Best Band Saws of 2018 – Reviews & Buying Guide
Whether you work with wood or metal, a band saw could prove to be a very useful tool to have. It’s a saw that consists of a long, sharp blade which is stretched over two pulleys and powered by an electric motor. There are many different types of blades which can be used with a band saw which vary in size, tooth shape, blade material and so on.
Because so many different blades can be used, this makes the best band saw a very versatile tool to have. In fact, you can find band saws that are best for working with wood, metal or that are constructed horizontally or vertically. What’s more, it’s relatively easy and safe to use, especially in comparison to a circular saw or table saw. If this sounds like it could be of interest to you, read on!
Now that we’ve given you a brief overview of the band saw, let’s continue to our list of band saw reviews! Here you will find detailed information about the very best band saws on the market in 2018. The aim is to help make your band saw decision quicker and easier. That’s why we’ve also included our comprehensive buying guide which gives all the tips you need when buying a band saw.
Best Band Saws 2018
|MODEL||PRICE||PRODUCT DIMENSIONS||ITEM WEIGHT||USER RATING|
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|27 x 67-1/4 x 30 inches||247 pounds (shipping weight)||5.0/5
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|31.1 x 16.2 x 12.8 inches||36 pounds||4.6/5
Best for the Money
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|14.2 x 23.5 x 7.9 inches||15 pounds||4.5/5
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|63-1/2 x 21 x 56 inches||420 pounds||4.4/5
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|35.5 x 18 x 13 inches||76 pounds||4.1/5|
1. Grizzly G055LX – Our Top Pick
With a cast iron frame and heavy-duty stand, the Grizzly G055LX is certainly of quality construction. This is reflected also in the computer balanced cast iron wheels with rubber tires and the aluminum T-shape fence (which is adjustable). One of the advantages of this solid build is that the band saw runs surprisingly quietly with little in the way of vibration. This 14-inch band saw features a 1 HP motor which provides more than enough power for most cutting applications. The cuts it provides are smooth and clean, showing that this machine offers good quality for the price.
One of the problems sometimes experienced with new machinery such as this is the setup. Thankfully the G055LX comes with clear, easy-to-follow instructions with few adjustments necessary. The main benefits of the G055LX are in the simple features which work exactly as they should. One example is the on/off switches which are easily accessible and easy to press. An area in which this product could be improved is the dust collection. The dust port simply doesn’t work that well but this is admittedly only a minor issue. Overall we feel that this is the best band saw on the market for its quality construction, solid performance and no-frills features that simply work.
- The quality construction should ensure the longevity of this product
- Surprisingly quiet and produces very little vibration
- Setup is easy with few adjustments necessary
- The dust collection is fairly ineffective
2. SKIL 3386-01 – Best for the Money
While the Grizzly G055LX is a fairly big machine, the SKIL 3386-01 provides you with a smaller option if you don’t need that much power or lack space for the equipment. This 9-inch band saw is very competitively priced and as such is the best band saw for the money. Powered by a 2.5 Amp motor, this product is ideal for novice woodworkers since it’s nice and easy to use. For example, the rack and pinion adjustable table allows you to change the angle and height without fuss. While a simple feature, we like the articulating LED work light which provides great visibility when lining up and cutting.
Other features that make the SKIL 3386-01 very user-friendly include the rip fence for straight and accurate cuts and the miter gauge for crosscuts. Such features add to the versatility of this band saw though the product is not without its issues. One fairly common problem seems to be with a sudden drop in power. This is likely down to the drive belt coming loose. Thankfully this is easy enough to tighten. Because this is a more budget band saw, the construction isn’t as high-quality as more expensive products. One result of this is some vibration when it is in use so this is something to keep in mind. Despite this, it’s a great band saw for smaller-duty projects and comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
- Versatility offered through rack and pinion table and rip fence
- LED light provides plenty of visibility when cutting
- 3-year limited warranty for peace of mind
- Drive belt has been known to come loose on occasion
- Cheaper construction means that there is some vibration
3. DeWalt DWM120K – Best Portable Band Saw
When you need a band saw that you can easily transport and store, a portable band saw is probably what you’re looking for. The DeWalt DWM120K is the best portable band saw on the market right now. It has a powerful 10 Amp motor with variable speed control which is great for working with different materials on different applications. It offers an impressive 5-inch capacity for cutting round or rectangular stock which is among the best in the industry for a portable band saw. Aside from this power, the DWM120K is designed with durability in mind with an integrated hang hook as well as a serviceable steel shroud and rubber bumpers.
