Palmgren’s® Ultimate Buyer’s Guide To Band Saws

We hear you’re looking for a band saw. Well, you’ve come to the right place!

There are many types and styles of bandsaws on the market, and choosing the right one is based on your cutting needs. Different sawing applications have created the variety of band saw designs you see today, which is why you need to know which type and style meet your needs.

At Palmgren, we offer six styles of band saws: vertical bandsaws, general-purpose pivot style horizontal band saws, mitering horizontal bandsaws, zip-mitering horizontal bandsaws, dual column sawing systems, and horizontal structural band saws. Each style provides a different cutting capacity and cuts a range of materials. Below, we’ve created the ultimate guide to Palmgren band saws to help assist you in your search.

Vertical Band Saws

One of the most common saw designs is the vertical band saw. With a vertical band saw, the blade runs from the top-down, pulling material off the workpiece and towards the table.  Workpieces are placed on the table and pushed through the blade by hand. This type of saw lends itself to smaller parts that can easily be manually manipulated through the blade.

Vertical bandsaws are sized based on their throat depth. For example, a 20” vertical saw would have 20” of maximum distance between the blade and column or back frame of the saw. The maximum work thickness capacity for these saws is based on the maximum clearance between the top of the table and the bottom of the blade guide.

You can typically find these types of saws in almost every machine shop, maintenance shop, toolroom, or wood shops. Vertical bandsaws used for cutting metal include a gearbox to optimize the speeds and power required to cut ferrous and non-ferrous materials effectively. If they’re being used for cutting wood and plastics, they’ll utilize a v-belt and step pulley drive train.

Watch these band saws in action here:

Mitering Horizontal Band Saws

For some fabrication projects, mitering saw cuts give you a more professional, accurate, and better joining product. A miter saw is a huge time saver for the shop that has to cut both left and right 45 degrees or greater angles on the same piece of metal.

Miter saws are available with the saw head capable of mitering in one direction to the right or two directions, both right and left. With a standard pivot style saw, the operator sets the angle of the vise and clamps the workpiece. After the first cut, the operator has to remove and turn the workpiece around in the vise to make the second cut.

With a mitering head saw, the operator can make the first cut, then unclamp the material and slide it into the proper position length. You then can make a quick adjustment of the angle of the saw head, and you are ready to make the second cut. Besides faster set-up and cutting times, the angle of the cut is also far more accurate. The cutting tolerance for this saw style is .003” per square inch per side.

Learn more about these saws here:

Zip-Mitering Horizontal Band Saws

A zip-Miter horizontal band saw is a step above the mitering horizontal band saw. On these saws, the saw head is built using a twin-supported head pivot point with taper roller bearings on both sides of the pivot rod. This provides twin support between the saw head and the base casting. This is precisely the same way that a cold saw is mounted, giving you a larger and stronger frame.

With a heavier, more rigid swiveling saw head, the material is fed into the vise perpendicular to the machine base, and the entire blade and saw head can be swiveled to set and cut the desired angle. The advantage of this is that the saw can be set up with minimal clearance around it, and the material will always move straight through it.

When making a lot of unique or miter cuts in a shop or location with limited space, a zip-miter bandsaw is worth the investment. Additionally, zip-miter cuts help deliver a more professional finished product for fabrication projects. Since the construction is very similar to the more ridged cold saw, the cutting tolerance for this saw style is .0015” per square inch per side.

Check out more about these saws here:

Dual Column Sawing Systems

A dual column design provides a much more robust and expensive structure than a pivoting (scissor) type saw. These saws raise and lower the entire saw head up and down hydraulically on precision columns. This provides a smooth motion throughout the cutting process. Dual column saw blades take the shortest route through the material, decreasing the time required per cut and increasing production numbers.

Typically, these saws are outfitted with larger blades and should be the saw of choice for heavy-duty sawing where rigidity and strength pay back in precise cuts and longevity. These saws are equipped with many advanced features like a hydraulic feed compensator which automatically adjusts the saw head feed matching the feed to the type and shape of the cut material. This is to avoid overloading the blade while maintaining a consistent feed rate.

This style of saw is available in both semi-automatic and fully automatic models.  They are perfect at cutting a large variety of materials such as structural solids, pipes, stainless and tools steels. The cutting tolerance for this saw style is .002” per square inch per side.

Learn more about these band saws here:

General Purpose Pivot Style (Scissor) Horizontal Band Saws

The most common style of band saw worldwide is the general-purpose pivot style (or scissor) design because they are less expensive. This scissor-type saw pivots on a bearing on one side of the head, similar to a pair of scissors. The blade enters the material at an angle and traces the circumference of the material being cut, which results in a longer cutting cycle.

The down feed pressure on a pivoting head will be greater closer to the pivot point and will lessen as you get farther away. On structural shapes such as I-beam or tubing, the pivot saw will produce a better cut as the blade wanders less when it enters these materials at the more severe angle of the saw head.

Scissor band saws are used for cutting various types of materials. They are available in multiple sizes and options that include manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic. Horizontal bandsaws use a continuous loop saw blade that revolves on two large wheels, one of which is under power. A section of the blade between the two wheels is held by a pair of rigidly fixed blade guides, and the metal cutting takes place between the guides. The workpiece is held in position by a vise, and the saw head pivots down through the workpiece utilizing gravity controlled by a hydraulic cylinder for a consistent feed rate. The cutting tolerance for this saw style is .003” per square inch per side.

This band saw style is an excellent fit for smaller job shops, maintenance shops, or as a backup or one-off machine for production facilities.

Horizontal Structural Band Saws

Like the dual column saw, the horizontal structural band saw is a semi-automatic saw that operates on dual columns. But this one provides a few more features that are very well suited for cutting I-beams, angles, and pipes.

This style features an angled saw head that allows the blade to enter the workpiece at an angle, usually smaller than a scissor-style machine, but cuts along the diameter of the material. It’s much more rigid than its pivoting counterparts due to the dual columns holding both ends of the head, resulting in near constant down feed pressure and feed speed across the entire width of the cut. Plus, they’re equipped with taller and broader vises designed to clamp large-size material securely, and the saw head miters left or right up to 45 degrees.

For faster cutting times, these band saws have a rapid advance to workpiece limiting excess movement of the saw head and an optional powered auto shuttling conveyor system.  The increased cost of this saw style is worthwhile because of the increase in production numbers. These saws make more sense for demanding production lines working with larger materials.

Watch these saws work in these videos:

Buying Guide

You’re not alone in the buying process, in fact, Palmgren® is here every step of the way to ensure you find the best saw for you. Saw design and construction hold the key to production efficiency, reliability, ease of adjustment, and maximum return on investment. Selecting the right band saw to meet your specific requirements requires careful assessment of the following performance objectives. The chart below is a helpful tool to assist you in identifying the model of band saw that best fits your needs.

Learn More

We hope this guide helped you find the best saw for you! In addition to our band saws, Palmgren sells a complete line of machinery such as mills, lathes, vises, and more. To learn more about our band saws and other products, head to

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