A sturdy band saw can be one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in any serious workshop. These power tools make rip cuts like a table saw, cross cuts like a miter saw, and can help you reduce the thickness of a board, much like a thickness planer.
Simply designed with just an electric motor and a set of wheels with a band stretched around them, band saws are handy for quick cuts and intricate work alike, helping to speed your workflow and improve results. Outfitted with the right band, these saws also can cut metal. If you’re ready to upgrade your workshop with this power tool, this guide will get you in the loop about the best band saws options on the market today.
What Makes a Band Saw Different from Other Saws?
A tool collection isn’t much without a good selection of saws, and anyone working in wood, metal, or lumber knows the unique capabilities a band saw can offer. Band saws are also known as continuous band saws and consist of a line of metal teeth that are held between 2-4 wheels. They’re electronically powered and can slice through thick pieces of wood, create intricate cuts, curves, and angles, and cut floorboards, molding, and fence posts. Table saws are often compared to band saws but have their differences and perks. In short, the former is usually preferred for its accuracy, but the curved cuts a band saw can make gives it an advantage in that respect.
What To Check Before Buying Band Saw?
For an easy time when shopping for the best woodworking band saw, here are some important points to watch out for.
Band Saw Types
Before anything else, you will first need to decide which band saw type to go for as there are different types available, which will be ideal for different kinds of users and situations. The most common types are bench top, floor, and portable band saws.
Bench top band saws as their name suggests are designed to be mounted or clamped on a workbench or any other solid and flat surface that acts as the stand for the saw.
These band saws can be as powerful and versatile as the floor type because they will often have an equally powerful motor, and the only difference with the floor types is that they do not have a stand.
Lack of a dedicated stand gives the advantage of being more mobile when compared to the floor types, but they are still not as portable as the more compact portable band saws.
Floor standing band saws like Grizzly G0555 are the most powerful type and also the largest. These band saws will typically require a dedicated spot in the workshop.
These are the best band saws for contractors and professional woodworkers that have more commercial cutting needs, and they also tend to be more feature-rich and versatile when compared to the benchtop and portable types.
Another advantage of the floor band saws is that they will also provide more working space, which allows you to handle larger materials. Hence, you can rip larger pieces and make more intricate cuts easily.
Portable or handheld band saws like the Makita XBP02Z are the smallest options. Their smaller size is meant to make them easy to carry around, and will hence be perfect for use in different worksites as you will not be restricted to using them from one spot on the workshop.
These band saws will be very useful in the job site as they will come in handy for various tasks such as trimming any excessive pieces. Also, they are useful when cutting things like pipes, which makes them perfect for plumbers.
Besides choosing the right type of band saw for your projects, you will also need to make sure that the model you buy is powerful enough.
A powerful model will make cutting quick and easy, and it can handle a wide variety of materials from wood to plastic and metal, while ensuring you always end up with cleaner cuts.
Here is something that will deliver between 1 and 2 HP for the corded electric types and at least 12 volts and with a 3.0 Ah or larger battery for the cordless models will be more preferable.
The blade that comes with your band saw or the blade that it can accommodate also affects the cut significantly, and it is hence a crucial factor to take into account.
For the blade, you will need to consider both the length and width and try to match them to the materials that you will be cutting or your projects.
When it comes to the blade length, you can get band saws with blades as small as 27 inches like the Milwaukee 2429-21XC or as long as over 100 inches like the 115-inch blade you get on the Laguna Tools MBAND1412-175.
The cutting capacity of the band saw determines how big a workpiece it can be able to handle. Hence, here you will need to match your saw to the typical material sizes that you will be cutting often.
When it comes to the cutting capacity, you will need to consider the cutting height and depth, and also the lateral cutting capacity.
That said, these band saws will have a cutting capacity (width) of anything from 1-1/2-inches to 14 inches depending on the size and type.
For example, the smaller Milwaukee 2429-21XC provides a cutting depth of 1-5/8 inches, while the larger Rikon 10-324 floor band saw provide a 13-5/8-inch cutting capacity.
Ease of Use
A good band saw should be straightforward to use even for beginners. If the band saw does not give you an easy time, it will be hard to make intricate and delicate cuts more precisely.
