Bandsaw vs Table Saw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

If you buy something through a link in our posts, we may get a small share of the sale.

Adding woodworking tools to your home workshop is an investment in your woodworking abilities. Purchasing the right saw can make your projects easier to manage and build. You may have the choice of band saw vs table saw and are not sure which cutting device makes the most sense for you.

​Band Saw vs Table Saw General Overview

Understanding the benefits as well as the drawbacks of both types of saws with this band saw vs table saws overview can help you make your buying decision and ensure you have the right saw for your workshop and woodworking projects.

The Band Saw

band saw is an electrically-powered saw that uses a thin straight blade to work almost any irregular shapes you can imagine. It allows for curved-shaped cuts as well as straight and angular cuts. You can use band saws as versatile cutting power tools to saw intricate cuts in a range of material types.

The blade of a band saw gives it immense flexibility as it evenly distributes the cutting edge along your wood, plastic, or metal piece to create uniform cutting. You can control the cutting of band saws by moving your piece along a predetermined outline or template.

Most band saws are mounted on a cabinet with a tabletop surface to lay your piece. You can change the width of your cutting with the adjustable blade to make more refined or deeper woodcuts as necessary.

The best band saws on the market allow you to resaw wood, while also performing a variety of simple cuts. You can even do some basic scroll work that is normally reserved for the scroll saw.

The Table Saw

A table saw is a universal cutting tool that uses a circular saw blade to rip from underneath the surface through to the top surface. Think of the table saw as a really powerful and sophisticated circular saw

Table saws are used to make straighter cuts in large pieces or sheets of wood. The blade of table saws rest on a tabletop or a cabinet, giving support to guide your piece.

As the blade of your table saw cuts, you need to manually move your piece along the blade length. This will provide you with a straight edge cut, or if you have an adjustable table saw, you can work at a 45-degree angle.

In either configuration, table saws provide an easy way to work on a variety of materials. With the right blade surface, you can rip plastic and even metal. This gives you some versatility and allows you to use your table saw as a universal cutting device.

A great table saw allows you to make crosscuts across a variety of materials. You can also use table saws for quick cuts that are highly accurate, especially when you have a large number of them to make.

Bandsaws are used for intricate cuts and projects

When To Use Each Saw

​​​​Band saws are mostly used in woodworking applications​ for fine, precise work.

  • You can create intricate pieces or use the blade of band saws to create a multifaceted piece.
  • With the change of the blade, you can also extend your cutting abilities to metal and plastic. Band saws are quite popular in metalworking as they allow for accurate points in the desired width.
  • Lumbering applications also employ band saws as they can rip the material into desired shapes and sizes as needed.

Table saws are primarily used for cutting large sheets or making straight cuts.

  • A good application for using a table saw is cutting down plywood. These sheets can be maneuvered as necessary into the blade to rip at the desired length and width you need.
  • Your table saw is also an ideal tool for making long, straight cuts​. If you’re on a jobsite a lot, you can buy a hybrid table saw that will work both on location and at your shop.
  • You can use your table saw to make quick cuts or use it for more detailed work that uses a series of straighter cuts. There are also portable versions of the table saw which you can carry from jobsite to jobsite.
Table saws are ideal for making straight cuts on large sheets of wood

Band Saw vs Table Saw

Let’s discuss the similarities and difference in this band saw vs table saw comparison.

Similarities

  • ​Both band saws and table saws ​are very capable of cutting​ easily. They both offer a cutting blade with teeth and operate by you moving the piece through the blade assembly.
  • Both your band saws and table saws will make quick, straighter cuts with little effort as you guide the material along the support table that both of these saws offer.
  • The beauty of both the band saws and the table saws is their ability to work on a variety of material types. By simply changing out the blade type on either tool you can go through glass, metal or plastic.

Differences

The biggest factor separating a bandsaw from a table saw for many people is the ability to rip in a curved pattern. Unlike circular saws, your table saw does not allow you to stray from a straighter edge cut, even with a circular blade saw. Your bandsaw gives you more flexibility in a variety of directions without limitation than many tools.

You are not restricted in any way when using a band saw. Your cutting options are virtually limitless.

The other factor distinguishing a band saw from a table saw is the type of cutting blade that is used. A table saw employs a circular saw blade. A circular saw blade that doesn’t allow for curved or angled cutting to be made. Unlike circular saws, your band saw excels using a thin-edged blade to saw a myriad of patterns.

You’ll find your band saw offers you more capability when it comes to cutting material than any other tools, as you are able to get as fine as you need without worrying about splintering or burning.

