A band saw is one of the most important, most straightforward, and with the right practices safest woodworking tools one can possess. Not all band saws are created equal, and any band saw worth buying should offer enough horsepower to get the job done at a fair price. Reliability and warranties are also relevant; the last thing one wants to buy is a cheap tool that ends up breaking before long.
When buying a new tool, many people put their trust in well-established brands that have been in business for decades. While this is the right way to go, smaller companies can sometimes offer the same quality at a lower price.
What should one know before buying a bandsaw?
Before purchasing a new band saw, one should know the specifics of what projects they are going to be tackling in advance and the best match specifications with the budget bandsaw. One would never want to attempt to cut wood that is too thick for the saw in question. One should know the details of the materials they will be cutting and compare them to the specifications of the saws they might buy.
Are Bandsaws Better For Cutting Curves Than Other Tools?
It is much easier to cut curves with a band saw than with a table saw. One might assume that a table saw is good enough, but many curves will prove painstaking or impossible to cut. If one wants to cut pieces of wood into circular or irregular curved shapes, a band saw is much preferable.
If one is interested in cutting curves, make sure that a small 1/8th of an inch blade can be installed into the machine. Very small and tight curves are possible if a small enough blade can be installed. A curve as small as a penny is possible with the right tools. Band saws are also much better for re-cutting than table saws.
Are Band Saws Safe?
While a band saw is a piece of equipment that obviously has the power to injure seriously, people are less likely to hurt themselves with band saws than with many other power tools. Purchasing a saw with a reputation for safety certainly helps, but one’s work habits mostly determine how dangerous a saw is. Eye protection has to be taken seriously.
One should never get impatient and make even a brief cut without having safety glasses on. After safety glasses, the next most important thing to remember is that loose clothing should not be used around machinery. Many people are seriously injured or killed each year by getting their clothes caught in machines.
Many people simply ignore hearing protection at work, in the garage, and at concerts and end up losing some of their hearing over time. By the time one notices hearing loss, it is often significant and permanent. Gloves, of course, are not enough to protect against a saw blade, but gloves do steady one’s hands.
When using a band saw, one should always push lightly. Never push even a little bit hard, or else one’s hand might slip. A good rule is to keep one’s hands at least three inches away from the blade at all times. Many people permanently injure their fingers by placing their hands on the cut line, so one should never do this.
Many different things have to be considered when buying a Bandsaw
The size of the table is essential. If one’s table is inadequate for a project, it will not be possible to do it. While many saws allow one to rotate the table by up to 45 degrees, many other saws do not. This rotation is required to perform some cuts successfully.
Lighter saws are often easier to move around and cheaper than heavier saws, but a lighter saw may also vibrate when one is cutting. Those who do a lot of woodworking, therefore, tend to prefer heavy saws with heavy cabinets to lighter models. The strength of the motor is also relevant. The heavier saws discussed here have motors strong enough for most but not all purposes. Some cutting projects require more expensive saws with more powerful motors.
The speed of a band saw should be variable, as it requires a slower speed to cut metal properly. Very high speeds are only suited for cutting wood. Do one’s research first. One would not want to end up with a saw that is suited only for very different purposes.
Based on the power system, there are two types of the bandsaw. 1. Electric/Corded Bandsaw and 2. Portable/Cordless Bandsaw. So, here I have reviewed the top 5 bandsaws for each type.
View The 5 Best Corded Bandsaw Reviews
1. SKIL 3386-01 Band Saw
Skilsaw is one of the most long-established and trusted companies that one could buy a bandsaw from. Skilsaw has been selling power tools as far back as 1924. Anyone who purchases the SKIL 3386-01 is sure to find it works well for small woodworking projects. The small and compact saw packs a surprising amount of power, and with a 2.5 Amp / 120 Volt rating, it can handle challenging cutting. The saw also offers a powerful LED light for cutting in dimly lit areas (don’t push your luck) and a large one-and-a-half-inch dust port to keep the area clear.
