What’s the difference between a table saw and a band saw? You might not know, but these are two completely different tools with distinct design features. They were both designed with specific uses in mind. While they share overlapping qualities, both the table saw and band saw are specialized for particular tasks and materials.
So, which should you choose?
It all comes down to the job you need to do and the cuts you have to make. Both table saws and band saws have specific uses that best take advantage of their features. Like most saws, there’s some overlap, but depending on the tasks you have ahead you’ll definitely prefer having one or the other.
Maybe you don’t have time for the full rundown right now, but there are some important factors to take away before you go. The key points to remember are:
- Table saws use circular blades; band saws use thin, narrow metal bands with teeth
- Both saws require material to be fed against a blade to cut
- Table saws work well for straight, miter, and bevel cuts; band saws are suited for straight, miter, and curved cuts
- Band saws can cut wood, plastic, brass, aluminum, steel, and meat; table saws are mostly limited to woods, plywood, melamine sheets, MDF, and other similar materials
- Band saws are best for resawing, cutting curves, and making irregular cuts
- Table saws are best for cross-cutting, casing, dadoes, ripping, tongue and grooves
- Band saws are generally safer and less accident-prone than table saws, as well as quieter
Table Saw vs. Band Saw
Like other tools, whether a table saw or band saw will work best for you depends on your situation. Both of these saws have distinct purposes and specialties that make them suited for particular jobs. Knowing the best qualities and limitations of each saw is essential to choosing the right one for the work you’ve got to do.
What is a Table Saw?
Table saws, also called bench saws or sawbenches, are tools designed to cut wood using a mounted circular saw blade spun by an electric motor. Table saw blades can be driven directly or using a belt or gear system.
Numerous types of table saw exist including contractor, benchtop, jobsite, cabinet, sliding, hybrid, and compact versions. Each of these have different specialized features or qualities that set them apart from the others.
Table saw blades are mounted on an arbor to secure them in place and sticks out through the top of a table fixture. This table supports the material meant to be cut, whether it’s wood or something else. The blade can be lowered and raised to adjust the depth of the cut you’ll make.
Table saws also let you control the angle of the blade. These features make the table saw an indispensable tool for the woodworker.
The table saw is such a necessary part of woodworking that it is practically impossible to find a serious woodshop that lacks one (or more). Table saws are known for their versatility, taking the place of the miter and circular saws as well as the router.
Table saws are valuable for their wide application to lots of different situations. If you don’t already have a table saw on-hand, it’d probably be wise to get one.
What Features Should I Find on a Table Saw?
Any table saw you’re considering should have an adjustable blade depth, compatibility with multiple kinds of blades, and a trustworthy fence system.
What Do I Use a Table Saw For?
Woodworking and metalworking are the most common uses for table saws. They can be used for many cuts like squares, miters, bevels, and rips.
Pros & Cons of a Table Saw
Here are some of the top pros and cons of table saws.
- Table saws let you quickly and efficiently make cuts with little effort
- Table saws cut with a high degree of precision because of their miter gauge slots
- Table saws are highly versatile and useful in innumerable scenarios
- Adjustable depth has become an industry standard
- Bevel cuts are easier on newer tables that feature tilting wheels
- Table saws are more prone to accidents than some other power tools (including band saws and other saw varieties)
- They require not just caution but skillful use as a result of exact, careful calculation
- Not as useful for materials besides wood
- Table saws tend to be bulky and make rougher cuts than band saws
- They can be noisy machines
- Table saws can sometimes struggle to cut thick materials
What is a Band Saw?
Band saws are a type of power tool that uses a long thin saw blade stretching between multiple wheels to cut wood, metal, and other materials. Band saws are a great way to make uniform cuts because their design evenly distributes cutting along the teeth. They also offer some of the flexibility of the jigsaw, letting you easily make curved or otherwise irregular cuts with ease.
What Features Should I Find on a Band Saw?
The typical band saw has two rotating wheels on the same plane. One of these will be powered while others may help with load distribution during cutting. Band saw blades come in lots of sizes and tooth pitches to let these machines cut practically anything.
What Do I Use a Band Saw For?
Band saws are incredibly flexible machines that let you make a wide variety of cuts with ease. As long as you have the proper blade for the material you’re using, a band saw will serve well.
Because of its wide utility, the band saw can be useful just about anywhere. It is a necessary tool in carpenter shops, metal fabrication, machine shops, timber cutting, and even meat preparation. They are a vital part of innumerable production lines across the world. Multiple types exist, including head saws (for cutting logs), resaws (for cutting timber into veneers), and double cut saws, which are larger blades with teeth on both sides. Each variation has particular industry advantages.
Band saws excel in the areas they were designed for, and this can make them a worthwhile investment. But that’s only the case if your projects call for what band saws bring to the table. Band saws are much better than table saws at cutting curves and thick materials. Using these often in your shop might indicate that a band saw is a worthy investment.
Pros & Cons of a Band Saw
Here are some of the top pros and cons of a band saw.
- Band saws give you the benefit of uniform cuts because the band saw distributes cutting loads evenly across the teeth of the blade
- Band saws enable you to make irregular cuts that would otherwise be tough or impractical to get right
- Band saws cut curved shapes much like a jigsaw does but with superior stability and control
- Band saws can be used on wood, plywood, MDF, plastic, and even metals
- Most band saws run more quietly compared to table saws
- Slower on long, straight cuts than table saws
- Band saws can leave rough edges in cuts that require finish work
- Band saws are much less powerful than table saws
- You can’t cut long grooves because you can’t adjust the blade’s height
- Cutting bevels is much tougher with a band saw than with a table saw
Making the Purchase: Measure Twice, Cut Once
On a jobsite, workers often emphasize when advising each other before firing up a saw: measure twice, cut once. In other words, do your due diligence to ensure you’re making the right decisions before pulling the trigger and setting blade to board.
This advice also applies in buying the blades themselves! Being sure what you need your saw to do and understanding what either saw brings to your shop is key to making the best choice.
Before you make a purchase, check that the product you’re considering meets all your needs for the project(s) you’re working on. And double-check! It’s easier than you might think to talk yourself into one tool when another might have served you better.
Take the time to think over your options slowly and objectively. Ask someone you trust what they think might work best for a project or material you’re working on. Depending on your most common activities, either a band saw or a table saw could be better suited.
Which saw is better for ripping?
Table saws should be your go-to whenever you need to rip and size boards or cut squares in wood. They are a far more efficient and effective tool for these scenarios.
Which saw is better for grooves, insets, and dados?
Grooves, insets, and dados can be step cuts or blind cuts. This means that cutting these can require an adjustable saw blade height. In these cases, band saws are inapplicable, so you’ll need to use a table saw.
What about miters and bevels?
Either a table saw or a band saw are suitable for cutting miters and bevels, but table saws make the job easier. Bevel cuts are easier with a table saw’s adjustable blade since you can angle the blade instead of the material you’re cutting. Miter cuts are best done with a miter saw, though either a band saw or table saw will do the job.
Which saw should I get first?
Both the table saw and the band saw are important tools to have. If you can only pick one for the time being, though, it’s usually best to opt for the table saw. These two saws complement each other well because both have their unique features, but the table saw is applicable across a lot more scenarios than the band saw.
Learning the difference between a table saw vs band saw ensures that you can choose the right tool for your job. With the right tools, you will be able to do almost any project at home.