I'm just getting into woodworking and don't have any equipment, not even a bench. As a beginner looking to maybe make anything from small boxes to light furniture, should I buy a table saw or a band saw? I'm looking to spend around £100...

It needs to be controllable enough to cut dovetails, etc but this would also be my only saw.


7 Answers 7


It depends on what you're cutting, why you're cutting it, and what type of cuts you're making.

Long Straight Cuts

When it comes to long straight cuts, a table saw is the best in the business. Set the fence, turn it on, and it'll cut the same width pieces forever. With a band saw (or most other saws), you'll be looking at using some type of jig for long straight cuts. Though even with a jig, you can end up with a bit of wobble in the cut since the blade may be a bit flexible.

Scrolling Cuts

If you're scrolling, you're not using a table saw. A band saw is going to allow you to make tighter radius curves, and do more accurate scrolling work.

Depth of Cut

In some cases you'll not want to cut clean through a board. Maybe you're cutting a dado, a groove, a tongue, etc. In these cases, the height adjustable blade on a table saw can be quite handy. You're not making these cuts on a band saw, though you could always use a router.


Some table saws also allow you to tilt the blade, which allows you to make long straight bevel cuts. You can do bevel cuts on a band saw, but you're going to have to tilt the work piece instead of the saw blade.


If you're working with more than just wood, a band saw will be your friend. You'll be able to cut metal, wood, plastics, and even meat, simply by installing an appropriate blade. A table saw is simply not going to offer the same versatility.


Kerf, is the amount of material removed by the saw blade. Since a band saws blades are thinner, they'll have a smaller kerf than a table saw. Whether that's a pro or con is up to you, but there you go.


In almost all cases, a band saw is going to be much quieter than a table saw.


Some people feel safer around a band saw. Maybe because it's quieter, or doesn't look as ominous. I'm not sure what the reason, that's just how it is. Don't be fooled, a band saw will take your finger off just the same as a table saw.

In the end, it depends what types of cuts you'll be making most, what materials you'll be using, and your own personal preference. I say, get both!

  • Thanks for this detailed answer, a lot to consider... I think for me a table saw to get started with more blocky builds and then perhaps a band saw for more varied ones. It seems I can delay purchasing a router too by using a table saw for beveling/grooves as well. Thanks
    – Sam Jones
    Oct 31, 2013 at 11:05
  • There is also the issue of maintenance, which on a band saw is more complicated, involving wheel alignment, blade tensioning, backstay adjustment, which are all easy but require a bit of expertise to get right.
    – mike
    Oct 31, 2013 at 15:19

Important consideration for either style shop is how much floorspace you have. With a tablesaw, you need to dedicate a huge amount of space right in the center of your workspace, so you have ample space for infeed & outfeed. This leads guys to build the rest of their shop around the tablesaw, and then they tend to design everything with the tablesaw in mind. Look at Norm Abram's shop for an example of this.

A bandsaw allows much more flexibility for your workspace, and you can even get locking casters if you need to roll it out of the way sometimes, not something I would recommend doing with a tablesaw.

  • I have a 'contractors' table saw that is on casters, in my garage. It works well for trim work and some sheet work (with a helper). I agree that a cabinet type should be locked down and maximized for accuracy.
    – HerrBag
    Oct 31, 2013 at 21:33
  • -1 this answer is flat out misleading. To rip in a single pass stock that is 8' long, 17' of space is required, period . . . . . and you don't provide your reasoning for your statement 'not something I would recommend'
    – mike
    Nov 1, 2013 at 2:23
  • @mike you are right about the infeed/outfeed thing, I think my point was more that if you are putting down a cabinet saw, you will want room around it on all sides to get the most out of it. A bandsaw will always be limited by the throat for the width of stock, so it's ok to have it against the wall. Also like the other commenter, you can put a contractor saw on casters but it can work, but can be difficult to handle if you are not totally comfortable with it Nov 5, 2013 at 1:32
  • @AnthonyBird - as you wish.
    – mike
    Nov 5, 2013 at 2:02
  • @AnthonyBird, Any relation to Lonnie Bird who wrote a lot of books on Bandsaws?
    – user148298
    Jan 25, 2014 at 2:31

Buy a small or portable 10" table saw like a Bosch 4100.

A table saw will make a much cleaner cut than a band saw and in general will be precise. Band saws are sloppy and do not handle large boards well.

Also, a table saw is much easier to replace the blade, and you can switch out blades. Typically you will have a four blades: cross cut blade, a ripping blade, a thin kerf blade and a dado kit. You can't even cut dadoes on a band saw. Just the fact that you can switch in and out 4 different blade types tells you the table saw is the versatile option.

If you are doing house woodworking (as opposed to cabinetry), you will find you need a circular saw and a mitre saw with a long horse, also.

You also need a drill press.


