SketchUp Make Review

Thinking of a concept for a design can be a challenge, let alone rendering your design idea to a visible concept. This is where the use of 3D modeling software comes in. For those who are unfamiliar, SketchUp Make is the free version of SketchUp Pro – a popular 3D modeling software.

The software, which was previously known as Google SketchUp, is a 3D modeling software that is used for a wide range of drawing applications such as interior design, landscape, and architecture.

Due to its versatility, it’s also increasingly being used for many different types of applications, from civil and mechanical engineering to designing movies and video games. It also offers those who like to take on DIY woodworking projects to see what their completed project is going to look like and share plans with others.

Those are just a few of the reasons SketchUp Make is the 3D modelling (CAD) software we recommend for woodworkers.

Here’s a link to the SketchUp Download page.

The version we are talking about here is the free SketchUp Make 2017:

Here’s a video from Ron Paulk showing the difference between SketchUp Make vs SketchUp Pro; it also serves a nice intro so you can see what is possible with SketchUp Make:

Why Use SketchUp Make?

SketchUp Make is a free and easy-to-learn 3D-modeling program that gives you access to a few important tools, allowing you to create efficient and detailed 3D models of houses, home renovations, decks, patios, sheds, along with 3D models of woodworking projects.

SketchUp Make allows users to easily add in details, glass, and various textures to their models. For DIY woodworking enthusiasts, the software provides dimensional accuracy and can lead to better project results. Using various plugins, you can also use it to generate your project cut list.

We love to to use it to help generate cut lists, and also for figuring out difficult angles.

We also love that it makes it nice and easy to share our projects with you!

Best Free 3D Modelling Software

SketchUp Make is a free version of the 3D modelling software that can be used for home or commercial projects. It begins with the 30-day trial of the SketchUp Pro version, after which, users can agree to the Terms of Service and continue to use SketchUp Make for free.

Since the developers of the software want to help users migrate to the SketchUp Free version, there have not been any updates to SketchUp Make. That being said, the installer is still active and available for download by those who are interested in using Sketchup Make.

Free SketchUp Courses

SketchUp has recently launched some excellent courses to help beginners or advanced users progress. They are excellently done and very comprehensive.

You will need to create a Trimble login to access it, but it is totally free and highly recommended. Once you’ve created a login, you can access the courses here.

The Units currently available are:

SketchUp Fundamentals

This comprehensive SketchUp course does what it says on the box and will rapidly have you feeling quite comfortable using SketchUp.

It contains 12 courses:

  1. Quick Start – Description: “Jump right into creating your first model in SketchUp. We’ll introduce several of the tools and techniques that you will use often in SketchUp.” 11 lessons
    1. Getting Started: 1 Quick Start
    2. Getting Started 2: Navigation
    3. Getting Started 3: PIllars
    4. Getting Started 4: Components
    5. Getting Started 5: Platform
    6. Getting Started 6: Circles
    7. Getting Started 7: Array
    8. Getting Started 8: Steps
    9. Getting Started 9: Slide
    10. Getting Started 10: Color
    11. Course 1 Review
  2. Core Concepts – Description: “Understanding how edges and surfaces behave and the underlying concepts of SketchUp.” 5 lessons
    1. Edges and Surfaces
    2. Inferences
    3. Inference Challenge
    4. Blue Axis
    5. Course 2 – Review
  3. Push Pull – Description: “Push Pull tool.” 2 lessons
    1. Push Pull
    2. Course 3 – Review
  4. Accuracy – Description: “Understanding accuracy in SketchUp and the Tape Measure tool.” 3 lessons
    1. Accuracy
    2. Tape Measure Tool
    3. Course 4 – Review
  5. Drawing Tools – Description: “Reviewing the drawing tools: circles/polygons, arcs, rectangles, freehand, offset and eraser.” 7 lessons
    1. Circles and Polygons
    2. Arcs
    3. Rectangles
    4. Freehand
    5. Offset
    6. Eraser
    7. Course 5 – Review
  6. Selections – Description: “Overview of the selection tool and modifiers.” 2 lessons
    1. Selections
    2. Course 6 – Review
  7. Grouping – Description: “Grouping concepts” 2 lessons
    1. Grouping Concepts
    2. Course 7 – Review
  8. Components – Description: “Overview of components, component browser and introduction to nesting.” 2 lessons
    1. Components
    2. Course 8 – Review
  9. Layers – Description: “Overview of Layers and how they differ from other programs.” 2 Lessons
    1. Layers
    2. Course 9 – Review
  10. Move Tool – Description: “Move tool, including manipulating geometry, autofold and copy/array.” 5 Lessons
    1. Move Tool
    2. Manipulate Geometry
    3. Autofold
    4. Copy and Arrays
    5. Course 10 – Review
  11. Follow Me – Description: “Using Follow Me including lathed objects” 4 Lessons
    1. Follow Me
    2. Follow Me -Lathe
    3. Follow Me -Practice
    4. Course 11 – Review
  12. Inference Locking – Description: “Inference locking with arrow and shift keys” 3 Lessons
    1. Inference Locking
    2. Inference Locking Practice
    3. Course 12 – Review
    4.  

