Scroll Saw vs. Bandsaw: Which Should You Use?

Updated 3/10/2023

While the band saw and scroll saw are similar in many ways, they’re different in many ways in terms of what they’re designed to do and how well they get the job done.

The big question you need to ask yourself before your purchase is, “What will I be using this tool for?”

This article is a quick guide that will help you figure out exactly the tool you need for your next big project – the scroll saw or the bandsaw.

Why Would I Use a Scroll Saw or Bandsaw?

Besides answering your big question, it should also act as a cushion for when you’re making your next purchase.

When To Use A Scroll Saw

Despite this, however, where this saw really shines is with clean and intricate cuts.

Scroll saws are often found in specialized woodworker workshops – people who’ve been working at them for a long time.

If you’ve ever taken woodshop, you’ve also probably used one.

To bring the point home, a scroll saw is used to create those cool jigsaw puzzles, and small sculptures you see in craft stores nine out of ten times.

These require a great deal of concentration and careful, detailed cuts.

However, the scroll saw doesn’t stop there. It has a lot more uses than just intricate craft items.

Since scroll saws are handy enough to allow the user to make any precise cut with extreme accuracy, a particularly great thing about the scroll saw is that you rarely have to sand because of how clean the cut is.

Another great benefit is that most scroll saws have the ability to use a foot pedal when operating the motor.

This allows your hands to handle the material freely while working – a factor that’s especially important when making tiny cuts that require precision and accuracy.

When To Use A Bandsaw

Bandsaws are also a type of specialty saw and are generally purchased by advanced-level woodworkers and shop hobbyists.

The bandsaw is extremely versatile and can readily handle the most common and specialty cuts.

Due to their versatility and the fact that they’re vertically adjustable, you have the ability to cut much larger materials with bandsaws than you do with typical saws.

Although the bandsaw does not match the scroll saw’s ability to cut small, intricate patterns, the bandsaw blade comes in lots of different widths and tooth styles that allow for many design variations.

The greatest advantage a bandsaw provides is the speed and accuracy at which you can cut the materials.

For instance, if you need to make lots of cuts at odd angles or in some certain patterns, the bandsaw is the perfect tool for the job.

Although the jigsaw is the most often used for cutting angles and patterns in wood, with a bandsaw in your hands, you are basically free to handle the material, in the process providing greater accuracy and control.

Pro Tip:

To summarize everything as shortly as possible: If you wish to cut a thick stock that will be used to prepare large bowl blanks or resaw wide boards.

In a scenario like that, upgrading to a 14″ bandsaw is a pretty good idea.

Just remember that the thickness capacity of most bandsaws is in the ballpark of around 6″ or so. You may get a large machine, say a 14″ machine.

Such big machines are strong enough to accept riser blocks. (What do you think a riser block is? It is just an accessory).

Every time when it is added to the body of a saw; it results in increasing the thickness capacity by 6″).

While using a riser block, you can have a 14″ bandsaw with a 12″ thickness capacity. (By the way, just for the record, 14″ refers to the diameter of the bandsaw wheels.)

So, if you are looking for a bandsaw that gently cuts curves in a flat stock, for instance, wheels for toys or preparing small bowl blanks, your 10″ bandsaw will give you desired results.

Wrapping it Up

Scroll saws can cut very small radii, and you can, in fact, turn a cut back on itself with the right blade, since there are many different blades for different types of cutting.

Generally speaking, the smallest bandsaw blade will be around 1/8″ wide and thicker than any scroll saw blade.

So the smallest radius that can be cut is around 1/4″.  For general woodwork, a bandsaw is preferred. Scroll saws are more specialized.

Before you can decide what tool you should purchase, you should first decide what you want the tool to do and what type of woodworking you’re going to do.

For larger type projects like bandsaw boxes, cabriole legs and resaw, there is really no substitute to the bandsaw.

However, if you consider smaller types of work projects, where you are supposed to do a lot of intricate cuttings like intarsia, fretwork, scroll saw boxes, and interior cuts, then nothing can take the place of a scroll saw.

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