What is a Band Saw Used For?


A band saw is certainly a unique and interesting tool. Some wood workers don’t feel as though it is even necessary really to be able to complete a task. You might be wondering that yourself or if you can just use a table saw or perhaps even a scroll saw instead.

What is a Band Saw Used For?
Image by Anna Shvets from Pexels

For some, it will be purely a matter of preference but you will find that the band saw can be incredibly useful in a lot of different ways. In this guide, we’re here to share with you just what a band saw is and can be used for. By the time we finish, you just might decide that you need to add a band saw to your work shop!

Let’s take a look.

What is a Band Saw?

Types of Band Saws
Image by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

The band saw sits on a stand of some sort and has the base, a cutting table, and the top. The blade is truly a band and is circular in nature. It runs through a wheel in a continuous cutting motion. Depending on the size of the band saw, there may be one, two, or even more wheels that are circulating the blade.

Band saws can be used for woodworking projects but the unique thing about them is that they can also be great for lumber and even metal as needed. Primarily, these saws are used to make curving cuts (although they can be used for straight cuts). Imagine a jigsaw but in a much larger form.

These saws are known for being able to handle curves and irregular patterns with uniform and precise cutting motions. Apart from just curves in your everyday wood pieces, they can handle thick lumber and metal, which is really where their unique differences come into action. One other thing they are commonly used for is ripping lumber to create thinner slabs.

You get smooth and consistent cuts on multiple different uses and types of material. There are certainly times that a band saw may never be all that useful or helpful for you but there are plenty of times it can prove itself to be a valuable asset.

Types of Band Saws

Types of Band Saws
Image by WEN benchtop band saw and Makita compact band saw

There are two main types of band saw that you will come across. They both operate primarily the same but are structures slightly differently. These are as follows.

  • Compact band saw
  • Benchtop band saw

The compact band saw is a small and portable band saw that is used a lot for construction or perhaps contract work. This saw is popular for its portable but also compact design. It continues to be versatile as well.

The compact band saw is typically operated through a rechargeable battery so you don’t have to worry about the cord or a stationary setting. You can just grab it and go as needed and it still offers you power for those same types of cuts as a stationary band saw would.

These compact band saws are still powerful and still very useful, although they may have some limitations as opposed to your freestanding or benchtop band saw. When it comes to making rip cuts, this type of band saw might actually be your preference just because it’s easy to maneuver it. They are also made to be durable since they are often taken to job sites.

The benchtop band saw comes in more than one format as well. You might find miniature or small ones that you literally set on your benchtop or you might find freestanding ones that are large and have their own stands and feet so they rest on your floor. Most of the time, they really are designed to sit on a bench or table top, though.

The benchtop version is designed to be a stationary piece in your workshop and they typically have more power than a compact model. They provide you power and accuracy for a number of tasks.

Common Band Saw Uses

Common Band Saw Uses
Image by Makita compact band saw from Amazon

There are some primary uses that band saws are most commonly known for. Keep in mind that they can be used on a variety of materials so you can plan to use your band saw on things like piping, wood, metal, plastic, or aluminum.

Let’s discuss the most common uses for a band saw.


Woodworking is perhaps one of the most popular uses of a band saw. Your band saw, particularly a benchtop model, comes with a table to work on, angles and speed adjustment capabilities, and the ability to make different types of cuts.

You can make crosscuts, straight cuts, and any type of design or curved and circular cuts as well. Curves are the specialty of the band saw. You can freehand and move your piece with the blade for a smooth and efficient cutting process. It operates similarly to a scroll saw in that regard. You move the wood and let the saw do the work.

The band saw can handle woodworking of all sizes.

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Circular Cuts

A lot of people turn to jigsaws and scroll saws for circular cuts and that is fine but when it comes to a large piece or a perfect circle, the band saw actually does so much better. The band saw lets you adjust for the height and can handle much thicker wood. It also moves consistently and smoothly so your circle comes out perfect every time.

If you’re looking for a perfect circle and you want some space, the band saw is absolutely phenomenal here.

Lumber Cuts

Another popular use of the band saw is to make cuts on lumber. Band saws are known for being able to rip lumber into smaller pieces with absolutely no challenge or hassle. The nice thing about a band saw is that it can handle thick and hard lumber pieces like a dream.

Band saws have a large cutting capacity and the table comes in helpful for supporting any type of wood. Of course, this may depend on the size of your band saw as well so just keep that in mind.

Rip Cutting

Rip cutting doesn’t always require massive table saws. The band saw has enough power and functionality and cuts just smoothly enough that you can quickly make rip cuts. The nice thing about this saw is you can cut smoothly and quickly and you can make these cuts without cracking or splitting your wood.

It’s a smooth cut and it’s fast and your band saw can handle long and wide pieces to do so with the adjustable sizes.

Metal Cuts

Next up, you can cut metal with your band saw as well. The blade is sharp and steady, which allows you to be able to cut things besides just wood. There are very few saws that have enough power to cut both wood and metal when you really break it down.

The nice thing about the band saw is the blade is very sharp and it cuts accurately and effectively to multiple materials. Cutting metal is simple with a band saw and you can make your cuts quickly!

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Re-Saw Materials

One of the unique things about a band saw is the ability to re-saw items. This process is used when you’re cutting a material that needs to cut across. With some saws, this can be very challenging to make that across cut because of the thickness or even length of that piece.

Re-saw seems like an odd term here but as a woodworker you most likely already understand the terminology. The band saw can cut these pieces smoothly and quickly, regardless of that thick or awkward design

Cutting Multiple Pieces

And last, but not least, you can use your band saw to cut multiple pieces or multiple cuts. If you have a stack of wood or maybe some other material and you need to cut them all exactly the same, you can cut them all at one time.

As long as you have them properly aligned and marked, they will easily run through your band saw and return to you with perfectly cut multiple pieces. This saves you from having to cut them one at a time and the result is still smooth and accurate.

When you use the band saw for this, just be sure to adjust your blade to the appropriate height to handle the items. Then, you can simply feed the materials through steadily, just like you would a single item. It handles the full stack and everything still comes out smooth and even in the end.

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A band saw can be incredibly useful and has a lot of unique aspects and capabilities to it that many people never even realize. While you certainly might be able to do some of your projects without a band saw, you will find that it’s a universal and versatile tool that no work shop should ever be without.

We hope that you find this guide to understanding what a band saw can be used for to be helpful and informative. There is much to know and understand but it is far more useful than people generally give it credit for.

Are you ready for a band saw yet?

Amazon Recommends:

Bestseller No. 1
WEN BA3962 3.5-Amp 10-Inch Two-Speed Band Saw with Stand and Worklight , Black
  • 3.5 amp motor creates cuts up to six inches deep and 9-3/4 inches wide
  • Uses 72-inch blades anywhere from 1/8 to 1/2 inches in size
  • Spacious 14-1/8 x 12-1/2 inch cast aluminum work table bevels up to 45 degrees
  • Operates at two speeds of either 1520 or 2620 FPM
  • Includes a 2-year warranty, a work light, a 3-in-1 dust port, a fence, a miter gauge, and a 3/8-inch blade (6 TPI)
Bestseller No. 2
WEN 94396 10-Amp 5-Inch Variable Speed Handheld Portable Band Saw for Metal
  • Huge cutting capacity makes cuts up to 5 inches wide and 5 inches deep
  • Variable speed operation adjusts the blade speed anywhere from 60 to 420 feet per minute
  • Powerful 10-amp motor glides through metal, plastics, and more
  • Lightweight portable design weighs in at a mere 14.5 pounds
  • Features a 10/14 TPI metal-cutting blade, an adjustable front handle, ball-bearing blade guides, an external blade tensioning lever, and a two-year warranty
SaleBestseller No. 3
RIKON Power Tools 10-305 Bandsaw With Fence, 10-Inch
  • Solid Steel Design- The 10-305 is a scaled down version of the popular 10-345 and 10-325. Frame is made of steel plate, stronger than plastic frames used by other manufactures
  • Cast Iron Table-Large 13-3/4-Inch by 12-1/2-Inch sturdy work surface, a feature not typically found on a bandsaw of this size
  • Rip Fence- A quality rip fence is now included. Easily removed to do free hand work
  • Motor - 1/3HP motor provides ample power for cutting bowl and pen blanks
  • Micro Adjustable Guide Post- Raise and lower the guide post height with the turn of a handle

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