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

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Share It

Bandaws are highly effective cutting tools mainly used by woodworkers, metalworkers and lumberjacks. But what is it really, and how does the tool work? Without proper understanding, you could be underutilizing the tool without knowing. Our team of experts will cover in the detail the most important aspects of a bandsaw below.

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, our experts will 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. Our team 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

Some woodworkers love the bandsaw because it pulls sawdust below the table and away from the cutting action. This can be a significant advantage because it offers more visibility and gives you more active control of whatever you’re cutting.  

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

The horizontal bandsaw is mostly common with artisans and craftsmen. It is used for cutting large pieces of metal into workable sizes. It trades versatility for more cutting power.

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 our team’s 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

Hook tooth blades have larger spaces between their teeth, and their gullets much deeper than what you have with regular tooth blades. They also have an undercut face and are used to make fast and coarse cuts. Hook tooth blades are primarily used on plastic, metal and 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. Our team of experts 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. 


Hopefully, our experts 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 woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!

Join Our Woodworking Community on Facebook And Get 3 Woodworking Plans for Free!