Rendering: SketchUp to Photoshop

This fun and easy learning track demonstrate the process for setting up specific scenes with rendering styles applied in SketchUp in order to export and enhance using Adobe Photoshop.

It contains 3 courses:

  1. Creating & Exporting Scenes in SketchUp – Description: “Here we’ll provide a brief overview for the goals of this track along with the process of working with scenes, styles and shadows together to create specific exports for post-production in Photoshop.” 6 lessons
    1. Getting Started
    2. Model Overview
    3. Layers Overview
    4. Styles & Scene Setup
    5. Exporting Scenes
    6. Course 1 Review Quiz
  2. Post-Processing Scenes in Photoshop – Description: “This course walks you through the process of importing and working with your SketchUp scene exports in order to modify the look and feel of the SketchUp view, transforming it into a one of a kind illustrative. This exclusive method is repeatable, meaning it’s not dependent on the model, scene or artistic styling of the creator.” 10 Lessons
    1. Importing Scenes into Photoshop
    2. Photoshop Layer Organization
    3. Base Color Overlay
    4. Shadow Adjustments
    5. Linework Adjustments
    6. Entourage Adjustments
    7. Effects: Paper
    8. Effects: Color Wash
    9. Final Adjustments
    10. Course 2 Review Quiz
  3. Bonus: Ground Level Walk Through – Description: “This course takes all the techniques learned in the previous two courses and applies them to an additional view – this time from the ground. This walk though explores how the process is applicable to a number of different model and rendering conditions and still achieves a consistent and beautiful result.” 2 Lessons
    1. Ground Level Walk Through
    2. Course 3 Review Quiz

LayOut Essentials

Want to share your SketchUp model with others? Turning 3D models to 2D documents and presentations have never easier using LayOut. This track is intended for beginners who have never opened LayOut before but are familiar with the basics of SketchUp Pro.

It contains 3 courses:

  1. Getting Started in Layout – Description: “Get started using LayOut by learning several ways to create new documents from scratch while also exploring the LayOut’s interface, preferences, drawing setup, and customization features.” 6 Lessons
    1. Getting Started
    2. Creating New Document
    3. Preferences Overview
    4. Document Setup & Customization
    5. Document Navigation
    6. Course 1 Review Quiz
  2. Tools Overview – Description: “Explore and practice creating custom content with each of LayOut’s drawing and annotation tools.” 7 Lessons
    1. Selection
    2. Drawing Lines
    3. Drawing Arcs
    4. Drawing Shapes
    5. Adding Text
    6. Labels & Dimensions
    7. Course 2 Review Quiz
  3. Modifying & Styling Content – Description: “In this course, we’ll take our lines and shapes to the next level by learning how to edit and apply different styles to them.” 7 Lessons
    1. Working with Objects
    2. Modifying Lines
    3. Moving & Copying Objects
    4. Rotating, Scaling, & Arranging Objects
    5. Styles: Fills & Patterns
    6. Styles: Stroke
    7. Course 3 Review Quiz
  4. Working with References – Description: “Learn how to insert, style and annotate various drawing references such as SketchUp models, raster images and CAD dwgs.” 11 Lessons
    1. Pages Overview
    2. Inserting Model Reference
    3. Changing Model Scenes
    4. Creating & Applying Model Styles
    5. Adding Labels to Model Reference
    6. Dimensioning a Model Reference
    7. Stacking Views
    8. Reference Images & Clipping Masks
    9. Working with CAD Files
    10. Scaled Drawing
    11. Course 4 Review Quiz
  5. Layers, Scrapbooks, Templates & Tables – Description: “Once we have a model referenced, we can add additional details and content to help complete our document set.” 6 Lessons
    1. Working with Layers
    2. Title Blocks & Templates
    3. Scrapbooks
    4. Tables: From Scratch
    5. Tables: From Spreadsheet
    6. Course 5 Review Quiz
  6. Presenting & Exporting – Description: “Finally, learn how to share your document with others by exploring LayOut’s awesome built-in presentation and exporting tools.” 4 Lessons
    1. Presenting within LayOut
    2. Exporting to Image or PDF
    3. Exporting to DWG / CAD
    4. Course 6 Review Quiz

Coming Soon

  1. SketchUp Fundamentals – Part 2
  2. SketchUp for Landscape & Site Design

Loads of Online Resources

Since SketchUp Make is offered as a freeware, it has resulted in previous users creating scores of pre-programmed add-ons that are available to download to put into immediate use. The wealth of add-ons and plugins, coupled with a powerful photo-realistic rendering engine makes it a great option for those who like to take on DIY woodworking projects either on their own or at a professional level.

