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-   -   Band saw or scroll saw (https://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/scratch-building-aircraft-design-3d-cad-174/10490265-band-saw-scroll-saw.html)

R. Ortiz 04-28-2011 03:10 PM

Band saw or scroll saw
I am looking forward to scratch building some RC airplanes and I am thinking of investing in a new power saw. I already own a small table saw but I cannot decide between purchasing a band saw or a scroll saw. I will be cutting mostly balsa and plywood.
I am new at scratch building and would appreciate any information that will help me decide what type of saw I would find more useful. Thanx

limeybob 04-28-2011 03:47 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
Scroll Saw. make sure the blade is easy to replace , most are these days.
Read the reviews, especially the sears ones.
These people know what they are talking about,

Buy a good one.

Tony Hallo 04-28-2011 04:22 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I'd say band saw. I've been building from plans since 1989 and only recently purchased a scroll saw, maybe I never took the time to learn how to use the scroll saw? I have a 5" throat metal cuting band saw that cuts everthing from steel to balsa wood with the same blade.

Shop Tools I use the most;
Drill press
Band saw
12" disc sander
9X19 metal lathe

Not so much;
Scroll Saw
Oscillating drum sander

It's niceto have them all however because each has it's own specific use

R. Ortiz 04-28-2011 04:34 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
Thank you for your help R. Ortiz

CK1 04-28-2011 04:52 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
A bandsaw will give you a beter overall cut with the use of guides etc. and will handle thicker materials. The scroll saw will allow you to make inside cuts in areas that a bandsaw will not. I have both and use them both regularly ,but if you had to choose only one it should be the bandsaw .

cutaway 04-28-2011 05:22 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
Both have their place. I have both and use them for different purposes. I've started figuring out more and more uses for my router table and spindle sander as well.

Campgems 04-28-2011 05:38 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I'll agree with Tony, the bandsaw is a better tool for outside cuts. It is especially good on thin delicate cuts at there is no up motion to snag the wood an pull it up. I have both a band saw and a scroll saw and the usage is at least 100 to 1 in favor of the band saw. You can rip long pieces of wood, set angles of cut and generally cut really straight lines if you set up a fence or use the protractor head. If you tame the speed down it will cut aluminum withfew problems.

For a lot of inside cutting, the scroll saw is good. Until I got the scroll saw, I used a wide throat Jewelers saw with 2/0 blade for all my inside cutting. It was a little slower, but the results were good, and it is a lot easier to store when not in use than the scroll saw.. For stuff like lightening holes, a drill bit and/or a burr in the flex shaft was very adequate, and you didn't have to unmount the blade are remount it for each piece.

Like a lot of things in the work shop, it all boils down to a mater of personal taste. There are a lot of guys who wouldn't own a band saw and really prefer the scroll saw. Their opinion is as valid as my preference for the band saw. It is a tool they like, are comfortable using and gets the job done for them. Same as my band saw is for me. If you could, try out both before you buy. Maybe a high school shop class if they still have such things. Or some of the guys in you club will have one or both of the machines. Then you don't get a let down feeling the first time you use it and it isn't what you expected.

If you geta scroll saw, get one with a wide range of speeds, a variable speed is really needed. Get one with at least a 14" throat, bigger is better. Get one with a cast Iron/aluminum table. Plastic and sheet metal isn't a good choice. Ipicked up a Craftsman 16" a couple years back at a clearance sale at the local OSH store. I've had one of the little Drimll jig saws before and there is just no comparison between the two. Once I discovered that the high speed setting was causing me problems and tamed down the machine, it works very well. A blade change, or putting the blade through the work for inside cuts took a bit of getting used to, but things go much smoother now that I have learned the machine.

I think you will be happy with either machine if you give it time and learn to use it. And you shop isn't complete without one of them.


