Bandsaws, Jigsaws & Scrollsaws
I bought a 12" Jet a couple of months ago and really like it. I may be like a 16 year old kid with an Escort who thinks he owns a race car, but it has done everything I have asked of it so far. Mostly I use if for "Scroll Saw" type work through 3/4" pine, but have resawn some 3" and 4" oak with no problems.
When you use the bandsaw to cut curves, you need a narrow enough blade. I know when I've been too idle to change to the correct size its jumped around the too tight curves...leaving a saw tooth finish. Also plan your cuts so you don't end up getting trapped in a difficult sharp change of direction. Make a series of straight cuts in from the outside edge so close to the line that you meet up with them as you bandsaw.
Practice cutting a line outside your final line by 1/2" or so. This will give you a sense of the flow and how much steering you need to do. Then go round the line again this time closer. So what if it takes three passes. It's how you learn and get better.
The blade must be sharp, tensioned, and not have an excessive slop between the blade and the guide blocks. Lastly take it as slowly as you like, the bandsaw will not burn the wood as deeply as a T/S or router bit. If all else fails you could try a scroll saw.
I think that a bandsaw is a great tool to have in the shop. There are three basic direction you can go.
1. The 14 inch Delta or any one of the clones of this saw. Almost all tool manufactures are building one of these. They are good general purpose machines. The main advantage is that there are 100's of accessories and add on that are made for this saw. But, it is the low end of Bandsaws for a full shop.
2. There are a class of industrial used Bandsaws that will do everything you want to do. The issue here is you have to me very mechanical and may have to fix or rebuild them. But, you end up with a great tool.
3. There are the new industrial saws. Expensive and they will resaw all day as well as do the general bandsaw tasks.
Stay away from the three wheel [bandsaw] bench top models. They are notorious for breaking blades due to the small diameter of their wheels. If you are looking for something to cut curves in 3/4 to 1 1/2 stock and don't want to spend a lot of money they will do fine just have a spare blade on hand at all times but if you are looking to resaw or do some heavy duty cutting then save up for the 14" two wheel models or larger. You will be much happier in the end.
I bought a closed-stand 14" Jet bandsaw a couple weeks ago. I did quite a bit of research--both on the web and with real live woodworkers (imagine that).
I'll be using the bandsaw for a number of reasons: cutting curves in table legs (current projects include some cabriole-style legs), re-sawing boards for book matching panels and building jewelry boxes, etc. I considered some of the higher end machines: an 18" Jet, a Laguna 16 (about the same price as the 18" Jet), even the Inca. But I decided that the Jet was "good enough" for now. If I start making more money from my woodworking endeavors, I may upgrade the saw. But only when I have to.
I also considered the 14" Delta. The Jet was about 250 or 300 less than the Delta. Although the Delta felt a bit more solid, I didn't think it was worth the price. They both have the same horsepower engine (1HP), take the same size blades (105" with riser blocks). So I went ahead and bought the Jet along with two Timber wolf blades, six-inch riser blocks. The miter gauge and fence with resaw capabilities were included in a current promotion.
So far I've been very happy. After taking a sample cut with the stock blade, I immediately replaced it with a Timber wolf 1/2" blade, and it slices through everything I've thrown at it with ease.
I didn't even consider anything less than a 14". The 12" or 9" models out there just don't have the power or the ability to resaw boards that are more than a couple inches thick.
Bandsaws are good for some fancy cuts. Jigsaws are good for when you can put the piece on saw horses or other props. For small pieces, with lots of tight turns, try a scrollsaw. It is bench mounted, but the thin blade lets you turn on a dime without relief cuts required by a bandsaw. So think of what you want to do. Fret work is a job for scrollsaws only.
Bandsaws can do some detailed cuts, but that's not what they do best. The bandsaw is a versatile tool for general stock prep. You can re-saw thin slices for building your own panels. You can use it to cut tenons or curves for rockers or chair backs. For detailed scroll work a jigsaw or scrollsaw is the right tool.
I think that both the jigsaw and bandsaw are very useful tools but for really different purposes.
A jigsaw is portable and fairly low powered. It's really not good at cutting thick stock. I use mine primarily for sheet goods. New models of jigsaws have orbital cutting action. I highly recommend this feature. Combined with a high quality blade, an orbital jigsaw makes short work of cutting out patterns in plywood.
A bandsaw is a high powered stationary tool. The popular hobby 14" bandsaws have at least a 3/4 HP induction motor instead of the small universal motor found on
jigsaws. This allows the bandsaw to cut through THICK stock, up to 6 or 12 inches thick.
For really fine curve cutting work, I agree that a scrollsaw is the best option.
- Ned Mellon
Go to a woodworking store and see the book section. A bandsaw is great for getting pieces close to actual size, or cutting circles. It is a pretty good all around saw, it will not replace a table saw. A scrollsaw is for doing really fancy cuts mostly for small fret work. Also good for doing inside cuts -- which a bandsaw can't do. This is about the only thing I can tell you without you actually seeing the saws and reading the books about them.
- Jim Reed
Bandsaw is a major woodworking saw. It can rip, re-saw and cross cut. It has been used by major furniture makers as their only power saw. It and good set of hand tools and you can build anything. The scrollsaw is a craft toy. OK that is a bit harsh. It is a very good tool for small detailed work like marquetry.
- Lou Williams
Which make [of jigsaw] does not matter as much as which features. I recommend that you buy one that has a barrel grip for better control (as opposed to a top handle grip), a bearing guide close to the base plate to keep the blade straight, and an adjustable motion that moves the blade forward and back as you cut instead of straight up and down which makes faster rough cuts on thick stock. I have a DeWalt, but the Bosch is also very highly regarded... and any good name with these features will give you great results.
Bandsaws can rip, tear, and smash, so to speak. A scrollsaw is far from a toy. It can do very delicate cuts. Yes, all fret work is done on a scrollsaw,
but it too can be used for more than art work. Ever see a mantel clock with fancy, tight turn top molding? Or a grandfather clock that was "fully dressed"? I use it for wood 1/16 to 5/4" thick.
As for which I would recommend, you first have to decide what you are mainly going to do. For me, call me greedy (or a tool nut), I needed both. But I don't build furniture. I do a lot of custom knick-knack type work. So, figure
out what you want to do and go from there.
If you're buying quality tools a scrollsaw will cost half what a band saw will. DON'T BUY CHEAP TOOLS! I'd pick the bandsaw first. However, $150 spent on a good jigsaw might be the best compromise until you can spent a couple hundred on a scrollsaw or more on a bandsaw.