There are two different, distinct purposes for these machines…in most cases. Table saws are generally for straight, rip cuts in fairly thin (less than 4 inch thick in most cases) lumber of almost any length. Band saws can be set up to rip straight cuts, but generally their bed (the work platform) is fairly compact, so cutting long straight cuts are not the machine’s best feature.
Here is a basic description of each machine’s features, accessories, and characteristics.
Band saw: This machine has a long, continuous blade that runs between two or three wheels. Depending on the width of the blade, and the teeth per inch, it can cut curves, angles, bevels, cross-cuts, and rips. With the right blade, and the proper cutting speed, many band saws can cut metal, plastics, composites, as well as wood. They can be set up with a rip fence, a miter guide, even a circle guide.
Table saw. This machine has a single, circular blade with different teeth per inch and tooth composition configurations. It can be set up with table extensions for very wide materials, and feed rollers for longer stock. It can also be set up with a miter guide, for cutting reasonably accurate angles. The machine can be fitted with a dado blade for cutting dadoes and other wide kerf cuts for joining materials. Normally, table saws are used for cutting wood lumber, although special blades may allow you to cut non-ferrous metals, plastics, and composites.
Briefly, the pros of table saws are their ability to make straight cuts on long lumber efficiently, one of its cons is the fact it is almost impossible to cut curves or circles with it. The pros of a band saw is its ability, depending on the table width, of cutting curved shapes, and also very thick materials. The cons are the fact the work surface is generally small in comparison to a table saw, so wide, long stock is harder to handle.