For those of you who are still not sure about using it, there are dozens of online resources that are dedicated specifically to SketchUp for woodworkers where you can find cool ideas or share yours.

Pros

  • Creates surfaces from lines and extrudes 3D solids from surfaces.
  • Offers a huge library of pre-designed scenes and objects.
  • A good option for those who are already familiar with AutoCAD.

Cons

  • Only allows the import and export of raster files and static graphic images that can’t be edited.

Get SketchUp Make Today

For the woodworking hobbyist, SketchUp Make is an excellent option! Download it here.

What is Polycrylic and How Should I Apply It?

If you are a carpenter, woodworker, DIY person, or anything in between, if you work with wood, you know that it has to be specially treated to endure. Wood pieces have to be finished with a special layer to add protection from moisture, light, and the elements.

Using a finish on the wood is also ideal because it helps protect the paint underneath and keeps colors vibrant and intact for much longer than they otherwise would.

A good finish can even help add some color and/or gloss to the mix as well. One of the best types of finished and protective agents for wood is Polycrylic.

Today we want to talk all about Polycrylic, what it is, how to use it, how it is applied, and much more. Let’s get right to it and tell you all about this awesome protective and finishing agent for wood.

What is Polycrylic?

Technically speaking, Polycrylicis a water-based protective coating. The main purpose of Polycrylic is to protect the wood. Polycrylic comes available in a variety of finishes including high gloss and satin finishes.

Not only does Polycrylic come with the benefit of protecting wood pieces from various forms of damage, like water damage, but it also helps add some beauty to the mix too.

Depending on the type or color of Polycrylic you use, it can help add some nice color or a glossy finish to your wood pieces. Polycrylic is often used as a finish for things like doors, cabinets, furniture, and other pieces of wood.

Types of Polycrylic

There are two main types of Polycrylic that you can use:

  1. spray-on or aerosol Polycrylic
  2. roll-on Polycrylic

Spray-on Polycrylic

Spray-on Polycrylic

Spray-on Polycrylic is a good option to go with if you just want to apply a thin layer really quickly. It sprays out of an aerosol bottle and is quite easy to apply. This ease of use is probably its biggest benefit.

It does dry very fast because it comes out in a thin layer, but applying a very even layer, especially without getting air pressure marks, can be a bit difficult.

There is also the fact that aerosols in spray cans are not very good for the environment, plus these aerosol Polycrylic cans are usually fairly limited in terms of quantity. It is best used for smaller projects.

Roll-on Polycrylic

Roll-on Polycrylic

On the other hand, you have roll-on Polycrylic, which usually comes in a can just like paint. These cans tend to be fairly large and they are best used for larger projects.

There are also more varieties of roll-on Polycrylic. However, the downfall of a roll-on Polycrylic is that it is hard to apply without noticeable brush strokes.

It also dries very fast, so when using a brush or roller, you have to be very quick to get the right look before it dries.

What Polycrylic Is Recommended?

There are several different brand names of Polycrylic available, but our personal favorite is a popular one in the industry for good reason. It works well, is competitively priced, and available in a multitude of finishes, colors, aerosols, and cans.

Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish

The product we would most highly recommend is called Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish. For $20, you get a full quart of Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish, which is a really great price for quite a large quantity.

Next, keep in mind that this is the roll-on variety, so you need to use a brush or roller to apply it to wood, just like you would with paint or varnish. For this reason, this particular product is best used for larger projects and for flat pieces of wood.

Furthermore, this particular Polycrylic is very fast drying and it only takes a few minutes to begin setting. So, while you do have to work fast to apply even and good looking layers of it, it does dry fast, which many views as a bonus.

Now, keep in mind that Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish goes on clear, and dries clear. It features a crystal-clear finish and it does not provide extra color or any kind of gloss.

Therefore, while it is not the best for adding aesthetic qualities, it is a really good option for protecting your woodwork pieces for light and moisture damage, and to keep the paint underneath intact for a much longer time than without the finish.

