Are you upgrading your workshop, starting a new one, or just looking for a band saw for your hobby? Then you’ve come to the right place.
By buying a new band saw, you’re investing in the future, as this machine should last you for years. No one wants a bad investment, right? This is why you need to focus on the key features of what to look for in one of these awesome pieces of machinery.
The main function of a band saw may seem simple. However, while focusing on the horsepower, blade and table size are often overlooked.
Depending on the kind of work you’re doing, a different band saw will be appropriate for your needs. But do you know how these differ? We’ve got you!
What Is a Band Saw Used For?
Band saws have many uses, varying from cutting big lumber to carving beautiful designs in wood.
Some of the main benefits of using a band saw are that it can cut irregular shapes, resaw, or make thin pieces of lumber. In addition, with the right blade, you can cut other materials, such as steel.
Other uses include:
- Resetting the edge or face of a board.
- Making veneer.
- Processing small logs.
- Making bent laminations.
How Do I Choose a Band Saw?
Keep an eye out for the below features when shopping for a band saw:
Having more HP doesn’t necessarily mean the band saw is better. The standard band saw has around 1 HP, which is enough for most jobs.
Professional band saws made for more complicated jobs have more than 1 HP. For light use, though, only ½ HP is enough for band saws for light use.
The power you need depends on the kind of job you’re planning. If you’ll likely need more heavy-duty work in the future, plan accordingly and get a powerful band saw.
The frame supports the whole unit and can come in various materials:
- Cast iron.
The most durable and reliable band saw frames are made of cast iron or steel, as they can withstand heavy jobs. Only pick band saws with plastic frames for very light jobs.
Always aim for a table made of cast iron, steel or aluminum alloy rather than plastic, as they’re more durable and can take a beating (1). In addition to the material, size matters, here, as you want a table to accommodate the size of the piece you’re working on.
Due to the nature of band saws, most tables will tilt to the right and/or left to make better-angled cuts — we’re talking up to 45 degrees. Those that can tilt either way offer the best versatility.
Every band saw has its minimum and maximum measurements for blades it can use. When buying a new band saw blade, you should ensure it’s the correct length for your saw and suitable for the material you’re cutting.
The width of the blade you choose depends on the type of job you’re doing. Usually, the blade’s width ranges from 0.125-inch to 0.5-inch. Wide blades typically withstand heavy jobs better than narrow ones.
If you’re doing curved and straight cuttings, buy a different blade for each job, like those for resawing, as the blade’s teeth may get dented from the curved cuttings.
The distance between the blade and the vertical frame is known as the throat. Why does the throat matter? It determines the piece of material you can use on your band saw. There’s no problem while using small pieces, but if you plan to use large ones, then pick a band saw with a throat to handle the material easily.
The different band saw versions have different weight implications:
- Portable: Lightest.
- Tabletop: Medium.
- Floor-Standing: Heaviest.
Based on the kind of work you’re going to do, choose the right type and appropriate weight you can handle.
Extra options may make some processes easier or faster for you to complete. These include:
- Work lights.
- Windows to see where you’re cutting.
- Onboard storage.
- Quick-release for fast blade changes.
The Best Band Saws of 2020
We researched user feedback and added our expertise to assemble this list of the top band saws you should consider.
1. Dewalt DCS374B Portable Band Saw
The cordless Dewalt DCS374B stands out for its durability, versatility, and adjustability. It works for longer periods due to its 20V battery, but the battery and its charger are bought separately.
The LED work light integrated with this band saw makes it easier to cut dim work surfaces.
Also, this saw is best used for bundle and layer cutting and can be used on a variety of materials, thanks to its variable power speed dial.
Why We Love It
The most important reason to have a portable band saw is to move freely with no cords getting in the way. Being cordless, this model offers extra portability compared to its corded counterparts.
It’s more powerful than comparable models due to the 20V battery. Despite throwing out heaps of power, users report that it lasts for several hours if fully charged.
Easy Blade Adjustments
Changing blades for different jobs can get frustrating. We love that the Dewalt DCS374B has an easy-to-handle mechanism to quickly change and align your blades and get back to work.
This band saw “feels” trustworthy and reliable. While other models have a cheap feel to them, this band saw is covered with rubber shrouds and rubber coatings that can withstand lots of work and knocks. This means it will last longer than most portable band saws, providing excellent value for money, even if it’s a bit more expensive than other models.
Keep In Mind
Users report that this model is big and might not fit in some workspaces. It can cut through many materials, but if it’s too tight to reach, then you’ll face problems cutting with this band saw.
Battery and Charger Not Included
On top of being pricey, you have to buy the battery and charger separately, which can weigh down on your budget a bit more.
|Dimensions||24.4 x 13 x 8.3 inches|
|Power Output||20V — HP information not available|
|Warranty||3-year limited manufacturer’s warranty|
2. JET JWBS-14DXPRO Band Saw
This redesigned model has everything you need for high-quality performance. The machine feels and looks fascinating, and the cast iron construction makes it durable. It can withstand big jobs with ease.
