Have you ever looked at a glamorous piece of artwork and wondered, “Damn, how do they do it?”? My weakness is intarsia. It never fails to stop me on my track and hypnotize me to stare at it for at least a couple of minutes. But how do they do it?
Well, it’s mostly using a scroll saw with a handful of uses from a band saw. Here we’ll discuss a band saw vs. a scroll saw. In all honesty, A band saw, and a scroll saw are quite close to each other.
Their functionality, their purpose, and their sector of expertise lay side by side, even overlapping in some places. Both of the tools are used to make intricate and complicated designs with frequently hard turns, curved cuts, and tight corners.
But to be even more honest, There are a handful of factors that set them apart and gave them their individual niches inside the same workshop. Rather than trying to replace one with the other, you’ll get the best output if you use them to complement each other. So –
In this post we'll cover:
What Is A Band Saw?
A band saw is a power tool used to rip long, narrow boards into thinner or even narrower boards. I am talking about a tool that uses one thin and long blade that goes around between two wheels placed one on top of the workbench (these are great ones!) and the other below the table.
And the blade goes through. A miniature form of the lumber mill saw if you will. While the tool is on, the piece of wood is fed into the running blade. This sounds like the job for a table saw, right? What sets a band saw apart from a table saw is the fact that the blade of the band saw is much thinner, thus enabling you to take turns.
Another point to note is that the blade on a bandsaw always goes down. Thus, there are practically zero risks of kickback if the blade happens to get stuck, which, on its own, is unlikely to happen.
What Is A Scroll Saw?
Do you remember, I said, the band saw is almost a miniature lumber mill saw? Well, the scroll saw is almost a miniature band saw. Thus, a scroll saw is miniature lumber saw if you will. The visible portion of the blade of a scroll saw is pretty much the same as that of a band saw.
Of a scroll saw, what is not the same as a band saw, is that the blade of a scroll saw is not super long, and it does not go round anything. Instead, it goes up and down both ways through the workpiece. This makes cutting fast. Beware, let not the concept of “fast” fool you. It is actually super slow compared to a band saw.
That’s because a scroll saw blade is way smaller than that of a band saw. The high concentration of tiny and fine teeth makes cutting with a scroll saw very slow but very accurate and yields an almost perfect finish. You will scarcely need sanding.
Differences Between A Band Saw And A Scroll Saw
It is not going to be a fair fight when you stand a band on a head-to-head comparison against a scroll saw. It is like watching a fight between a goat and a rooster. However, I will try to make things as fair as possible while being consistent with what to expect from each of the two.
While both of the tools are fairly accurate in their operations, a scroll saw is by far the most accurate not just in between the two but also among almost all the tools used in an average workshop.
I am not saying that a band saw is inaccurate. It is not. A band saw is also very accurate, but a scroll saw is completely in a different league.
In terms of speed of operation, a band saw will simply blow away a scroll saw like a storm. A band saw is a healthy balance between speed and accuracy. It can compete with most other workshop power tools.
A scroll saw, on the other hand, is not even meant to be used for speed. It is simply designed to be slow to get an insane level of accuracy. In short, it is damn slow.
In terms of safety, no power tool is one hundred percent foolproof. Things can go wrong with either of the two. However, the chances of that, as well as how bad it can get, are much lower for a scroll saw. The scroll saw uses a freakishly thin blade with sand-like teeth. In the worst case, It will result in a not-so-deep cut and a few drops of blood. But hey, you will have a smooth cut; no sanding will be required.
An accident revolving around a band saw could go horribly bad. The faster and bigger blade of a band saw with bigger and sharper teeth can easily blow a finger away. Yikes, that sounds bad already. Better be safe than fingerless.
Hmm, this is an interesting topic. Efficiency depends on speed, accuracy, performance, and time consumption. I’d say efficiency is subjective. It really depends on the task at hand.
The scroll saw uses include intricate and sensitive projects, like intarsia, puzzles, and such, then a scroll saw will be the best bet for you. You could easily ruin a piece, or two with a band saw having to redo them.
In case your tasks require more long and straight cuts than complicated, sensitive ones, do not even think about a scroll saw. You will regret it within 10 minutes and be forced to reevaluate your life choices within 30. Even if you need to make rounded corners or cut circles, a band saw will still be more efficient than a scroll saw.
You should also consider the time and effort it will take for sanding the aftermath of a band saw, which a scroll saw does not require. But in my opinion, this should not be a deal-breaker.
In terms of ease of usages, a scroll saw has the upper hand. The reason is the slow working speed of a scroll saw. Especially when you are starting anew as a hobbyist woodworker (or a professional), as long as you have the patience, you can never go wrong with it. The limit is your imagination. And yes, I would like to inform you of a common scroll saw project for the beginner and that is making a simple scroll saw box.
Using a band saw is also fairly easy and straightforward. However, there is a tad bit more limitation called “complicacy.” It requires a tad bit more skill to get the same output from a band saw that you’d get from a scroll saw. But even that will be on a bigger scale.
From the discussion above, it is easy to understand that there are more differences between the two than common grounds. Sometimes the band saw is simply incompetent with a scroll saw; sometimes, it takes over like a hurricane. Thus, they are not meant to fill the same niche.
A scroll saw is the tool for detailed and complex cuts with tight corners, hard turns, and smaller workpieces. Whereas a band saw is more like the jack of all trades, but on a bigger scale. It can cut long rip cuts, tight turns, rounded corners, and much more. And that concludes our article on Bandsaw Vs Scroll Saw.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.