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If you have been planning to remodel your home and need a few tools to get the job done, then you know you need a set of saws. The challenge is that there is a huge pool of all manner of saws in the market, from table saws, to tile saws, to reciprocating saws, circular saws, scroll saws, band saws, and so forth. That you are probably confused is an understatement, but it is understandable. Very few people know the difference between seemingly similar power tools. Tools that perform closely related tasks may end up confusing users so that eventually, they do not perform as expected. In this article, we are analyzing the scroll saw and band saw. What features set these two apart?
We are sure you would like to get the details of these products to help you as you shop for your project. As professionals in this area and catapulted by many years of experience, we are about to give you a comprehensive review largely comparing the scroll saw and the band saw. Specific reviews of some of the best products in these categories are also included. As you will realize, each product presents a set of strengths and weaknesses. What this article does is answer most of the lingering questions so that you may gain a comfort level as you plan to purchase.
Although we have outlined a few products in our consideration of price and quality offered, we must reiterate that we prefer to leave you to decide which saw best suits your project(s).
Table of Contents
What is a scroll saw and how do you use one?
The scroll saw has a rich history that dates back to the 1500s when a German started making small saw blades. When a French artisan later developed a frame for these fine blades, a machine for cutting intricate designs had finally been born. It was not until the 1820s that the earliest known patent for a scroll saw was introduced.
Now, if you are looking to make very intricate cuts, you need a scroll saw. The standout feature of this product is the extremely thin blade that allows for cutting small curves easily. For all your inlays and similarly small radius cuts, you need not look further than this equipment. Because of this feature, the scrolls saw is normally used in craft than in larger woodworking projects. While this device may be similar to the band saw in terms of setup, it is essentially designed for work that is much more delicate. This does not mean that the equipment is restricted to the finest work. With its ability to accommodate larger blades, the scroll saw offers some level of flexibility.
For a delicate tool such as this one, operation will always demand some level of care and gentleness. It cannot withstand too much force, as the thin blade will snap easily. You will need to use your hands to feed the wood. Here are some things you will need as you operate this machine:
- Sand paper
- Eye protection
- Finger protection
It all starts with you (the user) placing the wood on the saw table. Both hands should be on the wood, as most of these machines come with a foot pedal for on and off operation. With the wood secure, you can now turn on the machine, not forgetting setting the speed appropriately. Slower speed goes with hard wood and vice versa.
The cutting method will mostly depend on the desired shape. Intricate shapes will obviously require refined execution, unlike straight cuts, which you can do in a single cut. Wood rotation to achieve the desired outline is a skill you want to develop if you are to maximize the potential of your scroll saw. To hone your skills, consider starting with simpler jobs, such as cutting right angles and squares.
Of all woodworking tools you will ever use, the scroll saw is probably the safest to use. However, a power tool is always risky, so do not underestimate the dangers. The reciprocating arm can injure the fingers. Also dangerous is the blade, so you need to use the blade guard, especially if you are still a beginner.
For a scroll saw to perform optimally, you need to choose and set the blade right. Of course, all the blades are extremely thin, some as thin as a hair strand. The cutting requirements should help you choose the number of Teeth-Per-Inch (TPI).
When to Use a Scroll Saw Instead Of a Band Saw
The scroll saw is so likeable because it allows the user to be creative and do all manner of projects. Have you ever wondered how all those small sculptures and jigsaw puzzles are made? Often, that is the work of the best scroll saws. Specialty application is perhaps the biggest differentiator between band saw and scroll saw applications. The applications of a scroll saw may spill over to those of a band saw, but it is in intricate craft that the scroll saw really shines.
If you are doing clocks, artwork or simply anything that has tight curves, you need to go with the scroll saw instead of the band saw. This saw is ideal for making the smallest curves you can imagine. The kerf is so thin that if you were to fit back the pieces, no one will tell they were ever apart. For jigsaw puzzle makers, this is a crucial characteristic.
How do clock makers create that circular hole in the middle of the board without interfering with the sides? Again, the scroll saw beats the band saw in such applications. A band saw may not be able to create the cutout, unless it cuts through the ring. The scroll saw is detachable on one end. Use this feature to pass the blade through a drilled hole and complete the cutout. Woodworkers use this capability to make sophisticated portraits and landscapes.
