Types of Band Saws You Should Know

Types of Band Saws

When you want to make precise shapes and curves from wood, a band saw is always the best tool to turn to. However, it does a lot more than that and many woodworkers will agree that it is one of the most versatile types of power saws.

Band saws are designed with a continuous metal band blade with teeth along its edge and it is designed to cut into various materials efficiently.

These saws will produce uniform cutting results in metalworking, woodworking and also when cutting other things like meat.

If you are thinking about buying a band saw for your workshop, it is important to note that they come in various shapes and sizes.

The type of materials that you intend to use it to cut and your particular projects should guide you when choosing an appropriate band saw type.

Types of Band Saws

Like with most other power saws, there are various ways of classifying the many band saws in the market. However, it is possible to categorize the main types by their purpose or use and by their shape.

###By Purpose

1. Metal Band Saw

Metal Band Saw

Metal band saws are designed to cut into tough metal but they are not very different in appearance from the wood band saws.

Like with any other tool for cutting metal, the blade is their most distinctive feature. Besides the fact that the blade will cut at lower speeds to make it possible to cut into metal it also has many small teeth per inch instead of the few large ones on the wood band saw's blade.

Metal band saws can further be categorized into two types which are the horizontal band saws and the vertical band saws.

  • Horizontal metal band saw: Typically the most common type among the two band saw types, and it is often used to cut the metal pieces in the down position into smaller and more manageable sizes.
  • Vertical metal band saw: Vertical band saws are designed for more intricate tasks, and many craftsmen and contractors will usually have them in the workshop for filing, polishing and also for doing contour cutting.

Generally, metal band saws will have some additional features that you will not find in the wood band saws. They include things like the coolant that keeps the saw cool and lubricated.

Band saws will also have brush wheels that help to prevent the flying metal chips that are generated from the cut from being caught in the blade.

However, these power saws will not require any extra maintenance besides the usual that you would give any other band saw.

2. Meat Band Saw

Meat Band Saw

There is always that one tool that will steal your attention when you visit a butcher's premises and in most instances, it is the meat band saw.

The meat band saw is a professional butcher's favorite power tool as it makes things easier and much faster. And as its name suggests, it is simply a type of band saw that is designed specifically for cutting meat.

Generally, these types of band saws are made from stainless steel, and they are also constructed in a design that makes them super easy to clean and maintain. And this is due to the very sensitive nature of the material they are meant to cut

Although band saws are often associated with professional butchers, many passionate meat lovers and farmers will have them at home for creating perfect cuts of lamb and steak.

Also, it is important to note that some modern types of meat band saws will also have some extra features like mincer and sausage making spout to make them even more versatile tools.

Meat band saws will cut through thick bone, flesh, and fat and do it with relative ease and with minimal waste.

3. Wood Band Saw

Wood Band Saw

Band saws are originally and by default made for cutting wood. Hence the most common types or what comes to many people's mind when they think of these saws are the wood band saw.

Wood band saws are a popular tool for both professional and armature woodworkers, and it would probably only come second to the table saw if you were to rank the most common and popular power saws.

Many woodworkers love this band saw due to its versatility as it is handy for everything from cutting small rabbets to ripping various kinds and sizes of wood stock.

The smaller size band saws will work well for workshops but there are also some large scaled ones that timber mills will operate for ripping lumber.

The band saw’s ability to work with larger diameter timber and the fact that their smaller kerf leads to minimal timber wastage is what makes it a very popular timber mill power tool.

Wood band saws will operate like all the other types, with the blade on a continuous loop of metal teeth to perform succinct cuts through wood.

There are also a few subcategories of the wood band saw designed for different purposes, and the three most common ones are head saws, resaws and double cut saws.

