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Tools

Best Band Saw

After table saws, band saws are the most common type of shop saw you'll encounter. They are used extensively everywhere from cabinet making shops to induistrial manufacturing plants. The band saw provides the thinnest kerf of any type of saw around which makes it excellent for use with expensive or rare materials like wood burls.

There are two things that a band saw can do which a table saw can’t. They're excellent for cutting curves and the only saw which can properly resaw wood. For curve cutting they provide a much smoother cut than either a jigsaw or a scroll saw with the blade exactly perpendicular to the workpiece. Although scroll saws will cut a tighter curve, they can’t cut as smooth as one as a band saw can.

Resawing wood consists of splitting the thickness of it, typically taking a 3/4” thick board and making it into two 3/8” thick pieces or three 1/4” thick pieces. With the narrow kerf of the band saw blade, very little material is lost. This is important for book matching pieces. Consider taking a taking a look at our buyer's guide below for more information about band saws and how to make the best possible selection for your needs.

Delta 28-400 14-Inch Band Saw

Delta has a reputation for quality power tools, which shows in the construction of their band saw. This free-standing saw, has an all metal frame and balanced cast-aluminum wheels for superior blade tracking. The two-speed pulley system, allows for cutting both wood and metal with the same saw.

It comes with a 1 HP motor, which can be wired for use with 115 or 230 volts.  With a 14-inch throat, it will handle good sized workpieces and a six inch cutting capacity allows resawing 1-inch by 6-inch material. The oversized cast-iron table is T-slotted for a miter gauge and it has ball bearing blade guides.

Shop Fox W1706 14-Inch Bandsaw

Shop Fox has a very nice 14-inch band saw with a 1 HP motor. This one can also be wired for both 110 and 220 volts AC. It’s two-speed, like the Delta and has a cabinet type stand, like the Jet. One nice thing about this saw, which we haven’t seen in the others, is that it comes with a fence and miter gauge. That saves money, as you don’t have to buy them separately. The fence is like a table saw fence, clamping to a ruled bar on the near side of the table. A magnifying window helps with reading the rule accurately. For the price, this is an excellent package, with lots of value.

Craftsman 14" Band Saw

Craftsman 14" Band Saw

If you're looking for value, this saw not only offers the famous Craftsman quality and warranty, but it's a very good tool as well. I can't find the motor horsepower specification, but it draws 9 amps. That leads me to think that it's about 1/2 HP, perhaps 3/4 HP.

It can be run at two speeds, 1620 and 3340 feet per minute and can be powered by either 120 or 240 VAC to save power, if you have it available in your workshop. The table on this saw is 15.75 long by 20.375 wide, and T-slotted on both sides for use with a miter gauge. The max resaw capacity on this saw is 8 inches, which means you could actually resaw a 1-inch by 8-inch piece of wood on it. That's truly impressive.

Jet JWBS-10OS 10-Inch Band Saw

I've selected this model, because I think that Jet makes the best 10-inch band saw on the market. They also make a very nice 14-inch band saw, which is almost identical to the Shop Fox model I selected. While the 14-inch is still within this price range, this is a smaller, lighter-weight model, designed for the do-it-yourselfer who wants a band saw.

The price is about half of the 14-inch saw, making it much more affordable for many home workshops. Although many small band saws are designed to be bench mounted, this one comes with a stand. It also comes with both a miter gauge and a fence, plus a table extension for larger workpieces. There’s even a LED work light on a flexible neck to go with the ball bearing blade guides.

The maximum resawing height is 4-1/8 of an inch, which means that it will resaw 1-inch by 4-inch comfortably. Keep in mind that the motor is only 1/2 HP, so any more would really be pushing this saw’s capacity.

Central Machinery 14 Inch Woodworking Band Saw

Since we’re talking budget tools we’ve got to check in with our friends at Harbor Freight. They have a 14-inch, four speed band saw, which is probably the lowest price 14-inch unit on the market. Like many of their tools, this isn’t designed for heavy use by a professional, but for the do-it-yourselfer, it provides enough power and life to make it worthwhile. It even has ball-bearing blade guides.

The unit comes with an enclosed stand and a miter gauge for crosscutting material and it’s designed with a 6-inch resaw capability, which is a lot for its 3/4 HP motor. As long as you don’t try to cut too fast, it will work fine. For the handyman who needs a low-cost saw, this one is worth taking a close look.

