Scroll Saw Vs Band Saw- Making the Best Saw Choice

Scroll saw vs band saw, which one do you need for your projects? Can one serve in place of the other? Let’s see…

What’s for sure is that you need the right cutting saw in your arsenal whether you are a wood curving artist, carpenter, or general handyman.

Further, the correct saw type will help you make accurate cuts for a professional result.

So, in this post, my focus will be on these two primary saws: Scroll Saw Vs Band Saw.

Both scroll and band saws have specific benefits and drawbacks. For instance, scroll saws are suitable for making inside cuts, fine detail tweaks, and patterns or letters on small wood pieces.

On the other hand, band saws work best for aggressive cuts on large wood blocks and even metals.

However, getting an ideal tool for various projects is challenging for beginners and seasoned professionals.

Therefore, read through this comparison to determine the option that fulfills your needs.

What Is Scroll Saw?

Image of shop series scroll sawScroll saws have a flat work table, a horizontal arm with a small blade, and a column at the back.

They mostly feature a blade, six-inch in total length, but cannot cut through materials thicker than two inches. 

In addition, the tools have a hard time handling wood pieces between one to 1.25 inches thick, depending on the material type.

Woodworkers prefer scroll saws for detailed cuts and intricate patterns, especially when handling extremely thin lumber.

Thus, contrary to most woodworkers’ fears, the tool’s small blades do not hinder successful work.

 A scroll saw has a variable speed. Besides, you can easily reset the blades and make inside cuts over wood blocks, thanks to its tension adjustment knobs.

The device’s throat size determines the total inches it can handle. For example, a 15-inch throat size accommodates as wide as 30 inches of material.

But it is advisable to use 26 to 28-inch material for inside cuts and thin detail work.

Specific throat size readings also make it convenient for amateurs to choose suitable project materials, avoiding unintended hiccups during cutting.

Hence, one saves time while delivering smoother and professional cut finishes.

Moreover, you do not need to sand the surface regularly. And some manufacturers integrate a dust blower into the saw to eliminate hindrances in your line of sight.

It is possible to control the blade’s motion and the project’s accuracy with the tool’s foot pedals.

Also, you can freely utilize both hands when making inside cuts or cutting along thin wood pieces.

Unlike other cutting tools like table and band saws, a scroll saw can curve complex designs.

Therefore, they are most suitable for craftsmen and artisans and deliver detailed work on metals, wood joints, and plastic.

Lastly, the jigsaw-like puzzle is easy to create with a scroll saw. Also, you can use it in artworks involving lumber curving and elaborate lettering.

What Is Band Saw?

A band saw utilizes a powerful motor and a long sharp blade to produce rip cuts and extended detailed patterns.

It also has wheels with an equally distributed metal teeth set for optimal efficiency.

Image of a Bandsaw In WoodworkingThe saw delivers perfect maneuverability and achieves fine, straight cuts and curves.

It also comes in multiple types, allowing you to choose the best product for your work.

Band saws reign superior over scroll saws, despite many similarities in design and appearance.

They have a high-performing engine and allow you to cut thick materials effortlessly.

The tools deliver top-notch productivity as they operate at a high variable speed. I

n addition, they easily handle long and thicker materials thanks to an extensive throat size.

You can even use the saws on softwoods, pipes, metal, and meat. And they feature a versatile blade, allowing you to cut through lumber pieces thicker than two inches.

However, please note that there are specific band saws for meat cutting. 

But generally, the tool boasts of a stainless steel construction design and features impressive durability.

A band saw utilizes two to four wheels, depending on the brand. These wheels rotate the blades and allow the teeth to move in a downward, uninterrupted motion.

Also, it is prudent to learn different ways to measure the tires as they need replacement from time to time.

The saw’s wide throat size also allows the arm columns and blades to move freely, making it a standard device for timber cutting.

In addition, the device’s flexible blade operations make it perfect for metal fabrication. 

Many workshops nowadays utilize band saws for tasks with thick material despite not being suited for intricate projects.

Besides, you can use it to create vertically mounted pieces like tables, cabinet stands, or benches.

In addition, you can try constructing a planter or wine rack for a more sophisticated touch when looking for more challenging tasks other than basic chairs and tables.

Scroll Saw Vs Band Saw

Woodworkers confuse band saws with scroll saws because of their similar designs.

They also have a flat work table and an extended column with a horizontal arm to hold the blade. So, it is challenging to differentiate them at first glance.

Other than that, the saws handle entirely different materials and projects.

And it is prudent to do an in-depth evaluation to get the most suitable tool for your work.

Primary differences include:

  • Feed Speed

A scroll saw’s feed speed ranges from 500 to 1,800 strokes per minute and is controllable by a variable speed knot or foot pedal.

In addition, the blade features different teeth per inch measurements to help make intricate patterns and tight turns.

We measure a band saw’s speed in feet per minute, ranging around 3,000 FPM.

However, some models have a secondary, lower rate of 1,000 to 1,500 FPM to accommodate non-ferrous metals and other dense materials.

  • Cut Radius

Most scroll saw blades’ sizes range from #2 to #12 and depend on teeth per inch (TPI).

