Using a Bandsaw to cut full sheets of plywood???

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Forum topic by Brandon posted 09-15-2016 01:08 PM 1102 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brandon's profile


15 posts in 782 days

09-15-2016 01:08 PM

I’m new to Lumberjocks but am in love with the site.
I can’t stop looking at all of the amazing work done by the members.

Here’s my big head-scratching question:

Can you realistically use a bandsaw to cut down sheets of plywood?

The reason I ask is because I’m seeing a lot of posts about the uses for a bandsaw and how some people choose to use it over a table saw. Of everything I can see in favor of each saw, the only thing I cannot wrap my head around is how someone would work with large sheet lumber on a bandsaw.

This interests me because I am looking for a table saw, but seeing as they are expensive for my budget right now (and I have access to a great shop that has multiple table saws for use), I’m kind of considering this radical idea of using the bandsaw as a primary saw in the shop.

This seriously blows my mind!
I kind of want to make that leap and go without a table saw but everything I’ve been taught tells me not to.

If you have any experience and have messed with sheet lumber could you tell me how you did it on a bandsaw?

9 replies so far

View JayT's profile


5892 posts in 2359 days

#1 posted 09-15-2016 01:52 PM

I now have a band saw centric shop, as lightly chronicled in a recent blog post. For sheet goods, I use a circular saw and clamping edge guide. There’s no easy way to handle full sheets on a typical bandsaw (some of the very large commercial units wouldn’t have any issue).

Here’s the thing, though. When I had the table saw, I did sheet goods the exact same way. Unless your table saw has large extension tables to the side and to the rear, a full sheet of plywood is almost impossible to deal with, so breaking it down with a circular saw is a good option.

If something needs to be very precise or there are multiple parts that have to be exactly the same, I’ll break down slightly oversize with the circular saw and then run the smaller parts through the stationary saw with the fence set to trim them up.

The biggest thing you’d probably have to deal with is the rougher cut left by a bandsaw on the plywood edge. It’s possible to get glue ready plywood components off the table saw with a good blade, not so much off the band saw. Since I don’t use much plywood, it’s not a major concern. If you use a lot of plywood, I think you’d be better off with a table saw or a track saw (which will cost almost as much as a table saw). For occasional sheet goods, the band saw, circular saw, edge guide and a router work just fine.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View isotope's profile


177 posts in 1773 days

#2 posted 09-15-2016 01:59 PM

I’m no expert, but here are my thoughts:

1) I think a circular saw used with a home made track/jig will be much much better than a bandsaw for cutting down sheet goods to size. Search for track saws to get an idea of what I am talking about.
2) Bandsaws do not cut as cleanly as table saws. Therefore, in my opinion, if you only use a bandsaw to make your rip cuts, then you’ll need a way to clean them up afterwards. A hand plane would be an option. However, you then need to worry a bit about keeping your dimensions correct.
3) Bandsaws are impractical for cross-cutting anything larger than 8-10 inches. You’ll need another tool for that, such as a miter saw.

In summary, you can use a bandsaw to do some of the things you would normally do on a tablesaw. However, it’s not as good or as practical. Though, bandsaws do provide you with the ability to do cuts that can not be done on a table saw. If the only reason you would use a table saw is to cut sheet goods, then that can be accomplished with a circular saw.

View Brandon's profile


15 posts in 782 days

#3 posted 09-15-2016 02:45 PM

JayT – Thank you for the detailed advice. Your post about making the switch is what sparked my interest. Primarily, my reason for so much interest is the astounding price of a good table saw. Seeing that there are possible alternatives made me think a bandsaw might be a better fit.
But…i know I’ll have to do a lot of standard cabinet work which means I’ll need the table saw.
Isotope – I’m considering the track saw for sure but your advice helped alleviate my concerns, especially where sticker shock is concerned, as I would rather purchase a table saw if it will end up costing the same.

I thank both of you for the great information.

I really thought that maybe guys were out there cutting full sheets with handsaws!

View Brandon's profile


15 posts in 782 days

#4 posted 09-15-2016 07:09 PM

I meant to say “bandsaws” at the very end of that reply. I’ll never try using my cell phone again to type such a long message!

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21321 posts in 3254 days

#5 posted 10-02-2016 07:35 PM



-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View TheTurtleCarpenter's profile


1052 posts in 1214 days

#6 posted 10-02-2016 08:59 PM

WELCOME Brandon,

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle"

View Brandon's profile


15 posts in 782 days

#7 posted 10-02-2016 09:35 PM

Thank you Jim. I think I’ve decided on going ahead and getting a nice table saw for the shop, just so I can make money building cabinets. But I’m pretty sure I’ll give that up once I get to a point when I can focus solely on furniture.

Thank you for the welcome, TurtleCarpenter!

View DrDirt's profile


4464 posts in 3891 days

#8 posted 10-04-2016 06:39 PM

+1 on the circular saw and straightedge for plywood method.

Tracksaw is the ‘cadillac’ of that system – but if you are just breaking down the sheets, rather than making finish cuts, the track versions are not needed and a simple straight-edge works fine

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21321 posts in 3254 days

#9 posted 10-14-2016 11:06 PM

Hi Brandon. A table saw is a basic tool in a wood shop Most projects for cabinets and furniture start there and not just the plywood. I bought a Bosch BT 3000 about 25 yrs ago and it is about a middle of the road saw but I love it and it fits well in my small space.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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