Ask WWGOA: Bandsaw vs. Scroll Saw

Question:

“I have a 10″ band saw. I am considering selling it and getting a 14″ band saw. Would I be better off keeping the 10″ band saw and getting a scroll saw?”

Submitted by: Daryl Bender

WWGOA Editor Response:

While band saws and scroll saws are slightly similar, they’re not the same. The big question on your purchase is, “What will you use the tool for?” If your woodworking is going in a direction that requires cutting thick stock, such as prepping large bowl blanks or resawing wide boards, an upgrade to a 14″ band saw is a good idea. Along with the greater capacity comes a larger motor that will help horse through heavier cuts. Remember that the thickness capacity on many band saws hovers around 6″, unless you go to a large machine or get a 14″ machine that accepts a riser block. A riser block is an accessory you can purchase that, once added to the body of the saw, increases the thickness capacity by another 6″. So, using a riser block, you could have a 14″ band saw with a 12″ thickness capacity. (By the way, 14″ refers to the diameter of the band saw wheels.) If your intended use of a band saw is to cut gentle curves in flat stock– for instance, a curved apron on the bottom of a piece of furniture, wheels for toys, or prepping small bowl blanks, you’d probably be OK keeping your 10″ band saw.

Scroll saws excel at cutting extremely tight curves, including 90-degree corners. When the right blade is used, they leave behind an edge that requires little, if any, sanding. Thickness capacity on most scroll saws top out at about 2″. Scroll saws are capable of pierce cuts, meaning an internal cut, made in a piece, with no entry or exit cut. This can be done by drilling a hole in your material and threading the scroll saw blade through it. This cannot be done on a band saw.

George Vondriska

Managing Editor

Got a woodworking question you need answered? Comment or Email us at editor@wwgoa.com.

Discussion
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11 Responses to “Ask WWGOA: Bandsaw vs. Scroll Saw”
  1. Cy

    One can and I have made pierce cuts with a band saw. Drill the hole and then make up a band thru the hole. When done, cut the band. Not I don’t have a band welder, I braze with a scarf joint. At 83 I haven’t used this very often.

    Reply
  2. Roy A

    A bandsaw is a great addition to any workshop, so much so that it should be your first choice when it comes to cutting timber as it’s safe, easy to set up and use, and is extremely versatile.

    Reply
  3. Sarah

    Hello! What would be the best tool for cutting a cross cut of an extremely hard pinecone? I want to make a jewelry pendant from it. Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Sarah. I have not tried doing this, so I can’t say with certainty but I believe that either one of these tools would work for this. You’ll need to create a jig to hold it securely as you cut it.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply
  4. Dean

    Is it safe to say a Scroll saw can do what a Band saw can do , but the Band saw cant do what a scroll saw can do? with the exception of stock size? If im sticking to small projects, if would be more beneficial to buy a Scroll Saw, Right?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Dean. At a high level, this statement is accurate. The main thing that a bandsaw cannot do is to make a cut that is fully enclosed. The main thing that a scroll saw cannot do is to handle thicker stock. If you are sticking with small projects using thin material you can mostly likely get by with a scroll saw.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Marlo. If you are referring to cutting out the body of an electric guitar, or resawing wood for the body of an acoustic guitar, you would want a bandsaw for this.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply