Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow when purchasing woodworking equipment: research twice and buy once. Woodworking isn’t the cheapest of hobbies, that’s for sure. If you’re not utilizing someone else’s shop and doing the majority of your woodwork in your own garage or shop, it makes sense to consider every purchase carefully. Our list below is a collection of the best band saws on the market. That being said, you’ll want to read about them in detail to make sure they meet your needs.
General Thoughts on Band Saws
A hand tool woodworker certainly can get by without a bandsaw. However, if there’s one machine that can aid a hand tooler the most, it’s a band saw. It’s a handsaw with endurance, and that can big a very helpful thing when it comes to larger projects. If you work a lot of two, three, and four inch, you know what a job it can be to get through all those cuts. That’s where the bandsaw comes in.
For a well rounded wood shop, a bandsaw unit is going to help in a number of ways. First and foremost, it is great for resawing. It can also be used to cut curves even in thick lumber. For example, ripping lumber, creating cabriole legs, and crosscutting short pieces are all tasks the band saw excels at. If you’ve got a project where you are re-purposing a lot of lumber into thinner slaps, a bandsaw will help you in resawing and ripping. Powerful band saws can even cut through materials other than wood such as metal.
Some wood workers argue that everything that can be done on a bandsaw can be done on a table saw. However, we think in terms of safety and precision, there are some cuts that a bandsaw outshines a tablesaw such as cutting tenons or even dovetails and box joints. In terms of safety, space efficiency, and being able to do curvy stuff, band saws are unparalleled.
The 5 Best Band Saws of 2017
Here are Brain and Brawn’s top 5 picks for the all around best band saws currently on the market.
The DCS371B is a low-budget model from renowned brand Dewalt. It is our pick for the best portable band saw. You may have been able to tell by their signature black and yellow. It easily made our list of the best band saws because of the great value you get. It is capable of 2-1/2” cut capacity and can also handle SCH 40 pipe up to 2”. Not bad.
The model features a handle that is ergonomically positioned in the center to provide the user with impeccable cuts. This is one of the reasons why technicians, woodworkers, construction experts, and plumber technicians prefer this model. The centered handle not only is comfortable to use for longer jobs, it provides superior balance that boosts accuracy.
The LED work light (with 20 second delay) further ensures accurate cuts by illuminating less than optimal light conditions as well as those annoying dark work surfaces. Cutting precision is top-notch thanks to the dual bearing blade guide rollers. Dewalt returns the power to the operator, with special blade tracking adjustment and the tool less blade changing lever makes blade swapping easy.
This is another well built model this time from trusted brand SKIL. The SKIL 3386 Band Saw is a benchtop saw with features the standard rip fence for straight cut guidance and a miter gauge for cross cuts. It is our top pick for the best benchtop bandsaw. A robust 2.5 amp motor, 9-inch throat capacity, and a tilt adjustment angle of 0 to 45 degrees meets the desires of woodworkers right on the table.
A generous 11-13/16 inch table size helps you complete most cuts with ease. The heavy cast-iron base keeps this band saw in place and provides a top-notch stability. The adjustable rip fence, rack and pinion table adjustment, and articulating LED work light helps you make every cut with exacting precision.
The dust port keeps your work area dust free, so if you’re working on a big project you won’t have to succumb to a dust storm (and the missus won’t get mad over a big mess). Simply attach a vacuum hose to the dust port and clear things out.
The Rikon 10-305 is a best seller in the band saw category and it’s easy to see why. We think this is the best bandsaw for the money. This band saw features a solid steel design that is stronger than the plastic frames used in other brands. Equipped with a 3.5 amp motor, 1/3 horsepower induction motor, the Rikon 10-305 slices through anything that comes its way (it does not discriminate against fingers, either).
Convenience is also enhanced by the micro adjustable guide post height. Furthermore, the rip fence on this unit is removable enabling you to do free hand work with ease. In addition, the 2-1/2 inch dust pocket keeps your workspace dust-free and clean. This has a maximum cutting capacity of 4 5/8 inches in hieght and 9 5/8 inches in width; the table measures 13 3/4 inches by 12 1/2 inches. This table saw does a good job at staying out of the way and is the best bandsaw for resawing. There is nothing here that will hinder a craftsman from making the best of cuts.
This Milwaukee unit is comparable to the Dewalt model we checked out above. This is even more compact and features the lightest weight of any portable band saw on the market. One handed cuts aren’t difficult with this cordless bandsaw and it sure is nice not having a cord to manage on top of the work that needs to get done. This motor is capable of cutting 3/4 EMT in about three seconds.