A band saw may cut curves all right, but it may not be the best tool to use if your merchandise ends up on a specialty site or design shows. The issue is that band saws tend to be more rigorous that scroll saws. In the end, a band saw cut will be rougher than that of a scroll saw.
In the showdown between these two tools, perhaps checking the features will be more helpful if you are trying to choose between the two. One of the most recognizable advantages of the scroll saw is reduced vibration and noise. Sometimes you just want to perform your tasks in serenity. Choosing the scroll saw over the noisier and shakier band saw would be a no brainer in that case.
Control of a power tool is always a major consideration, whether for a newbie or a seasoned user. One of the best things we have seen with the scroll saw is that it is controllable with the leg. Most of these products come with a foot pedal, which is excellent because it allows for more hand control. It also serves to enhance accuracy of the machine.
If you were looking for a cheaper alternative, we would also advise you to consider picking a scroll saw. Of course, your budget is the best guide, but it pays to know that the band saw tends to be more expensive, even though it presents more features and quality.
Finally, you need to consider the size of material you are intending to cut before you can settle on either of the two tools. The clear difference is that the scroll saw tends to be smaller than the band saw. This means that the size of work pieces will also vary. The 5-6 inches range of the scroll saws does not measure up to the band saw’s 6- 11 feet. Choose a scroll saw if you want to work on less dense and thin materials. It is effective on those ones. Some of the materials that come to mind include mahogany, walnut and exotic woods. Others are oak and Baltic birch, which is perfect for boxes, plaques and clocks.
Best Scroll Saws Reviews
1. DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw
Double parallel-link arm design dramatically reduces vibration and noise for extremely accurate cuts
Whichever DEWALT power tool you pick, you will rarely get disappointed. This 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw coming first of these reviews is obviously not a surprise to anyone that has used a tool from the giant manufacturer. If you are looking for a smooth-operating and accurate budget scroll saw, look no further than this tool. It is particularly ideal for the beginner because of its swift operation and enhanced safety.
You can tell from the looks of the machine that DEWALT created it for getting jobs done quickly. Setting up this tool is as smooth as they come. The table comes with only one hole so you will not spend a lot of time readying your project. When you think of set-up and control, you cannot miss to notice how well the controls have been placed close to the blade. Once you are accustomed to the machine, changing the blade, adjusting tension and so forth will just be straightforward.
I think we all agree that the arm design in this machine is not something you will bump into often. It does not matter whether you are creating trim pieces or one of those intricate jigsaw puzzles; the unique arm design does not disappoint. This kind of work requires the highest level of accuracy and finesse, which we can confirm is the hallmark of the DEWALT 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw. The double parallel-link arm feature is there to ensure minimal or no vibration when working on these sensitive projects. Quiet operation is guaranteed with the uniquely designed arm pivots also part of the package-it minimizes the distance the arm needs to travel between the back of the saw to front. Worried about under cutting and over cutting? You can forget about these two challenges when you get hold of this reliable machine, thanks to its arm design that ensures a perpetual perpendicular orientation between the blade and work piece.
Another feature every user tends to appreciate is the heavy construction that characterizes this tool. It is evident that DEWALT used strong bearings very deliberately; they add significant weight to this popular scroll saw. Why is this important? Heavy weight counters vibrations thereby ensuring you will not have squabbles with the neighbors whenever you are working. You can use the machine at full strength without any worries. Related to this feature is the steadiness offered by the immovability of forward and rear blades. Precision and slow sure cutting is what you get from these long-lasting blades.
On usage, the DEWALT 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw is still a winner. Its performance is unmatched, whether in fret or intarsia tasks. Beginners to all that is scroll sawing will be at home with this tool. Features that make this introduction so seamless include arm design, electronic variable speed and on/off switch. Even more exciting is that you can adjust the tension of the saw while it is still running.
When you are working on multiple projects or a large project, the most resource is time. DEWALT has once again shown their concern about user time consciousness by including two important features: the adjustable table and the tool-free blade change. Tool-free blade clamps come in handy, whether the project at hand is simple or complex. Making inside cuts has never been easier thanks to the easy-to-lift arm. Rely on the 45-degree beveling table for the highest flexibility you can get. This large-sized cast iron table is strong enough for any material that you present.