What is also nice, is that this finish is very easy to clean up with some soap and warm water, at least when it is still wet.

Pros

  • Very fast drying
  • Provides ideal protection for wood
  • Good quantity for a great price
  • Cleans up easily

Cons

  • Not ideal for very small and intricate projects
  • Requires a brush and/or roller to apply

Why Apply Polycrylic?

Let’s quickly talk about why you should apply Polycrylic to your woodworking projects.

Polycrylic is a protective layer, which is something you should apply to your woodworking projects. It forms a solid seal over any piece of wood and therefore protects your projects from damage that can be caused by temperatures, water, and light.

Polycrylic is a good option because you can find clear, satin, and glossy finishes. Simply put, you could use the clear variety to protect the paint underneath, or you could use the glossy or satin options for something more glamorous or ornate. 

How Long Does it Take for Polycrylic to Cure?

How Long Does it Take for Polycrylic to Cure

Applying Polycrylic and letting it cure does take some knowledge. Polycrylic is very fast drying, much faster than most other finishes or varnishes, but that said, it does not dry or cure instantly.

First, whenever you are using Polycrylic, it is always recommended that you apply 3 layers, as 1 or even 2 will usually not suffice. Polycrylic will dry to the touch within about 30 minutes, and it can then be handled about 1 hour after application.

However, keep in mind that you should recoat it, and you can apply the second coat of Polycrylic 2 hours after the first application, and then repeat this for the third coating as well.

After you have applied the third and final coating of Polycrylic, you should wait for at least 24 hours to fully cure. So, generally speaking, depending on how much you applied, it should take roughly 24 hours for Polycrylic to fully cure.

How to Apply Polycrylic

Let’s quickly go over exactly how you need to prepare a surface so you can apply Polycrylic. It might sound complicated, but there is actually not all that much to it.

Repair dents and cracks

Before you apply Polycrylic, you need to repair any dents and cracks that may be in the wood piece. If you are creating a new piece, there should not be dents or cracks, but if you are working on an older piece, then this does need to be done.

You don’t want it seeping into cracks, as this will result in uneven application.

Clean the surface

The other thing that you need to do before applying Polycrylic is to clean the surface. You do not want any dust, dirt, or other debris getting stuck under it.

Once that stuff is stuck under the Polycrylic layer, it is there for good; not only will it look bad, but it will also create streaks during the application process.

How to Apply Polycrylic Spray

When using the aerosol variety of Polycrylic, first off, be sure to follow the steps above in terms of making sure there are no cracks and cleaning the piece.

The aerosol variety is very easy to apply, but be sure to read the instructions on the specific product you have, as different products have different guidelines.

Generally speaking, you want to hold the spray about 1 foot away from the piece and apply an even layer, making sure that you are somewhere with no or minimal airflow.

You will also want to wear a protective breathing mask when doing this, just so you do not inhale any. This is best used for smaller projects.

How to Apply Polycrylic With a Brush

Applying Polycrylic with a brush is also fairly easy and straightforward. Once again, you want to clean and repair your workpiece before applying Polycrylic with a brush.

When doing this, you want to use a high-quality synthetic brush. Now, the hard part here is avoiding streaks and brush marks.

To avoid brush marks, make sure to use a high-quality and fine bristle brush, make sure to only apply the Polycrylic in a single direction, and always go with the grain of the wood.

Do not apply too much pressure to the brush, and make sure to only apply a thin layer. It is better to use 2 or 3 thin layers, rather than a thick layer at once.

Tips For Applying Polycrylic Over Paint

Yes, it is possible to apply Polycrylic over paint, but it is a little bit tricky. What you need to do is apply 2 or 3 layers of the paint before you get started. Make sure that the paint is totally dry.

Now you want to use very fine sandpaper, just to sand it a little bit in order to get some texture going on the paint. Normal dried paint is too smooth and the Polycrylic will not stick right, so sand it slightly.

Other than that, applying Polycrylic over paint is the same as applying it on unfinished or unpainted wood.

Tips for Applying Polycrylic Over Stain

Once again applying Polycrylic over stain is the exact same as with applying it over paint. Just make sure that the stain is completely dry and that you have a couple of layers of it.

Lightly sand the stain to create some texture, and then apply the Polycrylic using the techniques we discussed.

Can You Paint Over Polycrylic?

Technically speaking, yes you could paint over Polycrylic, but it is somewhat pointless. The whole point of Polycrylic is to be a protective coating over wood and paint, so painting over it is somewhat counterproductive.

