If you are a beginner who just got into woodworking or carpentry, the number of different types of saws you see being used might confuse, or even shock you. And this isn’t surprising, considering the fact that there are dozens, if not hundreds of unique saws.
Starting from the oldest and most basic ones like the hand saws, back saws, or frame saws, and finishing with the mechanically powered ones – we can conclude that saws are very diverse, fascinating, and extremely useful tools.
And in this guide, we’ll be talking about two mechanically powered saws – Jigsaw and Bandsaw. But, more on them in a second.
Depending on the type of blade the mechanically-powered saws use, we can group them into few categories:
- Circular Blade Saws
- Reciprocating Blade Saws
- Continuous Band Saws
In almost all of these categories, we can differentiate various sub-types. For example, under “circular blade saws” we have table saws, miter saws, concrete saws, etc.
Some of these saws are very similar to each other and are used for completing nearly identical cutting tasks. Although, that’s mainly the case for saws of the same category.
Said mainly the case, because, on some occasions, you can have two different types of saws being used for the same or similar cutting tasks. Such a case is the main topic of our guide – the Jigsaw vs Bandsaw debate.
At first glance, the jigsaw and bandsaw look nothing alike. The first is a handheld tool that can be easily maneuvered and taken with you wherever you want, while the second is a static, robust, and powerful cutting machine. However, upon further inspection, we can notice that these two saws have many similar features. Especially when it comes to cutting wood.
Now, let’s stop wasting time and get on with the Jigsaw vs Bandsaw comparison.
Jigsaw - Everything You Need to Know
The jigsaw is a versatile handheld power tool. And as a handheld power tool, it has a lot of maneuverability when cutting various workpieces. With it, you can easily make straight and curved cuts in wood, metal, ceramic, steel, plastic, or other similar materials.
As a concept, the jigsaw first came out in the 19th century. Back then, however, it didn’t have an electric motor to power to blade. So, how did it work?
Well, for the blade to begin moving and cut, the earliest jigsaws used a treadle. Basically, it had a pedal-based mechanism where the user manually rotates the blade by applying continuous force on the pedal.
While the first modern jigsaw as we know it today was made by Scintilla AG in 1947. But since then this tool has evolved tremendously.
With the modern jigsaws, you can make cuts up to 45-degrees, thanks to their beveling feature. In addition, they are very beginner-friendly and relatively safe power tools. That’s why many DIY enthusiasts use the jigsaw for their projects.
If you are looking at a jigsaw catalog, the first thing you’ll notice is that not all have the same design. The biggest design difference can be seen in the handle’s shape. Based on that, we can differentiate two handle types:
- Barrel grip handle
- Top-handle, or also known as D-handle
On those saws with a barrel grip handle, the motor’s case acts as a handle. While on the top handle jigsaws, there’s a protruding semicircular handle above the motor’s case.
In general, top-handle jigsaws are more popular and easier to control which makes them alluring to DIY hobbyists and novices.
Contrary to that, jigsaws with a barrel grip handle are less prevalent on the market because they are harder to control and are mainly aimed towards professionals.
The essence of a quality saw lies in its blade, and the jigsaw is no different. Because no matter how many features the saw has, or how powerful its engine is, it won’t cut anything without the right blade.
Jigsaws have two types of blades – U-shank and T-shank blades. But in recent years, most professionals mainly use the T-shank blade, even though the modern tool can accept both types.
Also, if you are working on multiple materials, you’ll need to change the blade often. That’s why you need to look for a jigsaw that has a tool-less blade replacement system.
Best Blade Material for:
- High-carbon steel (HCS) for soft materials like wood
- High-speed steel (HSS) for steel and metal
- Bi-Metal (BIM) for fragile materials and bigger versatility
- Tungsten Carbide (TC) for cutting abrasive materials
Cordless vs Corded Jigsaw
Apart from its handles, the primary classification when it comes to jigsaws is based on their usage of an electrical cord. Because of that, we can differentiate two main types – cordless and corded jigsaw.
As you can already tell by their names, the corded jigsaw requires to have its cord plugged in an electrical socket for the motor to run, while the cordless jigsaw requires batteries.
This type of jigsaw can run as long as the cord is plugged in an outlet. It may sound space-limited, but it’s perfect for a workshop. Why? Because there’s no time restriction on the usage. On top of that, it produces a great amount of power that can help you to cut through some of the thickest materials.