What comes with the DEWALT 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw? Two blades and a cast iron table accompany this dependable tool. Remember that you can fix the machine on a workbench of your choice, but the included table has great stability. While the price is generally around $500, the number and type of accessories that come with the scroll saw influence the exact figure.
We consider the DEWALT 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw the undisputed scroll saw machine by some margin. It is good value for money and you can already confirm that from its online uptake rate. Of course, you may not give it a second thought if you are on a tight budget, but we highly encourage you to consider investing in this valuable equipment.
2. WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Flexible LED Light
Unique design accepts blades in two directions (standard and 90 degrees) to allow for infinite ripping capacity
The WEN 3920 was rocking in 2014 and it still does four years down the line, proving its mettle as one of the best scroll saws in the market. After checking out its features and measuring its pros/cons, we were convinced the product deserved to be on this short list.
From their website, WEN uses the words “affordable” and “high quality” together. This combination seems to suit the product as it offers same quality as some others that are several times more expensive. Using the price as the guide, you realize that the product is designed for hobbyists and beginners. Considering that the only challenger in respect of price is the Ryobi 16”, it is fine to say that the WEN 3920 is excellent value for money.
Many users want to be in full control of how the machine operates so they can get the best piece possible. That is another reason this scroll saw is ruling the market. The speed knob on the front of the machine allows for smooth adjustment of the speed, which is within the 550-1600 strokes per minute range. Of course, higher-level machines can give as much as 1700 strokes per minute, but they cost a fortune compared to the WEN 3920. Furthermore, the speed you get from this gadget is enough for a wide range of cuts, most probably more than you will ever need. Notably also is the perfect positioning of the controls -blade tension adjustment, ON/OFF switch and variable speed dial- so the user can have easy access.
The versatile beveling table offers more on the capability of this machine. At 16-by-11-inch, this table is spacious for most jobs, whether at home or in the jobsite. You can always get a larger table if the work demands. What is even more interesting about the table is its ability to tilt to 45 degrees, albeit to the left only.
Did we say you could cut larger pieces if you could just add a more spacious table? The real secret of this quality is in the WEN 3920 scroll saw coming with a 16” throat depth. Cutting and handling sizeable pieces of wood is food for this machine. No wonder the manufacturer proudly claims that the tool can cut 1.9-inch thick pieces effortlessly.
We have to talk about the blade holder too because it is awesome. Do you use pinless or pinned blades? It does not matter. The WEN 16-inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw works with either of them. When you need to swap the blades, you can use the wrench that is part of this set.
The WEN 16-inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw features a cast iron base, which should weigh 28 lbs., as averaged by other saws in this category. Do not expect to get so much vibration for this weight, which means that the tool is precise and easy to use. You can lessen vibrations even further if you mount the tool using the two pre-drilled holes.
Everyone loves the flexible LED work light. The worm-design light can move in any direction to illuminate the work as the user wishes. Alongside this is the very reliable hold down clamp. This clamp holds the work piece in position as you cut, thereby enhancing accuracy of the work.
As if the wonderful features we have already covered are not enough, the WEN 3920 features an adjustable air pump above the cutting area. It does the crucial task of keeping the area free of debris. The pump works in tandem with an airport, which you can connect to the vacuum.
To crown everything and to cement WEN as one of the top manufacturers of these times, this product comes with a 2 years warranty. Not that many will find fault with this scroll saw within the time, but it is a confidence booster that the company has faith in the tool.
Apart from the few reports of weak blades and the fact that online sales are hard to find, this scroll saw offers an amazing combination of features at a throwaway price.
What is a band saw and how do you use one?
The band saw technology may intimidate, but you will be surprised that it has been around since the 1800s. Apart from the inclusion of a motor in modern designs, nothing much has changed from the conventional band saw.
For your home remodel or even normal workshop task, you need a tool with the versatility of a band saw. This normally stationary tool finds use in a wide range of applications where irregular and complex shapes are needed. You can even use it to cut thick wood into smaller pieces. With so many blades available, this tool can cut virtually any shape/ size of wood.
