For the newbie it always seems to be such a confusing questions about whether you should buy a bandsaw or scroll saw. This is particluarly true in a situation where you are new to woodworking and haven't really figured out where your passion liys.
In other words you really don't know or haven't figured out what type of wood projects you can and are interested in building.
So lets first have a quick explanation of what a bandsaw is and can do, since we've already discussed some of the design elements of a scrollsaw.
So what is a bandsaw?
If you asked me what does a bandsaw do, I'd probably tell you that it creates sawdust in much the same way as a scrollsaw. It is just maybe a more powerful version of one.
A bandsaw uses a blade, much like a scrollsaw blade except much longer (50-100 inches approximately) and wider and formed in a complete circle. The blade wraps around an upper and lower pulley with one side passing through a slot in a metal table.
Your wood is placed on the work table and fed into the blade in exactly the same fashion as a scroll saw.
You can create freehand curves in much the same way as you can with a scrollsaw, but remember it is much more powerful. Greater caution is needed to make sure that you don't lose a figure. Unlike a scroll saw a bandsaw can cut through bone quite easier especially the larger floor versions.
The picture on the top right is a Laguna Resaw bandsaw that I use in my own business to resaw thicker lumber into 1/4" and 3/8" thick strips before I plane or sand them to finished size. It is a mighty beast and requires attention to good safety practices.
Scaled down from that the second picture is of the small one I have on my work bench in my own personal wood shop. I picked it up during the Christmas sales for $100. at Canadian Tire a few years ago.
You have to know what you want to do with it. If your interest is in general woodworking and you need a saw to free hand cut curved legs or knicknack shelves then the power of the band saw is going to be important to you. A bandsaw vs scroll saw cut in thicker, harder woods are night and day. The bandsaw will allow you to cut 90° to the face of the board. A scroll saw on the other hand will almost never cut 90° to the face and force you to do a lot of clean-up after the fact.
The reverse of that band saw or scrollsaw conversation, is if you have NO intension of ever cutting larger stock and are only really interested in making small cutout then a scroll saw will do the job with less cost, and less risk of injury.
If you hope to do the type of fretwork that Cindy does then you MUST purchase a scroll saw NOT a bandsaw. The bandsaw vs scroll saw delema is not even part of the conversation. A bandsaw is NOT capable of cutting the small interior holes that are key to fretwork designs.
Have a look at the fretwork box to the right. How would you cut all those tiny holes in the middle of the oak lid? NOT possible.. you MUST buy a scroll saw.
With a scroll saw you disconnect the blade from either the top or the bottom blade holder and thread it through a drill hole in the oak, to the other side. You then lay your wood on top of the table and reconnect your blade. Your blade can then move within that hole and let you guide it around to make the appropriate shape and sized opening according to the pattern glued onto the wood.
Given that a bandsaw blade is one continuous hoop, threading it through holes in the wood is NOT possible. For fretwork you must use a scroll saw.
Now if you do the type of woodworking that I do, it is possible to use a band saw OR scroll saw. I use the small mastercraft bandsaw that you see in the second picture up top.
You might ask why not use a scroll saw? I could have, but I like to use some really "hard" exotic wood for scroll sawing. I love the colours from the deep purples in purpleheart to the dramatic stripping in zebrawood.
If you only have a cheap scrollsaw (which I do) it just doesn't like cutting these very hard woods. The wood is constantly jumping up and down on the table and creating alot of stress. As a women woodworker I have weak wrists and this becomes tirying after a few hours at the tool. The wood jumps up and down and i think I'm riding a bucking bronko :)
So I've used a small bandsaw with a 3/16" blade and sacrificed the agility i would get if I used a scrollsaw with smaller blades and tighter turning radiuses. Maybe one day I'll upgrade to an excalibur but for now this works. today i just can't justify the cost when my main passion is making furniture.
and in conclusion..
So now that we have discussed bandsaw vs scrollsaw discussion, I'd like to offer you a list of the top features that you might look for if you're looking to buy the best scroll saw.. read on..
Learn more, read our other articles and info about scroll saws and just about anything on the topic of hobby woodworking.
Scroll Saw Review: if you are interested in knowing the good and bad of a particular scroll saw brand or model this is the place to go..