Scroll Saw vs Band Saw – Which One Should You Buy?

When you take a look at the array of tools you can use for various woodworking jobs, you should be aware of which one does what type of work. It’s important to stay informed and know just which tool to turn to for which task you’re working on.

If you compare the scroll saw to the band saw, you might think that they are practically the same saw. But, the truth is, they really are not. While they are similar in design, they actually have different purposes and they are very different in the end.

In this guide, we are going to give you a rundown of the scroll saw vs. band saw and let you know just how different these pieces of equipment are. We will also share with you some tips for when to use which tool. As a bonus, we even have our favorite of each one to give you a preview!

Keep reading to learn what sets the scroll saw and the band saw apart.

The Difference Between the Scroll Saw and Band Saw Explained

In a quick review, let’s give you a basic overview of the differences. The band saw is designed with a flexible blade that is set in continuous motion. These are made for thick materials and loaded with power.

Band saws are mostly used for long and thick cuts because the blade moves in a constant downward way. You’re most likely going to use a band saw for large cuts outside and maybe some rip cuts as well. It is capable of some minor detail work but nothing too intricate.

The scroll saw, on the other hand, is designed for intricate cuts. It’s made to do design work. This saw is made with a short, thin blade that moves up and down in constant motion. It’s usually set on a tablespace and used for details as well as inside cuts.

The scroll saw is more limited as far as the thickness and the size of the material it can be used on.

Scroll Saw

We mentioned above a very basic description of the scroll saw but let’s dig a little deeper here. As we stated, the scroll saw has a short, thin blade. It’s attached to a head and it has a tablespace that you work on with your materials.

The table is usually limited to a fairly small space. 16 inches is a common size but it can vary. These saws are designed to complete the design. You use them for intricate work. The blade attaches to an arm on top and runs directly through the table into a fitting on the bottom of the saw.

The blade moves in a continuous up and down motion. This is not a handheld tool so you cannot move it around. You move the piece you are working on as needed around the blade to create the pattern or design you are creating.

When you are looking at scroll saw options, you will need to consider the table size as well as the throat size. The throat size determines how wide your materials can be. The table size also plays a part in this. While you can work with materials larger than your table, you have to be able to balance and manage them while working.

There are a lot of great scroll saws out there. We really like the DeWalt DW788 model if you want the best of the best!

DEWALT Scroll Saw, Variable-Speed, 1.3 Amp, 20-Inch (DW788)

Why We Like It:

Overall, we chose this saw as our top scroll saw pick because it has a lot of great features.

It's a little bit on the pricey side but it really has a lot to offer in terms of scroll saws.

Scroll Saw Blades

With a scroll saw, you can change the blades to work with whatever material you are working on. Scroll saws are most commonly used for woodworking purposes but you can use them on other materials as well. You will need to be sure you use the right blade for the job.

In terms of scroll saw vs. band saw, it is the blade that really sets these tools apart. The blade on a scroll saw is fairly small. It probably won’t cut through anything that is super thick. You’re looking at probably being able to cut materials approximately 2 inches or less.

The nice thing is, you can change the blade and there are lots of different blade options. You will want to be sure to use a blade that your scroll saw is compatible with for the best results.

Projects for Scroll Saws

In an effort to help you truly understand what the scroll is used for, we’ve compiled a list of projects for the scroll saw. This list should help in understanding the differences between the scroll saw and band saw.

  • Mirror outlay design
  • Wooden puzzles
  • Nativity scenes
  • Decorative plaques
  • Picture frames with design
  • Scroll designs on any material
  • Jigsaw and 3D puzzles
  • Wooden games and game boards
  • Wooden toys (like a horse or a train)
  • Trivets
  • Design crosses
  • Monogram pieces
  • Wooden baskets

Band Saw

The band saw is another useful tool, albeit different from the scroll saw. The band saw is usually a stationary saw as well but it is designed differently and operates differently. The band saw also has a flat work table.

