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Scroll Saw vs Band Saw: Which is Best for Your Needs?

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw

Scroll Saw vs Band Saw

When budget or space restraints make you choose between two different saws, the decisions can be quite tricky. The scroll saw and the band saw are both great saws to own. They each have some strengths and weaknesses that should be discussed before making your final purchase. In this guide, we will help break down the difference between a scroll saw and a band saw and help you determine which one you should purchase.

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Scroll Saw Overview

a scroll saw A scroll saw looks a bit like a sewing machine. The blade on a scroll saw will move up and down. You can take the piece you are working with and maneuver it in and out of the scroll saw blade to get the desired cut that you want. It does function quite similarly to a sewing machine that you would be pushing the clothing in and out of to design your pattern.

There are several types of scroll saw blades available depending on the kind of work that you are trying to do. The blades will be narrow and typically not as strong as other options.

Basic Functions

using a scroll saw The essential functions of a scroll saw will be to make intricate and delicate cuts. The edge that you get when using a saw like this is going to be very finished. If you are looking to make things like a jigsaw puzzle or an intricate sign, the scroll saw is a great choice. Scroll saws also have a foot pedal that helps you operate them with your foot and allows both hands-free to guide your work.

Types of Cuts

Scrolls saws can make straight, angled, or round cuts. Perhaps the most exciting type of cut that a scroll saw can do involved removing the blade and inserting it into the center of your workpiece. When you take the blade out, you can put it back through the center of your piece of wood and carve out circles or other shapes in the interior of your design. This is a feature that most saws do not offer.


A scroll saw is a very safe saw. It is not as powerful as other models, and with the foot pedal to operate, you can really think about what you are doing and keep your hands away from the blades.


The prices of scroll saws will vary greatly. You can find scroll saws around $100 and those that get closer to $1000. The difference in pricing will be because of power and features.
Scroll Saw Pros
  • Extended reach
  • Clean, precise cuts
  • Can accommodate large boards
Scroll Saw Cons
  • Expensive
  • Complicated to readjust
  • Not good for extreme angles

Our Favorite Scroll Saw of the Year

DEWALT Scroll Saw, Variable-Speed, 1.3 Amp (DW788), Yellow, 20-Inch
  • Double parallel link arm design dramatically reduces vibration and noise for extremely accurate cuts
  • Exclusive tool free blade clamps allow blade changes in seconds. Depth of Cut (inches): 2 inch
  • On off switch, electronic variable speed, flexible dust blower, and blade tensioning lever all located on front upper arm

Band Saw Overview

a horizontal band saw A band saw is a bit different than a scroll saw for several reasons. For starters, this is a much larger saw, and it cuts differently than the scroll saw. A band saws blade will rotate on a band as opposed to just moving up and down as the scroll saw. Band saws are versatile saws that can be used for a variety of purposes.

The band saw blades are thicker and more reliable than a scroll saw blade. This makes them faster at cutting but makes the cut a bit more coarse. You can’t make super tight turns, like with a scroll saw, but you can use thick wood, which a scroll saw won’t accommodate. Band saws are popular with furniture makers because you can easily use one to make curved legs for tables and chairs.

Basic Functions

A band saw is used to make cuts in wood (and some other materials). The band saw works very well with straight and angled cuts, but you can get it to cut round corners as well. Since the band saw is a bit larger and more powerful than the scroll saw, the cuts are going to be rougher.

Types of Cuts

Band saws cut angles and straights very well. Since they are stronger and more powerful than the scroll saw, you can use a band saw to cut a large piece of plywood. Band saws do not allow you to cut an inner circle in a piece of wood the way that a scroll saw does. If you are working on building furniture, the band saw is a great tool.


Band saws are more dangerous than scroll saws because of their power and size. However, as far as saws are concerned, they are still relatively safe. You need to pay attention to where your hands are at all times when using a band saw, and proper eye protection is a must.


Just like the scroll saw, the band saw has a broad price range. The band saw will be more expensive when you compare a high-end band saw with a high-end scroll saw.
Band Saw Pros
  • Extended reach
  • Clean, precise cuts
  • Can accommodate large boards
Band Saw Cons
  • Expensive
  • Complicated to readjust
  • Not good for extreme angles

Our Favorite Band Saw of the Year

Delta 28-400 14 in. 1 HP Steel Frame Band Saw
  • Heavy duty steel frame design reduces flexing and features a superior finish and aluminum trunnion table support for long-lasting...
  • 1 HP, 115V/230V, 1 phase TEFC motor with 2 speeds: 1,620 FPM and 3,340 FPM for wood and non-ferrous metal cutting
  • Two-speed pulley with easy tensioning system

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Which Saw is Right for Your Needs?

A scroll saw and a band saw are similar in the work that they can do; however, there are a few differences that should be considered before you make your final purchase.

What Are You Cutting?

a man using a scroll saw If you are making a jigsaw puzzle for your children, there is no question that you will need a scroll saw and not a band saw. Very detailed and intricate work will not go as well with the band saw.

If you are a person that likes crafting and ornate projects, the scroll saw is going to be a much better choice.

With a band saw, you can still make round, straight, or angled cuts, and that makes it quite versatile. The problem is that the cut itself will be a bit rougher.

If you are building a dining room chair and the cut is rougher, you can sand and finish it and have it come out beautifully. But back to the example of the jigsaw puzzle, this is going to be a bit harder to create if the cut itself is harsh.

Who Is Doing The Cutting?

a man using a band saw How long have you been working with saws? Is this a saw you are buying to teach your children how to work with tools? If you want a very safe saw that is great for teaching children to work with tools, the scroll saw will be the way to go.

The band saw is not the most dangerous saw on the market, but it is louder, larger, and more powerful. As we mentioned earlier, the scroll saw is very similar to a sewing machine. If you think of a residential sewing machine, you can compare the band saw to a commercial sewing machine.


The price difference between these two saws is not going to be enough to help you make a decision. Many professional woodworkers will want to have both a scroll saw and a band saw; unfortunately, that is not a reality for most homeowners. If your projects are more construction type and woodworking, we suggest going with the band saw. If you want to make intricate crafts, get a great scroll saw.

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Choosing between a scroll saw and a band saw is difficult because in a perfect world you would have both. If you are a person that does a variety of projects, you can probably get away with purchasing either one of these tools. If, however, you work with thicker and heavier materials and you want fast and powerful work, the band saw is the way to go. For real detail-oriented crafters that want to spend time working on intricate pieces, the scroll saw will work best.


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