Milwaukee 6238-21 Deep Cut Portable 2-Speed Band Saw

Milwaukee produces the best corded portable band saw around. This one has a 5-inch by five-inch material capacity, making it the biggest portable around. With an 11 amp motor, it’s got plenty of power to cut through that large metal as well. The motor is electronically controlled, ensuring constant blade speed, even under load. Since the motor is direct drive, it also eliminates problems with chains. They’ve also put a clutch in it, to absorb the high impact forces caused by blade lock-ups. This saw is powered by 120 volts, AC or DC, so if you need a good band saw to run off a generator, this is the one for you.

Although a bit heavy at 14.5 pounds, the tool is very well balanced, and easier to hold. The shoe is adjustable without tools, allowing you to go from an extended shoe to no shoe in mere seconds. Like the Makita, the blade guard is rubber coated to protect it from shock in case it’s dropped and comes with a carrying case. A slimmer case design increases visibility to the cut line while a debris protection system keeps the saw filings off of the wheels for longer wheel life.

Makita XPB02Z, 18 Volt LTX Li-Ion Portable Band Saw

Makita XPB02Z, 18 Volt LTX Li-Ion Portable Band Saw

Makita's saw is a touch smaller than the Milwaukee, with a maximum capacity of 4-3/4-inches square with built-in LED protection circuit with over-torque controls which helps prevent damage to the motor. Six settings on the variable speed control allow you to dial in the speed you need for the material and blade you are using.

An LED work light, helps improve cut line visibility and the curved rear handle makes this saw very comfortable to work with. There’s also variable speed along with built-in over-torque protection on the motor. Rubber padding around the blade guard allows you to put it down anytime, without waiting for the motor to stop.

The other thing that Makita has going for them is that they have the fastest Li-Ion recharger on the market, allowing you to return to work in just 30 minutes; if you have two batteries, you’d probably never have to stop. This model is just the saw only without batteries, charger or case included.

Milwaukee 0729-21 V28 28V Portable Band Saw Kit

I had to get this Milwaukee in here, because it’s the most powerful cordless band saw on the market. This one uses 28 volt Li-Ion batteries, giving it more torque for heavy-duty cutting. While it doesn’t have the capacity of the corded model I mentioned, it’s close at 4-3/4-inches by x 4-3/4-inches. For a cordless band saw, that’s pretty impressive. The drive uses a worm gear with chain, which is rather common for these saws along with an LED work light for greater visibility. Blade changing and shoe adjustments are also tool-free.

Bosch BSH180-01 18 Volt Li-Ion Compact Band Saw

If you’re never going to need to cut big stuff the Milwaukee sawscan cut, take a look at the Bosch BSH180-01. This is a compact portable band saw which can only cut material up to 2-1/2-inches square, but it’s also lighter and easier to work with. The motor is mounted directly over the drive wheel, nicely balancing out the weight of the battery, which is over the front wheel. This mounting also allows excellent visibility of the cut line.

The handle placement on this tool is rather unique as well, with the main handle center mounted and the second handle actually mounted on the other side of the blade, meaning for excellent control, especially for extremely accurate cuts. Electric motor protection and battery protection help ensure long tool life and there’s also an LED work light, to help you find your cut point, even in poorly lit areas. This portable band saw also features Bosch's stackable case system.

DeWalt DWM120K Heavy Duty Deep Cut Portable Band Saw

This corded band saw by DeWalt has been the standard a lot of other portable band saws have been compared to. This saw cuts material up to 5-inches deep, just like the Milwaukee we talked about earlier. The rear handle is perpendicular to the blade, while the front one is adjustable. I find this a bit less comfortable than some of the other saws I’ve looked at but of course a lot would depend upon the cutting angle.

One thing that DeWalt has done, which isn’t common is to make the motor brushes externally serviceable, a nice feature to have when it’s time to maintain the tool. Additionally, the saw has all the little extras we expect, including tool-free blade changing, the rubber pad around the blade shroud keeps the tool protected protects the tool, there’s an LED work light, and even a hang hook.