Rodney 04-29-2011 02:36 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I have both and if I had to choose only one, I'd keep the bandsaw. I now rarely ever use the scroll saw and could easily get by without it and I build a lot of models. For those inside cuts, the old coping saw (hand powered) will suffice or use the drill press.

eagledancer 04-29-2011 03:06 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
i have both, use the bandsaw the most, hardly ever pull out the scroll saw unless i want to cut inside formers. but have found if i just cut a slit in one side of the former make the inside cut then scarf a piece of material over the access slot. so much quicker with bandsaw

yel914 04-29-2011 03:42 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I also prefer the bandsaw over scrollsaw. But there's a big difference in cost between the two machines which might be a consideration. On a limited budget, a good scroll saw might be the best way to go. In my experience, buying a cheap tool(in this case a cheap Chinese bandsaw) just isn't worth the problems it brings. A good bandsaw may set you back several hundred bucks. A good scroll saw would be less. BTW, I ventured into a couple of Pawn Shops recently. I saw a few scroll saws that could be had for less than $75.00.

R. Ortiz 04-29-2011 04:01 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
Thank you for all the information. It has been very helpful in deciding what to do. I think that I will start with a band saw and as soon as I can I will invest in a scroll saw. R. Ortiz

limeybob 04-29-2011 08:46 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
Well, looks like I'm in the minority.
My bandsaw has a limited throat width, so I can rip long pieces OK, but not so wide.
My scroll saw has unlimited width and 14" depth.
So I guess you will need to decide what you will be cutting the most.


SKYHI1 05-01-2011 12:38 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I have both, like them both use them both.
Sometimes I wish I had a table saw..


Props4ever 05-01-2011 01:49 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
Scroll saw is a must for any scratch builder, i have been scratch building for 6 years now and i don't know what i have done w/out one!

Drill presses, belt and disk sander are must also.....

Band saw if you will be cutting bigger sizes of plywood and lots of it...

WacoNut 05-01-2011 05:32 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I use both, I also use my table saw for ripping the ply. I have also been know to rip out some stringers from sheeting when needed on the table saw. A band saw will cut faster and cleaner than a scroll saw but for inside cuts the scroll saw is a must. A good belt/disc sander combo goes a long ways as well. I cut my outside cuts about 1/32 oversize then sand them down to final shape.

ARUP 05-01-2011 07:36 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I use band saw the most. If I had the $$$ and expertise I'd have a laser cutter!

Prop Nut 05-02-2011 07:05 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
Although you have made your decision, I will chime in anyway. I also have both and would choose the band-saw, it is more versatile than is the scroll-saw, you can just do more with it. I cut my wing ribs as a block (both similar and tapered) and then slice them off like meat, very handy. Course, that was before I built my CNC router table, now I just push a button and walk away ;)


dadragon 10-23-2011 03:12 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
Get both.

box car 10-23-2011 04:17 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw


Hydro Junkie 10-24-2011 02:39 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I have a 14" band, 16" scroll and 12" table saws and use all three equally. I also have a benchtop versions of the belt/disc and oscillating horizontal belt/spindle sanders and drill press. Having all of these different "toys" to play with has taught me that having the right tool for a job not only saves time, it eliminates ruined parts and frustration. That being said, I didn't buy all of these at once. I started with a 7.5" B&D band saw, then the belt disc followed by the table saw. I found very quickly that each had it's limitations and, as the cash became available, the rest somehow started "appearing" in my garage, the 14" bandsaw only after I wore out the B&D toy after almost 20 years. What may sound surprising is I have two Dremel tools and they hardly ever get used any more

catspaw 10-24-2011 08:45 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I have all of them. :D

For someone starting out, I would recommend the scroll saw, BUT with the goal of getting a bandsaw quickly. I'm in a hurry, and I don't like using a coping saw...I don't even have one anymore.

Having said that, I use my bandsaw the vast majority of time. Cutting out parts, ripping strips (less waste than a tablesaw, BTW). a 10tpi blade is the most I would use-it's better for plys, and 15tpi the smallest, esp. ifyou are doing thinner balsa. A good compromise would be 12tpi (that's teeth per inch, BTW).

As others have said, get quality. My bandsaw is a sears 14" throat depth, and the scrollsaw is also a sears 16". Both have cast tables.

A drill press is nice, but not really needed in this hobby. But you'll want one anyway.

I don't have a spindle sander. I have used a "robo sander" (sanding drum) in the drill press in those rare instances I needed to do internal sanding, usually large formers.

WhiteRook 10-24-2011 03:19 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
BAND SAW , because scroll saw blades dont last , youll go through a zillion of em , especially if your cutting aircraft ply. 1/4 inch
bandsaw blades even have a short life as it is

turbo.gst 10-25-2011 05:47 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I have all three, but if I could only have one it would be my band saw.