Because this is a portable band saw, it’s important to know how comfortable it is to hold. The front handle is of a generous size for plenty of hand space, reducing the chance of hand fatigue. The ergonomic soft grip back handle and the excellent overall balance contribute to the comfort provided. There are very few negatives to this product, especially when it comes with a 3-year limited warranty as well as a hard case! One problem experienced by a minority of buyers was that the included blades weren’t as strong as expected. Otherwise, this is a great quality product that should serve you very well indeed.
- Great motor with variable speed control for different materials
- A durable build ensures that it can take the odd bump or scrape
- Comes with a hard case and a 3-year warranty
- Some consumers felt the included blades could have been stronger
4. Dake SE-712 – Best Horizontal Band Saw
You may find that a vertical band saw is not what you’re looking for. If that’s the case, take a look at the Dake SE-712. We consider this to be the best horizontal band saw available. A 3/4 HP motor with four different blade speeds offers you the necessary versatility when working with different materials and applications. It is, therefore, capable of cutting a variety of metals including stainless steel. A hydraulic control system allows for the feeding of stock at variable rates while the coolant pump system cleans and cools the workpiece as well as the blade.
Because this is a powerful piece of equipment, it includes a number of safety features such as low voltage reset, thermo overload protection blade guards and automatic shut-off. You can expect to pay a premium for this product since it is a heavy-duty piece of machinery. This is reflected in the cast iron construction of the product. It also comes with a very sturdy stand which is equipped with wheels for more convenient transportation. If you regularly cut metal in a workshop, the Dake SE-712 should pack more than enough power for your needs.
- Powerful motor with four blade speeds for added versatility
- Very solid cast iron construction that should last a long time
- Plenty of safety features for this heavy-duty product
- The price of this product is beyond some budgets
5. Rikon 10-305
The steel plate frame and cast iron table demonstrate that the Rikon 10-305 is a sturdy and durable product that is very much worth considering. A 10-inch band saw with a fence, it’s a benchtop model that aims to provide the same quality features of larger bandsaws. One example of this is the rip fence which allows for quick and easy adjustments. Changing blades is also nice and easy. The 1/3 HP motor on this product is enough for most wood cutting needs. It runs smoothly and there’s little in the way of vibration or noise which makes it ideal for home workshops, for example.
If you’re unsure about buying the Rikon 10-305, rest assured that it does come with a 5-year warranty. However, it doesn’t come with a miter gauge which is something that you may want to buy. There’s also no stand included but this may or may not be important to you. One other issue experienced by a minority of buyers was that the base was warped. However, it should be emphasized that this is not a common problem. Reviews of this band saw are generally very positive so if you’re okay with the price, it might well be the product for you.
- Adjustments are quick and easy thanks to the rip fence
- Good for a home workshop since noise and vibration is minimal
- Comes with a 5-year warranty
- No miter gauge or stand included
- A minority of buyers found that the base was warped
Factors to Consider When Buying a Band Saw
With any luck, our band saw reviews have given you an idea of the kind of products on the market. From the budget to premium options, there’s plenty of choice available. We can help you make this choice quicker and easier by providing you with all of the essential information.
Horizontal or Vertical
First up, we’re going to discuss the two main types of band saw, both of which featured in our reviews above.
As the name suggests, the vertical band saw features a vertical blade. Vertical band saws tend to be used for cutting wood. In this case, the saw remains stationary and the workpiece is fed through it. The ability to move a workpiece freely means that you can create a variety of complicated cuts with different styles and shapes. You can also perform other functions such as sanding and filing. Because you need to feed material through the blade, it could be argued that the vertical band saw is more dangerous than the horizontal band saw. The smaller size of this machine makes it ideal for small home workshops.
Horizontal band saws tend to be floor-mounted and have a blade saw that is horizontally positioned. This type is very versatile and can be used for cutting wood, plastic and metal no matter the shape of the object. They hold the workpiece stationary as you swing the blade through it. The horizontal band saw allows you to perform straight cuts with precision however they cannot make curved lines. Operation tends to be fairly quiet especially when compared to other power tools and little in the way of mess is made. However, these machines do tend to be quite large which means they’re not ideal for smaller home workshops that lack the necessary space.