The 12-inch resaw capacity allows you to resaw thick and crude wood, as well as to resaw any size piece you’re working on.
It has two speeds. The slower speed helps with resawing thick pieces of wood, while the higher speed offers accuracy when working on thinner pieces.
Why We Love It
Safety is important while working with spinning blades. This window lets you see exactly where the blade is positioned, reducing the risk of any accidents. It also helps with accuracy as you can see what you’re doing with an unobstructed view.
The JET band saw is equipped with a 1.25 HP motor, which moves the blade at two different speeds of 1,500/3,000 surface feet per minute (SFPM). This opens the options for you to work on different kinds of materials and different sizes.
Several Accuracy and Safety Features
The quick-release blade tension allows a flexible, fast and effortless adjustment for the blades. In addition, the blade guide post with rack and pinion adjustment helps you achieve better accuracy.
A poly-v belt drive system offers you more control with two speeds to choose from and, at the same time, more precision.
To finish off these impressive features, there’s a high-tension spring to reach efficient and powerful performance on each use.
Keep In Mind
The manual is hard to deal with and leaves many questions unanswered for some users. This isn’t a serious disadvantage if you’re a professional and have experience with similar machinery.
|Dimensions||29 x 28 x 77 inches|
|Power Output||1.25 HP — HP information not available|
3. Milwaukee 2629-20 Band Saw
We always found Milwaukee’s tools and products to be of high-quality, and this band saw doesn’t disappoint. It’s 45% lighter than some of its competitors without affecting its durability, making it easy to use.
The Milwaukee 2629 is affordable and suitable for mechanical, plumbing, and electrical jobs. It’s designed to cut the most common materials. This device will cut 2.5-inch conduit, strut and threaded rod, 3-inch angle iron and 3-inch copper.
Why We Love It
This band saw’s portability is amazing. It’s cordless to ensure you can use it anywhere without worrying about the cord getting in the way.
Its 10.2-pound weight affects the portability considerably as it doesn’t become a burden while moving around doing various jobs. Users comment that they used it one-handed with ease.
With only one pass, you can cut through materials easily, leaving a clean, crisp cut. This is mainly due to its 480 SFPM and cutting capacity of 0.75 inches.
If you’ve ever encountered a pipe or conduit against a wall or a ceiling, then this model’s tool-free adjustable material shoe can move up and down to produce flush cuts.
The blade can be changed by sliding the glide into position and using the blade eject button. Also, the cast aluminum gear case maintains gear positioning and also dissipates heat.
Keep In Mind
No Variable Speed
The lack of variable speed hinders the Milwaukee 2629 from being more versatile, as you’re limited in the jobs you can do. This doesn’t leave much to experiment with and may harm the blade or the band saw itself, if you use incompatible materials.
No Battery or Charger Included
When you buy this band saw, you only buy the tool itself. You have to purchase the battery and charger separately.
|Dimensions||4.5 x 16 x 10.7 inches|
|Power Output||18V — HP information not available|
4. Rikon 10-305 Bandsaw With Adjustable Fence
Rikon may not be the most popular brand in the band saws market, but it ensures its products are of the highest quality.
The Rikon 10-305 band saw is one of the best budget band saws available right now. Its construction is solid as it’s made from steel plates. The table is made from cast iron and big enough to accommodate the materials you’re working on.
It’s small and lightweight compared to other band saws, making it ideal for small projects. It’s a good choice for beginners, machinists, carpenters, and hobbyists because of its 0.33 HP motor that’s suitable for cutting a variety of wood materials.
Why We Love It
The fence can be adjusted easily. If you want to do freehand work, it can be removed with ease, leaving you with freedom to innovate.
The Rikon 10-305 band saw runs smoothly compared to other band saws, reducing noise and distractions. Users report that vibration levels are barely noticeable, which could produce cleaner cuts as a result.
Large Work Table
This model comes with a cast iron table with dimensions of 13.75 by 12.5 inches, making it sturdy enough to last for a long time.
Keep In Mind
Can’t Cut Large Pieces
If you’re planning to cut large, hard, or thick pieces of lumber, then this band saw won’t be the one you’re looking for. The 0.33 HP motor allows it to deal with smaller projects perfectly, but it lacks the power for bigger projects.
Stand Not Included
The product doesn’t come with a stand, so you either have to buy one or put it on a bench at your workshop. Some users complained that the base of the saw came bent or warped.
|Dimensions||35.5 x 18 x 13 inches|
|Power Output||0.33 HP|
5. Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe Bandsaw
For decades, Grizzly has been one of the well-known brands in the power tools industry, specializing in large band saw machines.
