There comes a time in every woodworker’s life, either as a professional woodworker or a DIYer when you have to invest in a large power saw. As you work on more projects, you will gain more knowledge, skill, and experience about woodworking.
Eventually, you will have to make larger and more intricate cuts that will be very difficult to make with a small power saw. This means it’s time to decide between band saw vs table saw. Which one do you need?
Based on my experience as a woodworker for about a decade, I have seen and used both the table saw and the band saw on different occasions and I can tell you that they are both great tools to have in your workshop.
However, most of us don’t have the luxury to have both because of financial constraints and the size of the workshop.
So I have come up with this comprehensive guide to introduce you to and explain all you need to know about table saws and band saws as well as expert tips to help you decide on which of the two power saws you should get.
First, let’s take a look at band saws.
What Is a Band Saw and What Is It Used for?
Band saws are large power saws that are used to make a variety of cuts. There are different types of band saws out there. Each with its unique design, build, and size. However, one common feature about band saws is the blade.
Band saws use a thin and narrow blade to make cuts. The blade is a long band of steel that is riddled with teeth on one end. The material to be cut is usually fed into the path of the blade. This makes it possible to make curves and designs on the material with ease. The blade of the band saw is usually spun around two or three wheels located inside the band saw.
Band saws are versatile power saws that can be used to cut a wide array of materials ranging from plastic to wood and steel. The band saw is very common among woodworkers that deal with curves, edges, and shapes on materials.
The thin and narrow blade of the band saw makes it possible to make curves and irregular shapes on wood. Band saws are used to make molding, door and window frames, baseboards, and the likes. The biggest advantage of the band saw is its versatility.
Now let’s take a look at table saws.
What Is a Table Saw and What Is It Used for?
Table saws are very different from band saws in terms of build and structure. Table saws are usually larger than band saws. The industrial size band saw for instance is about the same size as a regular table saw for hobbyists.
Asides from the size advantage over band saws, table saws are also more common. You are more likely to find a table saw in a woodworker’s workshop than a band saw. Table saws are usually placed in the middle of the workshop with all other tools sitting pretty around the table saw.
Table saws are a tad similar to circular saws. Just like circular saws, table saws also use a large carbide circular blade with teeth to make cuts on different materials.
The blade of the table saw is usually mounted on an arbor that is located below the tabletop. The blade of the table saw protrudes through a small hole on the tabletop. A knob usually located on the side of the table is used to adjust the height of the blade.
Table saws are riddled with different accessories such as the fence that make the power saw easy to use and also makes the cuts made with the table saw very accurate. Table saws are used to make straight cuts on materials. Table saws are popular among woodworkers that work on doors, and the likes. The biggest advantage of the table saw is its accuracy.
Band Saw vs Table Saw: Head to Head
Though both power saws are fairly similar in some aspects, they have more apart than they have in common. Let’s take a closer look.
Since we are comparing power saws, there is no better feature to start with than the blades of both saws. The blades of both the table saw and the band saw is powered by a motor located in the inner part of the saw. The difference in blades comes in terms of size and build.
Band saws use a thin and narrow blade to make cuts on materials. A band saw blade is a thin and flexible metal band that has teeth on one side. The band saw blades are usually long and can be over 100 inches in length. The blade is usually spun around two or three wheels located within the band saw.
Table saws on the other hand use a thick circular carbide blade to make cuts. Table saw blades are similar to the blades of circular saws.
The blade of the table saw is usually mounted on an arbor and is connected to the motor which powers the blade. Table saw blades also have teeth which makes it possible for the power saw to make cuts on different materials. In contrast to the blade of the band saw, table saw blades are thicker and heavier.
While both saws have different types of blades suited for specific tasks, changing the blade on a table saw is easier than changing the blade on a band saw. On a table saw, all you have to do is remove the nut on the arbor and take out the blade. For band saws, the process is more complex. You need to reset the tension, the tracking, and possibly the fence before you can remove the blade.
The speed of a power saw is always an important factor to consider before buying one. The band saw and the table saw are fairly equal in terms of speed.
Both saws have powerful motors that rotate the blades at incredible speed. Band saws can be as fast as one thousand feet per minute while table saws rotate the blade at about 3500 RPM. Considering the sizes of both saws, their speeds are very impressive.
The Noise and Dust
Band saws are quieter and neater than table saws. The blade of the band saw cuts downward and is so narrow that there is very little dust spewed during cutting.
Table saws on the other hand spew a lot of dust while cutting. The blade is usually thick which means you will have a wider kerf and of course, more dust around your workshop.
In terms of the noise, band saws are very quiet. Table saws make a lot of noise and sometimes ear protection is usually worn while using the table saw. The noise comes from the motor and because the blade is large, there is a lot of noise as the blade passes through the material.
Before buying a power saw, you need to consider how safe it will be to use, especially if you are a beginner. When it comes to safety, Table saws are safer power saws than band saws. Though band saws are also very safe to use. Table saws are riddled with all sorts of accessories and parts to ensure that the tool is safe and no injuries occur from its usage.
Most table saws today have shields that prevent the user from kickbacks. Also, a large part of the circular blade is buried underneath the tabletop as opposed to band saws that have a large part of the blade exposed.