So which one should I get?
Our advice is simple: if you’re a hobbyist or a small scale workshop that needs to have cutting versatility, go for the vertical band saw. If you have a larger workshop and need to do regular, routine cuts to materials then the horizontal band saw is likely for you.
What about cost?
If money wasn’t an issue then buying power tools such as the band saw would be so much easier! However, most people are naturally working to a budget and that’s completely understandable. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get a great quality product and excellent performance.
For their part, horizontal saws vary a great deal in price. A portable model can cost as little as $400 and prices go up to $1000. The difference in price is obviously down to the brand, model and its various features and capabilities. Bigger machines with stands can cost thousands of dollars in comparison.
Vertical band saws tend to be much cheaper than horizontal band saws which make them better suited to small home workshops. Standard models can cost anything between $300 and $1000. Again, the price difference is really down to the brand and model and its specific features such as the motor size and cutting capacity.
Band Saw Uses
A band saw can allow you to do the following two things, depending on if it is a horizontal band saw or a vertical band saw:
- For cutting straight lines and curves in woodworking
- For cutting other materials such as metal and plastic
There are other creative ways in which you can use a band saw. Some examples include resetting the edge or face of a board, making veneer and processing small logs. But did you know that there are industry-specific band saws too? These are used in restaurants and retail settings to cut meat, for example. Another example is the forestry industry which also uses band saws for making initial cuts as well as for ripping timber.
Features to Consider
Band saw blades vary by width which is from the tip of the teeth to the back edge of the blade. When you’re looking to cut a straight line, you want a blade that is as wide as your particular machine allows. This will allow for faster feeding and a straighter cut. Cutting contours also requires a nice wide blade (again as wide as the machine allows) but it should still be narrow enough that it can cut the required shape.
Teeth per inch (TPI is another important thing to consider with regard to your saw blade. More TPI will provide a smoother but slower cut. Fewer TPI is the opposite with a faster cut but rougher finish. The number of teeth in a blade can be anything from 2 or 3 to 32. Choosing the right one helps obtain the finish desired as well as the appropriate feed rate.
Depth of cut
The depth of cut refers to the thickness of the material that you’re able to cut with the band saw. It’s the distance from the table to the upper blade guides. The wider the distance, the more room you have to cut bigger, bulkier materials. Most standard band saws offer around 8 to 12-inches but even those only with 6-inches can have a riser added which effectively doubles the cutting depth. Band saws for industrial use can be up to 36-inches.
If you’re mostly cutting smaller pieces of wood then a portable band saw may well be enough for you. Otherwise, you should always overestimate and get a machine that offers slightly more depth than you need. That way you’re covered for all eventualities! You’ll also want to look at the throat which refers to the width of the cut. For bench-top saws, this will usually be between 12 and 14-inches while cabinet models are wider.
Horizontal and vertical band saws are both powered by electric motors. As you’ll have seen in our reviews, most smaller and bench-top band saws have a motor that is 3/4 to 1 HP. This is more than enough for most cutting needs at a small home workshop. Professional band saws have much larger motors which reflect the amount of work they have to do. You will find that some band saws have motors with variable speeds. This allows you to adapt to the material you’re working with.
The most common band saw accessories include miter gauges and ripping fences. These are often included with a band saw but be sure to check in advance of purchase. Such features are very useful when it comes to crosscutting and with ripping operations. Other accessories include circle cutting attachments, height attachments, and LED lights.
If you’re particularly keen on any of these accessories then try to research how much these will cost if they’re not included in your initial band saw purchase. One of the most useful features is often the LED light. Not all are of great quality but those that are can really help illuminate the immediate work area and improve all-around accuracy.
Buying a band saw that fits your working needs takes a little bit of research. After all, there are so many brands and models on the market with a lot of different features available. From the depth of cut to the size of the motor, there’s plenty that you can look at in order to know which product is right for you.
We hope that our reviews of band saws and buying guide are of help to you in reaching a decision. The idea is that if you have all of the necessary information in one place, you can make a decision quicker and easier. We believe that there is a great product out there to suit all levels of work and, just as crucially, all budgets.