Many different kinds of machines and tools can help you get your woodworking project done.
From drilling holes to sawing, there is a right tool for each task.
However, if you don’t have a ton of experience, you might not know all the available kinds of saws and their specific functions.
This is not uncommon. With so many options, it can be hard that even more seasoned workers can be baffled.
One common problem is choosing between router vs scroll saw because they have some similarities.
Thus, let's talk about these two tools in detail to get an idea of what you should use for a specific task.
Defining a Router and a Scroll Saw
Let's define each of these tools to help you separate the two and make it easier to follow this article without getting confused.
What Is a Router?
A router is a woodworking tool that can hollow out or rout certain areas of tough material.
The most common type of router seen today is the spindle drive option with an electrical motor.
You will see this often in a workshop if you take a close look at all of the tools used.
The wood router is available in three basic types, and they are:
- Fixed Base
Lightweight and easy to use, this type of wood router is perfect for beginners.
It is ideal for accomplishing tasks that require straight lines and edge shaping.
Before starting your project, you must set the depth since you can't adjust it while working.
In comparison to the fixed base router, the plunge wood router is perfect for experienced woodworkers.
Although a little heavier, this router is easy to control and stable when operated. Similarly, you can adjust the depth even while using it.
This tool is recommended for cutting grooves, incising letters, mortising, and stopping dados.
What Is a Scroll Saw?
A scroll saw is an electric or pedal-started saw used for cutting metal, wood, and other hard materials.
It has a mechanism that allows you to create curved shapes and designs that don’t require cutting from the outer section.
When it comes to the different types of a scroll saw, it's usually based on their throat size, arm styles, and whether or not they're mounted.
- Based on Throat Size
For throat size, scroll saws differ in troat length and depth. The larger the throat size, the bigger the material it can accommodate.
On the other hand, the higher the throat depth, the thicker the material it can cut.
- Based on Arm Style
Scroll saws can have a parallel, parallel link, or C type arm that affects how the blades move.
The first two scroll saw arms are perfect for beginners while the C type is ideal for experienced woodworkers.
You must also note that there are a lot of available blades that you can use with a scroll saw.
Thus, you might only need one scroll saw to cut through different materials.
Besides, most scroll saws have adjustable speed levels and bevel angles.
- Mounting Needs
You'll find scroll saw models that will require installation on tables so that they remain stable.
Some models can stand on their own, also called handheld scroll saws, that work with less vibrations.
These are the ones you can bring to any workplace.
That said, some mounted scroll saws are compatible with any mounting surfaces that also make them travel-friendly.
Router vs Scroll Saw
Here's a rundown of the similarities and differences of the router and scroll saw.
Let’s get into the details of these two tools and see what makes each one separate from the other by first looking at what is similar between them.
- Great for Woodworking
One thing that both of these tools have in common is that they are meant for woodworking.
Though they have different purposes within that category, this makes them closer than metalworking tools that will differ even more.
- Comes With Several Versions
Another similarity is that both tools have different versions of the same tool within each option's umbrella category.
That means several types of scroll saws and routers will vary in size and shape.
They can also change how you use the tool since some versions only come with a specific purpose.
Similarly, both routers and scroll saws come with different options that sometimes feel and look more like the other option.
There are more differences between these two tools than there are similarities.
Some of the most notable ones include:
- Handheld vs. Stationary
One major difference between these two tools is that a router is exclusively a handheld option, while the scroll saw is usually not.
A scroll saw is a stationary tool that usually requires a place for setting up, such as a work table or bench.
Meaning, you can't use most of them anywhere, anytime, making them a less flexible tool than the router.
On the contrary, you can take the router to your worksite or on the road.
Thus, instead of bringing the materials to your workstation, you can take your tool with you wherever you need to accomplish your job or project.
That said, even if the router is handheld, you can fasten it to a worktable with the router facing upward. That makes it steady and sturdy.
It also lets you easily control the direction of the hole you're making.
- Main Uses and Capabilities
Each of these tools' primary use is different because of the difference in each option's build and blade.
The scroll saw is built with a thin reciprocating blade that cuts up and down.
That helps create designs and detailed work for wooden sculptures and trimmings.
It also makes it unique and useful for only certain types of woodworking jobs.
In contrast, the router tool is for hollowing out specific areas of the material.
That makes the tool ideal for screws and items not meant to go completely through the material.
It's mainly used in construction projects in the kitchen since it is a popular tool for installing cabinets.
The blade on this machine is very narrow and thin, but the blade is not the only thing you can attach to the router's end.
You can also purchase some bits and jigs, and then attach to the tool to accomplish more jobs.
With a jig or a bit, you can recess lock faceplates, trim laminates, or recess hinges of doors.
So, the large number of capabilities that the router has goes far passed that of the scroll saw.
- Accomplishing Specialty Projects
Another difference between these two tools is that you can also use the router to accomplish several projects in construction and carpentry.
On the contrary, the scroll saw has a particular purpose that makes it useful for specific projects only.
Though it might seem like a disadvantage for the scroll saw, the tool is perfectly-designed for what it is used for.
That gives it a major advantage because if you have a project that requires that task, you will need this tool to efficiently accomplish the job.
So, if you like to do more than one kind of job, there isn't a way to get carving and designing jobs done without a scroll saw.
Also, whether or not you do these types of projects often, if you do them at all, you will need a scroll saw.
That makes it a popular option, even if the user can't use the tool for multiple jobs.
Another thing that separates these two tools is that they look very different, so you can easily tell them apart.
The router comes with a large D-shape handle that allows you to hold onto the tool while using it.
With such a design, you can keep one hand free to hold the material in place when you need to.
A scroll saw has a layout and surface area that look a lot like a sewing machine, as well as the needle and thread that goes through the fabric.
That is also a good way to think about how the scroll saw's blade works since it has a similar up and down motion as the needle does.
Additionally, since you feed the fabric materials through a sewing machine the same way you feed the wood through a scroll saw, it is easy to compare them.
Which Is Best For You?
When looking at router vs scroll saw, it will be easier to decide because both tools are so different.
On that note, if you are in the middle of redoing a kitchen or remodeling bathroom cabinets, the tool for you would be the router.
That is because it has the drilling capacity to allow for screws to go easily into the cabinets to secure them, without the screw going through the other side of the wood.
If you need a tool for cutting curved lines in the interior of a piece of wood that you already have, the scroll saw will be your best bet.
It will be the best option that will let you make the nicest designs. It's even perfect for sculpting and designing or carving wood!
If you are still unsure which option will be the best for you, or maybe you do project-based work, you could wait until you get a job that requires a specific tool so that you can save money.
To Sum Up
If you need to get a new tool to finish off a project that you are currently working on, seeing the differences between your options will let you know which is going to work the best for you.
Still, comparing two tools that do different things can be challenging because they are both great in their own way.
When it comes to spending money on an item that you need, though, you want to ensure that you are not shelling out cash for an item you won't get much use out of.
So, take a look at the projects or jobs you do. Then, think about whether or not you want to expand from that.
Which Offers Greater Value for Money?
The scroll saw is made specifically for certain projects and is more expensive than the router.
Since the router can accomplish multiple tasks, it will open more opportunities for your shop.
Therefore, you'll get the most out of it than the scroll saw.
So, it is a good idea to wait for a job that requires a scroll saw before spending hundreds of dollars on the tool.
However, if a client is looking for someone who already has the tool, you could lose out on a project.
As such, when you have money to spare and your primary source of income is woodworking, go ahead and invest in both tools.