Grizzly G0457 14" 2 HP Deluxe Bandsaw

Although all the saws Ive included on this list are high-quality saws, which will give you years of great work, I have to say that Im really impressed by the Grizzly G0547. This is a really high quality saw, manufactured specifically with the idea of being able to resaw hardwoods. The two most important features of this saw, as compared with the others are its motor and its fence. The motor is an amazing two horsepower, making it clearly the largest in its class. This might not be important when cutting out the curved rockers for your grandkids rocking horse, but when you get around to resawing some oak to make her a jewelry box, youll be glad to have that extra power. The 6-inch tall resaw fence is the biggest in its class as well. Everyone elses fence is much shorter. This will help guarantee that those of us with clumsy fingers can keep our wood vertical while resawing it. The fence has an actual rail (another uncommon feature on band saws) like a table saw, with a magnified scale for precise positioning. Everything else about the saw is well made too. Ball bearing blade guides are standard, along with heavy duty wheel bearings. Grizzly actually computer balances their wheels (much as automotive wheels are balanced) to insure smooth running, without wobble. The frame is one piece, as opposed to a more common two piece frame, to insure minimal flexing. This is a wonderful tool. If I was in the market for a band saw, theres no question that this would be the first one Id take a look at.

JET JWBS-14DXPR 14-Inch Deluxe Pro Band Saw Kit

Jet comes in at a close second with their 14-inch band saw. Although the Grizzly unit is a really wonderful unit, there are some great features on this saw, which I dont see on the Grizzly. First of all, the resaw capacity of this saw is 12 inches, a full 2 inches more than the Grizzly. It also has a blade tracking window and a tension gauge for properly setting your blade tension. Overall, Id have to say that the tensioning system is probably a little bit better than the Grizzly. Like the Grizzly, it has ball bearing blade guides and heavy duty wheel bearings for the balanced wheels. The motor size on this unit is 1-1/4HP, so it has a little less power than the Grizzly. The fence is also shorter, and sold as an option, not included with the unit. However, there is a fence guide built into the table. Overall, this is an excellent unit.

Rikon 10-326 14-Inch Deluxe Band Saw

Rinkons entry into the band saw competition is another heavy hitter. Of all the units Ive looked at, this one has the biggest table, making it great for cutting curved boards. However, it only has a 6-inch cutting height capacity, so this isnt the saw you want if youre going to do a lot of resawing. However, the two-speed design does give you the capacity of cutting non-ferrous metals, something the others have ignored. The table tilt on this unit has a quick release, once again for making those compound curve cuts. The wheels are balanced and the lower wheel has a tire cleaner to eliminate sawdust buildup on the wheel. This is the only unit Ive looked at that has this option. Motor size is 1HP. This unit also includes a belt tension gauge to help insure you get the right blade tension for your blade size. Ball bearing blade guides are standard.

Delta 28-400 14-Inch Band Saw

Delta has a reputation for quality power tools, which shows in the construction of their band saw. This free-standing saw, has an all metal frame and balanced cast-aluminum wheels for superior blade tracking. The two-speed pulley system, allows for cutting both wood and metal with the same saw.

It comes with a 1 HP motor, which can be wired for use with 115 or 230 volts.  With a 14-inch throat, it will handle good sized workpieces and a six inch cutting capacity allows resawing 1-inch by 6-inch material. The oversized cast-iron table is T-slotted for a miter gauge and it has ball bearing blade guides.

General International 90-125 M1 14-Inch Wood Bandsaw 1 HP

General International 90-125 M1 14-Inch Wood Bandsaw 1 HP

General Internationals saw is the last in our list and is a strong contender for moving farther up the list. Although the saw can only resaw 6-inch material out of the box, it comes with a really nice two-position fence, which flips up for resawing and flat for ripping thin stock. The fence has a guide rail, same as our numbers 1 and 2. With the optional riser kit, this saw can be extended to resaw material up to 12 inches wide, like our No. 2 pick. Ball bearing blade guides are included. It has a 1 horsepower motor.

Buyer's Guide

Band Saw Buyer’s Guide

While the table saw is useful for cutting sheet goods and ripping boards, it's limited in ability. There is no problem ripping a board to make it thinner if you want to cut down the width of the board, but if you want to rip the board to reduce it's thickness, you need a band saw.

The way a bandsaw works is it has an upper and lower wheel the blade goes around. The wheels are generally cast and balanced with the edge covered with rubber to grip the blade. The lower wheel is driven by a motor and the upper is the adjustable tension wheel. A table provides a place for the workpiece with the blade passing through the middle of the table and traveling downwards. Band saws come in a variety of sizes, with prices up into several thousand dollars. Industrial ones are typically multi-speed for cutting metals as well as wood.

