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Scroll Saw Vs Band Saw – Which is the Better Choice?

Both scroll saw and band saw are important part of a professional’s tool arsenal – be it for a carpenter, decorator, handyman or woodworker.

However, if you have to make a purchase decision between the two saw tools, picking a single choice can be quite challenging.

Though the working principle of these tools is quite similar, their purpose of usage and other factors make it different from each other. Understanding these differences helps you make the right choice.

In this article, we are going to explore the key differences of scroll saw and band saw to understand which makes the best choice for your unique requirements.

Before dwelling into the difference between these two options, lets first understand them in depth.

Scroll Saw Overview


The functionality of a scroll saw is quite similar to a sewing machine. You have to move the working piece in and out for achieving the desired shape or design. They have thinner blades which limit the thickness of material they can cut. Despite their thin blades, these saws are capable of executing intricate cuts on different projects that weight up to 20 lbs.

They are generally used for working on wood, but they can also cut through plexiglass, plastic and other thin materials. They are mostly used for making wooden toys, musical instruments, cabinetry, home décor and other items that need intricate or detail work. They are usually priced between $100 to $500 based on capacity and brand.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Scroll Saw

Pros Cons
Clean, precise and intricate cuttings They often rely on electricity
Suitable for cutting artworks, clocks, puzzles, and tiny arcs Produces vibrations which can jog your hands
Final outcome is mostly smooth and may just need little polishing They have thickness limitation up to 3/4th inches
It can start cutting from the middle of the material which makes it perfect choice for delicate artworks Not suitable for heavy woodworks
Adjustable as it takes less room space As they wander and swerve, they are not suitable for straight cuts
Can accommodate large boards
They don’t create a lot of dust, keeping the work area clean
Blades are easy to change
Tension blades can be easily adjusted

Band Saw Overview


Compared to scroll saw, band saw is a little bit different. It has long blade which can cut through thicker wood materials. As it can easily slice through enormous materials, it is the perfect choice for heavy woodworks. Contrary to scroll saw, band saw moves in rotations using the wheels fixed in the tool. Being versatile, it can be used for a wide range of applications and projects.

While a scroll saw is used for slow-paced work such as crafting, a band saw delivers you fast results if you just want to make normal wood cut-outs.

A band saw is often used for commercial and professional use for cutting large pieces of wood into smaller ones. Hence, it is a convenient and cost-friendly option for the contractors as they can be easily installed at any job site whenever needed.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Band Saw

Pros Cons
Thicker blades and reliable quality Need consistent maintenance
Higher accuracy in a wide range of materials Creates coarse edge cuts and aggressive slices
Compatible with broader blades to make straight and refined cuts
Reduces material wastage as it produces less sawdust

What’s the Difference Between a Band Saw and a Scroll Saw?

One can easily differentiate between a band saw and a scroll saw just by looking at their size. A scroll saw is usually a smaller tool, almost the size of a standard sewing machine. On the other hand, a band saw is meant for cutting large pieces of wood, hence, it generally has a bigger size.

In fact, a scroll saw even operates like a sewing machine as its blade oscillates up and down while you can adjust the wooden piece to make cuts through it. In contrast, the blade of a band saw moves along with a band and is comparatively much larger in size.

While a scroll saw is a primary choice of tool that any professional wood craftsman would pick, a band saw is much more likely to be picked by a professional carpenter. Both tools perform the same task, that is cutting wood.

However, a craftsman usually requires making delicate and sharp cuts, which is only possible using a scroll saw. On the other hand, a carpenter just needs to cut pieces of wood to make furniture, hence, a band saw is a much more reliable option to choose as it’s large in size and can finish the job a lot quicker.

Which Saw is the Right Purchase for You – Band Saw Vs Scroll Saw

Below, we have provided key differences between these two tools based on their technological functionalities and features. Refer to them thoroughly to know which one suits your needs better.

1. Working Mechanism

The scroll saw works by moving the blades up and down at a very fast pace. As the blade teeth are pointed down, the cutting takes place in the downward direction. Its working mechanism is often depicted to be similar to a sewing machine. The blade of a scroll saw is usually 5 inches in length and secured at both top and bottom arms. When turned on, they both oscillate together to move the blade.

