What Size Band Saw Do I Need?

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Band saws are versatile tools that allow cutting with superb accuracy so you can achieve more intricate cutting designs. While band saws come in a variety of sizes, you might be asking yourself what size band saw should I buy? 

This can often be a challenge. This guide will help direct you to the size band saw that will work well for the woodworking applications you are planning to perform.

What Size Band Saw Do I Need?

​For a hobbyist, a 12″-14″ bandsaw is the ideal size. This size saw will provide plenty of power and a good deal of resawing capability. A professional will be better served with an 18″ bandsaw for a larger resawing capability.

Choosing a 14″ band saw would provide plenty of power in a smaller footprint. This size band saw is ideal for anyone that has a need for curved cutting but not in a heavy-duty capacity. You can find these bandsaws for less money than larger models.

Band Saw Size Recommendations

  • ​Hobbyist: 12″-14″ Band Saw
  • ​Professional: 18″ Band Saw

If you plan to use your band saw on a continuous basis for large and heavy gauge wood, metal, or plastic cuts, you should lean towards a larger 18″ band saw.

This size band saw is typically more powerful with a larger motor at 2 horsepower and provides a more durable frame to provide for more rugged cutting applications.

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An 18″ band saw size is more of a commercial machine but would do well with a woodworker that produces larger and high-grade wood projects frequently.

Tabletop vs Cabinet Bandsaws

The first decision you need to make when considering a band saw for your workshop is whether you will want a model you physically mount on a workbench or one that comes complete with its own cabinet.

Both options come in a variety of sizes and can be used for a myriad of woodworking applications.

In most instances, a table top band saw is targeted toward home use while a cabinet-mounted unit is ideal for commercial applications.

This, however, doesn’t mean that your workshop cannot have a cabinet band saw if that is what is desired. But, it does help dictate the direction of your purchase selection and will help narrow down the choice for you.

what size band saw should i buy

Choosing the Depth of Cut and Throat Distance

With this decision in mind, you will now need to determine the exact size band saw you need for your woodworking operation.

This comes down to the depth of cut and the throat size. The throat size is how band saws sizes are rated, while the depth of cut provides the distance from blade to the table.

Your depth of cut will help indicate how thick of wood you are able to cut with your band saw while the throat will tell you the distance from the blade to the vertical frame of the band saw. The throat size determines your cut width.

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Typically throat width ranges from 12 to 14 inches, but can be even a larger 18 inches for commercial band saws.

Typical DIY bandsaw projects won’t require anything larger than a 14″ bandsaw.

Finding the Right Horsepower

You will also need to consider how much power you need for your band saw.

This powers the cutting wheel and your typical 12 to 14 inch band saw would be powered by a ¾ to 1 horsepower motor. Larger 18 inch band saws are most often driven by a 2-horsepower motor that has variable speeds.

As a novice woodworker, you can easily do without a variable speed drive as you will most often use a slower speed to cut with more accuracy. In commercial applications, the variable speed drive may be used to rip wood, which does not require any amount of precision.

Keep in mind that a table saw will also work great to rip wood. So, if you already have that saw, you don’t need to take that into consideration when selecting band saw power.

A bandsaw table and blade

Additional Features of Your Band Saw

Now that you know the general size and power of the band saw you are looking to invest in, you can take some time to think about the additional features you want your saw to incorporate.

You will, in most cases, have the option of an aluminum, steel, or cast-iron table as well as a dust port for easy cleanup with a vacuum cleaner.

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You can add options to your bands saw such as a rip fence for more precision and safety or a miter gauge for crosscutting, ripping or resawing applications.

These additional features can help you customize your band saw to the exact woodworking projects you have planned for the machine.


With the help of this guide, you should have a thorough understanding to answer the question of what size band saw should I buy. It should help to narrow down your search for a band saw and provide you the knowledge you need to make an informed buying decision for your woodworking shop.

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.