A big concern for most folks is battery life on these models. This Milwaukee Bandsaw lasts up to about 150 cuts per charge with the included battery. What we recommend, if you’re going to be using it a lot, is purchasing a second battery and charge both up to full. Then if you go through one put the dead one on the charger and use the other battery. This battery rotation is sufficient for most jobs.
It meets OSHA guarding requirements, comes with a tool warranty of 5 years, offers blade tension adjustment, and comes with an assortment of add-ons. The kit includes a 18 TPI band saw blade, M12 Redlithium battery, battery charger, carrying case, and of course the band saw itself. It’s the whole package and still comes in at about $150.
The POWERTEC BS900 Band Saw is the best budget bandsaw. The combination of the 9-inch throat cut and the max depth cut of 3-5/8 inch depth cut at 90 degrees will be sufficient for most woodwork. The depth of cut at 45 degrees reduces slightly to 2 inches.
It features a patented blade guard adjustment system that protects the blade and makes switching it out easy. Powered by a 2.5 amp motor this model has a speed of 1725 RPM which isn’t shabby and offers plenty of wood eating power.
Rack and pinion adjustments allow easy tilt to 45 degrees and the blade range of 1/8 to 3/8 inch offers cutting versatility. Last but not least, a 2-inch dust port is also incorporated in this unit to keep the working space clean and clear.
If you’re looking for the best 14 inch bandsaw, we recommend WEN’s 14 inch model. It comes complete with a sturdy stand, powerful 9.5 amp motor, and is backed by a 2 year warranty.
Factors to Consider When Buying Bandsaw
Choosing a band saw mainly depends on what you intend to use it for as well as your budget but before we jump into that, let’s explore the two types of band saws: portable and benchtop bandsaws.
The benchtop and floor-standing models have more features, larger motors, and are built for durability. They have stronger frames and can withstand consistent cutting. These are the best woodworking bandsaws. On the other hand, portable units are used for a variety of more specialized tasks such as cutting pipe, re-bar, and other metal cuts. It leaves a cleaner edge which means less grinding or cutting touch work before welding. While intended for metal, they can do a number of wood cutting jobs just as well.
Here are a handful of factors to consider before purchasing a bandsaw.
Of course, the motor size determines the cutting power. The intensity of your work, size of your projects, and the types of material dealt with will determine your pick. Most band saws have motors ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 HP. If for example, you are only dealing with thin wood any motor between 0.5 to 1.0 HP will do fine. For professional craftsmen that spend their whole day at the workshop, a powerful motor of above 1.0 HP will save them time in the long run.
The throat capacity determines the cutting ability of the band saw. It is simply the distance between the frame and the blade. You can, therefore, work with larger wood pieces with a larger throat capacity. Depending on the size of the material you intend to use, go for the model with an adequate throat capacity.
This is a very important feature that some manufacturers do ignore. It is definitely worth it to opt for models with a solid fence that is easily adjustable. If it is removable as well, that’s even better as it frees you up when it’s time to do hand work.
Frame and Stand
The stability of your entire band saw depends on the quality of the stand and frame. Most frames are made of cast-iron, steel, and a few are aluminum made. We personally prefer the iron frames because of their weight and strength. They are capable of keeping the entire system firmly rooted and they do absorb vibration. Always remember crappy frames can lead to rougher cuts and poorer-quality work. Stands are either closed or open. Even though they both work well, closed stands are preferred because of their ability to protect the motor and work area from excessive dust.
A good band saw should be able to re-saw, rip, handle curves, make compound cuts, tenon joints, and cross-cuts with precision. Basic woodwork demands should be met if you’re investing your hard earned cash in one of these units.
Benefits of Purchasing a Quality Band Saw
A quality bandsaw will offer the operator the following benefits:
- Easy Maneuverability. Equipped with smoothly adjusted components, ergonomic features, and adjustable table height, these models optimizes the ease-of-use and user comfort.
- Precision Cutting. Bandsaws employ the use of dual bearing blade guide rollers and blade tracking adjustment. The top models have cutting mechanisms that are dialed in and deliver high accuracy in any work. Heavy frames and wide cutting table surfaces reduces vibration and eliminates mistakes and uneven cuts.
- Reduced Waste. Band saws usually have a smaller kerf cut than other types of saws. Bandsaws typically use narrow blades. This results in reduced wood waste.
- Durability. Ranging from the heavy cast-iron bases, powerful motors, and blade guide systems, the top bandsaws are built to last.
- Safety. Many in the woodworking community opt to use bandsaws over tablesaws for detail work. You can stop the saw in the material without damaging it. Also, you there are not as many cutting teeth exposed at high speed with a band saw, making it less likely you will be injured. It is much easier to feed pressure than a table saw and there is no danger of kickback.