Applying Polycrylic Over Vinyl Decals

Yes, you can apply Polycrylic over vinyl decals. Keep in mind that normal decals can be easily removed from most surfaces. However, if you go over vinyl decals with Polycrylic, they are there for good. The Polycrylic will seal the decals in place and you won’t be able to get them off again. If this appeals to you, just ensure that you follow proper brushing instructions to prevent visible streaks.

Alternatives to Polycrylic

There are some alternatives to Polycrylic, but quite honestly, we would recommend using Polycrylic over all alternatives. You could go with polyurethane, which can be oil-based, whereas Polycrylic is only water-based. There are also bio-paints, Candelilla wax, and various oils that can be used.

Additional Tips for Working With Polycrylic

  • Always use Polycrylic in a well-ventilated area. It has some pretty strong fume
  • Always wear a face mask when using the aerosol variety. You don’t want to inhale the fumes
  • Always allow Polycrylic to cure for a few hours more than the label instructs, just to be sure that it has set properly
  • Keep some warm water and soap nearby, because if you apply it wrong, you will want to wash it off before it dries
  • Make sure to use Polycrylic in a fairly cool and dry environment. Too much heat and moisture will cause the Polycrylic to take much longer to dry and cure
  • When using Polycrylic, never use a wet brush, as this will negatively affect the consistency and overall efficacy of the product
  • Whenever possible, Polycrylic should be the final layer, not an intermediary layer

Conclusion

There you have it – everything you need to know about Polycrylic – what it is,  how to use it, tips, and more. It really is a great type of finish to use on wood, so give it a try.

Miter Saw Vs. Table Saw

When it comes to your carpentry and woodworking projects, knowing which saws are which, and which saws perform which tasks with ease is very important. After all, you don’t want to use a miter saw when it’s a scroll saw that you should be using, or using a miter saw when a table saw would be the ideal candidate for the job at hand. As somebody who works with wood, you need to know the differences between various saw types, and what each saw is ideal for.

More than likely, you are going to have a plethora of saws at your disposal, at least if you are a professional that works with wood and other such materials on a daily basis. Today, we are here to do a miter saw vs. table saw comparison. We are going to talk about what miter and table saws are, and we are going to talk about the jobs which each is fit for, as well as the jobs that they are not fit for.

Let’s get right to it and figure out whether it is a miter saw or table saw which the job at hand calls for.

The Miter Saw

A very popular type of saw which many contractors have is the miter saw. Now, miter saws also have circular blades with lots of teeth. They move in a circular motion at a high RPM level, although usually not as fast as the table saw’s blade moves. Miter saws are a lot more portable, as they do not have full-sized tables or stands that need to be set up in a certain place. They are much smaller, more portable, and much more compact, which makes them good to use if you are on the go a lot.

For instance, transporting a miter saw is much easier than trying to lug around a table saw, especially a full-size one complete with its own table stand. Unlike the table saw, where you put the piece of wood on the table and then feed it through the stationary blade, a miter saw only has a small support on the bottom, where you put the wood.

The circular blade of the miter saw is in a housing that is atop the small work table, and it features a hinge so the blade can be moved down onto the wood that is being cut, and then back up when the cut has been made. So, whereas the table saw has its blade on the bottom, with wood being fed into it, the miter saw has the blade on top, and the blade has to be moved to the wood. Miter saws are a bit more versatile in this way, as the blade can usually be changed in terms of position. The blade of the miter saw is mounted on a swing, and therefore can be changed for angle, so you can make angled cuts on small pieces of wood with ease. Now, there are also compound miter saws that add an extra feature to the mix. The big difference between the normal miter saw and the compound miter saw is that the compound version can also cut on a bevel. Being able to make bevel cuts with a compound miter saw can definitely come in quite handy.

The Table Saw

When it comes down to it, one of the most versatile tools in the world of woodworking is the table saw. One of the things which many people like about the table saw is that it comes in many different shapes and sizes.

You can get benchtop table saws, which are small, portable, and are designed to be used atop of a workbench. There are larger table saws which are not portable, but still not huge. And then you have the full-size contractor cabinet table saws that are meant for some really big jobs. The table saw is probably one of the first woodworking tools that any contractor will purchase. Most good table saws are going to come with a dust management system – a vacuum and bag to suck away the sawdust.

Table saws feature a round blade housed within the table, a blade which spins at several thousand RPM, thus making quick work out of many different materials. The table saw is great for making any kind of straight cut, whether it is with the piece of wood perpendicular to the blade, parallel to the blade, or at an angle as well.