Further, lower-numbered blades have a higher TPI and are the best option for increased precision.

Conversely, higher numbered blades feature a higher TPI and are perfect for more rigid and thicker material. Thus, consider your project needs before purchasing either saw.

The band saw blades range from ⅛ of an inch to one inch and can handle radiuses from 3/16 of an inch to 7-inches.

Besides, wider blades can withstand the cutting strain, but they are not ideal for tighter diameters. So, consider narrower blades for more delicate and lightweight work.

  • Thickness Capacity

A scroll saw has thin and smaller blades as it cuts through the material by oscillating up and down. It also works like a sewing machine and thus does not need larger-sized blades.

On the other hand, a band saw utilizes a much broader and thicker blade than its counterpart.

Furthermore, its primary purpose is to cut through thick wood blocks like tabletops. Therefore, you can comfortably cut wooden blocks ranging from six to 30 inches.

  • Fret Work

Scroll saws excel in smaller and more detailed applications. In addition, you can upgrade the blade for more cutting torque and power.

But this move can only go so far because the tool may not successfully cut materials thicker than one inch.

These tools have a thin blade, allowing you to make complex cuts and corners.

Also, advanced woodworkers use them for inlay work, dovetail joints, musical instruments, and other joinery projects.

In contrast, band saws are more potent and suitable for making straight cuts on thicker boards.

Moreover, they work best on outdoor cutting projects and even allow you to create pretty decent curves.

You can use band saws to cut through other workpieces, such as metal, and even make furniture, shelves, trim, and planter boxes.

  • Resawing

When resawing with a scroll saw, clamp your workpiece to a 2″ x 2″ scrap block to support the clamp and wood.

Next, leave space between the wood’s edge and the C-clamp for the blade to leave the cut.

Conversely, band saws need adequate power and a considerable cut depth when resawing a workpiece. Otherwise, motors smaller than 1hp and a cut depth lower than ten inches will limit your operations.

  • Cut Finish

Scroll saws feature a smaller blade oscillating up and down to cut through materials.

They are handier when an artisan works on wooden artifacts and needs to make small accurate cuttings.

In addition, you can even detach the saw’s blade and put it through the workpiece to curve various designs and shapes.

On the other hand, band saws are more potent wood cutting tools, thanks to their larger blade.

These versatile devices allow you to cut out sharp angles and curves and thus are ideal for carpenters.

  • Weight

Generally, scroll saws range from five to 60 pounds, making them relatively portable. So, they are perfect for woodworkers with different workstations. 

Oppositely, band saws are more suited for stationary placements as their weight is upwards of 250 pounds.

  • Blade Length

Scroll saw blades are available in five and six-inch lengths. Also, you will get them in plain-end or pin-end styles.

On the other hand, band saw blades come in multiple lengths ranging from 52 to 261-inches.

Also, the length on the manufacturer’s manual is usually an average between the longest and shortest blades the device can handle.

Can You Scroll Cut On a Band Saw?

Band saws are too big and powerful for delicate workpieces and will not deliver a satisfactory result on small or thin materials.

Furthermore, the tool might rip the one-inch thick boards depending on the wood type.

In addition, these saws cannot make inside cuts due to their aggressive motion. They will also leave a lot of rough edges, requiring a lot of sanding.

On the other hand, although scroll saws are more suitable for thinner wood pieces, they can handle 2×4 boards. However, take your time during the operation and avoid pushing the block too hard.

A scroll saw is practical and easy to use; thus, it is ideal for craft, fun arts, and home projects.

However, the tool can be hazardous when you ignore certain safety precautions. So, follow the instructions below for smooth operations.

  • Wear safety glasses before turning on the saw. The sharp blades can be very dangerous if they break off.
  • Put on a dust mask to protect your face. It will also keep you from swallowing or breathing dust from wood cutting.
  • Please avoid moving the saw afar after turning it on. Pick it either from its base or by the legs, never by its arm. In addition, ensure that it is stable and on an even surface before operations.
  • Good lighting will facilitate more accurate and clean cuts as you see the lines better. Moreover, you can buy lights separately and mount them directly on the scroll saw.
  • Consider purchasing a magnifying glass and mounting it on the scroll saw for enhanced precision.
  • Assess the saw blades and ensure they are sharp before turning the device. Also, confirm that they are firmly in the correct position. Otherwise, working with bent and dull cutting discs and incorrect positioning will deliver uneven cuts.
  • Spray the blades with a light oil coat frequently to keep them from rusting, even if you do not use the saw often.
  • Always use the tool with dry wood. Wet wood wears down the saw blades and reduces their life expectancy.
  • Use a V-block when handling rounded wood as it helps secure it firmly. Besides, this move keeps the workpiece from rolling into the blade and causing breakages.
  • Keep your fingers away from the blade and use a pencil eraser when cutting materials close to it.
  • Ensure you unplug the foot switch when replacing or changing blades to avoid accidentally turning it on.

How to Use Band Saw Safely

Typically, users regard bandsaws as among the safest woodworking tools.