The Grizzly G0555LX is a monster band saw that can cut large pieces of timber with no stress on the machine whatsoever. To ensure stability and durability, the manufacturer made its frame, wheels, and table from cast iron.
Are you looking for a band saw with outstanding resawing capabilities that can cut through wood and metal easily? Then you should eye-up this band saw. Some customers may feel it’s pricey, but it’s worth the investment.
Why We Love It
The table offers you a lot of options as it tilts to 45 degrees to the right and 10 degrees to the left.
Also, the table to floor height is a little under 4 feet, which makes it comfortable to use.
Measuring at 14 inches, the table is spacious enough to do all your work with easy movement and fast operation.
The dust port manages all the mess in your workplace, minimizing it for easy clean-up. This saves you time and effort you’d rather use more productively.
Easy Setup and Maintenance
It’s a one-man job to set up the Grizzly G0555LX, which makes it easy to repair as well. The blades can be released for faster adjustment and are replaced through the blade tensioning system.
It comes with a 1 HP motor, with current and power being 11A for 110V and 5.5A for 220V, respectively. The motor provides two speed cutting operations of 1,800 and 3,100 SFPM. This offers variety in the kind of jobs and materials you can work with.
Keep In Mind
Expensive for Some
The Grizzly G0555LX is at the higher-end of the market, so it’s targeted for experienced woodworkers rather than hobbyists. Think of this as an investment, and you should only consider this model if you’re going to use it for years to come.
|Dimensions||45 x 21.5 x 18 inches|
|Power Output||1 HP|
6. Grizzly Industrial G0561
Grizzly comes with another powerhouse, the Grizzly G0561, which is efficient, powerful, and mobile. This band saw is very durable as it’s made of cast iron, except for the table, which is made from heavy-duty steel. This helps in reducing the vibrations transferred from the motor and belt drive systems.
This free-standing band saw is suitable for both professionals and serious hobbyists alike for its versatility. In addition, it’s one of the safest horizontal band saws on the market due to its amazing quality and easy handling.
Why We Love It
Bigger Blade Width
The 0.79-inch-wide blade provides you with smoother and better cuts than other cheaper saws of 0.50-inch-wide blades.
Hydraulic Feed Control
The hydraulic feed control shows the thought put into this band saw. It allows you to operate this machine without worrying about fatigue or muscle pain.
The Grizzly G0561 is a high-performance saw, which is why it needs a coolant system — the blades get hot while operating. This prevents the wearing and snapping of the blade, saving you time and money while increasing durability.
Do you want to do something else while operating the band saw? No problem. This band saw provides you with the automatic shut-off option, which allows the machine to keep doing what it’s doing, and you don’t have to stand by its side.
When there’s no longer any pressure on the blade, the machine will stop, creating an additional safety level.
Keep In Mind
It’s not the noisiest band saw around, but users comment on how the noise level can be too much for an extended period. Many users report that you may have to wear earplugs during operation.
|Dimensions||18.5 x 51.2 x 42.2 inches|
|Power Output||1 HP|
|Throat||Circular @ 90 degrees: 7 inches|
7. SKIL 3386-01 Band Saw
If you want a balance between performance and budget-friendly, that’s what the SKIL 3386-01 band saw is for. It comes with a rip fence and LED work light that helps with straight cutting, while the miter gauge is more suitable for cross-cutting.
We find this saw is ideally suited to beginners due to its small size, lightweight, and various features to achieve high-quality results from the beginning. Of course, the quality isn’t like other band saws as it’s made with plastic, but it’ll be a great learning tool.
Why We Love It
Lightweight and Compact
At only 16.51 pounds, this band saw can be moved easily by one person. Plus, it won’t take up much space in your workshop. This makes its maintenance easier as you can move it around without an issue.
- Size: The table is 11.81 inches square, which gives you enough space for your crafts or jobs.
- Dust port: The dust port collects the mess to keep your workplace clean.
- LED light: Having an LED light comes in handy to see even the darkest spots on your materials.
- Rack and pinion: The rack and pinion table adjustments ensure that the height and angle requirements are met.
Its price allows you to take the first step towards woodworking. If you decide to buy another band saw in the future, your budget won’t be affected.
Keep In Mind
Blade Is Hard to Adjust
This can cause some inconvenience, especially if you’re a beginner — you’re still learning the tricks of the trade. You may have to consult the manual or watch online videos to help you with this matter.
