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What is a Band Saw?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated: Jan 29, 2024

A band saw is a power saw that features a toothed metal strip that moves in a continuous loop around two or three wheels. These saws are often used in home workshops to make straight or curved cuts in woodworking projects. In general, wide blades are used for straight cuts and narrow blades are used for curved cuts. These saws are often considered more versatile than table saws in home workshops and they can make decorative curved details such as trim on bookcases.

One of the few things a band saw is not good for is cutting dados. A router can be added to the home workshop for this purpose though. In woodworking, dados are grooves cut into boards so that other pieces can fit in the groove. A band saw is usually considered ideal for cutting tenons. A tenon is an area on a piece of wood that is created to fit into a mortise, or hole, that holds the tenon. Together, the tenon and mortise form a basic joint used for many wooden items such as furniture, boats and fences.

The two most common types of band saws are the floor-standing and the mounting varieties. The mounting kind may sit on a bench or a stand. These types are often a lot smaller than the floor-standing saws and are usually suitable for most home woodworking areas. Floor-mounted band saws are also known as cabinet band saws and have bigger motors and more deluxe features than bench-mounted saws.

When choosing the right band saw for your needs, look at the depth of the cut the saw offers because that indicates the thickness of the wood the saw can cut. Some have a riser extension piece that increases the depth potential. Another feature that is important to check out when shopping for a band saw is the throat of the blade. The throat is the space between the blade and the main body of the saw. The throat determines the width of wooden pieces that can be cut with the saw.

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