The band saw is a highly versatile saw that can make many different types of cuts. However, if you do not have a bandsaw available, there are other types of saws that can also make similar cuts.
What follows are a few of the saws that can substitute for a bandsaw.
Band Saw Alternative for Cutting Curves
1. Scroll Saw
If you have a scroll saw, then you have the perfect power tool substitute for a bandsaw. Although the scroll saw works on a different principle (reciprocating blade), the setup and general usage are roughly the same as a bandsaw.
You place the material on the table and push it into the blade.
As with the bandsaw, you will need to be careful with the placement of your fingers. Using a guide and pushing the material gently into the blade will deliver some sharp, precise cuts.
The one downside of a scroll saw is that it tends to take more experience and patience to get the same type of precision curving cuts as you can achieve with a bandsaw. You should practice on some scrap material first before making your first cut. Plus, you should have some scrap wood around each time you change the blade of the scroll saw so that you can get used to how it makes cuts as well.
Since the saw is comparatively smaller, it has less cut capacity. You can see the detailed comparison between a scroll saw and a bandsaw here.
On the plus side, the scroll saw has a narrow blade that enables you to cut complex shapes in delicate material.
The jigsaw is another excellent power tool for cutting curves, especially when making irregular shapes in large materials. The key is to have the right blade and draw out the design you want on the material. Once you have the pattern set, all you need to do is push the jigsaw along the material to make the cut.
You will need to press down on the jigsaw as you move it across the material to keep the cut smooth and precise. While you can make some intricate curving cuts, it is often best to create relief cuts into the material that will be thrown away to ensure that you do not bind up the blade.
The jigsaw is a versatile a tool that can make straight cuts, curves, bevel cuts, etc. with good accuracy.
One obvious disadvantage is that, jigsaws can’t accommodate very thick work-pieces like a a band saw.
That said, I have a 10-inch jigsaw blade from Bosch with a working distance of 9-inches and can easily cut softwood up to 6-inches thick. However, the longer blades tend to flex and the resulting cut edges may not be straight.
If you are working on material with relatively smaller thickness (up to 1.5 inches), then you may easily substitute the jigsaw for the band saw.
Hand Saws for Cutting Curves
But what if you only need to make a few cuts and do not want to purchase a scroll or jigsaw? Or perhaps you are in a location where you cannot use power tools? If that is the case, then you can use one of the following manual saws to make cuts similar to a bandsaw.
The coping saw is one of the easiest saws to use. Quite often, you will see coping saws in shop classes at high schools or the first tools purchased by amateur woodworkers because of their ease of use.
The coping saw is a C-shaped steel frame that holds the saw blade using pins. It has the same general shape as a hacksaw, but the blade is normally thinner with small teeth for a clean cut.
On some models, you can also adjust the frame size of the fret saw, allowing you to use different sizes or lengths of saw blades.
The coping saw is mainly designed to help fit molding together in the place of a miter joint, but it can be used to make a wide variety of cuts.
Because you can easily detach the blade, you can slide it through a hole in the wood and then re-attach it to the saw frame. This allows you to make internal curving cuts of considerable accuracy. You can also mount the blade at an angle to reach into tight corners.
A smaller version of the coping saw with an adjustable frame called the jeweler’s saw or piercing saw is also available for fine woodworking.
A fret saw may look like a stretched-out coping saw and indeed there are many similarities. But the fret saw frame has a deeper throat and uses a different method for attaching the blade compared to a coping saw.
This means that instead of using pins, you simply tighten the clamps which hold the blade in place.
Fret saw blades are more delicate and not designed to do the heavy cutting that a coping saw can accomplish. If you need to make precise and intricate shapes on material that is not that thick or dense, then a fret saw may be a perfect choice. You can make dovetails, inlay work, and other delicate cuts with the fret saw.
Just keep in mind that the blades are rather fragile, so be sure to have several on hand when working on larger projects that needs a lot of sawing.
There is a good reason why so many woodworking shops have table saws. They are reliable, durable, and can make excellent straight cuts.
The table saw is arguably the best type of powered saw for ripping wood. You will need to use a push stick and guide to ensure the cut is straight. Plus, have extra push sticks handy in case it gets cut up by the table saw.
If you need to rip up a lot of plywood for example, then you should use a table saw over a bandsaw. It can make the cuts easier and faster which means less wear on your bandsaw.
Related info: Band Saw vs. Table Saw – Detailed Comparison
For resawing material, the table saw is also an excellent choice. You can use it to resaw 2×4 and 2×6 lumber (require multiple passes) quickly and efficiently. Unless you need to make intricate curving cuts, the table saw is the perfect choice for straight cuts into plywood and other types of wood.
However, when it comes to resawing the band saw can accommodate much thicker wood.
The other downside to using a table saw, apart from the need for power, is its very size. While perfect for a woodworking shop, it is not considered very portable. Of course, the same could be said of the bandsaw.
Hand Saw for Straight Cuts
If you are into woodworking, you probably wouldn’t consider this as a substitute for the bandsaw. But for metalworking enthusiasts, the hacksaw is an excellent tool for cutting metal.
I am not saying it can replace your horizontal band saw or a power hacksaw.
Although it takes a lot more effort and has limited cut capacity, a hacksaw is a handy tool for DIY and home improvement projects. It is a versatile tool where you can quickly change the blade to cut a wide variety of material.
If you need to make a sharp, straight cut, then a frame saw might be the perfect choice. The frame saw is one of the oldest manual saws in existence. You will need clamps or a vise to hold the material steady as you guide the frame saw blade over the top.
Do not expect to create intricate curves, but if you need a sharp, straight cut, a frame saw is perfect for the job.
There are several other manual wood saws that can cut along a straight line. You can see the complete list of hand saws for cutting wood here.
The band saw shines in its ability to cut curves and complex shapes. So, if you are looking for an alternative to band saw, you are most probably looking for a power saw to cut shapes out of wood or metal.
The scroll saw and the jigsaw are the two best bandsaw alternatives for cutting intricate shapes.