The best thing about the SKIL 3386-01 is that it is easy for a novice to use. How to adjust the height and how to change the blades should be easy to understand. Even those who have never used a band saw before should have no trouble using this tool. On the downside, the SKIL-3386 may require maintenance if one uses the saw often. The blade that the saw ships with is not of the highest quality and will wear out faster than most saw blades.
While it may take a long time for the SKIL 3386 to break, heavy and frequent use may wear out some of the internal machinery and cause the saw to become less effective. If the saw does wear out too quickly, there is an excellent three-year warranty. The SKIL 3386-01 may not be a good choice for one looking for a bandsaw that they will run very often.
- Lightweight for easy relocation
- Easy for beginners to use
- Powerful enough for most purposes
- 9-Inch Throat Height
- 3 Year Warranty
- May require maintenance
- Ships with a low-quality blade installed
- May gradually reduce in power over time if it is used heavily
2. WEN 3962 Band Saw
As well as being relatively light and portable, the WEN 3962 is a powerful saw that can handle intricate cuts. The table can tilt up to 45 degrees, and the speed of the saw is adjustable. Either a 1520 or a 2620 feet per minute setting is available for a diversity of woodworking projects.
The saw is capable of handling both deep and wide cuts (up to 6 inches deep and 9 3/4 inches wide), and the powerful 3.5 amp motor is strong enough to cut through thick pieces of wood with the right blades. Blades from as little as 1/8th of an inch to as large as 1/2 an inch can be used with this saw, as long as they are 72 inches long. The saw thankfully comes with a large stand, so one will not have to find anything suitable to stand the saw on themselves.
The saw is not necessarily the best option for people who are not experienced with band saws. While one can make very precise cuts with this saw, it can be difficult to adjust the saw to make the cuts exact. One other disadvantage of this saw is that the knob to adjust the tension in the blade is plastic. If one is not careful with the knob, the knob might break – not exactly fair even for a saw backed by warranties.
The company does have a good customer service reputation, and perhaps one who has some experience with these tools will not find the WEN hard to use.
- Capable of creating a large variety of different cuts
- Very high power
- Good warranty and customer service
- The flexible work light is at the back of the saw, which makes it hard to use
- Can be a hassle to set up for newbies
- Plastic knobs may break unless they are used gently
3. Rikon 10-305 Band Saw
The Rikon is both powerful and backed by a generous five-year warranty. The Rikon may be one of the best options if one is looking for a particularly durable and reliable saw. The Rikon is a steel tool that contains no plastic components. Its rugged steel construction makes the Rikon last longer than at least most other saws of comparable size and price.
The table is also 13 by 12 inches, larger than other tables for saws of the same size. A rip fence that can be easily removed is included, and the 1/3 horsepower motor can handle difficult cutting. Merely turning a knob is enough to raise and lower the height of the table as well. As a whole, this is one of the best choices and does not have any significant disadvantages.
- Very durable construction and excellent warranty
- Can handle difficult cuts up to 10 inches high
- Excellent long-lasting warranty
- Excellent customer service reputation
- Large table
- The blade that the saw ships with may wear out quickly
4. JET Deluxe JWBS-14DXPRO Band Saw
The JET JWBS-14DXPRO is not likely to disappoint in terms of its list of features. The saw is durable, accurate, and unlikely to wear down through frequent long-term use. Those who intend to use a band saw often will want to invest in a saw that will not wear out easily and has plenty of features.
The table is spacious (15 by 15 inches) and can easily be either moved up and down or tilted. Friction-reducing technology lengthens blade life, so one might, in the long run, save money by purchasing this saw. While the saw does offer two speeds, both of these speeds are too fast for cutting metal. While this is an excellent saw, one might be disappointed by the lack of a slower blade speed.
- Distinctive friction-reducing technology for longer blade life
- Large table that can be tilted
- Built-in blade guard for safety
- Blade tracking window to easily see exactly where the blade is cutting
- Both of the two-blade speeds are too fast for cutting metal
5. Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe Band Saw
With 14 inches of depth, the Grizzly is an excellent choice if one is looking for a machine capable of cutting thick pieces of wood. The saw is heavy (251 pounds) and can cut through hardwood as easily as it can cut through softwood. The very heavy saw ships in multiple pieces and requires some assembly. Many owners of the Grizzly mention its precision.
