scroll saw vs band saw

We have seen new wood-craftsmen getting confused choosing between the scroll saw and band saw. Well, we think it is only normal to get confused. Both of the saws are stationary and similar looking that can help you to cut curves to a wood block. Despite the similarities, they are completely different power tools that are suitable for different purposes. It’s time you delved a bit deeper and understood the difference between a scroll saw vs. band saw.

Some woodworkers who are new to the scene think these two saws have the same purpose and one can use either of them to serve a purpose. That is entirely a wrong idea.

Don’t worry; we are here! We believe our guide will help you know these power tools better. So, get relaxed and go through the whole article.

The Scroll Saw: The Definition and Construction

The Scroll Saw

A scroll saw is a type of power-driven saw that has a reciprocating blade that moves up and down. The main purpose of this saws is to make intricate cuts on woods or metal that they can do way better than the power jigsaw of a blade runner.

The scroll saw got its name as it is mostly used to make scrollwork. Scrollwork is the practice of making sculptural ornaments that have a scroll head design.

What makes the scroll saws so effective and unique is that you can make pierce cuts. A pierce cut is simply an internal cut. You can take the tension off the grip that holds the blade and then insert the blade through the workpiece like threading. The attach the grip again, and you are able to make the pierce cuts.

The surface finish of these saws is so clean that you will rarely have to sandpapers to smooth out the surface. This smooth finish is crucial as you cannot sand of the tight inner corners for the pierce cuts.

Woodworkers love to work this type of saws as it can make smoother surface finish, make inner cuts, and pretty much noiseless.

Another great advantage of the scroll saws is there is a knob-control that allows you to control the speed of the blade’s reciprocating speed. Such knobs are absent in the band saws or blade runners.

Different Sizes and Throats

The scroll saws come in different sizes. The size of the saw is based on the throat of the saw. The throat is the distance between the saw and the rear frame of the saw. This measurement determines how much big a workpiece you can cut on this kind saw.

For example, a scroll saw with a 12-inch throat can cut through a wood block that has a width of 24 inches. It’s as simple as that.

Typically, the local shops have scroll saws having sizes ranging from 12 inches to 30 inches. Make sure to buy the one that suits your style of working.

So, the next time when you are visiting the local shop for buying a scroll saw, make sure you check out the throat size before buying.

Variation of Blades in a Scroll Saw

As you know, craftsmen use the scroll saws for various uses. The type of the blade depends on the use cases. For example, you cannot use the same blade for metal work and woodwork. Things are as simple as that. Here are the common variations of the blades used in a scroll saw –

  • Skip Tooth – A skip tooth or a single skip tooth is the most common variation of blades. It has a cutting tooth, a gap, and another tooth in its construction.
  • Double Skip Tooth – This one has two teeth, one gap, and again two teeth.
  • Reversed Tooth – This one has regular teeth in the upper section but has reversed or upper-pointing teeth in the lower section.
  • Ultra-Reverse Tooth – This special variation has 4-5 teeth pointing downwards and a single upper-pointing tooth after that. This variation of blades doesn’t allow dust accumulation.
  • Crown Tooth – A crown tooth or a two-way tooth have both upper and downward teeth sets. So, it can cut both ways with an upside stroke and a downside stroke. Most other blades can make only a down-stroke cut.
  • Spiral Blades – It is a regular skip tooth blade with twists. With the twisting teeth, it can be projected in all sides.
  • HSS Blades – The HSS or the High-Strength-Steels are used to work on the metals. Sometimes, they are referred as the metal cutting blades.
  • Diamond Blades – These blades have a diamond coating on the edge of the blades so that it can cut glasses.

Different Types of Scroll Saws

There are different types of saws available in the market. Here are the common 4s –

  • The Parallel Arm Variation – This is the most common design variation. Here the two arms are always parallel to each other, and the motor is attached at the back of them.
  • The C-Arm Variation – Here, the arms rather than being parallel, have a C-shape. The blade is attached at the ends of the C.
  • The Parallel Link variation – This is a more modern version of the scroll saws. You can find such design in Hawk, DeWalt, and Excalibur models. They have parallel rods, and at the end of the rods, the arms reside. The arms are power by the motor to push the blade up and down.
  • The Rigid Arm Variation – This is the oldest model of scroll saws. They were quite a popular model in the 1970s. The arms remain rigid and hold the blade. The movement is driven by springs and the pitman arms in the bottom part.

The Use Cases of a Scroll Saw

So, the main question that must be lurking in your mind – “When should I use the scroll saw?” These saws are best suited for the intricate cases. Suppose, you are making complex designs, sculptures, toys, show pieces, puzzles, or jigsaws. You should definitely choose the scroll saws.

They can offer you a clean and smooth surface finishes. But most importantly, you can move the workpiece as you wish and you will always get a result with extreme accuracy and precision.

Another great feature is you can power up the saw using the foot pedal while you are holding the workpiece with both of your hands.

But when it comes to faster and bulk works with larger planks, you should consider using a different saw.

Pros

  • Great for making crafts
  • Better precision and accuracy
  • Pierce cutting ability
  • Comes with foot pedal
  • Speed variation

Cons

  • Cannot handle thicker materials well
  • Less effective for making straight cuts compared to others

Band Saws: The Definition and Construction

Band Saws

Okay, enough with scroll saws! What about the band saw? Well, band saws have a lot in common with scrolls but have a fair share of differences as well.

The band saws are the power saws that have a band like flexible blades that are attached to the wheels placed above and below. Typically, a band saw has two wheels, but some structures have four of them. These are the best types for making uniform straight cuts. As the saws are stretched to the wheel like bands, they have such names.

As there is nothing to block the rear end of the saw, you can make long rip cuts with these saws. The band saws are capable of delivering huge power. So, you can use it to cut any kinds of materials from softwoods to hardened steels. Even you can find them in the slaughterhouses.

The length of the blade has nothing to do with the throat of the machine. So, that is a major difference band saw, and the scroll saw.

Construction of a Band Saw

A typical band saw has two major sections –

  • Feed mechanism and
  • Fall mechanism

As the name suggests, the feed mechanism helps the user to guide the workpiece to the blade for cutting, and the fall mechanism helps to guide the whole saw. Here is a detailed description of the band saw –

Feed Mechanism

There are three common feed mechanisms available. Each has different purposes and applications.

  • Gravity Feed – The gravity feed uses the gravitational force to fall down. There are certain mechanisms that ensure that the blade doesn’t put excessive force on a softer material. Such mechanisms are movable counterbalancing weight, a thread adjustment coil spring, or a pneumatic or a hydraulic damper.

Such gravity feeds are more common in the smaller saws.

  • Hydraulic Feed – The hydraulic feed can enforce more power. The pressurized hydraulic piston helps the saw the operate at different pressure and feed rate. The larger production band saws have Hydraulic feed mechanism.
  • Screw Feed – The screw feed uses a simple leadscrew to mobilize the blade.

Fall Mechanism

For controlling the fall mechanism, there are also three popular constructions available –

  • Pivot
  • Single Column
  • Double Column

Types of Blade Variation for Band Saws

The Scroll Saws have a wide range of blades. But they are mostly used for intricate works. The band saw, on the other hand, has pretty much straightforward application. Naturally, they limited range of blades compared to the scroll saws.

Here are the common three types of blades available for the band saws –

  • Precision Blades – These are the blades that can get you the smoothest cuts. These are accurate and precise can offers the best surface finish.
  • Buttress Blades – They surely don’t offer the smoothest cuts, but they are way faster than the other blade variations. As they cut faster, they tend to have larger chip loads.
  • Claw Tooth Blade – This variation is best suited for cutting softer materials. They have clearance space to allow fast cuts. Slaughterhouse band saws have them for cutting the meat.

Different Types of Band Saws

You can find different types of band saws in your local hardware store. Each type can handle different types of working procedures and purposes. Here are the popular types you suitable for woodworking –

  • Bench-top Band Saws – These are comparatively small, and you can move them around easily as they are quite portable. They are perfect for working with plywood and solid woods. You can easily make curved cuts even solid rip cuts too. It could be a perfect companion for craftsmen and wood-working professionals.
  • Stationary Band Saws – They are quite heavy and large in size. So, you cannot move them around. But they have more powerful motors that can handle any kind of hardwoods. You can find them in big woodshops and factories. If you are not looking for faster rip cuts at industrial scale, you will not need them.
  • Resaw Band Saws – Resaws are big and powerful. They are mostly used to slice up the thicker wood blocks into thin veneers.

When Should You Use a Band Saw?

The band saws are perfect for the scenarios when you are looking for power. The continuous moving blade along with the more powerful torque generating motors can handle wood pieces that are inches thick.

If you are looking for making straight cuts, think no more and choose the band saws with hesitation. The blade always moves in the same direction. So, you will not witness even slightest deflection.

Apart from the straight cuts, you can make angular cuts, circles, and arches. All you need are the perfect jigs and blades. Here are some perfect project ideas for the band saws –

  • Heavier furniture like shelves, tables, wardrobes.
  • Boxes
  • Wooden planks
  • Trimming operation

Pros

  • Perfect for the thicker materials
  • Best suited for making straight cuts
  • More speed and better accuracy

Cons

  • Edge cuts are comparatively rougher
  • Unable to make pierce cuts

Scroll Saw vs. Band Saw: Final Thoughts

So, when we put the two types of saws head-to-head, the scroll saws are better for complicated projects while the band saws are better suited to faster straight cuts. Band saws can make your time really productive as powerful saws enable the users to be on the top of everything.

If you are concerned about the pricing, the scroll saw would be the better option. The scroll saws have comparatively lower price tags. The scroll saws can help you to do the things that you can do in band saws. But you will always miss the higher power.

So, choose the better saw that suits your need for woodworking.

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