perfect for making outside cutting. Moreover, the bandsaw can also cut various material types.
When it comes to bulkiness and weight, you will find the bandsaw heavier than the scroll saw. Its weight may range from 250 pounds or more. The scroll saws, on the other hand, may weigh somewhere between five pounds to sixty pounds.
Scroll saws are not as expensive as bandsaws. Since they are smaller and not as powerful as the bandsaw, they are less expensive. Their price range is somewhere between $100 to $500 or more. Bandsaws, on the other hand, are costly. Bandsaw prices may range from $100 to $18,000.
When to Use the Scroll Saw?
The scroll saw is not as powerful as the bandsaw. As such, it can only deal with smaller materials and projects. Thus, if you cut small materials and projects, it will be best to use the scroll saw. You can make clean intricate cuts using the scroll saw. Moreover, you can use the scroll saw to make detailed numbers and letters, jigsaw puzzles, and other detailed cuts.
If you cut thick and lengthy materials, you should pass on the scroll saw. Instead, you should go for more powerful tools like the bandsaw or jigsaw. Of course, you can transition to an upgraded scroll saw blade.
Yet, even if you upgrade your scroll saw blade, the scroll saw can never get near the bandsaw’s power. The scroll saw is best for crafty projects and other small-scale, detailed projects. Other than that, you might get frustrated with its performance.
When To Use the Bandsaw?
If you are rooting for accuracy, speed, and power, you should go for the bandsaw. It can cut through almost any material, whether this material is thin or thick. Your only limitation when using the bandsaw is the size of the bandsaw table and the support for your materials.
Scroll saws may fail to make straight cuts. But bandsaws thrive in making fast and aggressive straight cuts. Its saw blade moves in the same direction, and for this reason, it can cut straight with ease. You can also use the bandsaw for making angled cuts by tilting the table to make angled cuts.
To expand the use of the bandsaw, you need to be creative. You can use it to make shelves, tables, planter boxes, and any other project that you can achieve. You can also use it to resize and resaw timber. You can’t use the bandsaw, however, to make inside cuts.
Deciding between the scroll saw and the bandsaw would surely not be a brain-wracking activity. As long as you know the differences between the two, you can correctly decide which would be best for your cutting needs between these two saws. However, as a serious woodworker, you would find having these two types of saws at your disposal advantageous.
The reason is there will be instances when you would engage in small intricate cuts that necessitate the use of a scroll saw, and there will be instances when you would need the more powerful bandsaw. Thus, if money isn’t an issue, you can always have both these saws in your workshop.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.