The blade is set up much the same, starting at the head and running downward. Are you convinced by this description that these saws are the same? Well, this is where the similarities really end. The band saw is a powerful tool, far more powerful than a scroll saw.

With a band saw, you can cut through heavy and thick materials. Remember that the scroll saw can only hand so much thickness.

If you’re in the market, make sure you get the best band saw. Our favorite is the Wen 3962 because it is precise and easy to use for a lot of different ranges.

WEN 3962 Two-Speed Band Saw with Stand and Worklight, 10"

Why We Like It:

This is not only the best band saw for the money but also offers a high-quality experience.

Band Saw Blades

The blades are the biggest point of difference when it comes to the scroll saw vs. band saw. The band saw blade is manipulated on a 2-wheel system. There is a wheel above and a wheel below. The blade is like a saw, rotating on these wheels like a band. The motion is always downward for the blade movement.

This is where the band saw gets its name from, the rotation of the blade moving continuously like a band or a belt on the wheels. The wheels rotate this blade downward continuously. The blade on a band saw is open on the front and the back. This open design lets you use long materials.

Band saws typically allow you to cut through much thicker materials. You can do some detail work but it’s definitely limited. If you’re looking for detail, the scroll saw is what you’re after.

Projects for the Band Saw

Here are some project identifiers for the band saw to help give you a clear picture of what it can handle.

  • Make large curves
  • Circles
  • Notches
  • Cabriole legs
  • Unusual shapes and curves
  • Wooden boxes
  • Scoops and shovels
  • Detailed shelves and holders
  • Pencil holders
  • Vases
  • Book ends
  • Furniture

These are just a few ideas for the band saw, there are many more things you can do.

Conclusion

Both the scroll saw and the band saw have their own unique features and capabilities. It’s important to know that they are both great for different types of things.

The scroll saw is going to be used more for small projects with intricate designs and details. The band saw is going to be used for larger projects with not as intricate design work needed. Choose the right saw for your needs. You might even find that you need both saws to complete your workshop.

Amazon Recommends:

Bestseller No. 1
WEN 3921 16-inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw
  • Unique design accepts blades in two directions (standard and 90 degrees) to allow for infinite ripping capacity
  • Variable speed goes from 400 to 1600 strokes per minute
  • Spacious 16-by-11-inch table bevels up to 45 degrees to the left for angled cuts
  • Cuts wood up to 2 inches thick with a 16-inch throat depth in the standard position
  • Features a thumb screw blade adapter for tool-free blade changes, a cast iron base, an air pump, a flex light, a dust port, a foot lock clamp, onboard storage, and three blades
Bestseller No. 2
WEN 3959 2.5-Amp 9-Inch Benchtop Band Saw
  • 2.5 amp motor rotates the blade up to 2500 feet per minute
  • Create cuts up to 3-1/2 inches deep and 9 inches wide
  • Uses 59-1/2 inch blades anywhere from 1/8 to 3/8 inches in size
  • Spacious 12-1/4 x 11-7/8 inch work table bevels up to 45 degrees
  • Includes a 1/4-inch-wide blade, a 2-1/2 inch dust port, a rip fence, a miter gauge and a two-year warranty
Bestseller No. 3
WEN 3939T 2.8-Amp 9-Inch Benchtop Band Saw
  • Your purchase includes One WEN 9-Inch Two-Speed Band Saw with Stand, 3939T model | 3/8-inch-wide blade, dust port, fence and miter gauge
  • Table dimensions – 12” x 12” (bevels up to 45 degrees) | Tool weight: 46.7 lbs. | Speed levels – up to 2460 FPM | Blade – 62-inch anywhere from 1/8 to 3/8 of an inch in size
  • 2.8-amp motor creates cuts up to six inches deep and 9-3/4 inches wide
  • Easy to assemble as the stand elevates the band saw without sacrificing space on the shop’s work bench
  • The WEN Band Saw includes a 3-in-1 Dust Port to fit a variety of dust collection hose sizes (1-3/4, 2-3/4, 4 inches)