A complicated woodworking project with many intricate details could prompt you to get a new cutting equipment set.
You might want to consider choosing between a fret saw vs scroll saw for a project like this.
If you have the budget for each type, both will surely come in handy at some point.
However, if you have to pick between the two, you have to learn their differences and check which one is the better gizmo for the task at hand.
What Is a Fret Saw?
A fret saw, or fretsaw, is a handheld bow saw specifically designed to do complex cutting work often involving very tight curves.
Like most bow saws, fret saws have a bow-shaped frame for holding a blade on both ends.
Some fret saws have only one handle on a single end of the bow, but others have handles on both ends.
Fret saws are much like coping saws, but they have deeper, U-shaped frames that measure as deep as 20 inches.
These U-shaped frames can hold smaller, thinner blades than the C-shaped structure of coping saws.
The fret saw is designed to work on more delicate crafts with much tighter radii that coping saws cannot accommodate.
What Is a Fret Saw Used For?
The fret saw is traditionally designed for woodworking, but innovations in metal cutting blades now allow metalworking.
Other improvements in blade design also make both forward- and backward-cutting using a spiral blade possible.
The downside to a spiral blade is that it chews off more material from an object being cut because of its widely-spaced kerfs.
Some blades are abrasive wires that do not have any actual teeth as compared to other single-sided blades.
The abrasions are usually made of diamonds, carbides, or any other abrasive material.
Fret saw blade variations allow its use for jobs formerly only suited for the piercing saw.
What Is a Scroll Saw?
Scroll saws use thin, short blades that automatically oscillate at random preset speeds.
A scroll saw is likened to a jigsaw fixed onto a tabletop or a workbench.
This allows you to move objects into and around the blade to make irregular cuts.
Some scroll saws can be convertible between tabletop workstations and portable handheld devices.
Like fret saws, scroll saws use blades that are less than a quarter of an inch thick, making it possible to cut tight, decorative curves.
Also, scroll saws require the use of electricity.
Depending on the model, you can regulate the speeds at which the blade oscillates, either with an included control pedal or built-in control knobs.
If you are familiar with the use of a jigsaw, it has a reciprocating blade that works at variable speeds depending on how hard you press on its control switch.
Although most modern jigsaws are more portable than scroll saws, they work similarly.
What Is a Scroll Saw Used For?
Woodworking hobbyists and metal crafting specialists have always been fond of owning a scroll saw.
A scroll saw allows the production of highly creative works in a relatively small amount of space.
Additionally, many projects that require the use of a scroll saw do not need the help of other complicated equipment for completion.
You can use a scroll saw to cut intricate curves and joints quickly and accurately.
Interior cutouts only require the help of a simple drill, and any additional carving only calls for simple chisels and mallets.
Scroll saws are the most common tools for wood inlaying tasks, such as those applied to intarsia and marquetry.
What Is the Difference Between a Fret Saw and Scroll Saw?
If you look closely, the fret saw vs scroll saws have very similar applications.
Here are a few things to consider if you need to choose between the two:
Fret saws require the workpiece to be in a stable, stationary position. This means you will have to move the fret saw around the material to complete every task.
It also means you may need additional tools for stabilizing the material, such as miter clamps, C-clamps, hand-screw clamps, and sash clamps.
Contrary to the fret saw, the scroll saw is not handheld, and its blade is motorized.
Unlike fret saws, scroll saws are stable, rotatable worktops that could even have built-in clamps.
Instead of stabilizing the material being cut, it can be freely moved around the oscillating blade for precise cuts and intricate scrollwork.
Working with fret saws requires a lot of training and skill.
The completion of every project depends on the user’s pace and skill level.
Scroll saws are the revolutionary machines for upscaling the amount of work done with fret saws.
A few practice-runs with different materials in a brand-new scroll saw can keep you going in no time.
A handheld tool such as a fret saw can offer more portability than a tabletop machine like a scroll saw.
Decide if portability is a big issue for you so that you can choose which machine is a better match.
Fret saws are much cheaper than scroll saws. They do not add any overhead costs like electricity and regular maintenance.
Purchasing a fret saw only requires blade replacements over time, unlike scroll saws that need consistent cleanup and greasing.
5. Other Risk Factors
Since the scroll saw is a machine, using one can be more dangerous than using a fret saw.
The blade oscillations can be controlled on scroll saws. Still, your fingers may accidentally be caught on the blade if you’re not careful.
With a fret saw, you can cut yourself with the blade, or you can get a splinter. However, a machine such as a scroll saw can amplify these effects.
Which Is Better Band Saw or Scroll Saw?
On another note, you might be thinking about opting for a band saw.
Since you would rather go on the high-tech route and choose the scroll saw over the fret saw, you might be thinking that getting a band saw will take it up a notch.
A band saw and a scroll saw have very different functions and purposes. Band saws are typically larger and have longer and thicker blades.
Building professionals use band saws for cutting large curves into various materials for an on-site fitting.
Since band saws use larger blades, the cuts can result in rough surfaces and jagged edges that may require the use of a wood planer.
On the other hand, scroll saws are specialty saws well-fitted for artisanal work, which require clean, intricate, and highly-irregular cuts.
Is a Scroll Saw Worth It?
Now that you know what is a scroll saw used for, is it even worth buying?
A scroll saw can be an invaluable solution for all your delicate cutting and crafting needs.
Here are the top properties to look for in a scroll saw of remarkable quality:
1. Vibration Dampeners
To get the best value for your money, look for a scroll saw with a lot of mass for dampening the vibrations caused by the blade oscillations.
With more vibrations dampened, you can avoid damaging your workpiece and produce more precise cuts.
Talking about a lot of mass means that a scroll saw could be very heavy.
You can choose portable, lightweight scroll saws with clamps so that you can mount them onto heavy workbenches.
With a fixed attachment to a workbench, the scroll saw takes on a heavier mass to minimize the effects of vibrations.
2. Variable Speed
Choose a scroll saw that has reliable variable speed controls.
Some cuts require slower cutting speeds, while others are easier done with faster oscillations.
With easily controllable variable speeds, you can accurately work around different types of cuts on your material.
3. Blade Clamp System
Go for a scroll saw that has a dependable blade clamp system.
It could be very frustrating when the scroll saw blade snaps off the device during operation and damages your workpiece.
A good scroll saw holds the blade in place even at very high oscillatory speeds.
4. Compatible Blades
Sometimes, the choice of blades also dictates the dependability of your scroll saw.
Only choose compatible blades recommended by the manufacturer.
Incompatible blades can snap off and ruin your project. They might even cause some workplace accidents.
Alternatively, skilled artisans sometimes fabricate their own blades.
If you ever get up to the same skill level, you might be fabricating your own scroll saw blades for crafting exceptional results.
Fret Saw vs Scroll Saw: Final Verdict
Although the scroll saw is an improved, electronic version of the fret saw, both are used differently.
Whereas you move the fret saw while working on a fixed object, the scroll saw remains stationary while you move the piece.
A fret saw can be very cheap and highly portable, but learning to use it can take a lot of practice.
On the other hand, a scroll saw can be heavy and expensive, but less practice runs with the device can prove its usefulness.
Even though you have the money for a scroll saw, getting a fret saw shows that you have an acquired taste for traditional crafting methods.