GreenMeanie 11-14-2011 08:33 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
CNC 4 way

gene6029 11-15-2011 03:44 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I scratch build alot & i use both equally. I find i use my band saw on things like firewalls (hard wood & straight cuts ) & my jigsaw on wing ribs etc. The jig saw is easier on internal cuts ( faster to remove & replace blade ). Im glad i have both...Gene;)

elcam84 11-17-2011 04:01 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
Both have their places. I like the bandsaw for roughing out parts then sand to finish size. The scroll saw is good for internal and detail cutting like notches in ribs and formers etc. One issue you will run into with a bandsaw is getting a blade you are happy with. The small table top saws typically have thin fine tooth blades with little set (tooth set) and make a very nice cut with little wander but for larger saws those blades are harder to get. I do woodworking for a living and scroll saws are not a woodworking tool they are a hobby tool.

Check craigslist for both saws especially scroll saws. Scroll saws are easy to find used as lots of people buy them and few ever use them. The Dewalt saw is a very good machine if you can find a deal on one. I have an older Delta one which is Ok. Need to work on trying to fine tune the balance of it to get it just right.

My process... Hack the part out on the band saw and then sand to final shape on a disc sander. Then do any detail notches etc with the scroll saw or other method. An 1/8" bit in a router table is very handy but requires practice. If anyone near FW is looking at what to buy let me know and you are welcome to come over and try out both and see what you prefer. I also have a 2x4 cnc router that will be finished one day...

Highflight 11-17-2011 06:32 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I build from plans mostly, and the band saw is my go-to cutter for making my own kits from plans. Mine is a Delta 14" floor model that has a transmission for changing speeds (can slow down to cut metal) but for model building, the single-speed model is cheaper and will cut all woods.

Now to the scroll saw... A scroll saw is a must-have for only one purpose, and that is for making inside cuts. Period. That's it. So with that in mind, spend the big bucks for a really nice band saw that you will use 90% of the time, but buy the cheapest scroll saw you can find because of it's single purpose use.

Oberst 11-19-2011 12:18 AM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
1 Attachment(s)
I got my Scroll Saw and Drill Press at Harbor Freight Tools. They work great and they give you extra blades. You can see them next to my Fokker in the picture.


saramos 11-19-2011 01:04 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I would say get the band saw with your eye on getting a scroll saw in the near future. I have both, but seldom use the scroll saw. It will come in handy for scratch building if you have a lot of lightening holes to cut. Another imortant power tool to have is a disk/belt sander.


TripleDeucer 11-20-2011 01:47 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw


Although you have made your decision, I will chime in anyway. I also have both and would choose the band-saw, it is more versatile than is the scroll-saw, you can just do more with it. I cut my wing ribs as a block (both similar and tapered) and then slice them off like meat, very handy. Course, that was before I built my CNC router table, now I just push a button and walk away ;)


I would like to hear and see more about your router table. Sounds expensive.

saramos 11-20-2011 06:25 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
1 Attachment(s)
Here's mine. It's a Shark purchased through Rockler for $2500. Cutting area is 13 x 24.


GreenMeanie 11-21-2011 07:04 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I have been watching this one.
Trying to get a YES from the wife.


CNC and hardly any sanding.
Cutting ribs on that would be a breeze.

yellerchamp 11-21-2011 07:46 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
menards has thier bandsaw on sale 9 inch for $99.00 belt and disc sander for $99.00 the little scroll saw for 49.00 cant remember the bench drill press I think it was 69.00

foodstick 11-21-2011 09:23 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
I like all my saws, but I was shocked how much I used the disc sander once I had one..I always thought the belt part would be the most used.. That disc gets a work out on all projects..

saramos 11-21-2011 09:44 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
A lot of the parts that I've cut on the CNC next visit the belt/disk sander. For example, the items that I was cutting in the picture I posted had tabs on them so the part could be safely cut. After using a chisle to remove them, the tabs were sanded off. I cut some parts on the band saw last week. Again they went to the band saw to remove the saw marks.


OliverJacob 12-04-2011 02:45 PM

RE: Band saw or scroll saw
Green Meanie,

do you know anybody who is using this?
It looks like $600 buys you just the router frame, no motors or controller, interface or software.
This would make a very nice tool to cut your own designed parts.

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