While portable power tools are quite useful to move/position the tool depending on your work, it is the stationary power tools that are the actual workhorses in any professional shop. These include Table Saws, Band Saws, Jointers, Planers, and many more. Of these, the table saw and the band saw are the two most popular power saws. They both are suitable for making crisp and precise cuts. The main use of a Table Saw is to make long cuts in large pieces of wood while in the case of a band saw, it is to cut curves. Do you want to know more about Table Saw vs Band Saw?
We are here to help you. If you are beginning your woodworking career or trying to set up your own shop, then you must be familiar with these two essential power tools.
In this guide, we will see the basics of both table saw and band saw. After then, we will take a look at their differences using some simple parameters. Finally, we will make a side-by-side comparison of Table Saw vs Band Saw to give you an easy understanding.
What is a Table Saw?
According to many professional and experienced woodworkers, the table saw is an essential tool that every workshop must have. Using a table saw, you can make long and straight cuts in wood and timber along its length.
It is an all-around tool that can make both Rip Cuts and Crosscuts in long pieces of lumber or plywood. Apart from these two cuts, you can also Table Saw to make miter cuts, bevel cuts, compound cuts, or any angled cuts just by adjusting the angle and depth of the blade.
Even though the main purpose of a table saw is to cut wood, you can use it to work with other types of materials such as plastic, metal, glass, etc. by choosing an appropriate type of blade.
A Table Saw consists of a vertical spinning circular saw blade that protrudes through the center of a large table. The blade is fixed in its place and we have to move the wood along the surface of the table.
The Table Saw Blade is mounted on a shaft with thread on one end to use a fastener and secure the blade. This metal shaft is known as Arbor. The other end of the shaft is connected to a motor using a belt.
Large workshops and industrial chop shops have the table saw at the center of the facility as it needs a lot of room around to drive large sheets of wood. Table saws have a fence that acts as a “guide”. You have to use this fence and place the wood tight against it. This will result in a clean and straight cut.
Types of Table Saws
There are four types or rather configurations of Table Saws. They are:
- Benchtop Saw
- Contractor Saw
- Cabinet Saw
- Hybrid Saw
The main difference between these configurations is the arrangement of different components of the table saw.
1. Benchtop Saw
It is a type of “portable” table saw but beware that it can weigh up to 100 lbs. The benchtop saw has a compact design, where the motor and blade assembly are fit into a single and small body.
Due to the compactness of the design, there is no belt and pulley mechanism. Rather, the blade is directly attached to the motor’s shaft (direct drive).
As it is a “benchtop” table saw, you can place this on top of a work table or bench. Some models with foldable legs and these are very useful as you can carry the saw to any worksite and work without a table.
These are the least expensive of all the table saws. They are not suitable for heavy work in woodshops. But you can use them for small work on worksites.
2. Contractor Saw
The original intention behind the design of the Contractor Saw is to make it portable so that the “contractor” can move it from one job site to other. To achieve this, the contractor saw has the motor attached to a hinge at the rear of the saw so that you can easily disassemble it and carry the saw anywhere.
But keep in mind that Contractor Saws are not lightweight. They weigh anywhere between 300 to 350 lbs. Contractor Saws are much more powerful than benchtop saws, thanks to their 1-1/2 HP motor. The table is also much large making it suitable to work on large and long pieces of wood.
3. Cabinet Saw
Benchtop saw and contractor saw are technically meant to carry them to worksites. But what if you need a table saw for your workshop that sits in the center? You need to look at the Cabinet Saw.
Unlike a contractor saw, where the motor is mounted on the rear, the motor in a Cabinet Saw is mounted underneath the table. This saves a lot of room and offers better stability.
Cabinet Saws are one of the most powerful and heaviest of all table saws. They usually have 3 to 5 HP motors and can weigh more than 600 lbs. Another important design element of a cabinet saw is the motor is attached to the cabinet and not to the table. This will reduce vibrations and improve accuracy.
4. Hybrid Saw
If you want something between a Contractor Saw and a Cabinet Saw, then the Hybrid Saw is the answer. It is essentially a contractor saw with the design elements of a cabinet saw.
For starters, the motor is mounted in the cabinet and not to the rear of the saw. Also, the motor is slightly more powerful than the contractor saw but less powerful than the cabinet saw. You can see 1-3/4 to 2 HP motors in hybrid saws.
Table Saw Blades
We already made a dedicated guide on different types of Table Saw Blades. Check that out for more information. As a brief overview, here is a list of some common types of table saw blades.
- Rip Blade
- Crosscut Blade
- General Purpose Blade
- Combination Blade
- Dado Blade (Set)
- Thin Ker Blade
- Hi-ATB Blade
- Glue-Line Rip Blade
- Nickel-Plated Blade
- Carbide-Tipped Blade
Pros and Cons
|Best for long and straight cuts
|Very large. Takes up a lot of room
|Rip Cuts, Crosscuts, Miter, Bevel, and Compound cuts
|Not suitable for curves
|Available in four types or configurations
|No significant depth adjustment
|Several types of table saw blades are available
|Apart from wood, you can also work on metal, glass, plastic, etc. with an appropriate blade
|Very easy to change the blade
What is a Band Saw?
The name Band Saw comes from its blade, which is a long and continuous band of steel that is looped around two (or three) wheels. This blade has teeth on one side and as it turns with the wheels, the teeth move quickly down toward the table and cuts the wood.
There is a small gap between the top and bottom wheels and this is where you can see the exposed blade. You can adjust the length of the exposed blade by raising or lowering the head unit. This step is very important while operating the band saw as you don’t need the extra exposed blade. Just the part that covers the height of the wood.