Most table saws also have a blade guard to cover the blade when not in use. This feature isn’t present in band saws. The blade is usually exposed even when not in use. The band saw blades are also difficult to store because you need to fold the long blade before you store it. If you aren’t experienced, folding a band saw blade can injure you.
That isn’t the case with table saws. The blades can be easily removed, attached, and stored. You don’t need to fold the blade before you store it and this reduces the possibility of getting injured.
The Size and Weight
Both the band saw and the table saw are large power saws. Both saws are not mobile and they both require a good deal of space in your workshop for their set up. Though both saws are considered large, the table saw is larger than the band saw.
While band saws can fit in and be used in a corner of your workshop, you will need more space than just a corner to set up and use a table saw. This is why table saws are usually found in the middle of a workshop. The tabletop of a table saw alone has a wider width than most band saws.
In terms of weight, the table saw is also heavier than the band saw. Table saws can weigh well over 150 pounds. Even the lightest table saw will be about the same weight as a band saw.
Though band saws are generally lighter than table saws, some band saws will still give table saws a run when it comes to weight.
Horizontal band saws for instance can weigh over 200 pounds though it’s fair to say that you wouldn’t find such band saws in a carpenter’s workshop. You are more likely to find them in metal production factories and other large industries that deal with very tough materials like steel.
While both saws can make just about the same types of cuts, the level of accuracy with the cuts made differ. Table saws are more accurate than band saws.
The cuts made with a table saw are usually very straight and accurate. You can also make perfectly square and parallel cuts with a table saw. The increased accuracy of a table saw is because the table saw is equipped with different accessories like the fence which gives the power saw that advantage.
This doesn’t mean that band saws can’t make accurate cuts too. Band saws also have a good cutting accuracy but the band saw can’t compete with the table saw in terms of accuracy.
While a table saw will make very straight and clean cuts, you will still notice some sort of wobble and saw marks when you make the same cut with a band saw.
This is because band saw blades are thin and do occasionally move from side to side while cutting. While this movement isn’t usually visible to the naked eye, it would tell on the cut made.
In terms of versatility, the band saw edges the table saw in this contest. Band saws are more versatile than table saws. Table saws are largely restricted to making straight cuts, crosscuts, and square cuts.
All these cuts can also be made by the band saw though with slightly less accuracy than the table saw. Though the table saw can also make bevel cuts, it would be very difficult to do that because of the position of the blade.
Band saws on the other hand can make different types of cuts that the table saw wouldn’t dream of making. One major advantage the band saw has over the table saw in terms of versatility is that band saws can make curved cuts.
Band saws due to the structure and position of the blade can make curved cuts, cut around edges, and also cut shapes. This is why band saws are more common with woodworkers that deal with shelves, cabinets, door frames, molding, and other furniture that need detailing. Band saws can make details and designs on wood while the table saw can’t.
Also, band saws are great for re-sawing. The increased cutting depth of the band saw makes it possible to use the power saw to re-saw wood to the required sizes. With a band saw, you can cut logs to size, make veneers, and also divide thick boards with ease.
If you are looking to invest in a new power saw, then the cost would be the main concern. Both the table saw and band saw are costlier than your average power tools like the jigsaw and circular saw. Though both the table saw and band saw would cost you a bit, table saws would cost you more than band saws.
You can get a quality band saw for a price below $200 but table saws will cost you more than that. A quality table saw will cost you about $300 and some models will cost you more.
A general rule with both saws is that the more sophisticated the power saw is, the higher the cost. For instance, a table saw with a dust collection unit and a sliding table will cost you more than a table saw with just a 10-inch table and no dust collection unit. I’m sure you get the gig.
Should You Get the Table Saw or the Band Saw?
Both the band saw and the table saw will be great in your workshop. However, due to the high cost of both power saws and the fact that you will need so much floor space to accommodate both saws, it is always advised just to go for one. So which of the two should you go for? Let’s find out.
The power saw you should get depends on the following factors:
Your Skill and Experience
If you are a professional woodworker or an experienced DIYer, then you might fancy getting a band saw. This is because using a band saw requires a more advanced level of skill and experience than using a table saw.
Table saws have different accessories that make their usage easier. Band saws on the other hand are more complex to use.
If you are a beginner looking to start your woodworking journey, then you should get a table saw. Table saws are relatively easier and safer to use than band saws.
The extra features on the table saw will prevent accidents and you can be sure to get accurate cuts as well with a table saw than with a band saw. Band saws should be left to the professionals.
The amount of money you are willing to spend on a power saw will determine if you get the table saw or the band saw. Though both saws are a bit high priced, a table saw will cost you more than a band saw
The Available Workspace
If you have a limited workspace, you should get a band saw. Table saws will take a lot of floor space in your workshop because of the size.
Your task is the main reason you are getting a power saw. The task at hand means the type of cut you want to make. If you need an accurate straight cut, you should buy a table saw.
Table saws are more suited for precision work because of their accuracy. However, if you will like to make curved cuts and other shapes on the material, you should get a band saw.
If you want to re-saw wood or cut logs to the required size, you should get a band saw too. Band saws are also suited to cutting thicker materials than table saws.
So there you have it. If there is anything else you will like to know about band saw vs table saw, leave a comment below and I’ll respond to it as soon as possible. Have a great day.