CNC vs Bandsaw vs Scroll Saw

Just before St. Patrick’s Day, my youngest daughter and I decided to make some shamrocks out in the garage for decoration inside our home. My first instinct was to just use the CNC, but then I had a fun idea to make some on the CNC, some on the bandsaw, and some on a scroll say that I own but have never used. Since they were intended to be household decorations that unskilled workers (my 5 yr old and me) would be making, we weren’t attempting to make highest quality cuts, but I wanted to get a feel for the difference between what the three machines would produce.

All that said, here are some questions for anyone who happens to have stumbled across this post:

  1. How often do you use your CNC vs bandsaw vs scroll saw?
  2. Do you even own a scroll saw after buying a CNC?
  3. How do you decide which tool to use when all options will work?
  4. Do you ever choose to use one of these over the other two, even when the other two are potentially a better option?

I love my CNC, and thought I would get rid of my scroll saw after doing this test because I bought it used 4 years ago and literally have not used it until now. However, I had enough fun using it that I plan on keeping it around. I doubt that I’ll use it that often, but it was fun. And it’ll be good for my kids to practice on and learn about tools.

I threw together a quick video about using all three tools if you are interested in checking it out:


Loved the video. I have the same assortment of tools but mine are bigger. My scroll saw is an ancient cast iron beast with a 24" throat. I don’t use it very often mostly because changing the blade is a real bear to get just right. However, with the right blade and a little finagling you can do some incredibly intricate work ( including inside cuts, something you can’t do on a band saw) and with no necessity to sand edges. It earns its floor space. My 14" bandsaw used to be the main workhorse in my shop before I got my table saw and now CNC. Once again, depending on which blade you choose you can do much the same as a scroll saw, not as intricate much much faster. However, even the finest blade will have you sanding the edges at least a little. While doing the work itself is faster on the CNC, I do find that between programming ( something that’s still a work in progress for me) and working out holddowns, sometimes it just pays to fire up a machine and get to it. On the plus side, repeatability, accuracy and usually the lack of a need to touch up with sandpaper plays into the cnc’s strong suits. BTW, another thing that affects the quality of your projects is materials. That luan plywood is going to need touching up no matter which machine you choose. A good 1/4" Baltic birch ply or even 1/4" maple is going to give a much better end result with much less fussing. I speak from experience, having made more than 2,500 small boxes over the pandemic. My finding is it’s better to pay a bit more for materials upfront than working your posterior off trying to finesse cheap stuff later. My 2¢ CDN.


Hey Randy…. Just watched your video. Good job. I have a 10” and a 14” bandsaw. The 10” is in the shed waiting for someone else to love it as much as I did. And the 14” bandsaw is used almost every day along with the CNC. I also have a Dewalt scroll saw (expensive but so worth it ) that sits there and makes me question why I have one…… But then… I get that job every other month that absolutely can’t be done without it. The scroll saw just gets into places the CNC can’t. And for repairs? Forget about it. Some things just have to be done by hand. I have a peanut butter jar full of all kinds of blades. If you work with wood, the scroll saw is that one tool that you should just shut up and own. Like a fishing rod, better to own one and rarely use it, than to need it and not have it…
Again, I enjoyed the video!


Thank you! Ya, I really was just going to get rid of the scroll saw, but after pulling it out and using it…I don’t know, there’s just that great feeling that comes with working hands on with a piece. It’s one of those tools that never really gets talked about. I think I’ll make a follow up video making something different, maybe a little more complex, and just keep feeling them all out.

I appreciate your feedback!

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Thank you for sharing! Yes, the wood was something I could tell going in was going to be an issue before I even purchased it. Since the plan was for my 5 yr old to help out a lot, I decided it wasn’t worth being too picky on this one :grinning:.

I know the pandemic was long, but 2,500 boxes? That deserves a medal of some kind, in my opinion! I’m definitely interested to see which tool handles certain jobs better. I do want to try some more intricate cuts with the scroll saw. The last I bought it from has made plenty of nice art.

I appreciate you taking the time to respond!

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Great video, Randy! To answer your questions:

  1. I use my bandsaw almost strictly for rough cuts and stock prep. Which means that it still gets a lot of use.
  2. I still own a Ryobi scroll saw that I bought for my wife probably 30 years ago. It’s been used maybe two or three times.
  3. Whichever will get the job done with acceptable quality in the least amount of time. The CNC is winning more often as I get more proficient at programming it.
  4. Sometimes I’ll run a one-off job on the CNC when I could do it faster manual machines, for programming practice and/or to learn a new CNC process.

And when I need maximum accuracy, the CNC wins hands-down.

BTW, was your bandsaw blade running backwards when you used it to cut the shamrocks? I’m guessing not, as I didn’t see any sign of burning on the parts. Plus you mention a blade breaking at the end of the video. :flushed:


Oh boy, I totally missed that. The band saw blade is in upside down.:roll_eyes: I’m going to cut you a break ( see what I did there ?) and assume you just dropped in the broken blade for photographic purposes. Just nod once in agreement and we’ll move on from here.:nerd_face: I’m a saxophone player as well, you would not believe how many photos there are out there of people ‘playing’ sax with the mouthpiece on upside down!!!


I find myself doing this most of the time. I want to work on programming skills, so I make something I don’t really want to need just to get the experience. I guess I do that with most of my tools, but the CNC gets a cleaner result.

Also, the blade busted at one point (hence the mention at the end of my video) and I had a little left to cut and record. I threw a new blade on to get a few simple shots and noticed well after finalizing the video what I had done. It is fixed now. Just trying to live up to the name Lost in the Garage :joy:

Thanks for responding!

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So, you nailed! Blade broke, I was tired of recording, so I threw something on without paying a bit of attention to just finish the video elements. I feel certain that any future videos will contain similar moments of “what was he thinking?!?!?!?”

Now, I have got to go watch some saxophone videos and see what I can find :rofl: