When you’re shopping for band saws, you’re looking to make a big investment in your future. These machines aren’t cheap, and you want to make sure that you get the best possible investment for your money. Of course, when you’re shopping online, that’s not always easy to do. Manufacturers aren’t shy when it comes to selling their products, and it means that they often tell you the upside and leave the downside out altogether.
That’s why we’ve assembled these reviews of the best band saws of 2018. We want you to be able to get the band saw that will best suit your needs, and in order to that, we believe you need to understand band saws, whether you’re a novice or an expert. Check out these reviews to see what’s good and what should be avoided and be sure to check out our buyer’s guide if you’ve never shopped for band saws before.
By the time you’ve read this, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for in a band saw, which is the first step in buying with confidence.
|Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe||251 lbs||4.8/5|
(Best for the Money)
|Rikon 10-305||76 lbs||4.3/5|
|POWERTEC BS900||43 lbs||4.1/5|
Sometimes, a machine’s design does just about everything correctly, and the JET JWBS-14DXPRO is one of those machines. It has a massive capacity, allowing you to rip pieces up to 12” in height, while also maintaining safety with a retractable blade guard that is adjustable from 0 to 12 inches. And, it does all this without using a riser block, which will save you a lot of time, especially if you work on projects of differing sizes.
It also comes with a very large table, at 15” by 15” and the blade adjustments on this model are both fast and easy. It also has an easy-view blade tracking window, which allows you to make sure the blade is always aligned exactly how you want it.
If there was one downside to this machine, it’s that it doesn’t have an included rip fence, which may be a good thing since most manufacturers include cheap fences. Many people end up buying aftermarket fences anyway. Overall, if you need a high-quality, powerful band saw capable of easily handling large projects, the JET JWBS-14DXPRO is the model for you.
The Grizzly G0555LX is a good band saw on its own, but it comes with a lot of features that you wouldn’t expect on a model at this price point. It comes with good power and a larger table, but that’s to be expected.
What sets this model apart are the features that it comes with that make operation easier. For instance, it comes with computer-balanced cast iron wheels, which mean you’re not going to have a pay extra for a set like you would with most band saws. It also includes a high-quality fence, which is rare not only for band saws, but for saws in general. It’s also a low-vibration unit, which means your cuts will always be high-quality.
The only flaw in this unit is that it has a poorly-designed dust collection port, that may require some tinkering on your part to ensure compatibility with your dust collection system. This is what keeps this model out of first, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great band saw in its own right.
The WEN 3962 not only makes great cuts, but it also gives you incredible value for the money. This two-speed, 10” band saw features a table that can tilt up to 45 degrees, making it highly-adjustable, allowing you to fit it to the project at hand. If you already own a dust collection system, there’s a good chance that it’s compatible with this machine, which comes with a 3-in-1 dust port.
Initial setup can take a long time relative to other units, which is what keeps this model out of the top 2. If you’re a band saw novice, you may find the blade change to be harder than on other units. However, once it is setup correctly, it’s one of the straightest-cutting and most powerful units on the market.
If this isn’t your first band saw, odds are that you’ll love it. If it is, you’re still getting a great band saw, but expect a steep learning curve.
If you’re doing smaller projects, you should check out the Rikon 10-305. It lacks the overall power needed to cut harder woods, but chances are that you’ll never be doing that. If you’re going to exclusively be working with softer woods, why buy a machine with excess power and excess price when you could get something that suits your needs for less?
One great thing about this model is that it comes with an oversized cast iron table and steel frame. At this price point, you typically expect plastic construction, so you’re getting good value there. It also doesn’t vibrate as much as other units and has a micro-adjust handle, leading to cleaner cuts.
It doesn’t have as many features as other units. It’s going to do well with simpler projects on softer woods but asking anything more of it may be asking too much. It also comes with an undersized dust port, which may result in you having to do more cleanup than you’d like.
If you buy the POWERTEC BS900, you’re getting a cheap band saw. If you’ve bought cheap tools, you know there are likely to be plenty of downsides. Sometimes you’ll win out, but most of the time you just end up wasting the money you spent.
This model does have a fairly-easy blade change, and it also comes with a blade tracking window, but that’s about where the upsize fizzles out. It doesn’t come with a fence, and even more shockingly, it doesn’t come with any kind of dust collection system, which means you’re going to end up doing a lot of cleanup on your own.
It also contains a ton of plastic parts, which is why it’s so cheap. How long can you expect it to last? If you need something cheap and are willing to put up with all of these flaws, then maybe this is a good buy. If you want something that will be satisfying to use and last a long time, look elsewhere.
The above reviews should give you some insight into band saws that should help you make the decision that is just right for you; rather you’re a novice or a grizzled veteran. Like all power tool purchases, it’s important to understand what features and power you need to complete the projects that you want to do when purchasing a band saw. There’s no way we can know exactly what you want to do with your band saw, but, we’ve compiled a lot of general advice about band saws in this buyer’s guide that should help you figure out what matters to you.
A power tool may be expensive, but that doesn’t mean that it has great value. Odds are that you, or someone you know, has spent a lot of money on tools or equipment, only to have it break down soon after the purchase. Even if it’s still under warranty, it can end up being a huge waste of time, which in some ways is more valuable than the money you spent.
Something to keep in mind while you’re shopping is the idea that just because something is more expensive, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better. Likewise, cheaper doesn’t always mean worse, even if things generally go that way.
Instead of focusing on expensive or cheap, it can be useful to instead think about value or trying to get the best bang for the buck. While aspects of a machine can contribute or detract from value, there are three areas which contribute much more to value in band saws than others: durability, ease of use, and ability to do the projects you’re thinking about.
We also want to let you know that we have a buyer’s guide where we also show you the top band saw picks under $500. It can be found here.
Band saws use a single blade under very high tension in order to make cuts. This means that the entire body of the machine is under stress while you use it, and also while the machine is at rest. If the body of the machine is made out of the wrong materials, it’s not going to last very long. It’s also going to put more strain on your blade, which can result in flawed cuts, and in a shortened lifespan for the blade, which will greatly increase your cost of operation over time.
Well, it’s important not to get distracted by the fact that the machine comes with a cast iron table. Most do, and if a particular model doesn’t, it time to start asking questions. Top-of-the-line band saws come with frames that are also cast iron, which handles the stress put on the machine very well. Lower-quality machines come with rolled steel or aluminum bodies. Bargain units come with frames that are at least partly plastic. The better quality the frame is, the longer you should expect it to last.
The heavier cast iron frames also do a better job of dissipating and absorbing vibrations, which means that your cuts will be more accurate. Vibrations can also reduce the lifespan of a machine, so generally speaking, having fewer is better.
You’ll also want to see what kind of system is used to move to the blade. The best band saws use ball bearings, which will last longer than other systems, and also generally put less strain on the blade itself, which will mean the blade lasts longer. If you can use your blade for longer, you’ll save a lot of money on replacement blades in the long run.
Machines that are hard to use can be frustrating, even if they get the job done. It’s hard to put a dollar-value on how using a machine makes you feel, but there are always tools and machines that we go back to over and over, and find excuses to use because they’re just such a pleasure to operate. If you can get one of those instead of one that irritates you, then you’ve really increased the value you’re going to get.
Ease of use in band saws can come from a lot of places, but the most important is how easy it is to change out the blade. If you’re planning on cutting different materials frequently, you’re going to be changing out the blade a lot. If you’re planning on using the machine a lot, you’re going to wear out your blades, and need to change them out.
Basically, the more you use your band saw, the more you’re going to be changing the blade out, and the more value you’re going to end up placing on how easy it is to change out the blade. Some models are designed in a way that makes this process extremely easy, while others just don’t. The ones with the more difficult blade changes can be frustrating and end up eating a lot of time that could be better spent on other tasks. You may end up spending a bit more, but you’ll be happier in the long run with a machine that allows for quick and easy blade changes.
You’ll also want to research how easy it is to set the blade to the appropriate height for the cut you’re doing, and how easy it is to correctly set the safety features. These are important actions that you’ll frequently be doing, and some models make it easier than others.
What is it that you’re planning to do with your band saw?
Different kinds of projects are done best with different kinds of blades, of course, but there are also features of each machine that will make them better suited to different kinds of projects.
If you’re looking to do projects out of softer wood varieties, then you don’t need a machine with an overabundance of power. In fact, that may be the wrong choice. The blade speed may end up being too fast, and you could run the risk of damaging your piece instead of getting a quality cut. There’s a potential element of danger here. You should expect some resistance when cutting, but if the blade goes through the piece like a hot knife through butter, then your ability to control the process is going to decrease dramatically. And, accidents and injuries often result when you lose control.
That’s an extreme situation, but there are other reasons that you may not need a more powerful unit. More powerful units also tend to have bigger tables and larger blade heights. But, if you’re only planning to cut smaller pieces, then all that excess space is going to go to waste. In essence, you’re paying a premium for space you’re never going to end up using. That’s a situation where you’ve lost value instead of gained it.
Of course, if you’re working with harder woods or larger pieces, you’re of course going to require a larger, more powerful band saw. The key here is to figure out what your needs are and then find the machine that can meet those needs without providing too much extra capacity.
And, we haven’t even gotten into the ease of assembly. If you’ve never put a band saw together, you should know that it’s not always a straightforward process. It’s not the most difficult tool to assemble, but you should expect to spend some time on it. Some models come more assembled and are designed in such a way as to make them easy to put together. If you’re a beginner, you may save yourself a lot of time and frustration by purchasing one of those models.
More power isn’t always the right decision, especially if you end up with a lot of excess power that you never end up using. In most situations you will be able to However, the other extreme is something worth considering. In most situations, you’ll be able to do the projects you want with a 1-1/2 horsepower motor. If you’re thinking about working exotic hardwoods or other tough projects, then you’re probably want something in the 2-1/2 to 3 horsepower range. However, motor this powerful generally come wired for 220 volts, which means you’re going to need a specialized electrical supply.