Band Saw Uses

Band saws are very versatile and can be used in a wide variety of applications as well as being one of the few power tools suitable for both woodworking and metal cutting. While band saws intended for cutting metal are slightly different than those designed for cutting wood, the basic tool remains the same. The major difference between the two is the machines designed for cutting metal are variable speed, as a slower blade speed is needed for said materials

Cutting Curves
Band saws are also useful for cutting curves, although they won't cut as tight a curve as a scroll saw will. On the flip side of the coin, they will usually cut a smoother curve than a scroll saw. Blade width makes a big difference in this regards as even the narrowest band saw blades are wider than those used on scroll saws. From there, they vary up to 1/2" in width.

Resawing
The blades used on band saws are the thinnest around, rivaling those used for a scroll saw. This makes them ideal for resawing boards (ripping then to split the thickness). Little material is used as the saw kerf is minimal.

Types of Band Saws

Band saws break down into four basic categories, more based upon their use than anything else. Although we're only looking at band saws for woodworking and portable band saws,  even within the realm of woodworking there is quite a variety in size and cost.

Wood Cutting Band Saws
These are units that are designed for woodworking. They are typically single-speed units used for resawing boards and cutting curves.

Metal Cutting Band Saws
These units are larger than those used for wood cutting, have larger motors, and are variable speed. The harder the metal being cut, the slower the saw's speed needs to be.

Horizontal Band Saws
Horizontal saws aren't as common as vertical ones areas they're used solely for cutting metal pipe and tubing as well as extrusions. These saws are typically variable speed with a clamp to hold the workpiece in place. The weight of the saw itself provides the pressure to move the blade through the material as it is being cut.

Portable Band Saws
Like the horizontal band saws, these too are used for cutting metal pipe, tubing and extrusions as well as cutting rebar for concrete work. Mostly they're used by welders, electricians, masons, and plumbers.

Choosing a Band Saw

Before looking for a band saw, you have to have an idea of what you are going to use it for, most specifically the largest material size that you will use in the saw. That will determine the size saw that you need which establishes a starting point for your search.

Throat Depth
The saw's stated size is the diameter of the saw's drive wheels. The throat depth is generally about 1/2 inch less than the wheel diameter which limits the width of the boards that can be cut on the saw. For most users, the throat depth isn't a major consideration although if you are cutting shapes out of the middle of a board it can be a problem.

Motor
If the saw is going to be used for resawing boards, it will need a larger motor than one that is only going to be used for cutting curves. The act of resawing creates a lot of friction which is why the larger motor size is required.

Resaw Capacity
The limiting factor for resawing is the space between the saw’s table and the highest point the blade guide can be adjusted to. For a 14” saw, this means the maximum size which can be resawn is usually a 1”x6” board. By comparison, a 20” saw can resaw a 1”x12” board. However, this maked for a much more expensive saw.

Fence
A fence is usually needed for resawing although very few band saws come with a fence and most woodworkers make their own before clamping it to the table. The saws which provide a fence typically have the same style fence found on a table saw. For resawing anything over a 1"x 4" board, it's recommended to attach a piece permanently to the fence in order to make it higher.

Bearings
The other important factor is the bearings, especially the bearings used for blade guides. Quality band saws will have ball bearings for the wheels and the blade guides, while cheaper units may not. If the saw only has sleeve bearings for the wheels, make sure they're replaceable and you lube them regularly. The bearings on the blade guides are important for ensuring the blade stays straight, especially for resawing operations.

Other Features to Consider

Table Size
While all band saws come with a table, the size of the table can vary considerably. Like with any other power tool that uses a table, the size and smoothness of the table will affect your work. Most band saws only come with small tables which increases the chance of you wobbling the workpiece while cutting.

T-Slot
A few of the bandsawsI've looked at have a T-slot cut into the table for using a miter gauge. If you're going to use the band saw for cutting pipe and tubing, this can assist you in keeping the blade perpendicuar to the workpiece and make your cut cleaner.

Blade Teeth
The larger the teeth on the blade, the faster it will cut. However, you should always ensure you have enough teeth on the blade so there will be at least three teeth for the thickness of the material you're cutting. Any less than this risks having the teeth catch on the edge of the workpiece and jam the saw.

Work Light
A work light to illuminate the cut line can be very useful, especially on portable bandsaws. Often, workshops don't have enough overhead light or there might be something shadowing your cut. The light can make it much easier to see where you're cutting, ensuring an accurate cut.

Bestcovery Staff
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