Selection of horizontal and vertical bandsaws, like any other decision, depends on things like need, capabilities, and fit. Both can be used for woodworking and in metal fabrication shops.
Horizontal bandsaw machines have the capacity to cut materials from soft woods to thick metals. Vertical bandsaw machines are used for cutting wood, metal, and plastic.
Horizontal bandsaws hold the work piece stationary while the blade is moving back and forth through a cut. The configuration of the horizontal bandsaw helps to cut long materials. Vertical bandsaw machines need the operator to move the material against the blade to make a cut.
Vertical bandsaws are ideal for contour cutting while horizontal bandsaws are typically used in large cutting applications.
The horizontal bandsaw is not useful for cutting curves or complicated patterns and shapes while the vertical bandsaw is capable of cutting these intricate angles and shapes. Horizontal bandsaws are safer to operate than the vertical bandsaw because there is no need for the operator to have to make contact with the cutting surface.
With a vertical saw, there is the ability to clamp on both sides of the cut, offering more material stability during the cutting process. The blade pivots around the miter or datum point on a vertical saw whereas on the horizontal bandsaw, the arm swings away from the clamping when mitering.
The set-up of horizontal bandsaws is for use in cutting stock to length and any desired angle, using a lot of power; a critical consideration with regard to shop capabilities from an output perspective. Vertical saws require less power to make continuous cuts.
Vertical bandsaws load in front while horizontal machines load front and/or back depending on the model. The loading and unloading of material onto the saw bed depends on shop layout, loading methods (crane vs forklift), and cutting application. Also, considering material flow through the shop and where the machine will be positioned are important. Vertical bandsaws can be positioned against a wall and loaded from the front, allowing for material flow along the outer perimeter of the shop’s floor.
The vertical bandsaw has many uses: contour cutting, filing, polishing, and simple stock cutting. It is considered to be a bit more versatile than the horizontal and is favored by hobbyists and small commercial shops — in other words, if there aren’t huge production requirements involved, the vertical is an ideal choice to make.
That doesn’t mean larger machine and woodworking shops that do heavier amounts of cutting shouldn’t consider purchasing a vertical saw. The unique capabilities and contour cutting aspect will come in handy from time to time, so it is something to consider.
The capabilities of these two types of bandsaw are great and might be different performers, but both the horizontal and the vertical bandsaw machine are useful to every woodworker and machinist regardless of the shop’s daily output.