The bottom line is that if you want to make a straight cut on a long piece of wood, the table saw is the way to go. They come with fences and guides to ensure that cuts are always made straight. Table saws are ideal because they are large and can handle larger pieces of wood, both in terms of length and width. Moreover, table saws can usually handle fairly thick pieces of wood as well, as you can lower or raise the blade depending on the thickness of the material being worked with.

Miter Saw vs. Table Saw – Main Uses

Let’s quickly talk about what the main uses of each of these tools are, so you know when to use a miter saw, and when to use a table saw. Knowing the differences is going to come in very handy.

Miter saw – main uses, pros, and cons

So, miter saws are much smaller than table saws and therefore the materials they can handle are also much smaller in size. They can come with extension wings on occasion, but the width, length and thickness of what the miter saw can cut is still limited, especially when compared to the much more spacious table saw. Simply put, if you have a smaller piece of wood, a miter saw will do just fine, but in terms of work piece size, it can only go so far.

However, with that being said, the miter saw tends to be more versatile in terms of the types of cuts it can make. This is especially true if you have a compound miter saw that has a bevel adjustment feature. A compound miter saw can make cross cuts, angled cuts, angled cross cuts, bevel cuts, and more.

While they cannot handle as large of work pieces as table saws, they can make more types of cuts than the table saw. With that being said, one type of cut which the miter saw cannot make is the rip cut. You cannot feed a long piece of wood through a miter saw. As you can probably tell by now, with a miter saw, the blade is what is moves towards the wood, whereas with a table saw, you feed the wood through the blade. It’s a major difference that needs to be kept in mind.

Learn some basics of using Miter saw in the short video below:

The miter saw is considered to be an essential tool for carpentry, as it allows for very accurate molding and lumbar cuts. On a side note, a miter saw will sputter and rumble a bit as it starts up. One important thing to keep in mind when it comes to safety while using a miter saw is that you always need to get the blade up to full speed before you move it down onto the wood you are looking to cut. It is very important to maintain your miter saw, just as you would your table saw.

Table saw – main uses, pros, and cons

When it comes to table saws, typically there are two main types of cuts that can be made with them. First off, you can cut a piece of wood lengthwise and with the grain. This is called a rip cut, or in other words, an example of this would be cutting a 2 x 4 in half length-wise. You can also use a table saw to cut pieces of wood width-wide and against the grain, which is called a crosscut. Some select table saws also allow for angled cuts, but this is generally left to the miter saw.

A big advantage of the table saw is that it can handle much longer, larger, and usually thicker pieces of wood when compared to the miter saw. A table saw is much larger and takes up more room than a miter saw, but it can also handle much larger pieces of wood.

The best table saws often come with extension tables, allowing them to handle even larger workpieces than they normally could. When it comes to large pieces and long rip cuts or crosscuts, the table saw is what you want to go with. Generally speaking, due to the big time size difference, unless you have a table top table saw, one that does not come with a stand, they are very large and not portable. Most table saws are purely stationary and are not designed to be taken from one place to another.

Here’s a short tip how to use a table saw for beginners:

One thing that you need to know about the table saw is that it is usually considered to be one of the most dangerous types of saws to use. You have to maintain a table saw very well, especially in terms of the table top and the blade to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries from occurring. One important thing to keep in mind is to keep it cleaned, oiled, and prevent rust from occurring, as a rusty blade and table top can be extremely dangerous.

However, when a table saw is properly maintained, it can help create a safe cutting environment, plus a whole lot of accuracy; one of the main benefits that you get from the table saw is that it is very accurate in its cutting. Table saws come with precise measurement guides, fences, and other alignment tools which can help create super accurate cuts down to a fraction of an inch.

Another big bonus of the table saw is that it is ideal for making various long cuts of the same size. When you have the fences and guides set, you can keep feeding wood through the blade, and you will get the same result time and time again. It’s a great tool if you need to make many repeated cuts that are exactly the same. Technically speaking, table saws can perform miter cuts, dado cuts, rabbet cuts, cross cuts, rip cuts, and more.

Conclusion

When it comes down to which type of saw you purchase, whether a table or a miter saw, you need to think about the job you are looking to do. The machine you get is going to depend on the challenge or job at hand.

If you are just starting out and beginning to stock up your woodworking shop, you might want to start off with a miter saw. They are small and portable, they can be taken with you, and they can perform a variety of cuts. They are fairly powerful and can make a variety of accurate cuts thanks to their fences and alignment systems. Moreover, they are great for making angled, bevel, and cross cuts on smaller work pieces.