When it comes to band saw, a very long blade is welded into a loop. It is connected to two wheels which move continuously in a single-movement direction. They move downwards to cut through the wood properly.

Winner – Both are unique in their own way

2. Types of Cuts

Scroll saws are capable of providing round, angled and straight cuts. In addition to that, they have a unique feature which lets you remove the blade and insert it at the centre of workpiece. When you remove the blade and place it back through the wood piece centre to carve the shapes and circles as per your choice. This option is not available in most of the saw types.

Band saws can provide straight and angle cuts. As they are powerful and stronger compared to scroll saw, you can easily cut a large piece of plywood. However, they cannot cut through inner circles in the way a scroll saw does. For building furniture or similar products, band saw is a great choice.

Winner – Unique in their own way

3. Clearances

Both scroll saw and band saw have upper and lower section which have to be connected. So, there has to be some clearance from supporting frame to blade which often represented as throat measurement.

In the scroll saw, as the frame supports the top and fixed in line to the blade, the clearance limitations are only front to back. You will not be able to cut straight through a large board. But the sides of a scroll saw don’t have any clearance limitations. You can cut the wood in different angles and curves along the width as per your design or requirement.

But the band saw is quite opposite to it. It has side-to-side clearance limitations. The throat of this tool limits how much you can hang the working piece on either side of the blade. When it comes to front and back limitations, there isn’t any. If you have proper additional support, you can run the board no matter how long it is. However, cutting wide boards or cross cutting in length can be difficult because of the limited throat measurement. Throat distance of a band saw is usually less compared to the wheel diameter. For instance, 14 inches band saw uses 14 inches wheels but will have only 13 inches throat distance.

When it comes to scroll saw, a 20 inches option has 20 inches clearance from the back arm frame to the blade. So, when you consider the clearance feature, each have different limitations. Finally, it comes down to which clearance you prefer.

Winner – Both

4. Feed Speed

In general terms, band saw is much faster in cutting compared to scroll saw. The feed rates of both saws can vary depending on the blade aggressiveness and thickness/density of the board you are going to cut. However, scroll saw cuts slower than band saw even if you are using an aggressive blade.

Winner – Clearly Band Saw

5. Cut Radius

Both band saw and scroll saw comes with different blade widths. However, they still are in different classes. In a scroll saw, the blade is too fine and thin so you can turn the blade as you wish while working on the work piece. Not just curves, you can also get sharp angles as well because of the kerf is similar to the blade thickness. When it comes to radius of the cut, there is no limitation, you can literally cut any size or angle you want as it comes to down to the pressure and direction you move the board.

The band saw has finer blades that can cut up to ¼” radius and a little tighter you move it slowly as the blade width needs the wood to move while rotating.

Winner – Scroll Saw

6. Thickness Capacity

While cutting thicker materials using a scroll saw, its blade gets overheated which can in turn damage or dull the blades. Using a thick stock blade may be helpful to achieve cuts pretty aggressively and removing material quickly. You may be using it for stocking it up to 1-1/2” for softwood and when it comes hardwoods, it will be ¾”. If you go beyond these measurements, then you may break the blade completely.

Band saw blades are made from cutting through thick stock which can be as wide as 1 inch. However, blades with ½” or ¾” wide blades can also handle dense or thick boards. Usually, wide blades come with large curve radius but they are capable of removing a lot of material in each pass. With band saws, thickness of the material isn’t a necessary factor. Based on the saw, you can use 4 inches to 14 inches of exposed blade.

Winner – Band Saw

7. Fret Work

This is one of the important things with all the wood working projects. It is actually decorative cutting functionality. As you can remove the scroll saw blade, you can insert it through a drilled hole and reattach it to saw before powering it on. This will add new dynamic to the ability of decorative cuts within boundaries of wood piece without cutting through the edge of the board. Band saw is not suitable for working on intricate or detailing projects.

Winner – Definitely Scroll Saw

8. Veneer Cutting or Resawing

Similar to a scroll saw, the band saw has a unique feature called resawing or veneer cutting. These types of cuts need a heavy-duty band saw as you will cut through the board thickness from one edge to another.

