Band Saw vs Scroll Saw

Boris Woodworking 101 0 Comments

With numerous saws available to complete a job, it can be tricky figuring out which one is the best to use. Specialty saws such as band saws and scroll saws each have their own purposes and use. Each saw has an area where it excels and will outperform the other. Here’s a comprehensive guide on when to use a band saw versus a scroll saw.

What Makes Them Unique

A band saw is larger than a scroll saw overall. In addition, the designs are different despite the fact that they both deal with curved cuts. The band saw blade is shaped like a large band. It’s a thin oblong blade that fits around two wheels which spin in the same direction. This blade also rotates around the two wheels. The band saw operates like a pulley system to cut uniformly. This makes band saws effective at cutting wood, metal and other materials as well. Scroll saws work more like a jigsaw. The blade is straight and short and can cut in an up and down reciprocating motion. It is effective at cutting many materials just like the band saw, but it does so with less intensity.

The Band Saw

A band saw is known for cutting shapes and curves into your work. It is designed for detail work and can only be effective when dealing with the outside edges of a piece.

Many people feel that the band saw creates intense, straight cuts so it can often be used as a resawing machine. This is a technique to create a smaller section of timber from a larger piece. It requires cutting a section of wood along the grain. When resawing, it is possible to create a new piece of workable material.

The band saw is generally purchased by a serious woodworker only and is considered a specialty saw. They are versatile and adjustable. It allows for you to cut larger materials than with a typical saw.

The band saw can’t compete with the ability of a scroll saw to cut detailed patterns. With that said, the band saw blade does offer a various amount of widths and tooth styles to meet most woodworking needs.

Band saws have been widely used in many industries. Some of these include residential and light industry, metal fabrication shops, machine shops and timber cutting. In addition, band saws are even used in the meat cutting industry because the stainless steel construction offers easy to clean features. For meat cutting, the blade will consist of fine teeth with heat treated tips or plain, scalloped knife edges.

Blade Options
Band saw blades come in various tooth options depending on what industry they are being used for, but the most popular are:

  • Precision Blade – offers accurate cuts with a smooth finish
  • Buttress Blade – used for faster cutting and large chip loads
  • Claw Tooth Blade – allows for some additional clearance for fast cuts and soft material

Advantages of the Band Saw

  • Speed
  • Accuracy
  • Can cut odd angles or patterns
  • Hands are free to maneuver material
  • Provides great accuracy and control

Best Band Saw

Jet JWBS-14DXPRO

Our pick for the best band saw you can buy is the Jet JWBS-14DXPRO. Featuring a 2-speed poly-v belt drive system and ball bearing guides for excellent cutting performance.


  • Precision & Safety
    High quality blade guides and a feature rich safety system gets you excellent cutting performance and safety.
  • Solid Construction
    Sturdy cast iron frame and a 15″ x 15″ work table makes this band saw a true heavyweight.
  • Powerful Motor
    Easily cuts curves into stock up to 2″ thick thanks to the 1.25HP motor.

Read our full review of the Jet JWBS-14DXPRO.

The Scroll Saw

Detailed curved cuts can be accomplished with precision when using a scroll saw. That’s because the scroll saw can cut inside of the workpiece unlike the band saw. This means if you have a piece that needs shapes inside of shapes, you want a scroll saw. You can easily drill a small hole inside of your piece and then fit the scroll saw inside that to perform the detail work. Because of these abilities, scroll saws are a favorite choice among creative and crafty woodworkers.

This specialty saw has a wide amount of capabilities beyond the intricate and clean cuts. They can be used to create amazing jigsaw puzzles as well as small sculptures.

The cut from a scroll saw is so clean; you rarely have to sand the piece you are working on. Many machines offer a foot pedal to operate the motor. This allows your hands to remain free and handle the materials.

Scroll saws come classified by the size of the throat. This is the distance from the blade to the rear frame of the saw. Smaller saws have a throat that is as little as 12-inches. Commercial saws can reach 30-inches.

Prices on scroll saws vary from $100 upwards to $2,000. Obviously, the more that is spent, the more precise the cuts are going to be. This is because the higher end of saws minimizes vibration.

Blade Options
Scroll saw blades are typically five inches long and can include the following options:

  • Skip Tooth – contain a tooth, a gap, and then another tooth
  • Double Skip Tooth – contain two teeth, a gap, then two teeth
  • Crown (Two-way) – contain teeth facing both up and down which allows the blade to cut on both the down-stroke and the up-stroke
  • Spiral Blades – contain regular flat blades but are twisted so that teeth project on all sides
  • Metal Cutting Blades – consists of hardened steel
  • Diamond Blades – contain wires coated with diamond fragments and are good for cutting glass.

Advantages of the Scroll Saw

  • Allows interior cuts
  • Provides intricate curves
  • Machines offer table-tilting for precise cutting
  • Less sanding is required

Best Scroll Saw

DeWALT DW788

If you are looking for the best scroll saw money can buy, look no further than the DwWALT DW788. The double parallel-link arm ensures smooth operation and accurate cuts every time.


  • Fast Blade Changes
    The tool-free blade clamps allow for quick and ease blade changes.
  • Features Galore
    Electronic speed-control allows you to set the motor to match the job, anywhere from 400 to 1,750 strokes per minute.
  • Arm Design
    With an arm that pivots from back to front allowing for a shorter travel distance which results in smoother and quieter saw operation.

Conclusion

It is clear to see now how different the scroll saw and the band saw are from one another. Despite the fact that they are both specialty saws and can make curved cuts, they have very little else in common.If you need to perform detailed craft work, the scroll saw is the way to go. The band saw, on the other hand, is ideal for universal effectiveness and cutting with accuracy. In addition, the band saw will be your go-to saw when re-sawing or performing stacked cutting. Each machine is an asset to any shop and can be used to perform accurate and unique cuts.

If you are looking for more information on choosing a band saw, check out our helpful band saw buying guide.


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