A floor-standing band saw is quite common. You can also get band saws that are portable but they are super popular. You can set the standing band saw against a wall and it doesn’t occupy a significant amount of space.
Using a band saw, you can make precise cuts in the wood due to the thin band-like blade. It also allows you to make curve cuts on a piece of wood as you can easily maneuver the wood around the blade.
By adding an adjustable fence (similar to the one in a table saw) to the band saw, you can also make straight cuts with it. However, this is not an ideal setup. When you are making straight cuts, there is a good chance that the thin vertical blade moves left and right quickly. This means the straight cuts might not be perfect.
|Best for cutting curves
|Not a smooth finish as a table saw
|Very precise cuts
|Not the best for straight cuts (the blade can wiggle)
|Create beautiful designs
|Difficult to change the blade
|Can also make straight cuts
|Blade becomes dull quickly on hardwoods
|Compact and takes up less room
|Cheap blades and available in different types
Table Saw vs Band Saw: Differences
Now that we have seen the basics of both the table saw and the band saw, let us dive into the comparison of Table Saw vs Band Saw. To do this, we will take some important parameters and list out the differences between a band saw and a table saw.
In general, the footprint of a typical table saw is large. If you want a table saw for your shop, then chances are you will look at a Cabinet Saw. It is one of the largest types of table saws and also the heaviest (even though you wouldn’t bother to move the table saw from its position).
So, in most workshops, you can see the large table saw right in the center of the room, where you can have a lot of clearance around the table to work with large and long pieces of wood.
The benchtop saw is a small table that is often marketed as “portable”. So, if you need a table saw at your worksite, then this is one option.
Floor-standing Band Saw is also large but the design is vertical and doesn’t occupy a ton of your floor space. You can neatly rest it against the wall in a corner (make sure you have enough room to work your material).
The table saw has a circular saw blade in the center of the table and it is fixed. You have to guide the material towards the blade by sliding it on the surface. You can make use of the guide fence so that the cut is perfectly straight.
The main application of a table saw is to make rip cuts (the blade is parallel to the grain) and crosscuts (the blade is perpendicular to the grain) in large pieces of wood.
Apart from the rip and crosscuts, you can also use the table saw to make miter cuts, bevel cuts, compound cuts, or any angled cuts. Using a dado blade set, you can even make grove, rabbet, and dado cuts. It is a very versatile power tool.
Coming to the band saw, it has a thin vertical blade that loops between two wheels. Similar to the table saw, even the blade in the band saw is fixed to the saw. You have to move the wood and guide it through the blade.
The main application of a band saw is to make beautiful curve cuts, thanks to the thin, vertical blade. The precision of the cuts is also high. Additionally, you can attach a guide fence and use the band saw to make straight cuts.
Here we are talking about the quality of the cuts rather than the quality of the tool itself. Both table saw and band saw make precise and accurate cuts in their respective applications.
For rip and crosscuts, there is no tool that is better than a table saw. Coming to the band saw, just slowly guide the wood as per the curve you want and you can get a very precise cut.
Table Saw blades are circular. Depending on the kind of material you want to cut or the type of cut you want to make, you can choose from over a dozen types of blades. Changing the blade is also simple.
Even though it seems that the band saw blades might not have options, there are different types of band saw blades to choose from. The parameters for band saw blades are the number of teeth, the width of the blade, and the hook angle.
More teeth mean a smoother cut. You can use a wider blade for straight cuts while narrower blades work best for curve cuts.
Changing band saw blades is slightly difficult and it takes a lot of time.
Despite the popularity of table saws, they are unfortunately the main cause of a lot of workshop-related accidents. Table saw kickback is a dangerous situation where the blade catches a piece of wood and throws it back at the person. As the blade spins at a very high velocity, the wooden projectile can cause significant harm.
Here, band saw has a slight advantage. As the blade of the band saw loops, it moves down towards the table. As the force is towards down, it doesn’t pose a significant threat to the operator.
The table saw is definitely the noisiest of the two. We recommend proper ear protection (ear plugs or headbands) when working with table saws. Band saws also produce noise but the design of the tool means the noise is less.
Which One to Buy? Table Saw vs Band Saw
This is an important question. Which power saw to buy, a table saw or a band saw? The answer is, it depends on the nature of your job. Instead of saying buy this or that, we will see which one is suitable for different kinds of work.
The table saw is every workshop’s centerpiece. Whether it is a professional shop or an industrial woodshop, the table saw is a must-have tool.
If you make a lot of rip cuts and crosscuts in large pieces of timber, then the table saw is the best option. Apart from this, you can also make all kinds of angled cuts (miter, bevel, or compound) using a table saw.
However, if you work on relatively smaller pieces of wood to make curve cuts or cuts in any irregular shape, the band saw is the best option.
Also Check: Best Bow Saws
Table Saw and Band Saw are the two popular “stationary” workshop tools. One has a circular saw blade suitable for making long and straight cuts, while the other has a thin vertical blade suitable for precise curve cuts.
If you are looking to buy either of these saws, you need to understand their basics, how they operate, and also the set of applications they excel at.
In this guide, we saw a brief overview of both table saw and band saw along with their pros and cons. Then, we looked at the differences between them by having a table saw vs band saw comparison.
Finally, we gave a couple of important points and ended with which type of saw is suitable for a set of applications.
We hope that this guide helped you in understand the basics of the table saw and band saw. If you feel we missed something or want us to add anything, do let us know in the comments section. It will not only help us but even other readers.