Band Saw vs. Table Saw: Which is Better for You?
Are you torn between investing in a band saw and in a table saw? That's understandable because many new woodworkers often find themselves in that situation, and with good reason.
Table saws are dangerous. In fact, they are probably the most dangerous tool you can have in your shop, while a band saw is very much safer and quieter than a table saw.
These and other important features have made it hard for some DIYers to decide between the two. In this side by side review though, you'll gain enough information that'll make it easy for you to choose the right tool.
A band saw usually has a long and sharp-toothed blade, which gets stretched between two rotating wheels like a band. This allows the blade to rotate continuously and to offer a cutting function either vertically or horizontally.
Band saws are used primarily in wood and metalworking. They've been used in lumbering since hundreds of years and their blades are usually thinner than those of table saws. Band saws are, however, used in a wider range of industries than table saws.
There are different types of band saws, this includes head saws and resaws, which find use in the lumbering industry. There are also different feed mechanisms and saw sizes available over the years.
Most of the band saws available for shop work today are electric-powered and available either as a bench-top saw or as a stand-alone band saw.
Band saws can come with a fence, but the saw's throat, which is the space between its 2 blade positions, and which determines the fence's maximum setting, is often much narrower than you'll get on a table saw. This limits the use of band saws to smaller pieces than is possible with table saws.
- Making curves. Band saws are great for making any kind of curved cuts. Also nearly identical to scrolling saws, you can use them to make scrolling cuts. Band saws are the ideal saws for making cabriole legs and other decorative furniture features, which are nearly impossible to create with a table saw.
- Works for different materials. Given the sharpness of the blade's teeth and its relative thinness, it's ideal for working with a variety of materials, including wood, plastics, metal, and meat.
- Quiet operation. Band saws run a lot quieter than table saws. So, if noise is a major deciding factor for you and you also figure that a band saw will be enough for you, then your choice is easy.
- Safer operation. To be realistic, using a band saw is dangerous, but it's a lot less dangerous than using a table saw. Band saws can often be considered safer for use, but you should still take safety precautions when working with them.
- Smaller Kerfs. Band saws have thinner blades than circular saws and this results in smaller kerfs, which mean less wood wasted, less sawdust produced, and less resistance when cutting or ripping thick pieces of wood.
- Cutting thicker materials. Table saws have a maximum width of materials they can cut, and this lies around 3.5 inches for standard saws. Band saws, however, can cut much thicker materials than that.
- Rough edges. Band saws generally produce cuts with rough edges, which always need some level of finishing to make it acceptable looking. Some band saws will produce very clean cuts anyway, but these are usually top of the line machines.
- Lacks cutting power. When it comes down to raw cutting power, band saws are no match for table saws. They always take a longer time than a table saw to cut through any given size of wood.
- Can't cut grooves. You can adjust the height of most table saw blades and use it to make a groove or dado in a piece of wood, but you can't adjust a band saw to make grooves in any way.
- Difficult to bevel. It's easier to make bevel cuts with a table saw that with a band saw.
A table saw is the center of most woodworking shops. It's made up of a circular saw's blade, which is mounted on an arbor and driven by an electric motor.
The power, versatility, ease of use, and reliability of the table saw has made it a very valuable tool. It slices through wood with ease and is also unfortunately responsible for about 67,000 injuries and 4,000 amputations every year. This makes up around 70% of all accidents involving stationary saws.
Modern table saws include a dust extractor to protect the operator's lungs, an automatic braking system to cut down on the risk of injuries, and an adjustable blade height for more working versatility.
Table saws usually have larger tabletops than band saws, and this comes, as a result, of the size of materials that they are usually used to work on.
You can use a table saw to cut or rip through a piece of wood with speed and precision. These are the 2 features that make a table saw the heart of most wood shops.
- Cuts with ease and comfort. The major reason table saws are so popular with woodworkers is the ease with which they tear through woods of all kinds. This is due to the high power output of the saw's motor, coupled with its blade design.
- Precise cuts. Table saws offer the ability to make precise cuts, either by using its fence or miter gauge slot. A table saw is ideal for both rips and cuts, and it offers a high cutting precision in each case.
- Versatility. Additional Jigs can be used with a table saw in versatile ways for cutting and ripping. There are so many available Jigs, which are either parallel or perpendicular to the blade and which are used in carrying out different jobs more easily, than with a band saw.
- Adjustable Depth. Older table saws didn't have it, but modern table saws usually come with an adjustment wheel to set the height of the blade. This allows the table saw to easily be used in making grooves and dados.
- Great for beveling. Modern table saws also come with a beveling or tilting wheel. This allows the operator to tilt the blade to any given degree and then make bevel cuts easily. This is much faster and comfortable than making bevel cuts on a band saw.
- Dangerous. Table saws are very dangerous, and this is the number one reason people consider getting a band saw against a table saw. Most (about 70%) of stationary-saw accidents have a connection to table saws, while only about 7% are band-saw related.
- Ideal for wood only. Given its design and large kerf, the table saw's blade makes it suitable for working only with wood. This is unlike the band saw, which often gets used for plastics, metal sheets, and lots more.
- Lacks the finesse of a band saw. A band saw's blade is not only thinner, it's also shorter, and this allows an operator to easily make fine curves with it. Such a situation is impossible with a table saw.
- Noisy. Yes, table saws are noisy and they're much noisier than band saws. Although this might not mean much ordinarily, it's often a disadvantage for table saws when noise becomes an important consideration for choosing a saw.
- Can't do thick objects. The limits of a table saw blade's circular shape makes standard table saws only capable of cutting material with widths up to 3.5 inches.
Making the Right Choice
Following are the feature highlights of these two saw types and their differences from one another. Understanding what each saw offers makes it easier for you to decide between the two.
Can be dangerous
Can easily cut thick materials
Great at it
Not so great
Best option to rip
The Bottom Line
Coming to the end of this review, the differences between band saws and table saws should be obvious to you by now. Of course, you can buy the two if you'll be needing their features and the money also isn't a problem.
If you are starting up a shop and need just one saw, then the table saw is most likely what you need. If, however, you need a saw for specific purposes, especially for curved projects, then a band saw comes into consideration.
No matter which one you choose though, read the manual first and take all safety precautions before beginning work. Saws are not toys.
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