  • Head Saws: These band saws are designed to cut through hardwood with ease, and their cutting edge will include a row of large and widely spaced silver teeth. The teeth are 2 to 3 inches apart and will make a deep impact on the stock, and the nature of the teeth also ensures that the saw can back out of the timber without getting stuck.
  • Resaws: They are another large type of band saws and their main duty is to cut the stock into smaller pieces. These band saws will generally go against the timber's grain, and they use a small kerf to ensure minimal waste.
  • Double Cut Saws: Double cut saws are designed for multipurpose use and they get their name from the fact that they have cutting teeth on both sides. You can get these bands saws in tabletop, portable and large industrial size versions. And apart from wood, they can also cut plastic, metals and other materials.

###By Shape

1. Horizontal Band Saw

Horizontal Band Saw

The horizontal band saws are the kinds where the position of the cutting blade is horizontal, and it is meant to cut down into the stock. For this saw, the material that you want to cut will be mounted on a vise attached to the bed of the saw.

Also, the drive and idler wheels are positioned lengthwise on the frame of the saw that pivots from the corner of the band saw’s bed.

Horizontal band saws are a favorite of both amateur and professional woodworkers. And they are handy for cutting longer materials to smaller and more manageable sizes, and they do it at right or miter angles.

Although horizontal band saws will excel when it comes to cutting large stock down to size, they are not very useful when you want to produce curved lines or make intricate shapes.

These saws are usually floor-mounted and will work by holding the stock down as the blade swings down to make the cut.

Horizontal band saws are quieter than most types of power saws, they offer extreme precision when cutting straight lines, and besides from wood, they can also cut metal and plastics.

2. Vertical Band Saw

Vertical Band Saw

Vertical band saws have a vertical cutting position, and they will in most cases be driven by an electric motor through the best transmission.

The blade on this band saw will rotate on a fixed track that is between the idler wheel that is mounted above the worktable and drive wheel mounted beneath the worktable.

With a vertical band saw, the workpiece is moved against the blade when making the cut, and this makes it possible to manipulate it to make various angles and other intricate cuts.

These power saws are highly versatile, and you can use them to make highly intricate cuts and complicated shapes that will be hard to achieve with most other band saw types.

In addition to the ability to make intricate and complicated cuts, vertical band saws will also make precise straight line cuts, and this makes them a great all-round power saw.

Vertical band saws will cut through materials relatively faster than many other kinds of band saws and most have brush wheels to ensure that chips do not get stuck between the blade's teeth.

3. Portable/Handheld Band Saws

Portable/Handheld Band Saws

If you need to use a band saw on the go, the handheld or portable band saw is the perfect choice for you.

Portable bands saws are the lightest and smallest among all bands saw types which makes them easy to carry around.

However, they still use the same technology as other band saw types, with a continuous band of serrated metal blade held between two wheels to make the cut.

And despite their small size, these bands saws are still quite versatile as you can use them to cut curved lines, straight edge cut and also irregular shapes.

Although they are a favorite of woodworkers that want to work on the move, they are also quite handy when cutting stock that is too large for regular band saws. Also, they are very helpful when dealing with stocks that you cannot physically bring to the band saw.

Another element of the portable band saw that most woodworkers love is that it will cut pipes and metal with minimal vibration, and also produce a cleaner cut thanks to their consistent pressure.


Band saws are highly versatile power tools that will always be a great addition to your workshop whether you are an armature or seasoned woodworker.

With a band saw, you can make everything from a precise straight line and curved cuts to intricate shapes and also use it to rip lumber.

And to make it an even better power saw, it is available in various types to suit different applications such as woodworking, metalworking and also for cutting meat.

Each band saw type will do what it is meant to do perfectly provided you buy a high-quality one from a reputable brand. And so when it comes to choosing the right type it all depends on how you intend to use it.

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Last Updated on February 5, 2020 by Tom Bradly

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Tom Bradly

My entrepreneurial journey started in 2006, when I dropped out of university. I wanted to work with my hands, to build things. Now I mix my background with computers with my first-hand experience with woodworking to provide insights into the tools I like best. I love everything about woodworking and have been building stuff for over 20 years of my life. I hope to pass some knowledge and expertise. See more at TomBradly.com

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