Which is better table saw or band saw? Do I really need a band saw for woodworking/metalworking?
Comparing tools is always fun. Seeing the different pros and cons of each side can also be insightful as it highlights the key aspect of what’s being compared. In this article, let’s take a look at the table saw vs band saw comparison.
I will focus on the key aspects of a table saw vs band saw as well as their pros and cons. By the end, you should have a clear idea about which one to choose for which type of cut.
Band Saw vs Table Saw Comparison
Before I go into the details, here is a comparison chart that shows the difference between a bandsaw and a table saw.
|Band Saw||Table Saw|
|Blade Design||A closed-loop of thin, narrow metal band with teeth on one side.||A circular saw blade|
|Working||Workpiece pushed against a straight blade circulating blade.||Wood fed against a circular blade that spins at high speed.|
|Type of cuts||Straight, miter, and curved cuts.||Straight cuts, miter, and bevel cuts.|
|Material||Cuts wood, plastic, meat, and metals such as brass, aluminium, and even steel.||Mainly for cutting wood, plywood, MDF, melamine sheets etc.|
|Kerf||Thin kerf||Comparatively wider kerf|
|Best for||Resawing, scrolling (cutting curves) and irregular shapes.||Ripping, cross-cuts, casing work, Dadoes, tongue, and grooves|
|Safety||Low noise and less prone to accidents.||Higher noise levels and rate of accidents.|
Key Characteristics of Table Saws
Table saw vs band saw aside, there’s no question about the importance of having a table saw when it comes to woodworking. Before you go out and buy any other tool, you need to get a table saw as it’s one of the standard tools for woodworking.
What makes table saws so crucial is how versatile they can be. With this power saw, you can expect it to perform any type of cut that a miter saw, router or circular saw does. While other types of power saws have their advantages, a table saw can cover a lot of your cutting tasks with ease. Few tools can do so much with the same efficiency as a table saw can.
For this reason, it’s very important to invest in a decent table saw even if you’re a beginner. This will help you save time, money, and trouble in the long term.
When it comes to their characteristics, they come with adjustable blade depth, fool-proof fence system as well as various blade types. You can use table saws to perform all of the rudimentary types of cuts you will need such as rips, miters, bevels, squares as well as numerous others.
- Quick and efficient: One of the main advantages of using a table saw is that you’ll be able to perform cuts quickly and with little hassle. Thanks to the design of the blade and the power that the motor provides, you can expect the best results in the quickest times.
- Accurate: Thanks to its miter gauge slot, table saws are capable of making very precise cuts.
- Versatility: As we mentioned before, versatility is the name of the game when it comes to table saws. You can use additional jigs such as miter gauge to help you perform a wide range of different cuts. There are various jigs that you can use to help you with the majority of woodworking tasks.
- Adjustable depth: Even though this is a relatively new thing for table saws, it has become a standard in every table saw. Keep in mind that older table saws might not feature adjustable blade depth.
- Bevel cuts: Newer table saws feature a tilting wheel which is very useful when trying to make bevel cuts.
- Unsafe: This shouldn’t really come as a surprise as most saws are pretty dangerous. However, table saws are considered dangerous even when compared to other saws as 70% of stationary saw accidents involve table saws.
- Best used for wood: Unfortunately, the versatility of table saws only applies to the types of cuts it can make. It doesn’t apply for which material you can cut with it. We recommend only used table saws for wood and plastic.
- Lack of finesse: Compared to the band saw, the table saw is bulkier, which means that it can be lacking in finesse when compared to the band saw.
- Noisy: Since it’s powered by a motor, table saws tend to be very noisy.
- Inefficient with thick objects: Table saws are known to struggle when cutting thick materials. The maximum recommended width is 3.5 inches.
Key Characteristics of Band Saws
As we mentioned before, you have to buy a table saw before you buy any other type of saw. With that said this doesn’t mean that there is no place for a band saw. There are some things that band saws excel at and it might be worth investing in one.
For instance, band saws excel at cutting curves. They are also capable of cutting thick pieces of materials, unlike table saws.
Furthermore, band saws can also be used for long, straight cuts. However, it’s usually better to use a table saw instead since it is faster.
- Cutting curves: One of the main advantages of using a band saw is that they allow you to easily perform curved cuts.
- It can be used on different materials: Unlike table saws, you can use band saws to cut all sorts of materials including wood, plywood, plastic, MDF, metals etc. Bandsaw is also used in the food industry to slice meat. This is all thanks to the design of the blade’s teeth as well as how thin it is.
- Quiet: When compared to table saws, band saws produce far less noise. You don’t have to worry about causing a huge disturbance when you’re using a band saw.
- Relatively safe: I mentioned before that 70% of stationary saw-related accidents involve table saws. Well, only 7% of them involve band saws making them one of the safer stationary saws to use.
- Cutting thicker materials: Another major advantage band saws have other table saws is the fact that they can cut materials way thicker than 3.5 inches. This makes band saw an ideal machine to do resawing wood.
- Rough edges: When using a band saw, expect a couple of rough edges in your cuts. You’ll need to smooth them out with some finishing for the best results.
- Lacking in power: When compared to table saws, band saws have less power in comparison.
- Cutting groove: Since you can’t adjust the height of the blade when you’re using a band saw, you won’t be able to cut long grooves.
- Cutting bevels: Cutting bevels with a band saw can be tricky when compared to using a table saw.
Table Saws vs Band Saws: Which Saw for What Cut?
Handsaw vs Table Saw for Ripping ?
If you need rip and size the boards and cut squares in wood, then the best choice is to use a table saw.
Grooves, Dados, Insets…
These are often blind or step cuts and require a saw with adjustable blade height which means that using a band saw is not possible, use a table saw instead.
Miters and Bevels
While both saws can be used to make these cuts, it’s easier to use a table saw for the bevel cuts since you can adjust the blade rather than the angle of the material. For miter cuts, you can use either of the power tools, but the best tool for the job is the miter saw (obviously!).
Curves, Irregular Shapes
The band saw is the clear winner in this situation. The scroll saw and the jigsaw are the other two power tools that can cut curves.
The following infographic summarizes the difference between the two power saws.
If you’ve read through this tool comparison, then you’ve probably concluded that the two tools are complementary. Each one has its own uses. It’s not entirely a ‘table saw vs band saw’ situation as much as it is about learning when to use each one. You will need both tools if you’re going to do any woodworking tasks.