I am facing the same dilemma as you are. I have a bandsaw and there are times I think about adding a table saw to my shop. The bandsaw is versatile, but it's also fussy about how it's set up. You'll often find your cuts compromised by numerous factors such as a bad blade or a bad setup. I've ripped stock through the bandsaw and found my cut to be bowed, crowned or canted because the blade wandered during the cut. Even with a properly tuned bandsaw, it's not going to be as precise as a table saw for making straight parallel cuts. To be fair though, most of my bandsaw issues really stem not from the saw, but the accessories such as the fence and the miter gauge being out of square.

At the same time, however, I am very concerned about safety. The bandsaw is generally much safer than a tablesaw and it's harder to cut your fingers off accidentally. I can't tell you how many people I've run into who tell me that they know someone who has lost digits to a tablesaw accident. If you decide to get one, I would strongly consider a SawStop. Unfortunately, the least expensive model will set you back around $1500.

If you do get a bandsaw, make sure you get a good brand and ensure you're using a quality blade. It will make a big difference.


They really are different tools. You can do things with a bandsaw that you simply can't with a table saw, and vice versa. If you need to cut curves, or cut stock thicker than 3.5", or similar tasks a bandsaw wins; if you need to cut pieces to exactly repeatable sizes, or cut wide pieces, or make dados (extended non-through cuts) or coves, table saw wins.

If you look at woodworking magazines, you'll see many more operations using the table saw than the bandsaw.

On the other hand, table saws really do have to be treated with more respect. A bandsaw may take a finger off, but it's unlikely to shred the finger beyond possibility of reattachment or pull the rest of the hand in (I too am a big fan of SawStop; expensive but in my opinion worth the cost, and they're high-quality saws too.) And a bandsaw has essentially no kickback hazard.

Some of the things table saws are used for can be done with a circular saw, given an appropriate jig. Circ saws are more likely to splinter the edge, even with a good blade, though again the proper jig can help manage that. And of course most tasks can be done with non-powered tools. So the real answer is that the best tool depends on exactly what you want to do with it. Having said that, I do think a table saw is the heart of a general-purpose power-tool-based woodshop.


A table saw is one of the popular tools for woodwork. One should have this in one's tool collection. These saws come in a wide range and are of different types. While working with a table saw, it is recommended to use safety glasses so as to ensure safety. It has a circular blade that allows you to do woodworking with an ease. These tools are highly durable and have a great precision.

A band saw is also one of the great tools and is good for metalwork, lumbering, and woodwork. It also has a sharp-edged blade that allows you to cut irregular shapes. If you don't want to have a smooth finishing work, you can opt for the band saw, otherwise, a table saw would be the most optimum choice.

  • 2
    Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. This doesn't really answer the original question. Please check out our Help section for how best to participate here. May 29, 2018 at 10:39

I was/am in the same boat as the person who posted the original question. I am also new to working with wood.

(This might be a long read but if you are new to working with wood, I think it's valuable info. I might not be 100% correct with my info, but I do think I'm on the right track.)

I thought it we be clever to buy everything, and not just everything, but the best of... After a few cuts with my new 'balls and all' table saw I realised I had made a mistake.

I am today going to speak with the store from which it was purchased to see if I can arrange to return it and buy other tools (I have (maybe after this...had) a good relationship with the store so...). I believe I will still need a table saw but... I will supply what I consider to be the reasons and then what I will be using as replacements -

If you are just after 1 tool, I truly believe you stretch that to 2 saws, a circular saw and a jig saw is definitely the way to go. If you go that way, you can, quite easily built a house for the circular saw to be turned upside down to be converted to a table saw. Likewise the jig saw (that way may present some dangerous scenarios from both saws). You really aren't offering up enough moolah to do want you want... For what you are wanting, you really need to spend more money. Bit by bit... Other than the options I have provided here, bit by bit is the only way to do it.

A) Table Saw - After destroying most of the stock I purchased for my first job with the table saw using large board, I realised I could do much straighter cuts with a circular saw and a long clamp-on straight edge for the saw to run along while sawing. I will still need a table saw but a much cheaper and smaller bench top unit, and it will be mainly used for cutting board, only part of the way through, to make drawers and also for other joint types. I have limited space so changing my table saw is going to be just great all round. Also, I have discovered that if I wish to use the tool for doing things that I believed I could use it for, I will first need to make a bunch of different jigs which is going to be a right pain before I can do any of the stuff I believed possible when I first purchased it.

The Table Saw Conclusion - In my limited opinion, unless you are a professional with specific needs, you only need a cheap baby saw - not a pathetic bargain basement saw, but nothing near extravagant. Maybe, in AUD$, under $200?

B) Mitre Saw - This is an important part of the wookshop. I have a silding double bevel saw which is still in the box, but I do believe that, when I'm finished with my first 'board' job, it will be used often for cutting 'always perfect' 90 degree cuts, and cuts of any angle between 45 & 90 degrees. Also, as well as cutting angles, it can cut, at the same angles mentioned above, beveled cuts. Mine is a good quality saw capable of cutting timber 90mm (3") thick and 340mm (13 1/2") wide (depending on the types of cuts). You don't need one as big as mine, I really only went that big because it was on sale. Again, I have little experience, but I do believe that this will prove to be a valuable resourse. Maybe, in AUD$, under $120?