An easy to view tracking window is one of the most important elements on a band saw as it will help make cuts easy and more accurate.
Also, other things like a comfortable and non-slip handle for the handheld types, clearly-labeled and conveniently-located controls and an easy start motor will make a band saw easy to use.
That said, some detailed instructions for assembly and use will ensure you have an even easier time with your band saw.
Even though band saws are an old-school power tool technology, today’s models have some safety-related updates. Features such as oversized stop buttons and adjustable blade guards help make floor-standing and benchtop models safer, while trigger safeties keep portable band saws from activating accidentally.
Floor-standing and benchtop models also can benefit from sliding bevel and tension gauges, as they’ll sit securely in a groove and allow you to make an accurate cut while keeping your hands clear from the blade.
Also, if you tend to have junior workshop partners walking around your tools, removable keys for power switches can keep children from activating a saw when you’re not looking.
Our Top Picks
Band saws are about as old-school as it gets. While they’ve been around for more than 200 years at sawmills, workshops, and furniture shops, it takes a lot of consideration to select your first band saw. This selection rounds up the best-in-class models to help cut out some of the guesswork.
You’ll get a lot of premium features in the reasonably priced WEN 3962 Two-Speed Band Saw. This 10-inch model uses a 3.5-amp motor and a 72-inch blade, and has up to 6 inches of cutting capacity. It adjusts from 1,520 to 2,620 RPM, which proves helpful for cutting different types of wood. The saw table also bevels up to 45 degrees for making cuts at challenging angles.
The three-in-one dust collection port accommodates three different sizes of hose—1¾-inch, 2¾-inch, and 4-inch—ensuring that you can hook it up to your system. Just be sure to use the dust collection system when running this saw, as the bearings are susceptible to damage from dust.
The typical weekend workshop warrior doesn’t need an industrial band saw when a light-duty model with some nice features will suffice. The SKIL 3386-01 band saw fills the bill with a 59½-inch blade and a 2.5-amp motor that runs at 2,800 RPM. It has a flexible LED light to help you stay on track during long cuts, the table bevels up to 45 degrees, and a miter gauge and rip fence are included. The maximum cutting capacity is 3½-inches, making it enough to cut a 2×4 on edge.
The SKIL band saw has the smallest worktable on our list. While it’s enough space for most of the projects this saw can handle, it might not be large enough for some woodworkers.
If you’re a professional or just love pro-level tools, the JET JWBS-14DXPRO 14-inch Deluxe Pro Band Saw Kit might be right for you. This cast-iron, floor-standing band saw provides plenty of stability, weighing more than 200 pounds. It has a 1¼-horsepower motor that produces speeds up to 300 surface feet per minute (SFPM), powering a 105-inch long blade.
The JWBS-14DXPRO has a 14-inch throat with a resaw capability of up to 12 inches. It also has a 15-inch-by-15-inch worktable, allowing you to tackle some burly chunks of wood. The table tilts 10 degrees left and 45 degrees to the right, enabling you to accomplish the perfect angle. The retractable blade guard adjusts from 0 to 12 inches, and the see-through window allows you to keep an eye on the blade for extra safety.
With a tool as powerful as the Grizzly G0555, it’s obvious that seeing a table saw as a suitable replacement for a table saw is completely realistic. The full 1-horsepower motor is just as robust as many table saws, allowing it to cut through lumber and hardwoods with ease. And because of the constant downward thrust of the blade, you’ll never have to worry about the kickbacks that can come with a table saw.
Overall, the Grizzly G0555 is an extremely capable band saw that’s can cut boards to size just as easily as it creates detailed curves. It’s on the upper end of pricing for a budget band saw, but well worth the investment given how many other saws it can replace.
As the scaled-down model of Rikon’s ever-popular 10-345, the Rikon 10-305 band saw is perhaps the most durable and long-lasting of any saw in our review. That it’s available at such a steal of a price easily makes it the best budget band saw for the money, in our opinion.
With a solid steel housing and cast-iron table, the Rikon 10-305 is obviously built to last. The generously sized 13¾ by 12½-inch work surface is perfectly planed, making it easy to handle a variety of cuts with great accuracy and precision. An aluminum rip fence and 0-45 degree tilting table further reinforce this versatility.