Generally, the band saw comprises of the following components:
- Guide tube
- Magnetic switch
- Tracking window
- Door catch
- Upper door
- Lower door
- Guide post
- Resaw fence
- Foot brake
- Miter slot
- Safety key
The band saw comes with two or three wheels that move the blade. The heart of the spin is the motor. Before using the band saw, make sure you clean it thoroughly. This will give you the best cuts. The next step is to choose the right blade for the task. Choose the blade according to not only the size of material, but also type of material.
Have you checked the instruction manual already? You will get the instructions for setting the machine from this document. Attach the blade to the belt area and after securing everything, give the machine a test run. Even when you are testing, remember to be clad in protective clothing such as goggles, masks and gloves.
Straight Line Cut: Cutting straight lines using a band saw is easy. Mark the line using a marker or pencil. Some skills will be needed to leave allowance for the saw marks associated with some blades. With some practice, this comes automatically.
Curved Line Cut: More skills are needed in this one. Relief cuts come in handy during this procedure. This is because it is impossible to cut the entire curve at a go, especially where the curvature is sharp. As they ease up the curve, the contours also allow the machine to make manageable cuts. Again, practice makes perfect when it comes to making curved cuts using a band saw.
Even as you use the band saw, one thing should never escape your mind: maintenance. Regular maintenance not only prevents machine deterioration, but also reduces injury risk. When the machine is at its peak, the quality of cuts will also remain untarnished. Again, you can find the maintenance guidelines from the user manual. Maintenance is nothing to worry you really, as it takes less than 1 hour in most cases. The most important thing is to make sure you have checked all the critical points of the machine. Replacing the fluid and lubricant every three months should be one of your maintenance priorities.
Condition of blade is also another one of those things you do not want to assume. Sharpened blades are the hallmark of smooth accurate cuts. Do not let the blade to overheat either. Cool blocks are there to make sure blade temperature is always within allowable limits.
When to use a band saw instead of a scroll saw
As we have already discussed, it is not that easy to choose between a band saw and a scroll saw, considering that both are versatile and highly reliable. The power of the band saw is probably its bestselling point over the scroll saw. This feature enables the tool to cut thicker materials. Install the right blade and the machine will help you cut a wider range of materials too. What comes out clearly is that the band saw is more suited for large-scale projects than the scroll saw. To add to the thick blades, these machines usually come with a downward motion operation.
As it cuts thick materials, this tool does so with impeccable speed and conviction. Its accuracy is impressive, though not as good as that of a scroll saw. The band saw is the ideal tool, whether you want to cut odd angles or simply need straight line cuts. Maybe what we need to say at this point is that the band saw should be your tool of choice if you are looking for a do-it-all saw. It could help you survive on a deserted island. A scroll saw or even any other machine cannot match the varied capabilities of the band saw- resaw, crosscut, cones, cariole legs, and miters. It also cuts joints, marquetry, bevels and collapsible baskets among many others.
While the scroll saw offers finer cuts, it rarely beats the band saw when it comes to cutting straight lines. The bigger and sturdier blades give the band saw this edge. You will note that the band saw has a looping blade that tends to be longer. The blade could be as big as 11 feet, compared to the partly 6 inches for the scroll saw. Furthermore, band saws feature guide fences, which ensure straight line cuts.
Have you ever wanted to resaw, but failed to imagine any one tool that could do the task flawlessly? It is only that you have not tried the band saw. Resawing is simply cutting thick wood into smaller pieces. Is there any other simple tool that can do the job more cleanly than the band saw? The best most table saws can handle is 3 inches. With a 14” band saw, you can resaw a 6”-wide piece of wood flawlessly. Do not use a scroll saw for this type of work if you have a band saw.
Best Band Saws Reviews
1. DEWALT Bare-Tool DCS370B 18-Volt Cordless Band Saw (Tool Only, No Battery)
Integrated hang hook allows user to hang the saw without damaging the front handle or base
There is probably no better way of closing these reviews than checking out this incredible tool. Given the credibility that DEWALT has amassed over the years, it is predictable that its product will offer some exciting qualities. A distinct win of this tool over many of its rivals comes from its high portability and durability. Its economic nature is something the market has obviously embraced as reviews from different major sites reveal. Adding this to a set of modern features that ensure efficient operation makes the ideal for professional contractors such as sprinkler fitters, electricians and plumbers.
