Band Saw vs Scroll Saw : Which One is Right For You?

In Brief: Band Saw vs Scroll Saw

Band saws and scroll saws look similar but serve different functions. Band saws are used when performing quick cuts through thick materials. Scroll saws see more use in fine woodworking where precise cuts are needed. This guide will help you decide which tool you need.

If you are looking to buy a new power tool, then you might be torn between a band saw and a scroll saw.

These two machines may appear similar, but they serve completely different purposes in the workshop. Which one you choose will depend on the type of work you need to do.

This guide will help you discover the key differences between band saw and scroll saws. By the end, you will have a much better idea as to which tool you need for your project.

Differences Between Band Saws and Scroll Saws

FeatureBand SawScroll Saw
Price$120 to $6000+$170 to $1000
DesignContinuous, banded blade.Thin, oscillating blade.
When to useLong, curved cuts and rip cuts.Precise, intricate cuts and inner cuts.
MaterialsThick and harder materials.
Thin pieces of soft wood.
FinishRough finish requiring sandingSmooth finish
VersatilityCan perform any edge cut.Only useful for precise cuts.
Ease of use
More difficult due to extra power.
Very easy to use.
SafetyPowerful but quite safe.Very safe.

Difference in How They Work

Band saws and scroll saws both feature a vertical blade that runs through a work surface.

On the band saw the blade runs between two wheels mounted within the machine. This provides a continuous cutting motion.

Source: wikimedia

The blade on the scroll saw is held by tension and moves up and down through the material. It is much thinner than the band saw blade.

It can also be detached easily, which allows for internal cuts. You will need to adjust the tension dial when reattaching the blade to ensure the scroll saw functions properly.

The scroll saw blade faces away from the machine housing. The band saw cuts perpendicular to the machine housing.

When To Use

Scroll saws are used for intricate woodworking whereas band saws are used for simpler cuts on a variety of materials.

Source: Pikist

If you are cutting a jigsaw, making intricate crafts or performing internal cuts on a piece of wood then you will need a scroll saw.

On the other hand, if you are making straight or curved edge cuts for furniture it would be better to use a band saw. Band saws are also great for rip cuts.

If you are cutting anything tougher than wood, then you will need a band saw. Ensure you have the right blade fitted for the material you are working with.


Scroll saws produce a cleaner finish than band saws. This makes them the more appropriate choice for intricate work that would be difficult to sand.

For example, a jigsaw puzzle would take far too long to sand.

The band saw performs more aggressive cuts. This increases speed and allows for cuts on thicker materials. However, it leaves a rougher finish that will require sanding.

This is fine for large edges such as those on pieces of furniture. The time saved from using a band saw is worth the time spent sanding down the finish.


Scroll saws are most useful for thin pieces of soft wood. The smaller blade provides a precise cut capable of intricate designs in delicate stock.

However, the thickness of the wood is limited by the throat size of the machine.

Band saws have far more substantial blades that can deal with thicker and tougher materials. Thin or delicate stock could be damaged by the power of a band saw.

Material length is an important consideration. Because the blade on a scroll saw faces outwards, the length of the material is limited to twice the distance from the blade to the machine housing. Band saw blades face to the side, so they can handle any length.

Ease of Use

Scroll saws are more suitable for beginners than band saws.

The scroll saw is usually operated with a foot pedal. This allows you to have direct control over the speed of the blade, which allows for greater control.

However, the types of cuts you will make with a band saw are usually simpler.


Band saws are generally more versatile than scroll saws.

Scroll saws are specialised tools for making precise cuts in thin pieces of wood. They are not usually able to tackle thicker stock or harder materials. They also cannot perform rip cuts.

Band saws can perform almost all the same cuts as a scroll saw, except for internal cuts. It will leave a rougher finish, but this can be solved with sanding.


Scroll saws are usually the cheaper option when compared to band saws. This is because they are geared more towards home users, whereas band saws are generally commercial and professional tools.

Scroll saws start at around $170 for budget models. High end models can cost upwards of $1000.

The most affordable band saws start at around $120 for benchtop versions.Most fall into the $250-$500 price range. Professional models range in price up to around $6000.


Scroll saws are very safe to use. The blade is operated with a foot pedal, allowing you more direct control over the cutting edge. It is less powerful and therefore poses less risk of serious injury.

Band saws are more powerful and will require eye protection. You will need to pay more attention to safety when operating a band saw.

However, both of these saws are relatively safe to use if safety guidelines are followed.

What Is A Band Saw?

A band saw comprises of a continuous blade mounted on two wheels housed within the machinery. The stock is placed on the built-in work surface.

The blade runs in a continuous motion, cutting downwards. The cutting edge is perpendicular to the machinery housing, which allows for long rip cuts on pieces of any length.

They come in vertical and horizontal varieties. There are free standing and benchtop models available.

What Is A Scroll Saw?

A scroll saw comprises of a tension-mounted vertical blade running through a work surface. It cuts in an oscillating motion using a thin, delicate blade.

It is operated with a foot pedal which controls the speed of the cutting motion. This makes it similar to a sewing machine in the way it operates.

They are used for intricate woodworking and are a favourite of novice woodworkers.


We hope this guide has helped you learn the differences between band saws and scroll saws. Armed with this knowledge, you should now be confident when deciding which saw to use for your next project.

If you have any questions or comments about this guide, or want to share your next project, why not leave a comment in the section below?

About Jerry Ward

Jerry has been fascinated with power tools, especially saws and drills since his childhood days. He loves to travel and contributes to various online platforms.

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