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Band Saw vs Table Saw – Which One Is Better For You?

band saw vs table saw

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.

Table Sawtable saw vs band saw

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.

Pros
  • Blade adjustment: The blade height can be adjusted with a small wheel. This makes it easy to cut dados and smooth grooves.
  • Adaptability: The table saw has many jig options to open the door to a wide variety of cuts. Jigs may be perpendicular or parallel depending on the purpose.
  • Detail cutting: Both the fence and the miter gauge allow you to make precise rips and cuts.
  • Flexible beveling: Bevel cuts are much easier because of the tilting wheel, which can be set to any angle.
  • Easy handling: Table saws are incredibly powerful and sleekly designed, making them able to rip through even hardwood easily.
Cons
  • Loudness: Table saws are much noisier than band saws.
  • Limited material: These saws are only for wood, not metal or plastic.
  • Rougher cuts: Because of the large blade, the table saw can’t cut very fine finishing detail.
  • Limited size: Most table saws can’t cut pieces thicker than 3-1/2”.
  • Danger.\: Table saws are much more dangerous than band saws and cause many more accidents annually.

Band Saw

Rikon 10-305 Bandsaw

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.

Pros
  • Multiple materials: Besides wood, band saws can cut plastic, metal, and even meat.
  • Quiet: Compared to the table saw, the band saw is much less noisy.
  • Scrolls and curves: Because it is so good with finesse work, the band saw easily forms scrolls and curves.
  • Less waste: The smaller, thinner blade leads to less kerf, especially when cutting thick wood pieces.
  • Safer: Compared to a table saw, the band saw is much safer because of how it is fed and the smaller amount of exposed blade.
  • Material thickness: Band saws are able to cut materials thicker than the 3-1/2” table saw limit.
Cons
  • Less power: The band saw will take longer to cut through wood because it lacks the massive power of a table saw.
  • Rough finish: The edges produced with a band saw may need some finished.
  • No grooves or dados: Band saws can’t be adjusted to make grooves or dados.
  • Hard bevels: Though it can be done, it is more difficult to make a bevel on a band saw than a table saw.

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.

  • Safety

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.

Conclusion

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.

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