However, they are still dangerous and can cause considerable harm when misused. Some things to consider include:

  • Safety Equipment

Always wear safety glasses when working with any woodworking machines. Besides, band saw blades move considerably, and small wood pieces may propel in any direction.

Sometimes, the blade may break, and the piece could become loose. Your sight is too precious to take chances cutting lumber without eyewear. Therefore, please wear safety glasses all the time.

The saws can be very noisy, requiring you to wear hearing protection. Get some ear plugs or ear muffs for added safety. In addition, avoid loose-fitting clothing, especially long-sleeved shirts that could get caught in the saw blade. 

  • Evaluate the Band Saw Before Use

The saw utilizes multiple blocks and wheels to keep the blade in a correct position throughout the operation.

Thus, consider checking these parts and adjusting them per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Failure to adjust the saw’s blocks and wheels leads to undue wear and tear, causing the blade to break prematurely.

Also, assess the blade’s tension to set it within limits in the owner’s manual.

Place the stock on the band saw’s table and lower the blade guards to about ⅛ inch to ¼ inch of the workpiece.

Otherwise, leaving the blade guards too high will break the blade due to undue tension.

Ensure that the motor is off when positioning the wood for cutting. And keep the blade guard within the stock distance to increase the cut accuracy.

  • Cutting the Workpiece Safely

Start the saw and wait until the engine is at full speed before operation. In addition, the wood should always remain flat on the surface.

So, place it against the table and avoid free-handing when the workpiece is mid-air.

Use a miter gauge or saw rip fence when cutting consistent-width rip angles to increase the cut accuracy and safety.

Further, draw the projected cut outline on the piece for enhanced precision.

Leave a bit of the workpiece as the blade will create cut marks that require later sanding.

Also, cutting directly against the cut line does not allow finishing the surface.

Move slowly and methodically when cutting curves. But consider holding the workpiece firmly in place when backing out of a cut.

Also, do not try to support the wood from the cut until the blade stops completely.

Go slowly and utilize relief cuts when working on tight curves.

They cut through the cut-out’s scrap portions to deliver a better cutting angle.

Besides, it is safer to create relief cuts and cut tight curve portions than to make an extended, inaccurate cut.

  • Keep Your Hands Away

Your hands should not be any closer than three inches from the blade. Position one hand on each side of the workpiece and ease it through the cutting disc. 

Also, please avoid reaching across the saw and use the closest hand to turn the on/off switch.

For instance, use your left hand when the button is to the left and utilize your right when it is on your right side.

Keep your hand away from the cut line, even when it’s more than three inches away from the blade. And always use a push stick when holding the wood closer than three inches.

  • Other Common Sense Rules

You will notice tiny stock pieces on the blade during the cutting process. However, avoid flicking them with your fingers and use a push stick or another block to push them away.

Also, push the wood pieces away from the table as soon as possible to avoid impeding your cut.

Please avoid distractions when working with band saws.

Also, most injuries occur when the operator gets distracted. So, always keep your eyes on the tool and safely turn it off or finish the cut before diverting your attention. 

Lastly, establish a rule with those in the workstation that they wait until you complete a cut before interrupting. Or consider discouraging idlers and interrupters in the workstation altogether.

Here’s a Video On Using Bandsaw:

Precautionary Tips When Using a Scroll and Band Saws

Scroll and band saws are power-driven machines. Therefore, it is prudent to adhere to the following safety tips for a safe and successful operation.

  • Wear protective clothing when using these tools. Get some goggles, safety glasses, a face shield, footwear, and hearing protection suitable for the noise level and frequency.
  • Remove jewelry, wear fitted clothes, and tie back your hair to avoid getting pulled or caught by the moving blade.
  • Ensure you enclose all band wheels and adequately adjust all saw guards. In addition, confirm that the wheels and blades are in perfect condition.
  • Position the blade correctly on the track and adjust its guard height to about three mm or ⅛ inch and six mm or a quarter-inch above the workpiece. Otherwise, wider gaps place tension on the blade and increase the breaking risk.
  • Ensure the blade tracks correctly and runs freely in and against the lower and upper guide rollers. Also, adjust the saw to the recommended tension or consider getting one with automatic tension control.
  • Use sharp and suitable saw blades for the operation and adequately set them before use. Also, keep your hands away from the cut-line and brace them against the table.
  • Securely hold the workpiece flat on the table to keep it from turning and drawing your fingers against the cutting disc.
  • Use a push stick to remove cut pieces from the fence and saw blade or when your hands are too close to the cut-line. In addition, consider relief or release cuts before tight curves for complex scroll-type applications.
  • Hold the workpiece firmly and shut the saw when you need to stop cutting. Then, wait for the cutting disc to stop moving before removing the wood.
  • Use a machine table with adequate lighting and keep the floor around the saw clean and free of clutter or obstructions. Also, use lockout procedures where necessary when making repairs.


A scroll and band saw comparison is essential as both devices appear more or less the same.

Besides, they have primary differences in their purposes, and the above debate helps you choose the best tool for your work.

Scroll Saw Vs Band Saw

The primary variance between these saws lies in the blade and materials they can handle. For example, scroll saws cannot cut boards more than two inches, whereas band saws can work with thicker materials.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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