While a lighter saw may vibrate and wobble when running, making it unsuitable for precision cuts, the 251-pound Grizzly does not wobble. With the Grizzly, one can cut through thick pieces of very tough wood without the equipment straining or slowing down. The company has a good reputation for replacing parts damaged by shipping for free.
- Very deep cutting depth
- The weight prevents the saw from wobbling
- Capable of cutting through thick pieces of hardwood
- Too heavy to be portable
- Does not ship with a riser block or quality blades
- Some parts may be damaged by shipping
Top 5 Portable Bandsaw Reviews
1. Makita XBP02TX Cordless Band Saw
For those looking for a light handheld saw, the Makita offers no less than six different speeds and is durable in spite of its small size. The saw will run on batteries and not a power outlet, which can make this saw a lifesaver for some projects. The saw is also extremely light, at only 7.5 pounds. Of course, an extremely light saw that runs on batteries might lack power for some projects.
One might be surprised by what the 18-volt motor can cut, but this is not suited for all projects. It is a good idea if one already has a heavy band saw and wants to purchase a small and very portable one as well. Some people may also only need a saw for lighter projects.
- Six different speeds
- Battery-powered rather than cordless for use anywhere
- Too light to strain one’s arms
- Particularly light, may lack cutting power even for a small handheld saw
- Does not have a button to keep it running without holding the trigger down
2. DEWALT DWM120K Portable Band Saw
Those who are looking for a lighter and handheld band saw for jobs where a heavier and table-mounted saw won’t do should give the DEWALT a try. The main problem with handheld band saws is that they lack power and are not strong enough for more difficult cutting jobs. The DEWALT Portable Band Saw, on the other hand, has a powerful 10 amp motor that allows the saw to cut through difficult materials.
Even metal can be cut through with this portable saw. While this is, in most ways, an excellent handheld saw, it is not very light and can, therefore, be tiring to use. For most tasks, the extra weight is made up for by the significantly greater power.
- Can cut materials that cannot be cut with most handheld saws
- Longer lasting and more durable than other handheld saws
- Rubber bumpers make it easy to avoid damaging the saw
- Well-designed light for cutting in dimly lit rooms
- For some tasks, one would prefer a lighter handheld band saw
- Relatively large size can be a disadvantage
3. Milwaukee 2729-20 M18 Band Saw
For a cordless saw, this is a heavy and powerful tool. It is often capable of cutting through tough materials faster than a corded portable saw. The saw is a favorite of plumbers and pipefitters as it can be used to cut pipes when one has little space. The Milwaukee is more resistant to drops than other saws of its kind. The technologically advanced lithium-ion batteries last longer than the usual standard.
- A small handheld tool capable of making cuts in confined spaces
- Difficult to break
- A trusted favorite of tradesmen
- Not the best choice, if you are looking for the lightest and smallest handheld, saw one can find
- The safety switch is not well located
4. WEN 94396 Band Saw For Metal
One might assume that handheld band saws are too weak to cut metal, but this is not the case. The ability to cut metal with a band saw depends on how slowly the blade moves, as cutting metal with a fast blade will break the blade. The WEN 94396 is a variable speed machine that can go as slow as 60 feet per minute or as fast as 420 feet per minute.
For a portable saw, the cutting capacity is reasonable (five inches deep and five inches wide), and the front handle is adjustable. Unlike many other band saws, the saw blade that the product ships with is of high quality. One of the most impressive things about the product is that it comes with a variety of replacement parts.
- Highly variable blade speed
- Replacement parts are included with the purchase
- Two-year warranty
- No batteries required
- Can cut through steel reasonably well
- The blade tension knob is weak and can break if one is not careful with it
- Corded rather than cordless – not a saw that can be used anywhere
5. Bosch GCB10-5 Band Saw
The Bosch GCB10-5 will help you cut overhead materials with ease, as it is particularly well-shaped for this purpose. The saw’s 10 amp motor can cut through wood, pipes, and rebar with ease. While the cuts one can make with this saw are reasonably deep (4 and 3/4 inches), one can find handheld saws capable of making deeper cuts.
