What is a Bandsaw? — Learn More About This Power Tool’s Variety of Uses

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Bandsaws are a tool I’ve had the opportunity to work with extensively in my profession, which involves woodworking, metalworking, and lumber-related tasks. So, what exactly is a bandsaw, and how does it operate effectively? Without a solid understanding, one might inadvertently limit its capabilities. In this discussion, I’ll personally delve into the key facets of the bandsaw, drawing from my own experience as an expert in the field.

What is a Bandsaw?

A bandsaw is a cutting tool with a long blade that consists of a continuous toothed metal sheet. Bandsaws may have two or three wheels that rotate non-stop in the same plane. These drive the blade as it cuts whatever you feed it. Depending on the blade, a bandsaw can cut plastic, wood, or even metal.

Bandsaw blades come in various sizes and configurations. The configuration is known as the teeth per inch, or TPI, and is a crucial factor to consider when buying bandsaws.

person operating a bandsaw

Bandsaws also require a motor to run. The motor power is measured in Amps, and common ratings are 2.5 A and 3.5 A. Much like table saws, you need a stand for your bandsaw. Some models come with their own stands, although these tend to be more expensive. Others come as a portable unit, with the blade, motor and other essential accessories. You’ll have to find a table after purchase.

Purpose of a Bandsaw

To put more perspective on what is a bandsaw, I’ll discuss this tool’s purpose and uses. The primary purpose of a bandsaw is to cut. Like many other saws, it is used by workers to slice through project pieces quickly and effectively. The evenly distributed teeth on the blade allow them to give you a fine cut, regardless of the material. I particularly loves bandsaws because of their uniform-cutting action. 

Band saws are also great for cutting irregular shapes that other saws just can’t achieve. Its fixed upright position makes it easy to reorient your wood in any direction and achieve your desired cut but make sure to use the tool with caution to prevent any bandsaw accident or injury. This versatility also makes them great at reutilizing wood.

Grizzly Industrial G0561-7” X 12” 1 HP Metal-Cutting Bandsaw

I have a deep appreciation for the bandsaw due to its unique ability to efficiently remove sawdust from the cutting area by drawing it below the table. This feature has proven to be a valuable advantage in my woodworking experience, as it greatly enhances visibility and provides me with better control over the cutting process.

History of Bandsaws

Bandsaws go as far back as the 18th century when an Englishman, William Newberry got a patent for his design. The patent described a machine with an endless band or ribbon strung over two wheels, and was used to cut wood. Even back then, Mr. Newberry knew his tool’s versatility and claimed that it could even be used for splitting skins and other non-woodworking materials.

The bandsaw was later slowly introduced to America in the mid-18th century. Wide adoption took a while, but bandsaws became one of the most essential tools in a woodworker’s shed once people saw their merit.

Types of Bandsaws

Vertical Bandsaw

The vertical bandsaw is primarily used for cutting metal. Most of vertical bandsaws are highly reliable metal cutting bandsaw that can cut through hard and tough materials. In general, bandsaws are better than table saws in cutting a wider range of materials. The verticals bandsaw has a fairly straightforward design, and the name tells you all you need to know.

cutting a circle on a bandsaw

Horizontal Bandsaw

In my experience as a craftsman, I’ve found the horizontal bandsaw to be a favored choice, especially when dealing with sizable metal pieces that need to be precisely segmented. It shines in delivering robust cutting power, albeit with a bit of trade-off in versatility. This makes it a top pick for jobs demanding substantial cutting force.

Double Cut Bandsaw

The double cut bandsaw has teeth on both sides of the blade and can cut in two directions. It’s mostly used in industrial settings where heavy-duty work is done. Double cut bands cut wood, but they work just as well on plastic and metal.

Benchtop Bandsaw

You can think of the benchtop bandsaw as a crossbreed between a jigsaw and a table saw. They have a small workspace and short blades but are known for producing more power. Woodworkers use them to achieve intricate cutting.

Dewalt Portable Bandsaw

Resaw Bandsaw

Resaw band saws are designed to cut timber along the grain instead of against. They specialize in reducing large sections into smaller ones while minimizing wood wastage.

Bandsaw Blades

According to my findings, bandsaw blades are classified by tooth configuration, and there are three types: regular, hook and skip.

Regular tooth blades have straight, evenly spaced teeth with deep gullets in between. These are the most common and are typically used for regular cutting. These kinds of tooth blades will cut wood and metal.

bandsaw blade

From my experience, hook tooth blades are notable for their distinct tooth design. These blades feature larger gaps between the teeth, considerably deeper gullets, and an undercut face. This unique configuration makes them ideal for achieving swift and coarse cuts. In my line of work, I’ve found hook tooth blades to be particularly valuable when working with materials like plastic, metal, or thick pieces of wood.

Skip tooth blades are quite rare and are used for materials like softwood [1] and nonferrous metals. Skip tooth blades have shallow gullets and widely spaced teeth, and they are best for materials like softwood because their gullets aren’t easily clogged.


Bandsaw maintenance is critical for the longevity of the tool. One of the simplest and most essential points is to clear debris and sawdust from the band saw after use. A blower is great for this purpose.

JET JWBS 15 1.75 HP BANDSAW cutting deck

Also, be sure to apply wax to the table and clean the blade with rust remover as frequently as possible. It also helps to clean the saw itself with resin remover.

In case you are having faulty band saw tires and replacing them is the option, here’s how you can measure band saw tires properly. Read next! 

Bandsaw Compared to a Scroll Saw

These essential power tools are often compared to one another, but what are some of their differences? One of the most noticeable differences between a bandsaw and a scroll saw is the blade. Scroll Saws have a thin and short blade, which contrasts with bandsaws’ big and flexible blades.

They are also designed for different purposes. Bandsaws are used to cut large wood and metal pieces, while scroll saws are used for designing and detail work. 

Notable Bandsaw Manufacturers

The market is filled with several bandsaw brands, but unfortunately, many of them aren’t worth their salt. I recommend getting a bandsaw from any one of these manufactures because they make the best products:

  • WEN
  • Rikon
  • SKIL
  • Grizzly
  • JET
  • Festool
(To get the best out of your bandsaw, you can check the proper use of portable bandsaw here)


What is a bandsaw good for?

A bandsaw is good for cutting wood, plastic, or metal pieces quickly and effectively. It can also make curved and irregular cuts that are difficult for other kinds of saws. 

To make the best out of your band saw, getting high-quality bandsaw fence also guarantees you balance and precise cut.

Why is it called a band saw?

It is called a bandsaw because the blade runs continuously between two wheels, like a band or a ribbon. Some bandsaws may have three wheels, but the principle is the same. 

Next Read: Milwaukee 2429-20 Band Saw Review


Hopefully, I have helped you answer your questions about bandsaws and given you enough information to help make an informed purchase. To recap, bandsaws are mostly used to make irregular cuts in wood, even though some kinds, like horizontal bandsaws, are more suited for heavy-duty metal cuts.

To make your working space clean and clutter free, you can consider using our topnotch mini woodworking shop dust collection here. Read next!

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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