The main con of using a corded jigsaw is that it’s less portable than the cordless one.
Check our guide on Top 10 Corded Jigsaws
Although the cordless one has less power in general and is heavier than the corded one, it still has its benefits.
For example, you won’t be limited to only a few feet of operating space. Thanks to the batteries that can last for hours, you can take the cordless jigsaw wherever you want, and make various cuts without issues. Absolutely no need for extension cords just to finish a simple task in your garden.
Also, some of the pricier ones can produce as much power as the corded jigsaw.
As a beginner who probably doesn’t have more than basic knowledge of jigsaws, there are some features that you should be aware of when buying a jigsaw. Because some of these features might not be highlighted by the seller, and you shouldn’t ignore them.
- Variable speed control to adjust the cutting speed
- Anti-vibration feature to stabilize the tool for more accurate cuts
- Orbital action settings to set up the tool according to the cut required
- Tool-less blade changing system for effortless blade replacement
- Stroke length – long stroke for fast but rough cuts and short stroke for slower but cleaner cuts
- Dust blower & extracting system for spotless worksite without debris
- LED lights for improved visibility while cutting
Jigsaw Motor Power
Not every jigsaw comes with the same motor power. Because of that, it’s very important to pay attention to the saw’s amperage.
Usually, the jigsaws you’ll find on the market will fall in the 3.0 to 7.0-amp range. The 3.0-amp ones can do just fine for smaller projects and basic tasks. But if you want to cut something bigger and thicker, you’ll need more power.
That’s why, for more material cutting versatility, we recommend getting a more powerful jigsaw with at least a 5.0-amp motor.
Bandsaw - Everything You Need to Know
Unlike the jigsaw, the bandsaw isn’t a handheld power tool and isn’t considered a reciprocating saw. This is a unique power saw with a continuous band-styled blade that goes across two wheels located at the bottom and the top of the tool. With it, you can cut various materials that vary in size and thickness.
As a concept, the band saw first emerged in the early 19th century in Britain. However, it wasn’t a success story at first. Mainly because of the saw blade’s quality and flexing that kept causing failures.
It wasn’t until decades later that the band saw became a fully functional power tool and not just a great concept. Since then, the bandsaw has evolved drastically and became one of the best power tools to use for cutting irregular shapes in the metalworking and woodworking industries.
The earlier bandsaw models used a line shaft to power the wheels so that the band-styled blade could start moving in a cutting motion. Thankfully, those models are now ancient history and most modern band saws are powered by an electric motor.
Additionally, this is a tool that’s more suitable for professionals because beginners may find it overwhelming. But with time and desire to learn, anything can be mastered.
After all, there are several bandsaw types and they differ in size, horsepower, blade design, features, etc. No need to take on the biggest and most powerful one at first as a novice.
Just like most power tools, the bandsaw also comes in numerous shapes and forms. However, we can categorize all types in mainly two categories: portable and stationary.
The portable bandsaws have rechargeable batteries that last for hours. They lack horsepower compared to their stationary counterparts but are ideal for contractors to take them from one jobsite to another to cut thin workpieces.
Even though there are many sub-types and different designs, the stationary bandsaws can be grouped into two groups: vertical and horizontal
- Great for resawing thick pieces of wood and making curved cuts or scroll cuts in them
- Versatile saw with an excellent cutting capacity
- The user moves/pushes the workpiece towards the blade
- Great for cutting metal and other hard materials
- The blade is lowered towards the workpiece, thanks to the hydraulic pistons
- Very precise and safer operation overall
There are few factors you need to pay attention to when choosing the right blade for your saw. Why? Because every blade has its purpose and based on its design, you can tell what the blade’s main purpose is.
Pay attention to these details when selecting a blade: width, material, and number of teeth per inch (TPI)
- Pick a wider blade for stability since they don’t flex when making straight cuts
- Pick a narrow blade to make superb small radius cuts
Number of Teeth per Inch (TPI)
- Get a blade with higher TPI to make slow but smooth cuts
- Get a blade with lower TPI to make faster but rough cuts
- Get a carbide-tipped blade to cut all types of wood
- Use a bi-metal blade to cut steel and metal
- Use a steel blade to cut softwood
When it comes to cutting capacity, most bandsaws come within the 10-inch range. But it isn’t a rarity to find saws with a capacity lower than 5-inches or higher than 15-inches. It all depends if the model is vertical or horizontal.
