Thanks John and everyone. Your responses are encouraging.
Straight razors are my focus and unlikely I'd be moving on to larger projects. My experience is with hand tools and I have had pretty good results shaping a scale once I have a 1/8 blank (getting to the 1/8 is the nub). I have a couple of Japanese saws, coping saw and smaller craft saws. My all time favorite for shaping material--especially acrylic--is a jewelers saw though it takes 4-5 blades per scale.
Affordability (up to 250) and space are concerns -- I need a unit that can be put away after I'm through. I don't have a shop area. I'm leaning toward a scroll saw as it could be used for cutting the scales as well, though I'm not going to give up hand crafting. Are there straight cutting guides for scroll saws?
I know a band saw would likely be first choice but I've been counseled that there are no decent band saws in my price range that would handle hardwood blanks. My materials are wood, micarta & acrylic.
Anyone who has had good experience with a sub 250 band or scroll saw please advise.
Unless you are making them in quantity, I still believe that your best approach is to make a simple miter box and use a hand saw. The miter box could use boards to pinch the sides of the blank, clamped to hold the blank in place while you use the miter box slot to guide the hand saw. To me, this approach is simple, fast, easy, small, and inexpensive.
Bandsaws are super useful and versatile woodworking tools. Since any bandsaw will do what you want, choose a bandsaw based on what else you might do with it and your size/storage needs.
The issues with bandsaws are:
* Alignment. You don't want "wedges" front-to-back or top-to-bottom.
* Guiding the cut. A fence is very helpful, but even with a fence, bandsaws can drift as you cut. You can adjust some fences to compensate for drift, if the drift is consistent. With patience, you can minimize or zero out drift on most bandsaws. Mine does not drift much, if any at all.
* Cleanup. Bandsaws leave saw marks that must be removed. Sanding out the marks is fairly easy.
* Changing blades - it takes time and patience.
They do not make fences or guides for scroll saws. Scroll saws are best for fine, intricate work, cutting shapes. Scroll saws make very clean cuts, much much better than a bandsaw. You can cut straight lines with them, but you must learn to guide the straight cut manually, which takes skill that comes from practice.
What I do:
In case it matters, I cut knife scales on my bandsaw, but I have made only a few knives, all from kits.
I often do what you want to do - take long slices from pen blanks:
When I have a pen blank that is oversize for the pen that I am going to make, I use the bandsaw to shave off long slices, rather than wasting the wood by turning the full pen blank. I save the slices to glue them into new multi-layer pen blanks, kinda' like home-brew "Spectraply" without the colored dyes.
Sanding off bandsaw marks:
I used a dado blade barely raised above the table with multiple crosscuts to form a very shallow notch in a thin "sanding block" from scrapwood. The notch is the length of a pen blank. The ends of the long notch keep the knife scale or pen blank slice confined while I sand off the bandsaw marks. I sand back and forth on a flat sheet of sandpaper on the workbench.