Bandsaws Vs Scroll Saws (What Is The Difference?)

Today, we look into two similar looking types of saws, the bandsaw and the scroll saw.

What is the difference between a bandsaw and a scroll saw? Well, firstly – we can look at the design. A bandsaw is found in both cordless and tabletop forms. A bandsaw can powerfully cut through materials, making curved cuts at awkward angles, amongst other patterns.

A scroll saw is a tabletop saw – and it stays upon the tabletop. You won’t be able to find a portable scroll saw, yet using a scroll saw would be more in tuned for intricate, accurate designs.

Don’t have too much to spend reading through the whole article? No problem!

I’ve put together a quick overview of the main points of a bandsaw vs scroll saw for your convenience.

  • Both versions of saws share similarities with table, motor and design, however the similarities end here
  • Scroll saws create intricate designs, whereas bandsaws are used more so by contractors in demo work
  • Bandsaws are found in both cordless and corded versions, the scroll saw is only found in the corded class
  • Additional accessories such as led lights, rip fences and line of sight enhance accurate cuts and promote visibility
  • These saws can be found across of levels of prices and are perfect for those beginning their trade

An Overview Of The Bandsaw & The Scroll Saw

The bandsaw can be found in both a cordless and corded form, whereas a scroll saw is found in a table-top mode version only.

A bandsaw is usually found in the arsenal of a professional contractor or hobbyist, with its’ power used to cut through thick materials.

A scroll saw is used most commonly by hobbyists, for the intricate designs that can be crafted.

Bandsaw

A bandsaw is similar to a scroll saw, with its ability to carve interesting patterns and a focus on its precision. However, the similarities stop here – a bandsaw is more powerful than its scroll saw cousin, and can be used to cut a vast array of materials.

Bandsaws are identified by their design – a blade powered by a motor, traveling through wheels, exposing the blade which is used to make cuts.

Bandsaw Cuts & Uses

A bandsaw excels at making irregular cuts, with a combination of both power and flexibility through movement, a defining feature of the tool. Bandsaws are also the perfect tool for resawing, another common use of the DIYer.

Resawing is the process of wood through the direction of the grain, as this too reduces the wood into thinner blocks.

Many hobbyists design pieces of furniture, from kitchen and dining tables, to drawers and bedroom furniture, some examples of the uses of the bandsaw.

Of course, you would also be using a compact bandsaw when on the job – a tool found in contractors such as electricians and plumbers to name some examples.

Bandsaw Features

Motor & Battery

The bandsaw motor, both in compact and benchtop form, is measured in amps. You can find bandsaws holding motors that contain up to 10 amps and higher. This provides the power for the blade to cut through your materials.

The speed on the motor is measured in ‘feet per minute’ or ‘FPM’. This is the amount of time it takes for the blade of the bandsaw to move in a minute, with higher speeds found in motors of powerful capability.

As there is no primary plugged source for a compact bandsaw (cordless, remember), the power stems from the battery which must be charged in order to perform for your session.

Many can last for a few hours consecutively, and are able to cut through thick materials, providing a useful addition to your cordless inventory.

Blade

The blade is the instrument used to create cuts through materials. The blades found on bandsaws, in both compact and benchtop designs, are quite durable and powerful.

However, blades can break and bend, and it’s for this reason as to why it’s a great idea to look into bandsaws that have a blade tracking adjustment feature – as this will monitor the general wear and tear of your blades.

Table

The throat size relates to the space between the blade and the end of the table. As larger tables have larger throat sizes, and are ideal for those working with larger pieces.

Another interesting point of note is the bevel, is the angle the table can tilt either left or right. The bevel is usually to a 45° angle, can make for some very interesting designs, adding another dimension to your cutting game.

Additional Features

LED lighting is a common, feature found in bandsaws, used to illuminate the dark environments contractors can find themselves in. Some provide a line of sight for accurate cuts under light.

Variable speed triggers/dials allow for speed to be maintained, usually with two-speed settings. This is a helpful feature for those who are working with a variety of materials.

If you’re using different materials and also different thickness levels of these materials, a universal set speed won’t always do the trick. This is where a variable speed option comes into play, allowing you to control the pace of your cuts.

Blade tracking and tension adjustment will aid in monitoring the longevity of your blade, as well as providing the option to adjust blade tension and make blade changes.

Scroll Saw

A scroll saw is a particular type of saw that is used to cut intricate shapes and curved lines into materials, and is a saw known for its’ finesse and accuracy more so than its’ power.

It’s mainly used in projects that require these particular designs, rather than the focus upon power – something many other saws are built on.

Scroll Saw Cuts & Uses

Like other saws that fit an array of applications, a scroll saw has a specialized variety of cuts, designs and projects which can be made.

Here’s a list of the different uses that a scroll saw can assist in:

  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Designing plaques
  • Letter and number carving
  • Wooden portraits
  • Models
  • Cutting boards

As you can see, a great deal of creativity and imagination can go into a scroll saw and its’ cuts, which is why it’s a saw that’s favored for creative minds.

Scroll Saw Features

Arm

One of the most crucial features of the scroll saw, the arm holds the blade in place through either a pinned or pinless feature.

There are three distinct arm types of a scroll saw – a C Arm, Parallel Type, and Parallel-Linked arm. The latter is the latest in advancement of the scroll saw.

The arm is linked to the motor, and the different arm types can result in different types of cuts (when comparing output, power wise).

Blade

The blade is another crucial component of the scroll saw.

Blades come in either pinned or pinless form, and you’ll select either one accordingly with the type your scroll saw accepts.

Older scroll saws usually take the pinned form of blades, yet most modern scroll saws accept both pinned and pinless blade types.

There is a semi-standard blade sizing system, that ranks blades from <0 to a maximum of 12. This isn’t universal, though, as many companies have their own numbering systems to differentiate blade sizes.

Throat Size

Typically, you can find throat sizes on scroll saws marked at 16” and 20”, although there are models which fit outside this range.

Based on the use and needs of your scroll saw – a larger throat size may not always be a bonus for you.

Additional Features

Many scroll saws come with a variable speed trigger/knob, which allows you to adjust the speed, in accordance with the blade being used, and the material cut.

A blade tension knob is another very handy feature which can be found in high-quality scroll saws. This allows you to dictate the tension needed in the blade.

An example of visibility features including adjustable dust blowers and LED lighting.

Final Thoughts

For the craftsman who is looking for a saw that fits a more creative and complex niche – such as designing plaques and carving numbers into wood – a scroll saw would be tool you’d be choosing between the two.

If you need to cut through thick pieces of materials and make irregular shapes, a bandsaw is the tool for you. If you’re moving from site to site – this is definitely the option you should be going with.

Both of these saws are perfect for their own projects, and as there are many affordable options available – it’s even possible to have both.

I’d love to hear what you think, though.

Is there a preference you have between the two? Or perhaps you’d like to share some tips with our readers?

Whatever they may be, feel free to leave your comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Would I be able to use a bandsaw for a scroll saw, and vice versa?

Definitely not. They may share some similar components and aesthetic, yet using one in place of the other could definitely damage both the blades and even the tools and materials. It’s best to note each tools’ specific features and uses, as we’ve outlined in this article.

How do broken blades normally occur?

Blades can break for a number of reasons – the tension is too high/low, the blade is old and worn, or the blade has been incorrectly used on the wrong material. It’s always important to provide the correct amount of tension for your blade, to minimize breaking them.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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