Scroll Saw VS Band Saw: What To Get?

If you’re wondering whether you should get yourself a scroll saw or a band saw, then this article will tell you everything you need to know. 

While they may look similar and do some of the same jobs, scroll saws and bandsaws are different. 

Scroll saws are low-power saws with small, thin blades. They’re specifically designed for doing very fine, curved intricate cuts in wood and are normally used in artistic wood carving style projects. 

Bandsaws are more powerful all-round saws that are capable of handling heavy material. They can also do curved and intricate cuts, but are not as good as scroll saws.  

Still confused? You’ll find a detailed overview below.

Let’s get started.

Scroll Saw VS Band Saw Overview

  • Scroll saws are specifically designed for doing very fine and intricate curved cuts 
  • Usually scroll saws are limited in terms of the size of material that they can handle
  • Bandsaws are all round workhorse saws. They’re capable of doing some fine, curved and intricate cuts and can also do very heavy duty cutting
  • Many DIY workshops feature a bandsaw as the main general use saw

What is a Scroll Saw Used For?

Credit: Flickr.com

Scroll saws are quiet, low-powered saws that are specifically designed for doing delicate work with small pieces of timber. The kind of projects that a scroll saw would be used for are making puzzles, cutting out stenciled shapes in wood, or making figurines.

When someone uses a scroll saw, they normally control the motor with a foot pedal. This leaves both hands free to hold the piece of timber steady, allowing for a high level of control. The user can then take a very close look at where they are cutting and perform highly controlled cuts. 

The blades are thin with fine teeth and they perform very narrow and smooth-surfaced cuts. It is also possible to angle cuts very sharply, with it being almost possible to cut a 90-degree angle into a piece of wood. 

One way to think of a scroll saw is as a sewing machine with a blade.

Check out our Best Scroll Saw buying guide.

Benefits of a Scroll Saw

  • Great at cutting intricate, curved, and detailed shapes in wood
  • Refined and artistic results can be achieved
  • More accurate and easier to use than a jigsaw, which is a curved cutting alternative

Downsides of a Scroll Saw

  • Not versatile. They struggle with thick materials and take too long for general woodwork
  • Foot controls take practice
  • Cut width is limited by the size of the throat (the distance between the blade and the back of the mechanism). Maximum depth for a cut is usually about 1 ½ – 2 inches 

What is a Band Saw Used For?

Bandsaws are larger saws, typically kept as a stationary saw in someone’s workshop. They’re all round workhorses that are used for various types of woodworking. 

Bandsaws can be used to do long straight cuts in thick pieces of timber and as such can stand in for other saws, like table saws, that most people would expect to be used to do heavy work. On top of this, they have changeable blades that are adaptable. 

Thicker, heavy-duty blades, normally of about 1-inch diameter, can be used to cut thick material. Many bandsaws are able to cut pieces of timber that are 12 inches thick. As well as doing straight cuts in thick material, sweeping bends are possible as well. 

Thinner blades, even as thin as ⅛ inch, can be used to handle smaller pieces of timber and to do more detailed curved cuts. When it comes to making curved cuts, the kind of things that are normally done with a bandsaw is curved parts of furniture (such as curved back posts or armrests on a chair). 

That said, with the thinnest blades and some care it is possible to do quite intricate, curved cuts with a bandsaw. The maximum level of intricacy that can be achieved with a bandsaw is roughly comparable to that of a jigsaw. 

As well as being able to cut timber, with the right blade fitted bandsaws are normally capable of cutting non-ferrous metals and other materials as well. 

Looking to buy a band saw? Check out our band saw buying guide.

Benefits of a Band Saw

  • Highly versatile. Bandsaws can do most woodwork jobs 
  • Capable of doing a good level of fine and detailed work
  • It’s possible to cut a variety of materials

Downsides of a Band Saw

  • Not as accurate and good at intricate work as scroll saws
  • Not as powerful as table saws when it comes to heavy-duty work
  • Larger. They take up more room than a scroll saw

When to Use a Scroll Saw Over a Band Saw

Scroll saws are specifically designed for doing fine, delicate, artistic style curved cuts in woodwork.

If you’re thinking of making a puzzle, cutting out shapes, making wooden figurines or doing anything of a delicate and artistic nature then a scroll saw is the best thing to get. 

Scroll saws are neat, quiet saws that are fun to use and are great for arts and crafts projects. It’s a lot of fun to draw out a shape on a piece of timber and sit down and relax while you cut it out. 

One added bonus that I haven’t mentioned already with scroll saws is that it’s possible to cut in the center of a piece of timber with one. If you drill a hole in the area where you’ll be cutting, detach the blade from the machine, thread it through the hole and then reattach it to the machine, you can cut it out without having to go through the edge. This isn’t possible on a bandsaw because they have a continuously looped blade.   

When to Use a Band Saw Over a Scroll Saw

Bandsaws are more all-around saws. They are highly adaptable with changeable blades that can be swapped for doing a wide variety of types of work. With the smallest blades, delicate work is possible and with the biggest blades, huge lumps of timber can be tackled. 

If you’re planning on doing some curved and intricate cuts, but also need a more powerful all-round saw for your workshop, then a bandsaw is a way to go. 

Final Thoughts

While, at first sight, scroll saws and bandsaws may look fairly similar and seem to work in a similar way, they’re actually quite different. 

The key thing is that scroll saws are designed for doing intricate, delicate, and detailed cuts. While they’re great at this and it’s loads of fun doing this kind of work, they don’t have many other uses. 

Bandsaws on the other hand are more powerful and are far more versatile saws. The ability of bandsaws to handle thick and heavy material will meet the majority of DIY demands. That said, if a large amount of thick and heavy material needs to be cut, then it may be worth thinking about getting something like a table saw

When it comes to doing curved, delicate, and intricate cuts with a bandsaw, what they are capable of doing will be enough in most general woodwork settings. It’s only when it comes to doing really fine and highly detailed cuts that they won’t match up to a scroll saw. 

If you’re wondering about more saws put to the test, then check out our guides below.

About Roy Cohen

I'm Roy, founder of Hack My Garage. I started out like most not knowing how to hammer a nail, but now I know more than most people about home improvement and DIY. I want to spread my wealth of knowledge with the world and hope to make it a better place.