Band Saw vs Jigsaw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

what is a jigsaw

The world of saws can be quite confusing, especially for beginners. There are ​a multitude of​ saws on the market and selecting the one that ​is just right for your needs is not always that easy.

There are two major types of saws that are quite popular among woodworkers, woodcarvers, carpenters, and ​DIY crafters the jigsaw and the bandsaw. ​We'll go through the band saw vs jigsaw, ​comparing and contrasting the strengths of each so you know which one to use.

The Jigsaw

The jigsaw is a handheld power saw that uses a reciprocating blade to make cuts. The biggest strengths of the jigsaw are its high level of convenience, and its ability to cut curves on a variety of materials. 

​​What is a Jigsaw?

Much like a hand saw, the jigsaw uses a thin blade that is mounted in the upper body of the saw. The blade cuts perpendicular to the work table in an up and down motion.

The jigsaw’s small blade allows the user to cut all types of curves with significant accuracy. ​One of the ​best features of the jigsaw is that it can make cuts in the interior of a piece of wood without cutting through the outer edge of the piece.

what is a jigsaw

Photo credit: Mark Hunter on Flickr / CC BY

In addition, the jigsaw is easy to operate. The biggest advantage of working with a jigsaw is that it permits one to cut inside the wood without cutting the edge. This is not always possible with other tools.

The jigsaw is a power tool, meaning that it requires power to operate. The saw comes in both corded and cordless options. Either way, a jig saw is known as a really convenient tool. It makes a great saw to have on hard while you're working on a jobsite.

The jigsaw is also extremely safe. That is probably why it is one of the very first saws that any new DIYer would buy.

​When Should a Jigsaw Be Used?

​Most carpenters prefer to use the jigsaw to make more precise curved cuts as this is one of the many things jigsaws are really good for. For even a beginner user, the tool is great to pull out and cut along a line that you prescribed. 

Versatility of Cuts

However, it is wrong to assume that a jigsaw is only good for curved cuts. This power tool has the ability to do much more, with dozens of blades that one could choose to derive the most benefit.

The jigsaw can be used to cut through a variety of ​materials, including wood, metal, plastic, and drywall. This is another plus for the jigsaw - it works on virtually any surface, provided you have the right blade.

You can also use a jigsaw to make different cuts. Many refer to it as a poor mans reciprocating saw. While not a demolition saw, in a pinch the jigsaw can be used to make rough cuts. (Note - since the jigsaw is technically a reciprocating saw, it can be a bit confusing to compare it to one. Read more here if you are interested).

Jigsaw Blade Selection

​The only thing is, you have to make sure you pick the right blade. Based on the material,width, length, and tooth configurations of your jigsaw, your blade choice will differ. 

​In general, if you want to make straight, long cuts, you should opt for a wide blade. If you want to cut curves, you should select a narrow blade.

Tooth configurations are also important. Blades that have large but fewer teeth typically cut very fast, but the result is usually rough and splintered. Blades that have smaller teeth cut slower, but the result is smoother.


The Bandsaw

The band saw makes use of a blade on a continuous band that runs across two wheels. The bandsaw is strongest at cutting really thick pieces of wood, and for resawing wood.

​​As opposed to the jigsaw, the bandsaw is not a reciprocating saw, and is not handheld.

bandsaw defined

Photo credit: Ktow on Flickr / CC BY

What is a Band Saw?

The band saw uses a slightly thicker and larger blade, which is connected at each end to form a circular band. The blade is usually mounted on two fixed wheels, one above the cutting table and one below, which enable motion of the blade. The teeth of the band saw work in a continuous manner as it is fed a piece of wood.

Many models and types of band saws are available, almost all of which are powered. These include floor-standing cabinet models, shorter units, mounted units, benchtop units, etc. Make the right choice of band saw based on your needs.

Cabinet models offer more features, and they generally have larger motors. So, the results will be more consistent. However, if a bench-mounted band saw is sufficient for you, just go for that, as you'll save a few bucks.

​When Should a Band Saw Be Used?

Band saws are excellent for resawing. ​In fact, while you can use bandsaws for a variety of other cuts, its single greatest asset is its ability to resaw wood.

Resawing

​In essence, resawing wood is the act of cutting it in half, across its thickest portion.An example of ​resawing would be making two 1 X 4's by resawing a 2 X 4 down the middle. 

An example of needing to resaw would be when you're making veneer, which involves using very thin pieces of wood.

For some carpentry work, the band saw is useful as it cuts without generating excess waste.

Quick, Repetitive Cuts

For those who work with 2", ​3", and ​4" inch thick timbers quite often, a band saw can be very useful. In addition, those who are basically targeting for precise curves will get the best results with a band saw. Just make sure you buy the right quality band saw.


Make sure you learn how to use a band saw before operating. This is a sophisticated tool for an experienced craftsman.

​​Bandsaw vs Jigsaw: Similarities and Differences

​At first hear, the bandsaw and jigsaw sound very similar. Both use tall, thin blades to cut through material. ​​Both saws make very straight cuts, but can also be used to make curved cuts (unlike other saws like the table saw. 

Similarities

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    Both bandsaws and jigsaws ​use blades that cut with an up/down motion.
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    Both ​saws can make straight cuts.
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    ​Each saw is​ great at cutting around corners.
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​However, there are far more differences than there are similarities between the jigsaw and bandsaw. 

Size and Weight

For starters, the machines are dramatically different.

The jigsaw is a small, lightweight saw that you hold with one hand.

The bandsaw is a large, cumbersome, and heavy saw that is basically immobile.

​Type of Blade and Cut

​Another key difference in the blades is that the jigsaw blade is only attached to the top of the saw, meaning that the bottom of the blade is unattached. ​This is otherwise know as reciprocating. 

The band saw ​makes use of a blade that is entirely connected, mounted on two wheels that allow the blade to continuously pass through the material it is cutting.

These are the two main differences in the bandsaw and jigsaw.

​Differences

  • The jigsaw is an excellent saw for ​general work and rough cutting. Where it lacks precision, it makes up for in convenience.
  • The bandsaw is an excellent saw for precise, large scale cutting. It is excellent for large pieces of lumber.
  • The jigsaw can make small cuts, but does not compare in its ability to match the band saw when long pieces of wood need to be cut in a straight line.
  • The ​bandsaw can be used for resawing, something the jigsaw can not do

When To Use Each

​Generally speaking, the jigsaw is a highly convenient tool that can be used for a variety of basic cuts on your projects. A good jigsaw with the right blade can handle almost any kind of material. And, a jigsaw excels in tight, circular cuts.

A bandsaw, on the other hand, is perfect for resawing. It is larger, more expensive and sophisticated, and more dangerous. A bandsaw is a much more specialized tool for a more experienced woodworker.

Conclusion

Simply stating that one saw is better than the other would not do justice to the features offered by both types. Instead, it would be better to say that the type of saw you choose is dependent on the type of task you intend to use it for.

band saw vs jigsaw

Photo credit: Mitch Barrie on Flickr / CC BY-SA

the difference between band saw vs jigsaw

Photo credit: Mark Hunter on Flickr / CC BY

It also depends on your skill and expertise level. Risk of injury may be low with a jigsaw, but when it comes to saws, it is generally recommended that the person using it has some idea of how to work with such tools.

​Every person should have a jigsaw, as they are handy for even the simplest of cuts. They can be used quickly and easily in a variety of situations, with little to no previous experience.

A bandsaw, on the other hand, is a sophisticated tool used for heavy-duty lumber cutting and resawing. It is most reserved for woodworkers and specialized contractors. In other words, you'll know when you need one.

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