As a compact saw, that is lightweight and measures 15.38 x 12.2 x 8.7 in., the DEWALT DCS370B makes a great addition for your workshop or shed. This feature combines excellently with the sleek shape and battery power. You can use the tool wherever you wish. It brings out 2-1/2-inch neat cuts thanks to its 18-volt motor. For these features alone, this product should already fulfill the needs of most electricians, plumbers and other professional contractors.
For a band saw as flexible as this one, the best band saws usually come with the blade-changing feature. This product does have this capability, but it goes further to make it tool-free. The no-tool blade-changing lever reduces blade tension to allow for swift blade changes. For user safety, the DEWALT DCS370B features a dual bearing guide, which also doubles as a life enhancer to the blade. Central placement of the blade points to precise cuts.
Even though this band saw lacks brakes and replacement blades, its portability and reliability on some heavy-duty applications make it one of the best options. Independent contractors will love the versatility and durability this cordless-electric device offers. It is the not the most powerful band saw in the market and neither did the manufacturer intend it to be. However, if you are interested in an ergonomically sound, portable and reliably powered tool, the DEWALT Bare-Tool DCS370B 18-Volt Cordless Band Saw should be an exciting pick.
2. JET JWBS-14DXPRO 14-Inch Deluxe Pro Band Saw Kit
Built-in 12-Inch resaw capacity for cutting larger pieces of wood
In this price range, you are sure to get some exciting band saws, but only a select few deserve a second look. These offer higher quality and better value for money, but that does not mean the others are necessarily worthless. Honestly, very few band saws stand in the league of the JET JWBS-14DXPRO 14-Inch Deluxe Pro Band Saw Kit. Versatile, strong and easy to use- this machine is the real deal.
Being multipurpose and versatile has really appealed this band saw to the masses. Give the saw any type of material and it will rip through it. You can cut plastic, metal, plastic and many other materials to a capacity of 12 inches high and 13.5 inches wide. To change thickness of material you can accommodate underneath the blade, you can use the retractable blade guard.
For the machine to be so open to the huge amount of work that it can handle, then there has to be enough strength behind it. This saw comes with a very sturdy cast iron frame and body. This frame was recently redesigned to give the tool the capability to handle tough resawing jobs. Coupling this with 1500/3000 SFPM blade speed gives the band saw an edge over most of the other products in this category.
Professionals have found a band saw they can identify with on so many levels. The blade, whose speed we have already indicated, is a perfect example of the relevance of this machine to professional results. The top speed of 3000 SFPM makes the band saw one of the swiftest in the market today. What does it give? Of course, a higher performance rate is one of the benefits.
You will also agree that speed is somehow related to accuracy. However, the real contributor to accurate performance is the state-of-the-art drive system and rack/pinion adjustment. The drive system, which is based on a poly-v belt design, gives improved control and precise cuts.
We like the ease of setting up and using this great piece of engineering. However, there could be issues with handling the tightening mechanism, especially for the newbie. Access to the bearing guides can also be problematic as they are both small-sized and at a low position.
Scroll Saw vs Band Saw Summary
Looking keenly at the features and capabilities of both saws, it is evident that the products come with extreme versatility. The difference comes in the fineness requirements of the job, whereby the scroll saw offers cleaner and more precise cuts. Professional woodworkers normally need remarkable specialty performance, which the band saw offers.
A distinctive aspect of the scroll saw is that it can feature a foot pedal, offering the user unmatched control. As a specialty tool, the band saw presents can accommodate very large work pieces. In relation to this, we find that the band saw blade is widely varied in terms of width and style, something that does not suffice for a scroll saw.
In the event that the showdown comes down to the wire, you will need to make up your mind based on features. For the band saw, the most interesting characteristics are smoother arm control, faster blade changing time, less noise and presence of a wider range of switches. These features give maximum control and accurate performance. As for the band saw, popular features include a more sizeable blade, larger cutting capacity and sturdier table. The result is high durability and unrivalled power. Determine which of these sets of qualities you need and you will have chosen between a scroll saw and band saw.
We would like to know what you make of this discussion. Please visit the comments section and say something.
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