No Heavy-Duty Projects
The 0.4 HP motor can’t produce enough power to handle big projects or large pieces of material. So, if you’re planning on taking the woodworking career to the next level, this band saw won’t be the ideal companion for you. In this case, have a look at the JET band saw.
|Dimensions||31.1 x 16.2 x 12.8 inches|
|Power Output||0.4 HP|
|Dewalt DCS374B Portable Band Saw||Portable||Portable||12.4 lbs||24.4 x 13 x 8.3″||20V||5″||3-year limited|
|JET JWBS-14DXPRO Band Saw||Resawing||Free-standing||256 lbs||29 x 28 x 77″||1.25 HP||12″||5 years|
|Milwaukee 2629-20 Band Saw||Metal||Portable||10.2 lbs||4.5 x 16 x 10.7″||18V||1.625″||5 years|
|Rikon 10-305 Bandsaw With Fence||Budget Saw||Tabletop||76 lbs||35.5 x 18 x 13″||0.33 HP||4.625″||5 years|
|Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe Bandsaw||Benchtop||Floor-standing||247 lbs||45 x 21.5 x 18″||1 HP||13.5″||1 year|
|Grizzly Industrial G0561||Horizontal Saw||Free-standing||343 lbs||18.5 x 51.2 x 42.2″||1 HP||7″||1 year|
|SKIL 3386-01 Band Saw||Beginners||Portable||16.51 lbs||31.1 x 16.2 x 12.8″||0.4 HP||9″||3 years|
How Do You Use a Band Saw?
Setting the Saw Up
Before setting up your band saw, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and focus on these points:
- Height: Set the machine to a comfortable height, which is usually just above your waist.
- Fasten: To prevent the benchtop models from overturning, fasten them tightly to the bench.
Blade Changing and Operation
- Blade choice: Choosing the right blade depends on your cutting project, so make sure to pick a blade with the right width and teeth per inch (TPI).
- Unplug: Always keep your machine unplugged while preparing or setting it up.
- Tension: Consult the manufacturer’s instructions on how to adjust the blade tension.
- Check tracking: Open the upper wheel cover to check the tracking of your blade and ensure there’s no wobbling and that it’s centered.
- Get ready: Set up the blade guides and the saw table according to the material you’re working on.
- Mark: Use a pencil to mark out the cut on the material.
- Cut: Turn on your band saw and start cutting.
What’s the Difference Between a Band Saw and a Scroll Saw?
Scroll saws are better suited for detail work and inside cuts due to their short, thin blade. However, band saws, with the right blade, can do detailed work and large outside cuts.
Band saws are more powerful than scroll saws, as they can process long, thick material. They also have a flexible blade that moves in a continuous downward motion, while scroll saw blades move up and down.
What Is the Difference Between a Band Saw and a Jigsaw?
Jigsaws are lightweight, hand-held saws while band saws are large, immobile and heavy.
When it comes to resawing, band saws are the best tools for this job. Jigsaws, on the other hand, are suitable for rough cuttings and general work.
Band saws are excellent for cutting large pieces of lumber and for large-scale precise cutting. Jigsaws are convenient but lack precision, and by all means, aren’t suitable for large jobs.
Which Is Better, a Table Saw or a Band Saw?
This is a tricky question, as both saws almost have the same function and are suited to the same kind of jobs. However, band saws are better when it comes to kerf, which means how much material is removed by the saw blade. Band saws have narrower blades than table saws, so provide a smaller kerf.
Band saws cut through different kinds of material mainly because the blade teeth are fine and close together. Conversely, table saws have a max blade height of 3.5 inches. This height constrains the thickness of the material you’re going to cut, while the band saw can cut thicker material.
Also, band saws are safer than table saws. Your hands and fingers are close to the blade when using a table saw. Plus, they can send pieces of material flying while sawing at high speeds.
Are Band Saws Dangerous?
No power tool should be considered safe, but band saws are considered to be the safest of all woodworking machinery. Still, always make sure to wear safety glasses while working on a band saw. Also, don’t wear loose clothes, as the sleeves may get caught in the band saw blade.
What Is TPI and How Does It Affect the Quality of Cutting?
TPI stands for “teeth per inch.” This is an important feature as different kinds of material need different TPI to cut. The minimum TPI is 3 and the maximum is 24.
Soft materials, like aluminum, need fewer teeth, while tough materials, like steel, need a TPI between 12 and 18. Consult the manufacturer’s manual for blades suitable for your band saw.
Should I Wear Gloves When Using a Band Saw?
No — gloves can give you a false sense of security, which may lead to more accidents than normal. While wearing gloves, you don’t get the same feeling of where your hands are, which may cause you to touch a moving blade. In addition, they don’t offer protection against blades and will tear easily.
The Band Saw Verdict
The nature of your job determines the band saw suitable for it, whether it’s resawing, cutting large pieces of wood, detailed work, or working on metals. Furthermore, horsepower, the frame and table can make the difference between a good band saw and an exceptional one that will last for years.
Once you’ve made your purchase, ensure you look after your product. Although band saws are incredibly robust, they still need some TLC. When you’ve finished for the day, make sure to wipe away any debris and use a protective covering. Doing this will protect the moving parts from moisture in the air and bumps and knocks.