How Are Band Saws Measured And Sized?

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When it comes to understanding the size of a band saw, the key lies in the diameter of its wheels. This measurement is the primary factor in determining the nominal size of the band saw.

Closely related to the wheel diameter is the throat width. In my experience, you can usually estimate the throat width to be about 1 inch less than the wheel diameter. This gives a good indication of the maximum width of material the band saw can handle.

Another important aspect I consider is the resaw capacity of the bandsaw. This refers to the maximum height or thickness of material that the band saw can cut. It’s a key factor in determining the range of projects the saw can handle.

Band Saw Sizes Are Determined By:

  1. Wheel Diameter
  2. Throat
  3. Gap
  4. Motor

The Basics of Band Saw Sizing

Understanding the sizing of band saws involves more than just looking at the model label. Let’s break down the four key dimensions that define a band saw’s size:

Wheel Diameter

This is the primary indicator of a band saw’s size. The diameter of the wheels within the saw’s housing – both the drive wheel and the idler wheel – sets the basic size category of the band saw.

For instance, a band saw labeled as 14” typically has wheels with a 14-inch diameter. This measurement is foundational but doesn’t directly indicate the saw’s cutting capacity.


The throat of a band saw is the distance between the blade and the column or frame. This measurement determines the maximum width of the material that can be cut. It’s closely related to the wheel diameter but is usually slightly less.

For example, in a 14” band saw, the throat width might be around 13.5 inches, dictating the maximum width of the workpiece you can safely maneuver.


Also known as the cutting height, the gap refers to the distance between the bandsaw table and the bottom of the upper wheel’s housing. This measurement determines the maximum height of the material that can be cut on the band saw.

It’s crucial for understanding the vertical capacity of the saw.


The motor’s power in a band saw influences its cutting capacity and speed. A more powerful motor can handle tougher materials and larger workpieces more efficiently.

The motor’s capability is an essential factor in determining the overall performance and suitability of the band saw for different projects.

Common Band Saw Sizes

The size of a bandsaw suggests its cutting power. Remember that the nominal size, the size that appears on the model label, is the diameter of the wheel.

It has a relationship to the cutting capacity – the rate at which a workpiece can be cut – but only a relative relationship to the measurements that affect bandsaw functionality – that which it can cut.

Bandsaw SizeTypeCutting Height CapacityMotor PowerSuitabilityMobility
9”BenchtopUnder 4 inchesLowSmall cutting jobs, ideal for hobbyistsEasily movable and storable
10”Transition (Tabletop to Floor)AverageModerateMedium-sized projects, more power than 9”Less mobile, not easy to lift
14”Floor ModelMore than 10 inchesHighWide range of cuts, preferred by woodworking enthusiastsMoveable only on castors
18”Professional Floor ModelAround 15 inchesVery HighProfessional use, sheet cutting, heavy lumber workStationary, not meant to be moved

Band Saw Blade Sizing

Band saw blade sizing involves two key dimensions: the blade length and the blade width.

  1. Blade Length: This is the total length of the blade loop. To find the correct blade length for your band saw, refer to the manufacturer’s specifications or measure the distance around the band saw’s wheels. It’s critical to get this measurement right.
  2. Blade Width: The width of the blade determines the types of cuts you can make. Wider blades are ideal for straight cuts and are more stable, making them suitable for resawing and ripping. Narrower blades, on the other hand, are perfect for intricate cuts and curves.
On Sale Band Saw Blade

Choosing a Bandsaw For Your Shop

Now we know what the model label and number refer to the wheel size and the relationship between the wheel size, cutting capacity, and workpiece size.  And, we know that the measurements that provide us with the practical and necessary detail that impacts our use of the bandsaw have to do with throat, gap, and power.

Bring your tape measure with you when shopping for a bandsaw.  Measure the throat and gap to get a practical idea of what you will be able to cut safely with the saw.  When you find a saw whose measurements of throat and gap suggest it is fit for the projects you intend to take on, that’s the one for you.

As we noted earlier, the 14” bandsaw size will fit the projects a woodworking enthusiast will be apt to tackle.  It will likely have enough power (motor) and throat and gap measurements to accommodate the largest workpieces you are apt to have.

Here’s a short and to-the-point video that shows you what we have been discussing in this article – wheel size, throat size, etc.  At 1:30 length, it’s an easy watch.

Know your measurements on a bandsaw before buying one, and choose the size that makes sense against the projects you have planned.  The video promotes a Grizzly bandsaw; you should expect to pay around $700 for a 14” model.

Last update on 2024-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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