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I am toying between 2 options for my next workshop power tool. A bandsaw or table saw.

Both I am looking at have a maximum cutting depth of 80mm, both have fences to enable straight cuts and both have tiltable cutting tables with the same tilt angles available.

So, what are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

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I have found the following answer by @Tester at https://diy.stackexchange.com/a/33313/52164


It depends on what you're cutting, why you're cutting it, and what type of cuts you're making.

Long Straight Cuts

When it comes to long straight cuts, a table saw is the best in the business. Set the fence, turn it on, and it'll cut the same width pieces forever. With a band saw (or most other saws), you'll be looking at using some type of jig for long straight cuts. Though even with a jig, you can end up with a bit of wobble in the cut since the blade may be a bit flexible.

Scrolling Cuts

If you're scrolling, you're not using a table saw. A band saw is going to allow you to make tighter radius curves, and do more accurate scrolling work.

Depth of Cut

In some cases you'll not want to cut clean through a board. Maybe you're cutting a dado, a groove, a tongue, etc. In these cases, the height adjustable blade on a table saw can be quite handy. You're not making these cuts on a band saw, though you could always use a router.

Beveling

Some table saws also allow you to tilt the blade, which allows you to make long straight bevel cuts. You can do bevel cuts on a band saw, but you're going to have to tilt the work piece instead of the saw blade.

Materials

If you're working with more than just wood, a band saw will be your friend. You'll be able to cut metal, wood, plastics, and even meat, simply by installing an appropriate blade. A table saw is simply not going to offer the same versatility.

Kerf

Kerf, is the amount of material removed by the saw blade. Since a band saws blades are thinner, they'll have a smaller kerf than a table saw. Whether that's a pro or con is up to you, but there you go.

Noise

In almost all cases, a band saw is going to be much quieter than a table saw.

Safety

Some people feel safer around a band saw. Maybe because it's quieter, or doesn't look as ominous. I'm not sure what the reason, that's just how it is. Don't be fooled, a band saw will take your finger off just the same as a table saw.


In the end, it depends what types of cuts you'll be making most, what materials you'll be using, and your own personal preference. I say, get both!

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  • A couple of nits to pick: even with a blade change, not all bandsaws are capable of cutting all those different materials. Many woodworking bandsaws do a fine job of clearing wood chips and sawdust, but can't handle metal swarf. I don't even want to think about cutting meat with my bandsaw. – Gern Blanston Mar 20 at 12:38
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    Regarding safety: much of the safety concern around a table saw deals with kickback, not just with hand-to-blade contact. Because the working portion of a table saw blade is moving toward the user with a lot of energy, if the work piece binds in the cut, or if your technique is poor, a table saw can throw the work piece back at you, potentially causing serious injury. Because of the way a bandsaw blade moves toward the table, it can't throw the work piece in this way. – Gern Blanston Mar 20 at 12:42
  • Lol I agree about the meat side of things. As for metal, I am not in any way thinking a bandsaw could cope with anything of a thickness of more than say 5mm (1/5 inch). @GernBlanston. The safety aspects you mention are good points. Maybe you could put your points into an answer? – Chris Rogers Mar 20 at 12:47
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    It's not a question of material thickness. Swarf (the metalworking equivalent of sawdust, basically) from a metal cut is much harder and sharper than wood chips and sawdust, and when it gets pulled into the lower wheel, it will tear up the tire. It can also foul the bearings. – Gern Blanston Mar 20 at 12:51
  • @GernBlanston hmmm fair comment. – Chris Rogers Mar 20 at 12:52
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As with so many tool selection questions, a good place to start would be to ask yourself what you want to do with it.

If you have a specific need in mind, then choose the tool that's better for that. For example, if you plan to build a whole kitchen's worth of cabinets, the table saw is probably what you want. If you're interested in making bandsaw boxes, well...

The short version: a table saw does a handful of jobs better than anything else, while a bandsaw is extremely versatile.


Opinion warning

A table saw is pretty much the archetypal woodworking power tool, and as a result, it tends to be the first tool many people buy when setting up their workshop. It was certainly the first tool I bought, for pretty much that reason. It's also the power tool that I use least often. If you don't have a specific need that you're trying to fill, and just want something for general woodworking use, I'd recommend a bandsaw.

Of these two tools, there are some tasks that a table saw does better than any other tool. Cutting (reasonably sized) sheet goods is one example. Making repeatable cuts on a lot of case parts is another example.

There are also a lot of tasks that table saws aren't suitable for. You should never try to make curved cuts on a table saw.

A bandsaw can do a lot of things competently, and some things really well. If you have any type of curved profile you want to apply to a piece along its length, a bandsaw is the best tool for this. If you need to resaw stock, a band saw is the best tool for this.1 If you need to make rip cuts on stock that doesn't have an absolutely flat, square edge on it yet, the bandsaw is much safer.2

And while there are safety concerns associated with any power tool, the risk of kickback is, in my mind, the biggest safety concern when using a table saw. Because the working portion of a table saw blade is moving toward you with a lot of energy, if the work piece binds in the cut, or if your technique is poor, a table saw can throw the work piece back at you, potentially causing serious injury. Because of the way a bandsaw blade moves toward the table, it can't throw the work piece in this way.3

In my particular usage, one of my bandsaw's greatest strength is its versatility. Very, very often when I'm in my shop, I'll have to make some quick and dirty cut on whatever I have in hand, just to get it to approximate size or whatever. Most of the time, I can just walk up to my bandsaw and get it done in 15 seconds, where if I were going to use my table saw for the same job, I'd have to worry about fixturing, flatness of the reference surface, etc.


1It is possible to resaw with a table saw, but the process is tedious, and you lose a lot more material thickness this way.

2Although you can build a jig to accomplish this on a table saw, too.

3Regardless of which of these you choose, please make sure you understand the safety considerations of the tool, and learn how to use it safely.

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  • @1, yes, possible to resaw, but very different including the wider kerf. With a 10" TS blade, at best you can resaw 9" tall. That may be enough. My 14X12 BS will do close to 12.5" tall. Safety is another great concern. Bandsaws don't kick back, but do have their own brand of "gotcha's" Still, I consider them safer in most instances. – user3158591 Mar 26 at 18:09
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I had this exact dilemma. In fact, most of us probably did. My decision came down to which I would use more for my needs, which I determined would be the table saw.

Of course, we don't know your needs.

Since I already had a jigsaw, I figured that would do fine for a while. I ended up making a box for it, mounted an inverted jigsaw inside it, and used that as a "bandsaw" for over a year. It worked great for small projects.

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  • +1 for coming up with a temporary solution to a bandsaw I forgot. – Chris Rogers Mar 24 at 10:11

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