The Bosch is also designed to prevent sparks. One can use the saw either one-handed or with both hands for cuts that require more stability. On the downside, the saw does weigh 14.5 pounds. This may be too heavy for a saw designed for overhead cutting.
- Unusually easy to handle
- Variable speeds and low price
- Safety features
- The warranty is only one year
- A cord is required, one might prefer battery-powered handheld saws
- Weight may make it tiring to use
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ’s)
1. Will I need to purchase different blades for different jobs?
Yes. A significantly different job cannot be done with the same blade, and anyone who engages in a lot of this type of work will have to learn about and purchase a variety of blades. Blades are cheap relative to the machines themselves, especially for devices that take shorter blades.
If one is looking to cut harder wood or to cut materials such as plastic, blades with hook teeth are a good idea. Hook teeth are capable of cutting hard plastic precisely. For cutting a copper pipe or some other soft metal object, one might use hook teeth. Harder metals can certainly be cut with some band saws, and for these cuts, one wants to use a raker blade or a wavy blade. Many machines are incompatible with many lengths of blades.
2. Should one wear gloves when using a band saw?
Probably not. Obviously, gloves are not nearly enough to protect one from the blade. Gloves can trick you into thinking that your hands are protected when they are just as vulnerable with gloves as without them. Gloves may even make the saw more dangerous because it can get caught and pulled into the blade.
One thing that can be said in defense of using gloves with a band saw is that gloves keep one’s hands steady. If one is sure that their hands are much steadier with gloves than without them, perhaps using gloves is not a terrible idea. If uncertain, one should always take their gloves off before using a bandsaw. When changing the blade, one should definitely use gloves. A non-moving blade can cut a bare hand but not a gloved hand.
3. What is blade tension?
Blades have to be pulled very tight to work. A loose blade would wobble too badly to cut anything. Blade tension is measured in pounds per square inch. Cutting blades have to be pulled somewhat more tightly than slitting blades.
A saw should include a blade tension gauge that allows one to adjust the blade tension when installing new blades accurately. If blade tension is too low, a cut will be of low quality. If blade tension is unnecessarily high, there will be more wear and tear on the equipment.
4. What should one do if the band saw is cutting poorly?
If the saw is not cutting straight, the first thing to check for is a dull blade. A dull blade will not only slow down the speed of cutting but will also prevent a straight cut. If the blade is obviously still sharp, it may not have been installed correctly. A band saw blade can accidentally be installed inside out.
If the blade is inside out, the teeth will point in the wrong direction and make a good cut impossible. The blade tension may also be too weak for the blades one is using. Usually, these problems can be fixed easily as there is nothing seriously wrong with the saw.
5. What is the significance of teeth per inch?
Some blades have vastly more teeth per inch than others, from as little as one to more than 24. A blade with only a single tooth per inch will result in a rough cut for most materials. A very finely toothed blade has the potential for a very clean-cut, but this is not always the case.
If one tries to cut wood with a blade that has 24 teeth per inch, the grooves in between each tooth will fill up with wood chips, and the blade will not be able to cut properly. Somewhere in the middle is best for most projects.
The Final Cut
Before investing in a tool that may cost more than a little money, one should have as much information as possible about the features of the machine in question. Do research rather than make assumptions. An amazon page may not give enough information about the capabilities of the tool.
One may have to call the company to find out whether or not wood or metal of a certain thickness is possible to cut with the saw. One may also have to call and ask a few questions about what types of blades can be used with the saw before they purchase it.
Preferably, one should buy a saw with a warranty that allows the device to be returned in good condition for a refund if one decides against keeping the saw for whatever reason. If such a money-back guarantee is in place, one will avoid losing a fair bit of money on a saw that is poorly suited to their projects.
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