As a woodworker, you have many choices of tools and materials. Sometimes, especially when you are just starting out, it can be a little confusing to figure out which one will work the best for you.
When it comes to band saw vs table saw, your decision should be based on what you need it for, how much space you have, and the best way to stretch your woodworking budget.
Let’s take a look at what each is, what they do, pros and cons, different and which one will suit you the best.
A table saw such as a circular saw set into a metal table. The top of the blade rises above the level of the table, and you feed your piece into the large area of exposed blade. It allows you to accurately control the wood as it continuously cuts.
The base may be a standard metal table base or a heavier cabinet. Non-portable saw bases are often bolted to the floor. Portable table saw bases fold and may have wheels or rollers.
Unsurprisingly, the larger the table, the larger the wood that it can handle. The table surface will have measurements on it as well as slots for ripping and mitering.
An arbor holds the circular blade. Most saws are 10” in diameter, but a larger one may be up to 12”. You can adjust the blade up or down to control the amount of edge needed for your job. You can also tilt it up to 45 degrees.
The blade has a cover which is curved to fit over the saw to help prevent accidents, and anti-kickback ‘claws’ at the back of the blade prevent flying debris.
A table saw is the king of the straight cut. It excels at ripping boards (cutting straight along the grain) and crosscutting (cutting straight against the grain). Its powerful motor allows for fast cutting and continuous loading.
Because of this, they are perfect for cutting MDF sheets or plywood.
But they can do even more. Since you can adjust the depth and tilt the blade, the table saw also make miter cuts, dados, squares, and rabbets. It’s a go-to for other angled cuts and joining.
With band saw, the cutting surface is a serrated metal ribbon-wrapped between two continuously spinning wheels. Its smaller exposed cutting edge makes it a favorite with woodworkers because of the level of detailed curves and shapes it can create.
The default blade that comes with new band saws is intended for wood. But there are blades for metal and plastic cutting as well.
Band saws are available in a bench-top model or a stand-alone saw. The stand-alone is usually bolted to the floor and can handle heavier jobs.
Band saws can be aligned vertically or horizontally.
A vertical setup places one wheel above and one below the surface, and you feed your wood into the blade between.
The piece can be adjusted and turned in several directions. This is what allows the saw to excel in cutting, filing, and contouring.
When the wheels are placed in a horizontal position, the saw cuts down into the wood. The piece remains stationary in a vise. This kind of band saw is mainly used for exact length cuts, precise miter angles, and right angles.
Differences Between Band Saw and Table Saw
Size of The Saw
A table saw has a larger footprint and may be permanent or portable. If space is a primary concern for you, you may want to ask yourself, “Will I use this saw enough to trade this much area in my woodshop for it?”
The band saw takes less space than a table saw and available in a benchtop version. However, the table saw also have options portable model that fold and have wheels to easily move.
Speed and Power
Hands down, the table saw is the beast of the woodshop. A powerful motor tears through projects. The band saw will take longer to finish a project.
But the band saw is also much quieter than the table saw if noise is an important consideration for you.
Material Types and Sizes
A table saw specializes in wooden materials that may be as wide as a sheet, but are usually limited thicknesses less than 3-1/2” because of blade size.
Band saws can cut any thickness. They also cut metal and plastic with the right blade.
Kinds of Cuts
Table saws have depth and angle adjustment ability. So besides their superior straight cutting ability, table saws can cut more than a straight line. Bevels, grooves, dados and rabbets are easy to set up and execute.
Band saws excel with ‘finesse’ jobs like scrolls, curves, and odd shapes. It can also rip and crosscut, but not as easily or quickly as the table saw. Band saws also can cut metal, plastic, and even meat if needed.
Despite built-in safety features, the table saw is much more dangerous than the band saw. A large amount of exposed blade combined with the pushing motion to load the wood results in more, and more serious, injuries each year than a band saw.
Many woodworkers opted for the table saw when they were first setting up shop. It is great for consistent straight cuts and has the power to tear through a lot of wood in a short amount of time.
The flexibility of the adjustable blade to cut tongues, grooves and dados is another great selling point.
But if you are looking to cut more than wood, you plan to scroll wood, or you need to cut thick wood, then the band saw is a better choice.
Once you evaluate exactly what projects you plan to focus on, making the choice between a table saw and a band saw should be much easier.