C) Band Saw - I'm yet to buy one, and I'm still reseaching scroll saws as well because I don't think a big saw is necessary, however, I'm pretty sure the jig saw will win out, but when I do, I have my eye on a reasonable, though very far from high end, saw for around $150 (AUD$). This saw will be used for things the other saws can't tackle, and other obvious jobs.


Again, I'm still new to this myself but maybe a little ahead of the person who asked the question in the opening post. The following list contains the tools, their quality, their sizes, etc. which I see as important. Especially those which can save you having to go through the hassle of constructing big, awkward, rare and detailed jigs, and also getting the right tools that don't require a huge workshop and won't take up a lot of space; especially important because most of the time they aren't even being used (This bloody huge table saw sitting in the middle of my shop taking up most of - what was - my free space, is the best example). Even if you decide to take up my ideas, even though I am happy using cheaper tools,I strongly suggest paying out for quality blades/bits -

  1. A smallish table saw - preferably one which can be put away in a shelf when not in use.
  2. A smallish band saw - the reason used in number 1 fits perfectly here, too.
  3. A half decent mitre saw. In my opinion, and because of reducing the sixe of the saws mentioned above, this is where to spend a few extra bucks and get a sliding, double bevel type with at least a 200mm (8") blade.
  4. A jig saw. Just a small one, there's no need to go overboard here - quality blades a must.
  5. A circular saw. Using the same logic as in number 4.
  6. Some good, long 2M+ (7'+) Straight edge clamps to use as a fence, or to guide the hand-held power tools when long, straight cuts are required.
  7. A router. Again, nothing fancy here. Try to get quality bits. That is, unless you plan on being fancy, in which case, I guess you'll know what you'll need.
  8. Measuring tools. I understand that we all know this stuff. Still, some good squares (when I say good, I mean cheap, but not nasty. Tri-square, Speed-squares, a big/long T-square, etc.. the big/long T-square is very important when working on large board.
  9. All of the opinions/reasons are mine, for home whokshop use, based on my limited experience and very costly trial and error.

My conversions from current measurements to older imperial measurements may not be accurate. It is made very, very difficult with America refusing to update to current, worldwide standards. Americans may think the rest of the world is wrong but, with the USA and only 2 other countries in the whole world still clinging to the old imperial units, the overwhelming majority are not wrong. By the way, Americans... The 2 other countries worldwide clinging to imperial units are Liberia and Myanmar. Don't take this as me insulting your country, I, most certainly, am not. Australia would be gone, and the land would now a be part of the Imperial Japanese Empire if it wasn't for you and your might, and the huge price you paid for us. Everybody has paid the toll in that tragedy, but your navy saved the world. C'mon, get your act together... Start using metric, imperial measurements have been defeated.

1mm x 1000 =1 metre X 1000 = 1 Kilometre

1 gram x 1000 Kilogram X 1000 = 1 metric Tonne

1 byte x 1000 = 1 Kilobyte X 1000 = 1 Megabyte

0 degrees C water freezes 100 degrees C water boils

It's just so simple.

Anyway, I am unsure how far the person who made the OP has come since making that post, they're maybe now far ahead of me. That said, this was one of the first results listed when using Google so I thought that if my reply isn't of help to the OP, maybe it might help others facing the same question well into the future...Maybe...

OH... SAFETY... A BAND SAW IS BY FAR THE MOST DANGEROUS! THEY ARE BOTH HORRORS BUT A BAND SAW IS BY FAR THE WORST. My father worked in a mill for 20 years... He has lost count of the fingers he has had to pick up for other people, I am being literal.

This is first hand (I guess second hand, but still..) knowledge from someone who was there...

Maybe I didn't introduce my experience correctly. I actually have a very diverse skill set credited to a diverse employment background. I have quite extensive knowledge on a lot of the products needed to build, say, a comprehensive home workshop. My experience though, is more about product rather than usage.

I have been on the 'pen end' of a lot of this stuff. I have used everything one could possibly imagine when it comes to woodworking/building, just nothing like the hours of someone who does this for a living or someone who has used a home workshop for 20 years. A lot of my 'so called' experience comes from purchasing. I'm white collar, without much "hands-on" time.

However, I now have the opportunity to get my hands dirty.

I know quite a lot and, at the same time, very little... If you get my meaning... I guess, maybe someone could correct me, and help me at the same time as helping the OP.

Wow... What a way to introduce myself.


Thank you for reading. I hope it helps someone.

  • Welcome to DIY.SE! This is a very long answer, with a lot of unrelated bits, which makes it hard to pick out the actual answer to the question asked (table saw or bandsaw?). Could you edit it to highlight the conclusion and remove the unnecessary pieces?
    – mmathis
    Feb 16, 2019 at 17:16

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