This is the one we use:

Craftsman 10″ Single Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

This image has an empty alt attribute

If you want to upgrade even more, you might then want to move on to the table saw. No, table saws are generally not portable, but on the other hand, they can work with much larger, longer, and thicker pieces of wood. The main advantage you get with a table saw over the miter saw, is that you can make long rip cuts with them by feeding wood through the blade lengthwise, something which a miter saw cannot do.

For safety and just starting out, it makes sense to use a miter saw. But, keep in mind a table saw can make every cut a miter saw can make, plus a lot more so it’d be the tool of choice from that perspective. It’s just a bit more challenging to use safety-wise.

Table Saw by SawStop

Because we have small kids, we don’t even want a table saw around for the moment. When we do get one, it will be this model: 

The idea behind it is that if your finger (or any body part really) touches the blade, the blade will come to a complete stop in 5 milliseconds.

It’s pretty amazing really, and completely worth it in my opinion. A life-changing injury just doesn’t make sense and I’ve been in enough Woodworking related Facebook groups to know that it isn’t only newbies who get hurt on table saws.

When it comes down to it, both the table saw and the miter saw are very useful tools that every professional woodworker or contractor needs to have in their carpentry arsenal.

With these two tools, there’s very little that you can’t do when it comes to woodworking!

Band Saw Vs. Scroll Saw Comparison

If you are a carpenter, decorator, woodworker, general handyman, or anything in between, you need to have the right tools in your arsenal. This means having a variety of saw types so you can make the right cuts with the right machine. There are band saws, scroll saws, miter saws, compound saws, jigsaws, and more, and they each have their own particular uses.

Today, we are doing a band saw versus scroll saw comparison. At first glance, both of these machines look more or less the same. However, upon closer inspection, you will notice that there are some major differences between the two, especially when it comes to the jobs which they are ideal at performing.

Let’s take a closer look at both the band saw and the scroll saw, and figure out which one you want to use for what jobs.

Scroll Saw

Cutting plywood board by using electrical jigsaw.

If you look at a scroll saw, you will see a flat work table, one with a column that comes straight up from the back of it. At the top of this column, there is an arm which is parallel to the table. Out of this horizontal arm, there is a very small blade that runs vertically from the end of the arm, through the table, and down to a mechanism below the table. A scroll saw has a very small vertical blade with teeth on one side. This blade moves up and down very quickly, thus making cuts into the wood and potentially other materials too.

One thing that you want to watch for when getting a scroll saw is the throat and the throat size. The throat is the distance between the blade and the vertical column which brings the overhead arm and the back of the saw together. The throat size is important to keep in mind because this will dictate the size of material the scroll saw can work with. The smaller the throat size, the smaller the materials the scroll saw will be able to handle.

If you have a throat size of 15 inches, it means that you can work with materials as wide as 30 inches because the blade only needs to reach the center of the work piece, and not all the way through. However, keep in mind that you do want to be free to make detailed cuts, so if you have a 15-inch throat size, sticking to materials that are not wider than 26 or 28 inches at the most is what you want to aim for.

In terms of length, scroll saws cannot handle very long work pieces because when you feed a long piece through, it does not take long for that piece to reach the column which holds the horizontal arm.

For reference, here are some of the scroll saw tips you can check:

You also want to think about the blades, as most scroll saws have blades that top out at around 6 inches in length. For the most part, they cannot handle materials that are any thicker than 2 inches. Although, in reality, any thicker than 1 or 1.25 inches is going to give you problems, as you do have to account for the up and down motion of the blade itself. However, a big bonus of the scroll saw is that changing the blades and adjusting the tension is very easily done. There is usually a simple tension adjustment knob for this. It’s beneficial due to easy blade changes, which allows for fast inside plunge cuts with ease. When it comes to inside cuts, it’s actually one of the biggest things which sets it aside from a band saw, which cannot make inside cuts.

When You Want to Use a Scroll Saw

Scroll saws, due to their small blades, are great for working with smaller and thinner materials, such as small pieces of wood. The scroll saw is the ideal choice to go with for small, decorative, and intricate work that requires a lot of detail, blade flexibility, and maneuverability. This short and thin blade is easily able to make very intricate cuts that many other saw types simply cannot deal with.

They allow for very clean and precise cuts, something which a band saw cannot muster. A scroll saw is also able to do inside plunge cuts, something else a band saw cannot do. There are various projects which a scroll saw is ideal for, such as making jigsaw puzzles, making patterns, creating letters and numbers out of wood, and making things like wooden plaques with detailed or curved edges.

When You Don’t Want to Use a Scroll Saw

Scroll saws are not great for everything; they do excel at smaller and more detailed work projects, but they also have their downfalls. If you are working with large and thick material, a scroll saw is not going to be able to perform very well. Their small, thin, and flexible blades are not designed to handle thick materials or large pieces of wood.

