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How to Choose a Band Saw

You can choose between a vertical or horizontal band saw, making the right decision depends on the user’s needs.

If you already know what type of band saw you need, and just want to see different reviews, please check our Best Band Saw Reviews.

Bandsaw Types


A vertical bandsaw requires you to manually feed the boards into the cutting blade that functions at a vertical position. This means a vertical tool will cut into the side of a wood, so you’ll have to move it against the cutting blade horizontally using your hand to execute the necessary cuts piece by piece.


Different from the two-pulley system specific to vertical bandsaws, horizontal bandsaws have pulleys going along the length of the frame or base, which means it functions similarly to a chainsaw. These have horizontally mounted blades with downward-facing teeth that work with gravity to cut the wooden boards.

Since these rely on gravity to do most of the woodworking functions, they require less work on your part in contrast to vertical bandsaws. Horizontal bandsaws are typically floor-mounted and are heavier too, so you need to accommodate a larger amount of space to use this bandsaw adequately.


When you’re looking to buy a band saw, you’ll have to refer to the diameter of its wheels to determine its size. The wheel diameter allows you to know the throat width, so the throat will typically measure about an inch less when differentiated with the diameter.

Knowing the throat diameter will give you the necessary information to figure out the widest board that can be easily passed through the column and blade. To find out the wood thickness that a bandsaw can cut, you’ll have to figure out its resaw capacity.

If you’re a furniture-maker who does small shop work, you should buy a model that has a wheel diameter of 14-inch min. The further up and the larger you go in regards to the wheel diameter, the larger the work area you can complete. If you expect to perform extensive woodwork, a 16 inch to a 20-inch wheel diameter will suffice.

For utter versatility, you’ll need a resaw height of a minimum of 12 inches, since the resaw height plays a direct role in the versatile nature of the bandsaw. You can also choose one with a window for a smooth, easier and accurate angle for cutting.

Frame Design

The frame is what holds all the components intact, so you can’t be cheap when it comes to this element. If you happen to decide on a cheap bandsaw, it will most likely consist of plastic or wood and will chip and dent after a couple uses.

In regards to a high-quality band saw, there are two main frame design choices that you can choose from, which include a cast iron and a welded-steel.

Before technological innovations were made to the design, the most popular band saw frame for many years consisted of a traditional stand-mounted 14-inch machine that included a cast iron.
In most small shops, cast iron bandsaws commonly had a resaw height that reached 6″, but could reach 12″ due to the riser block quality. Since these have a motor that’s only rated to reach a level of 1 horsepower, cast iron models cannot resaw hardwood measuring 12″, which limits your woodworking abilities.

Nowadays, most people opt out to choose one that includes a frame design that’s made entirely made of welded-steel. These kinds of bandsaws contain motors with higher-rated horsepower levels when compared to the motor of cast iron bandsaws. Most woodworkers suggest buying this type of saw that comes with at least a 2 HP motor.


For those who choose a steel frame model, it will come with cast iron wheels, which can create a flywheel effect to result in cuts that are both steady and reliable.

You’ll notice that on the rims of the wheels of your bandsaw, there are tires that provide the cushion for the blade’s easy tracking. A majority of welded steel bandsaws have flat tires that can effectively track blades the have a girth that measures one inch or more. This is greatly helpful when you’re performing heavy-duty resawing.

Safety Features

Bandsaws are a pretty powerful tool. Hence, anyone who owns or uses them should be looking for particular models that offer good safety features that will be needed while the saw was being used. One main safety feature you should look for is the blade guard, which lessens the risk for injury. But the blade guard should be adjusted before cutting, to see if the blade guides (both upper set and lower set) are working well and won’t put you to danger.

Also this, of course using safety goggles and clothing should help in reducing risks in a large capacity while cutting any material (e.g. metals).


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