Wooden Box on a Table Saw

The Band Saw Vs. Table Saw Debate

A common question from those new to the woodworking game is whether to invest in a band saw or a table saw. The band saw vs. table saw debate is a tricky one, however, as it comes down to a range of different factors to decide.

The material you’re working with will determine what tool is right for you, as will the project you’re working on. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, and one will always work better than the other in specific circumstances. We answer some of the most common questions to do with the band saw vs. table saw discussion to help you decide which power tool is right for you.

Band Saws: Their Pros, Cons, and Uses

A band saw consist of a serrated blade on a continuous loop which is extended over two pulleys. The pulleys move the blade in a continual motion to provide a precision cut that works well on thick materials.

Using a Band Saw

Band saws are generally found in the workshops of people who work with versatile materials. Due to their ability to create a thick cut, their blade can be changed to work with a number of materials such as timber, plastic, metal and even meat.

You can also purchase a portable band saw that is battery operated, making it great for jobs that require you to leave the workshop.

Pros

  • A band saw has the unique ability to work with a range of materials. People who work with band saws are able to cut through metal, plastic, wood and meat without damaging the serrated blade;
  • For jobs where curved edges are required, a band saw is ideal. Simply change the blade on your band saw to perform tighter curves where necessary;
  • Band saws operate a lot quieter than table saws and produce significantly less dust. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that sawdust comes with a variety of health issues, including allergic respiratory effects, cancer, dermatitis and non-allergic respiratory effects.

Curved Figurine Band Saw

Cons

  • A band saw will not finish your product the way a table saw can, often leaving it with rough edges that requiring additional finishing;
  • Although it shows versatility with materials, for woodworkers it is not a versatile machine in terms of cutting capabilities. Band saws are often further down the list of essential items for woodworkers to have in their shop.

The best uses for band saws are generally thicker materials or for use in projects that require a curved cut. Because they’re quieter and produce less dust than a table saw, many people prefer the lower maintenance style in their workshop.

Although not often considered as the first item that someone should purchase for their woodworking shop, band saws do have the ability to perform rip cuts on lumber, curved cuts, or even saw boards to the desired thickness. For use outside of woodworking, a band saw is an extremely versatile tool capable of cutting through many different materials.

Working with Band Saw

Table Saws: Their Pros, Cons, and Uses

A table saw is a woodworking tool that consists of a circular blade mounted on an arbor that protrudes from the table. The arbor is controlled by a motor and the wood placed on the table to provide a stable cut each time.

A table saw is the best tool for woodworking jobswhere a difference in depth is required. The blade can be moved up or down to achieve different levels of cuts in the wood, and is ideal for making furniture.

With a range of different types available, your table saw should depend on your budget, predicted projects, and space and access that you have available in your workshop.

Pros

  • Far more versatile than band saws when it comes to woodworking, the table saw is often the main tool used in most workshops. Its ability to perform repetitive tasks makes it a great choice for those who view woodworking as more than just a hobby;

Using a Table Saw

  • A table saw cuts lines in wood with absolute precision and is ideal for rips and cross cuts. Many people can renovate their home or build basic furniture with just a table saw, never needing a band saw at all;
  • Standard table saws feature a height adjustable blade, adding to its versatility. This blade can be heightened or lowered to perform a number of cuts including a dado, groove or tongue.

Cons

  • Table saws can be extremely dangerous if not used correctly. According to Fine Woodworking Magazine over 70,000 people injure themselves on table saws each year, including not only amateur woodworkers but also professional carpenters and tradesmen;
  • Although the table saw is ideal for shaping larger pieces of furniture, it’s unable to work on the smaller details that make a band saw so appealing. Once your woodworking progresses, you may find that you require a band saw for more intricate work;
  • The table saw is really only ideal for wood, so if you are working with other materials it might be best to invest in a band saw.

Using a Table Saw

Conclusion

There’s no clear winner in the band saw vs. table saw debate, as it really comes down to each specific job and material. For those who are new to woodworking, the ease of a table saw can be appealing, but they require a user that’s extremely dedicated to safety.

The band saw is ideal for thicker cuts, or those times when curves are required, so it also has its uses. Some people like to have both tools on hand, but if your pocket and workspace can’t afford that option, you might be able to compensate with some cheaper tools instead.

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