Because of that, getting a band saw with the right cutting capacity is a must. Otherwise, you might end up with a saw that can’t re-saw your workpieces.
Motor & Horsepower
The differences between a band saw types and models goes beyond their exterior shape and design. One of those differences is the motor.
Based on the model we can distinguish two types of motors: brushed and brushless.
- Brushed Motor – an older and more common version where the energy passes through a commutator and brushes. More prone to losing power and quality as years go by.
- Brushless Motor – a newer version where the energy passes through an electronic circuit board. Less prone to losing quality and power.
Besides that – if you want to make cuts successfully in thicker wood pieces or metal, then you’ll need a band saw with greater horsepower (hp).
For example, to easily cut and re-saw large pieces of lumber along the grain, you’ll need at least 2-hp for a successful mission. However, if you plan on using it for simple tasks and resawing thinner workpieces, a 1/2-hp or 1-hp motor will do just fine.
Dust Extracting System & LED Light
Two important features that shouldn’t be overlooked are the sawdust port and LED light.
Because band saws can support bigger wood pieces and cut through them with bigger force, the debris left from the cut is also larger. That’s why some bandsaw models come with a system for debris extraction. Usually, this is a sawdust port that allows the user to connect a vacuum cleaner to easily get rid of waste.
Besides the sawdust port, there’s also the LED light feature that will increase the visibility and help you to make more precise cuts. Plus, it adds to safety.
Cutting Speed Control
The cutting speed control is another excellent feature the bandsaw has to offer to its users.
This feature allows users to adjust and control the cutting speed of the saw according to the material being cut. For example, to cut a softer material like the wood you’d want to set it on 1,000 feet per minute, while for harder like metal or ceramics it’s best to lower the speed to 100-fpm.
Jigsaw vs Bandsaw - Direct Comparison
Now that we looked closely at the specifications of these two power tools and what they have to offer, it’s time to directly compare them to get a clearer picture of their differences and similarities.
Size, Weight & Transportation
Depending on your work situation, the weight and size of the power tool can be a deciding factor.
If you are a professional contractor who frequently changes jobsites, then getting a jigsaw would seem like the right choice. Because even though portable bandsaws are superb, they aren’t better than jig saws in this segment.
However, if you have a workshop where you can do the cutting projects, then a bandsaw might be the right choice. Especially if you’ll cut harder and larger materials.
Cutting Ability & Usage
Both the jigsaw and bandsaw can be used to cut curves, or to make straight cuts. And depending on the bandsaw model, both tools can also have a beveling feature.
However, that’s where their cutting similarities end. Because even though both can cut curves and bevel up to 45-degrees, the final result won’t be the same due to their different blade design and dissimilar levels of motor power.
When it comes to making general, rough, and small straight or curved cuts – the jigsaw is your answer. But for resawing large pieces of wood, or making precise, wide, and long cuts in thick materials – the bandsaw is your answer.
Although their blades may seem similar at first glance, they differ in their usage and ability to cut.
Compared to the bandsaw blade, the jigsaw blade isn’t a continuous band-styled blade that’s mounted on two wheels. In fact, the jigsaw blade only has its top attached to the tool while the bottom is unattached.
They also differ in width, length, tooth count, and tooth form.
As a person who just wants a great tool for their upcoming DIY projects, the price might be the crucial factor in the jigsaw vs bandsaw debate at the end.
Why? Because you can find a top-class jig saw for only $200, and a cheap one for $50. But when it comes to bandsaws, the cheapest one has a $200 price tag, while the top-class can go up to $1,000.
Both of these saws have their advantages and disadvantages. However, at the end of the day, it all boils down to how you plan to use them. Because a jigsaw can make one type of cuts in certain workpieces, while a bandsaw can make other types of cuts in different materials.
That’s why it’s important to know with what type of work and materials you will be dealing with. Since you can’t use a jigsaw to cut thick pieces of wood like you can with the band saw.
And after reading this guide, you should have a clearer picture of the jigsaw vs bandsaw debate. Now it’s all up to you to make the final decision and get the power tool you need.
Also, make sure you have all the safety equipment required to operate these tools.
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