With a weaker motor, you do run the risk of being unable to cut your project, especially if it is harder wood. If the motor is too weak, there’s still a chance that you’ll be able to make the cut, but it will take much longer. Having the right amount of power will save you a lot of time in the long run, and save you from making mistakes that ruin pieces.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about features of a band saw that directly impact the cut. While the base isn’t the most important part of the bandsaw, it can have an impact on the cut, though it’s generally much smaller than with other parts. There are four kinds of band saw bases: floor, open, closed, and panel.
The floor base features a solid piece of metal on the ground, on which is mounted a narrow piece of sturdy metal which supports the bandsaw and hides the lower wheel. It does a reasonably good job of absorbing vibrations, and it’s one of the more stable bases.
The closed base is essentially a metal box on which the rest of the band saw sits. The lower wheel is above this box, meaning it’s empty. Sometimes companies turn this box into storage for adjustment tools, extra blades, or whatever else you would like to have handy while working, by adding a hinged door to the closed base. This base also does a good job of absorbing vibrations and is very stable.
The open base, on the other hand, features four exposed support legs, sometimes connected by thin support bands. Since it has fewer points of contact with the floor, it’s not going to be as stable as models with a closed for floor base. Additionally, since it has less material on it, it’s not going to absorb vibrations anywhere near as well.
The panel base combines the open and closed bases. It generally features four support legs, onto which are mounted metal or plastic panels, which don’t have a load-bearing purpose, but do improve the aesthetics. Since it’s essentially an open base with extra panels, it has the same flaws. It’s not as stable as the floor or closed base, and it also doesn’t absorb vibrations as well.
Finally, wheel may come with your band saw. This is important if you’re planning to put it in a storage position between uses. If it’s just going to sit in one place for the duration of its life, then you don’t need to spend extra to get wheels.
If you need to move your band saw around, but your otherwise preferred model doesn’t come with wheels, you may not need to worry. Some manufacturers will sell wheels or casters that you could add to the base. In some instances, aftermarket wheels or casters will be compatible, which can get you the same mobility at a lower price.
In some instances, the saw you’ll want to buy will be perfect in every way, but it doesn’t have the thickness capacity you need. The thickness capacity is the distance between the table and the upper guide assembly or blade guard when it’s set to its maximum height.
However, many models contain a workaround for this problem. Manufacturers will make a piece for the band saw called a “riser block.” The riser block is added to the frame between the table and the upper wheel case, and it will add a number of inches to the thickness capacity. These typically cost under $100 and can increase capacity by up to a foot.
Something to keep in mind when installing a riser block is that it increases the length of blade that you need for the machine. Generally speaking, the length increase will be equal to twice the distance added by the riser block, once for the part of the blade that is going up, and once for the part of the blade that is going down. Consequently, if your machine previously used a 93-1/2” blade, it’ll likely require a 105” blade after you install a 6” riser block.
For compatibility purposes, it’s better to get the riser block from the same manufacturer from which you got the band saw. You don’t want to try to force anything here, as you run the risk of permanently damaging your machine with a poorly-fitting riser block. Furthermore, you have to run the blade through the riser block, and they typically come with guides of their own. If they are not properly aligned, you may not be able to run the machine.
Did you know that you can make angled cuts on a band saw? Not all models include this functionality, but those that do accomplish it by using a table that tilts. Many models feature the ability to tilt up to 45 degrees in one direction.
Something to keep in mind with these models is that the maximum depth of your cut does down when the table is tilted, and the greater the tilt, the smaller the depth. If you have a table that only tilts in one direction, then you’re going to have to run the piece through backward in order to cut pieces with the opposite angle relative to the table tilt.
Middle-of-the-road models typically can tilt up to 45 degrees in one direction, and usually around 10 degrees in the other, which will save you some time and effort.
The best models in this area will tilt up to a full 45 degrees in either direction, meaning you never have to do tricky cuts in order to get the angles that you want.
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a band saw. The very best thing you can do for yourself is to educate yourself on the various features on different models, and then choose the one that best fits the kind of projects that you envision yourself doing in the future. If you do this, you should expect to not only get the job done but enjoy it as well. And you can’t put a price tag on that.
The JET JWBS-14DXPRO was our favorite band saw, due to its massive capacity and table and excellent power. The Grizzly G0555LX was a great band saw overall but lost the first position because of a poorly-designed dust collector. The WEN 3962 is a great band saw for experts, and works great, but isn’t the easiest to use. The Rikon 10-305 is great for small projects and working with soft woods but struggles with harder woods and lacks the capacity for large projects. The POWERTEC BS900 has more flaws than upsides and shouldn’t be high on your list.
Hopefully, our reviews and our buyer’s guide have helped make it clear what you should be looking for when you’re shopping for a band saw. It’s not always easy to shop online, but we hope that you now know which model can best meet your needs.
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