There are some scroll saws where you can upgrade the blade for more cutting power and torque; this will only go so far. If the material you are working with is thicker than 1 inch, you will want to consider using a band saw as opposed to a scroll saw. Moreover, scroll saws do not excel at making very straight cuts; getting a very straight cut made with a scroll saw, especially a longer one, is going to be nearly impossible.

The very same features which make the scroll saw great for small, intricate, and detailed work, are the same ones that make it a bad candidate for large and straight cuts, and for working with thicker and larger pieces of wood.

Band Saw

Although the scroll saw looks similar to the band saw, it is quite different. The band saw also features a flat work table, one with a column that extends vertically from its rear. This column has a horizontal arm which runs perpendicular to the work table, an arm which holds the blade, and the blade then runs through the table and attaches to a mechanism below said table. However, when it comes to similarities, the design or look is more or less where the similarities end and the differences start.

One big difference between the band saw and the scroll saw is that the band saw has a lot more power. They tend to have much stronger motors which a higher RPM and overall output. This allows band saws to work with fairly thick and large materials.

If you use the right blade, a band saw can even be used to cut through certain types of metal. As we mentioned before, one of the biggest differences between these two tools is the blade, especially when it comes to the size, thickness, and motion of the blade.

If you were to examine a band saw, you would notice that there is a 2-wheel and sometimes a 4-wheel system in place. These wheels are placed under and over the table, either 1 on top and 1 on bottom, or 2 in each position. The blades used with a band saw have a circular shape and are very flexible. These circular blades stretch over the wheels, and as the wheels move, the blade moves; thus, the blade forms a band, and this is hence where the band saw gets its name. Now, one of the really big differences is that the scroll saw’s blade moves up and down, whereas the band saw’s blade moves in a continuous downward motion.

Band saws also differ in the thickness and size of materials which they can handle. When it comes to the band saw, they also have a throat, but here, when you talk about the throat, it really only refers to the width of the material that can be cut. What is nice about a band saw is that the blade is actually open from the front to the rear, and the rear column does not obstruct long pieces of wood. Therefore, not only can a band saw be used for thicker and larger materials, but for making long and straight cuts. You can feed a long piece of wood or other material straight through and out the rear without anything blocking its way.

Check out some uses you can do with band saws:

Band saws can handle materials that are a good few inches thick, as whatever you can fit in there is determined by the wheel size. Thus, band saws are great for making long cuts, rip cuts, and working with larger and thicker pieces of material. Another thing which stands out about band saws is that they are quite versatile and have many different blades that can be used for them, ones for soft wood, hard wood, various metals, and more. Of course, a band saw is not going to do a great job with fine detail work.

When You Want to Use a Band Saw

Band saws are great to use if you have larger projects and pieces of material that need cutting. The size of the blade, and the way it is built, makes the band saw ideal for any piece of wood thicker than 2 inches, and the thickness of the material the band saw can cut is really only limited by the distance between the work table and the horizontal arm.

One of the biggest strengths of the band saw is making big, straight, long, and aggressive cuts. One reason for this is because the blade always moves in a downward motion, as opposed to the up and down motion of the scroll saw, thus eliminating up and down, and side to side movement.

Band saws are also ideal for doing outside cutting, and in fact, can only do outside cutting, but you can still make some pretty decent curves with them. If you have the right blade, a band saw can also cut through other materials, such as metal, which a scroll saw simply cannot do. Some projects that can be done with a band saw include making planter boxes, furniture, trim, shelves, and other larger things that do not require much intricate detail.

When You Don’t Want to Use a Band Saw

One thing that you do not want to use a band saw for is making inside cuts, because simply put, they just cannot do inside cuts. Moreover, if you don’t want to do a lot of sanding, a band saw is also not ideal, because the motion of the blades is very aggressive, and therefore leaves a lot of rough edges behind.

Band saws might just be too big and powerful to deal with really delicate pieces. For instance, if you have a piece of wood that is 1 inch thick, depending on the type of wood, it might actually rip that piece apart. When it comes down to it, band saws just are not made for small or thin materials, and they are not made for intricate or detail work.

Band Saw vs. Scroll Saw – Conclusion

The bottom line is that both the band saw and the scroll saw have some clear advantages and disadvantages. If you want to make fine detail cuts, inside cuts, make patterns and letters, and you want to do so on smaller pieces of wood, the scroll saw is what you want to go with. However, for large, straight, and aggressive cuts on larger pieces of wood, and even metals, the band saw is the way to go.