Cutting veneer pieces or resawing is usually done in thin layers as you have to laminate the veneer layers over MDF or plywood. Resawing is done using a wide blade of a band saw and tall fence.

Technically, resawing is done using a table saw. However, it is not recommended and waste of time. It also has certain risk factors as well and possible chance of kick back. However, with band saw you don’t have to worry about that.

When it comes to scroll saw, it is completely out of question as this tool is not designed for such projects.

Winner – Band Saw

9. Cut-Finish

The quality of cutting is another important factor to compared while deciding between band saw and scroll saw. And there is obvious difference between them. The scroll saw provides smooth and shiny finish without any blade marks. This is one of the reasons why professionals working on intricate detailing prefer this option. After cutting, you probably may or may not need sanding. But the quality provided by the scroll saw is not the same level as band saw.

Winner – Scroll Saw

10. Safety

As scroll saw is not powerful and heavy-duty tool, it is comparatively safer option. It comes with a foot pedal, so you can control the job and keep the hands away from the blade. When it comes to band saws, they have more power and heavier in size, so they are a bit dangerous. But compared to certain saw types, they are completely safe as long as you wear eye and hand protection gear.

Winner – Both are safe if you take proper precaution steps

When You Should Use a Scroll Saw?

Because of their small blade size, scroll saws are perfect for working on thinner and smaller pieces of wood and other materials. They are a better choice for decorative, small and intricate works that need detailing. These saws are flexible and easy to maneuver. These saws have thin blades which move delicately to provide intricate cuts which are difficult to achieve through other types of saws.

They provide precise and clean cuts which a band saw can never provide. A scroll saw can also make plunge cuts which is not possible with band saw. They are suitable for a wide range of projects that include making patterns, jigsaw puzzles, creating letters, carving wood, wooden plaques, and others.

When Not to Use a Scroll Saw?

Though their working is exceptional, scroll saws are not suitable for every project. They may be perfect in making detailed and smaller work projects, they come with downfalls as well. When working with thick and large materials, a scroll saw doesn’t work well. They have thin, small and flexible blades which are not designed for handling large pieces or thick materials.

Some scroll saws can be upgraded by changing the blade for more torque and power. However, there are some limitations for it. If the material is thicker than 1 inch, then you may have to use a band saw instead of scroll saw.

They are not capable of making straight cuts and moreover getting a straight cut using a scroll saw, especially a longer, is nearly impossible. Unlike band saw, a scroll saw cannot handle cutting though different materials like metal. Certain projects which can be completed through band saw like furniture, shelves, trims, and other large items that don’t require detailing are not suitable to work with scroll saw.

When Should You Use a Band Saw?

Band saws are a perfect addition while working on large wood projects and other materials that require cutting. The blade size and build construction of a band saw make it a perfect option for cutting wood materials thicker than 2 inches. The limitations of cutting a material using band saw is only the space accommodated by the work table and horizontal arm.

One of the main benefits of having a band saw is making long, aggressive, big and straight cuts. The main reason for this is the blade moves mostly in downward direction instead of up and down like scroll saw. This eliminated the need for moving up/down and side to side.

When Not to Use a Band Saw?

The main thing you have to remember while using a band saw is that it is not suitable for making inside cuts. In addition to that, a band saw is not ideal if you have to do a lot of sanding as the blades move pretty aggressively and leave rough edges on the material.

Band saws can be too big and heavy-duty to handle detailing or intricate works. For example, if you have to work on a wood piece with 1 inch thickness, it may rip apart the piece altogether. To say in simple terms, they are not suitable for working on small or thin materials. They are not suitable for intricate and detailing works.

Final Takeaway

Both the band saw and the scroll saw are totally different power tools. Although they serve a similar purpose, one is good for making creative artifacts, the other one is much better for productivity and finishing the job quicker. If you are a craftsman and like making interesting wooden showpieces, you should get a scroll saw. However, if you just want to make some regular cuts and curves in thick pieces of wood, there’s no better option than a band saw out there.

Having read the information provided in this article, we hope the information has cleared up any doubts or questions about which one to choose for your projects. The more important thing is that you can make an informed decision instead of blindly making a purchase.

If you still have any queries, we recommend writing to us in the comment section below. We shall reply to them as early as possible. For more such articles, keep visiting our website.

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