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Thread: Do I need a band saw or a scroll saw??

  1. #1

    Do I need a band saw or a scroll saw??

    I have a scroll saw that I was using for cutting out odd shapes (until today). Nothing fancy, just very basic shapes that have curved cuts such as feet for a pedestal table for example. A circular saw, table saw, or others won't work here, and while a jig saw does cut the curves it does not cut a true vertical cut (leaving the finished piece larger on the reverse side due to blade flex).

    The scroll saw is a very cheap saw and is beginning to wear badly and I'm not sure if it's the quality of the saw (Harbor Freight) or if I pushed it too hard (cutting 2x wood instead of 1x and smaller). It was given to me and I've only used it a few times but now it's movable parts are worn to the point were it no longer cuts straight either. I'm looking for a replacement.

    Do I need a scroll saw again (I love the control it gave me on the pieces), or would a band saw better handle the larger wood??

    Today I was using the saw to cut the end pieces to make a small bench that would hold dolls for display. About 16" tall and cutting them from a 2x10. It did well but half way through one piece it started making a very loud clanging noise and I finally traced it to a bolt that holds the arm in place that holds the blade. It was very loose (from vibration maybe??) and I tightened it up fully but it still clangs very loudly and I'm afraid it's toast now or will be soon. Did I over work it?? Before this it was working just fine and I'd cut with it before in 2x material with no problems.

  2. #2
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    You need both. But for what you are cutting, a new scroll saw would be best. I have the DeWalt 788, but I have seen the new Delta 40-690 and it is basically the same saw, although the Delta comes with the light, stand and some nice features. Both are easy and and quick on blade installations, and threading through in an access hole for an interior cut. I enjoy sitting on a stool while cutting, and the slight tilt of the stand promotes that. I think you would be very pleased with an upgrade in scroll saws. There are even ones of higher quality and cost, but the Delta or DeWalt would suit your needs well.

  3. #3
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    Cutting the size stock you are using, and if you don't intend on cutting holes, a band saw would do you well.
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  4. #4
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    A scrollsaw is made to cut less than 3/4" thick stock.
    "Remember back in the day, when things were made by hand, and people took pride in their work?"
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lehnert View Post
    A scrollsaw is made to cut less than 3/4" thick stock.
    As a scroll saw user of about 15 years -- I don't know where you came up with this number. Most scrollsaws are designed with a thickness capacity of about 2 inches. The better ones will cut thick hardwood accurately without any undue strain on the machine. I frequently use mine for 1 1/2 inch hardwoods like oak since my Excalibur has more throat capacity than my bandsaw.
    For the OP: There are usually some good prices on better scrollsaws on CL and on this site on occasion.
    Last edited by Bill ThompsonNM; 05-22-2011 at 8:35 PM. Reason: Typos

  6. #6
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    I routinely cut 3-D objects in 1-1/2" hardwoods. This is not a problem if your scrollsaw is designed to handle these dimensions. My dad has the Harbor Freight scrollsaw and it is about the . . . how do I say this . . . "least expensive" version of a scroll saw I have ever seen. Bearing in mind that the saw was about $70 or something like that, you need to make allowances.

    When I decided I needed a scrollsaw, my main purpose was fretwork (cutouts in the middle of a board) in 3/4" - 1-1/2" oak,walnut, cherry, etc. Without making the jump to the $800 and up machines, the DeWalt 788 seemed to be the choice of folks who do scroll work as their primary form of woodworking when asked about a less expensive saw. These are folks who often have a few scrollsaws in their shop costing more than I felt my use of the machine would warrant. I did not want to get one however, that was not up to the use I intended for it. The DW788, in my limited experience, has been a pleasure to use.

    P.s. Flying Dutchman blades are none too shabby as well.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 05-22-2011 at 10:31 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Almost everything you can do on a scroll saw you can do on a bandsaw with the right blade. I have both, but use the bandsaw with a 1/4 or 1/8 inch blade and hardly use the scroll saw except for occasional fret work where I have to insert the scroll saw blade thru an existing hole in the particular work. Even then, I would rather use the bandsaw, I feel I get more get more control and less vibration. This is what works for me, if I'm going to spend $800 for a machine, I would like to be able to use it for more then just scroll work. Again, that's what works for me, you need to decide what fits your style the best.
    Good Luck
    John

  8. #8
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    A bandsaw is fine if you are not making very intricate, or inside cuts. Using the right blade and guides are key with a bandsaw. For any inside cuts, you'll need a scrollsaw unless you glue the kerf closed. But that will usually leave an inperfection in your work. I use my 30" Excalibur (old model) in stock as thick as 2" all the time. But again, the right blade is key. +1 to the poster who recommended Flying Dutchmen blades.

  9. #9
    You would have to spend quite a bit more on a decent band saw; plus good guides and/or blades while a new scroll saw would require less investment (cheaper blades). I have a DW788 and for the price that you pay you get a nice saw; little vibration, convenient blade changes, and up front controls. Plus you can cut right on the pattern line and get smooth edges without having to sand like you would with a band saw. But I'm a little biased on this; the band saw is more utilitarian to me while the scroll saw is more creative and artistic. That isn't to say you can 't do cool stuff with a band saw but in your situation I would rather go for the scroll saw
    Last edited by Alex Pierce; 05-23-2011 at 4:04 PM.

  10. #10
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    My experiance is that a band saw cuts a lot faster but requires sanding of thicker pieces, wheras a scroll saw will make a thick cut that requires no sanding. I prefer the sceoll saw for making toys and boxes and for inlay work. My band saw is used only for resawing.
    No PHD, but I have a DD 214

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