Where the Rikon loses points in our review is its slightly underpowered motor. At just 1/3-HP, it lacks the maximum power necessary for cutting smoothly through dense hardwoods or tougher materials. Even so, it’s an excellent option for anyone looking to incorporate a band saw’s flexible cutting potential into their home wood shop.
On the higher side of the price spectrum, this freestanding band saw from Shop Fox features a 1 HP motor, cutting at 1725 RPM, a 93½-inch blade, and a 14-inch square table. The only thing here that’s really lacking is the 6-inch cutting height, though that can be boosted to 12 inches with an extra extension kit.
The W1706 is great for fitting into small shops, and cuts straight and true through softer woods. Yet, it’s hard to overlook that other band saws give you that 12 inches of capacity for free. A few other problems, such as a shaky rip fence and cheap factory blade, put this Shop Fox product firmly in the middling category. The two-year warranty is nice, though.
With a 2.5-amp motor capable of 2,500 FPM blade speeds, this compact benchtop band saw from WEN is quite capable, considering its small size and affordable price. Deep cuts to 3.5 inches are possible, and it can also create 45-degree bevel cuts thanks to the tilting table. To top it off, a rip fence and miter gauge are included, and there’s a 2.5-inch dust port vacuum attachment built-in.
On paper, everything looks excellent. On wood, the saw tends to drift and did cause several boards to be ruined. This was made worse by the cheap quality rip fence that would not stay put. Also, the table has some warped areas which meant the boards did not slide smoothly and occasionally got hung up while trying to push them through.
Not everyone has the space or need for a benchtop or stand band saw. A portable option can be the right fit for anyone who likes to work outdoors, bring their saw from worksite to worksite, or generally likes to save space. The compact Milwaukee band saw is a great option for a reliable, portable band saw that can get the job done.
Ideal for cutting pipes and metal working, this band saw is lightweight and easy to move. At less than 10 pounds and only 16 inches in length, you can wield this tool in any scenario and the handy grips make any movement feel natural—even overhead cutting. It features a variable speed system ranging from 200 to 360 rpm so that you can cut through copper or steel exactly at the right speed. You can adjust the shoe without tools and eject the blade easily. It even sports an aluminum gear casing in case you drop it. It has a 3-1/4-inch cutting capacity. This Milwaukee saw comes with a blade and a carrying case as well.
With that distinctive Ryobi design, the 2.5-amp, 9-inch benchtop band saw is an excellent option for a variety of work. This machine uses an induction motor for cutting pipes, wood and a variety of other materials. It features a 3-1/2-inch cutting height with rapid setting blade tensioners and a blade-tracking window. This Ryobi band saw also feature aluminum wheels and ball bearing supports. It allows for blades that are between ⅛ and ⅜ inches in width.
This band saw is set apart from the others for its reasonable cost and solid performance. Its a great option for amateur woodworkers and crafty people. It can be a thoughtful gift option as well.
In contrast with other 15 inch band saws, this Powermatic PM1500 features a 14-1/2 inch of throat 14 inches of resaw capacity. It makes use of blades with a lenth of 153 inches and a minimum and maximum blade width of 1/8 inches and 1 inch respectively.
The bandsaw features a sturdy cast iron table with dimensions of 21-1/2 by 16 inches and a trunnion assembly provides a wide, strong and solid platform for heavy work pieces.
Easy blade tension and release mechanism comes with an electrical interlock feature that prevents the bandsaw from accidental startups when the blade is released or de-tensioned.
How to sharpen my band saw blades?
Can I use my band saw to cut metal?
Cutting metal is something most band saws should be able to handle if you have the proper blade installed and know the limits of your saw. Some saws will only be powerful enough to handle non-ferrous metals while others can do it all.
What size extension cord should I use for a tabletop band saw?
Not all extension cords are equal, they vary significantly on the amperage they are rated for. So, you’ll need to ensure you also have an extension cord that can meet the power needs of your saw. Failing to get enough power to the saw not only prevents the saw from performing at its maximum, but will also shorten the life of your saw.