  • You will find you get additional flexibility from a band saw’s operation. This saw lends itself to curved and patterned details while a table saw can only make in a straight line.
  • A table saw is ideal for large projects as a table saw has a large tabletop surface that allows you to focus without obstruction. Using a band saw or any other tools for this same application would seem futile as you are limited in how much surface you can support on the tabletop of the saw.
  • When you have a smaller project, you will want to employ your band saw. This handy saw will allow you to get fine detail and is very effective at making sure you saw exactly where you have determined you need the cut.
  • Using even a cheaper table saw for the same application will not give you as fine a result. You will find a table saw can’t cut as accurately or finely. Table saws aren’t the best saw for small projects in your shop as they are more of a cutdown device than an actual metered-cutting saw.
  • Band saws allow you to explore those intricate designs without worrying about going outside your template. You will find you have the results you are looking for every time.  A table saw just can’t provide that fine level of detail. A table saw is merely designed as a straight edge saw that can cut large flat pieces with ease. When you are in need of more delicate projects, trust in your band saw instead of a table saw to do the job.
Bandsaw for woodworking

When To Select a Band Saw

​There are several circumstances where the band saw makes a lot more sense to use than a table saw or any other tools:

Curved Cuts

If you are a master craftsman with projects that require cuts in obscure shapes that includes curves, band saws will be the much better option for you. With these tools, you will be able to cut according to your patterns with virtually unlimited possibilities on the type of pieces you create.

Table saws can not cut curves. As a matter of fact, it is really dangerous to attempt these with a table saw – don’t do it!

​Working With Thick Materials

The band saw was practically invented to cut super thick materials, and this is the preferred saw for ripping different materials thicker than 2″.

​When you’re ripping really thick material, such as a log, opt for the band saw. It is really the only power tool capable of handling these with accuracy.

Working with Metal

While you can cut metal with both tools, provided you have the right blade, it is probably a little easier to do with a band saw. Metal is a much harder material than wood, and you won’t really benefit from the speed that a table saw offers.

Working slow with a band saw is probably the most accurate way to cut through metal.

When To Select a ​Table Saw

Long, Straight Rip Cuts

Table saws offer you the ability to cut large pieces of wood with a straight cut. Ripping a large sheet of wood such as plywood on a bandsaw or any other tools would wear the blade and be difficult to master.

These long cuts that go with the grain of the wood are referred to as rip cuts, and they are what this tool specializes in. High end cabinet table saws can crank out a lot in a short period of time​.

​With the band saw, there is no support ​coming from a large table top, and so its hard to rip large pieces of wood. You also don’t have a saw fence or miter gauge with a band saw (typically), which help you work accurately. 

You would also dull the blade of a band saw with such laborious work, as a this tool is really designed to perform precision work on smaller pieces of wood.

Crosscutting Wood

Ripping wood across its grain is a lot more difficult than rip cuts, and the table saw is still the best option for crosscutting. 

Band saws can make these as well, but not with the same speed and accuracy as the table saw. Toolswith a miter gauge are the preferred options for both rip and crosscuts.

Dados, Bevels, and Miters

Anytime you need to work only partway into your wood, opt for the table saw. A band saw can not make these.

In addition, a band saw can’t easily work at an angle, whereas a table saw can. If you need to make mitered or bevel cuts, you’ll want to adjust your table saw blade and use it.

To be clear, a band saw is capable of making bevel or miter cuts, but it is extremely difficult and time consuming.

Table saw for cutting wood metal PVC

Which Tool Should You Buy First?

Learning how to use a band saw may take more of a learning curve than a table saw. You will need to maneuver your wood piece correctly to ensure you follow your template outline to get the most precise cut.

Although, a table saw does need some additional caution as well as you are responsible for guiding each wood sheet along the blade path to rip the wood sheet. But, you can pick up a relatively inexpensive table saw, whereas a good bandsaw will cost a bit more. 

In the end, if you don’t have either of these power tools yet, opt for buying a table saw before a band saw.

Which Saw is Better?

Deciding if you should invest in a table saw or a band saw really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Both tools can rip wood and material down to size. The band saw does so with precision, while the table saw does so with speed.

When you opt for a band saw for your woodworking projects, you will benefit from a more versatile power tool.

  • ​The band saw offers you the ability to work on virtually any type of material any way you want to. 
  • You don’t have to worry about any restrictions on this tool.
  • You also will benefit from this tool’s ability to give you straight edges when you need it.

Adding a band saw your woodworking workspace will give you plenty of function. You will be amazed at the versatility it offers and how much you are able to use it to rip your wood pieces to shape and size. Those intricate woodworking details will no longer have to be performed by hand as your band saw will make easy work out of getting them to the pattern.

​With that being said, you’ll probably end up using your table saw more often in woodworking. While not as versatile, the table saw is really good at making what you do most frequently. 

  • The table saw is perfect for rip and crosscuts, the two most frequent cuts you’ll be making in woodworking.
  • ​Once you set up your cut, you make a lot of cuts in a short period of time. This speeds up your projects quite a bit.

If you don’t own either, the table saw is your best bet to start with. However, owning a band saw will open up a whole new world of woodworking shop possibilities for you.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.