Band Saw – A Versatile Power Tool

Anyone who loves doing DIY projects and is serious about woodworking needs some power tools that help him/her complete the project quickly and efficiently. These tools also ensure that the end result is accurate, precise and high-quality. In this post, we are focusing on one of the most versatile of all saws: the band saw.

What is a Band Saw? 

an adjustable band saw

A band saw, often written as bandsaw, is a power saw that cuts different materials with a long blade strip stretched between two wheels. This strip of blade is stretched and held in place by two (or sometimes three) wheels and passes through a small hole in the cutting table. Being thinner than the blades in other power saws, the band saw can cut elegant curves even on a thick plank of timber. 

Aside from curves, that are its main strength, the band saw can also do straight and bevel cuts. It comes in handy in cutting dovetails, mortise and tenons, and other forms of joinery. It is an equipment of choice especially among woodworkers, boat builders and furniture makers.

Types of Band Saw

Heavy-duty horizontal band saw

If you believe band saws are only used in woodworking, you couldn’t be any wrong. A bandsaw is also useful in cutting metal and even meat. Following are the different types of band saw.

Horizontal Band Saw 

Horizontal band saws boast a horizontal cutting position. The idler and drive wheels in this saw are arranged lengthwise, while the blade creates cuts at right angles or miter angles. An electric motor drives this saw with a belt and pulley. 

You can use a horizontal band saw to make basic cuts on different materials. It is possible to make adjustments and change the speed with this type of band saw. 

Vertical Band Saw 

Also known as contour saw, a vertical band saw is also a versatile power tool. These machines feature a vertical loop blade which works by rotating between the idler wheel. The mechanism is mounted over a worktable with the drive wheel sitting underneath it. This machine lets you manipulate the cutting material in different ways, including at various angles. Vertical band saws are great for simple stockpiece cutting.

Benchtop Band Saw 

Benchtop band saws are a smart choice for both woodworking professionals and DIY enthusiasts. These power saws are small in size and highly portable. You can mount one directly on a worktable, stand or a cabinet. These band saws have a motor directly mounted into them, which means there is no belt below the worktable to help them run. This type of bandsaw performs extremely well in cutting tasks ranging from small to large.

Floor Standing Band Saw

Floor standing band saws are the top choice for professionals who want to tackle heavy-duty work. Being heavy-duty, these band saws are able to kick out more power and performance, better than any other types of band saws. They have a large work surface, so making intricate cuts or ripping large pieces of stock is very easy for these. 

However, they can be a bit too much for home usage. This is because they consume high electricity and usually require three-phase rather than single-phase sources, making them an overkill for most home DIY projects.

Handheld/Portable Band Saw

Handheld and portable band saws may appear a bit different than other types of band saws, but are still considered a band saw because of the way their blade moves. Handheld band saws are about the same size as a portable circular saw. They feature a small cutting area and can be used to cut curved lines, straight edge curls and irregular shapes. 

Portable band saws are not just excellent because they are handy, but they also help in cutting stock that’s too large for a benchtop or a floor standing bandsaw.

Meat Cutting Band Saw 

Meat cutting band saws are used by butchers at meat shops for trimming down and cutting large pieces of meat. They are designed to cut through flesh and bones with very little wastage. Band saws for meat look a lot like floor standing band saws, but have blades specially made for cutting meat. This bandsaw should not be used to cut any material other than meat. 

Factors To Consider When Buying a Band Saw 

woodworker cutting a plank of wood

A woodworking DIY enthusiast will probably only need a small bandsaw to reduce the amount of time and effort spent on cutting wood. A timber mill, on the other hand, will need an industrial model that helps them rip lumber while minimizing wastage. Aside from the purpose of purchase, here are some important factors that you should consider when buying a band saw.


Power is the most important feature to consider while buying any power tool. The more powerful the motor, the more easily the saw will cut through the different materials. 

A higher wattage means the saw can handle denser and harder pieces of stock without any issue. But if a band saw is underpowered, it won’t be able to maintain blade speed, torque, and precision while cutting into such pieces. 

When choosing a bandsaw, think about the material you will be cutting with it, especially its thickness. This will help you determine how powerful a model you need. 

Cutting Capacity

Cutting capacity refers to how big a workpiece can a band saw manage to take on. Different band saws have various cutting capacities because of two main factors; throat and width.

Throat defines the height of the material the saw can work with, while depth refers to how thick  the cutting material it can handle.

Again, considering the demands of your woodworking project will help you determine the right cutting capacity for your needs. If you are unsure, go with a benchtop bandsaw. With its adjustability, it can take on both large and small pieces. 


When it comes to cutting different types of materials in various ways, there is a wide variety of band saw loop blades. You have to choose the blade according to the material you are working with. 

Blades with smaller widths are better at cutting curves. But if you are after finesse cuts, choose a regular-toothed blade. Lastly, if you want to rip through the material, consider getting a band saw with a hook-toothed blade. 


Speed is another important factor to consider when buying a band saw. Different materials require different speeds for cutting. So, instead of buying a fixed speed band saw, the better option here is to get a model with variable speed control. This way, you’ll be able to work with a variety of materials by easily adjusting the blade speed.

What Are Band Saws Used For?

an industrial grade band saw 

Band saws are versatile tools that can help you in more than one way. Here is what uses you can put one to:

Small DIY Projects

Whether you are a DIY hobbyist or a pro, at some point, you will need to make some curved or straight cuts when crafting crown molding, trimming pieces, or other workpieces. A bandsaw will help you throughout DIY projects requiring these tasks.

Cutting Metal

Band saws can also be used in cutting metal precisely and efficiently. A portable model would work perfectly on pipes, air ducts, framing and a variety of metal types. It can create easy and precise cuts from a number of different angles, as long as the piece of metal fits into the cutting area. 

Intricate cutting

A bandsaw, especially a benchtop saw, is fully capable of ripping and intricate cutting of large pieces of wood. No matter how large and complex the piece of wood is, a benchtop and a floor standing model would easily rip, resaw, and make curved cuts.


A band saw is a versatile tool that can help you with a lot of woodworking projects. This sawing tool is best known for its versatility and precision. It easily surpasses the results of a table saw or miter saw. A bandsaw will help you create clean and simple cuts as well as highly intricate designs. It won’t just enhance your woodworking skills but also assist you in every small to large home-based project.