Bandsaws are an enigma. You can have a workshop without one; just a basic table saw and maybe a jigsaw will do, thank you. But, yet, no workshop worth the name is really complete without one. It occupies that space between a table saw and a jigsaw, able to do a little bit of everything and absolutely critical if you need to cut shapes into thick pieces of wood or slice thick planks into thinner slats.
You’ve got a hankering to get into woodworking, and you ask a Facebook group for purchasing advice. The responses are long and full of jargon, and 10 minutes later you’re picking your head up from a puddle of drool on your laptop keyboard.
We’re here to help. We reviewed a handful of bandsaws on the market and tried to share information in language that won’t confuse and confound you.
|Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe|
|Delta 28-400 14 in.||165 lbs||4.7/5|
(Best for the Money)
|WEN 3962||73 lbs||4.4/5|
|POWERTEC BS900||43 lbs||4.1/5|
If band saws were Major League Baseball, game announcers would call the Grizzly G0555LX a lock for Cooperstown. That’s not to knock the competition, but to really acknowledge that this band saw is a next-level performer.
Its 1 hp motor powers blades through oak like it’s pine and makes cutting sheet metal a snap. It’s accurate, perfect for cutting thick planks into thin ones — this is called resawing — and cutting around corners. Its 6.5 inches of clearance gives it great range. It’s so sturdy that Thor himself would need a back brace to move it safely. It’ll also last a really, really long time.
That’s also really our primary knock on the thing. It’s big and heavy, and not at all portable without modifications. It’s also going to cost you plenty.
In keeping with our baseball analogy, the Grizzly G0555LX is going to go deep all day, every day. It’s going to be solid on defense, and it’s built to do this over a long, productive career. However, it’s not going to steal you a lot of bases, and it’s going to be expensive to sign this player to a contract. If you do, it’ll probably be worth it, because this one is Hall of Fame bound.
The Delta 28-400 is a gentle giant. It’s powerful enough to tackle most jobs you throw at it, and it’s been engineered for quiet operation.
It’s got the space and muscle to resaw planks and the accuracy to shape cuts easily, and it does it all without blowing out your eardrums. We found it a more pleasurable working experience than cutting with our Top Pick, the Grizzly G0555LX. In fact, both are comparably priced, which is to say that they cost a lot of money. So, why didn’t this saw get the top nod?
Simple. The price you pay for this saw isn’t the only money you’ll need to spend to get the Delta fully operational. You’ll need to buy a fence and a miter guide. Out of the box, it’s pretty limited in what it can do. It’s not really the added expense. It’s the hassle. Someone who spends this kind of money on a band saw shouldn’t be forced to spend additional time figuring out which accessories are necessary to get the most out of it. It really feels like Delta had a price point it built this saw to and left the rest to consumers. So, to the Runner-Up slot it goes.
It’s always important to separate “Best for the Money” and “Cheapest.” Sometimes, the two are the same. Sometimes, you can get a much cheaper model, and it shows when it comes to job performance. This was the case in our review of band saws. You can get cheaper saws than the Rikon 10-305, but you won’t get a better value.
The 10-305’s 1/3 hp motor is far outgunned by our Top Pick and Runner-Up. We mentioned in our review of the Grizzly that it wasn’t a knock on the less powerful machines, just a testament that our top two choices are simply in a class by themselves. The 10-305 truthfully has plenty of power for most jobs. It won’t be as fast or as smooth, but we’re talking about for-dollar value and not raw power.
That’s what you get with the 10-305: a great value. It performs well above its price tag. It just doesn’t deliver the goods the way a much more expensive table band saw will. On the plus side, it’s also more compact than our top two choices, so it’s got a smaller footprint in your workshop. That’s a nice perk.
If you read our Pros and Cons, you’ll see “Difficult to adjust” twice among the cons. We didn’t err. We just want you to know that this bandsaw is that difficult to adjust.
The good news is that when you get it set up and adjusted, it runs like a dream. It impressed us with its ability to punch up, as it were, tackling jobs that you would assume would be too much for a saw this size. It doesn’t do the job that our top two picks do, but it does get more out of its motor than you’d assume looking at it.
But it needs constant fiddling. This bandsaw just simply doesn’t stay adjusted. Part of this is because the size of blade it’s designed to use just won’t stay in place. Part of it is tool design. Regardless, you’ll spend about half your time using this and about half your time adjusting and tweaking it so you can use it.
While we were impressed by the range of jobs this saw can do and its overall performance, it’s pretty obvious to see where it got its affordable price. For that reason, we had to downrank it considerably.
For what it can do, the Powertec BS900 is a good value. And what can it do? It can do very basic, light cutting. That’s about it.
It’s not just the 1/2 hp motor. It’s also the nine-inch blade, the smallest blade on any of the saws we reviewed. That’s enough power to work within that range, but it’s not really enough range to do anything more substantial. At the price, that’s not a bad value.
However, it’s also cheaply made. Plastic isn’t necessarily terrible for use in making power tools if it’s used in the right places. The Powertec BS900 has too much of it, and it feels like whenever you use it, you might have to order replacement parts for whatever snapped while sawing.
If you’re on a budget, you might be tempted by the comparatively low price to just get this. Don’t do that. This saw might cost the least, but the quality is also lacking to the point where you’re better off just buying a better model at a higher price.
If you made it here, we succeeded in at least one respect. We were able to communicate without loading down the conversation with a lot of jargon that really only experienced hands can understand. In a world that prizes specialization, that’s no easy task. In fact, you feel confident enough in what you’ve read to ask just what else is out there. We reviewed five bandsaws, but the market is filled with them. Maybe, you say to yourself, one of those others is even more suitable for you.
We appreciate the vote of confidence, and we’ve got more to offer. We put together this buyers’ guide to give you some insights into how we arrived at our rankings. These tips should help you further inform your buying decision.
We didn’t much care for the Powertec BS900 as a general purpose bandsaw. It has the juice for only the most modest of work, and it’s flimsily constructed, too. We looked at bandsaws generically, but you will have specific needs, and maybe you don’t need a much more expensive, much more powerful model that takes up a lot of room in your workshop. Don’t let our poor ranking get in the way of you tailoring your tools to fit the work you need them to do. Be honest with yourself about your needs and space restrictions and choose accordingly. You might save yourself a little money and wind up with exactly the right tool.
Band saws specialize in cutting really thick pieces of wood, which is what makes them ideal for resawing, which is cutting thick planks into thinner ones. You’re going to want some power.
One of the things that made the Grizzly G0555LX and Delta 28-400 next-level performers is that both have a powerful 1 hp motor. That’s twice the muscle of the closest competition. It’s also enough that both saws were designed with plenty of clearance between the table and the top of the blade. That means not only better, more power where other models are maxing out; it also means a greater range of things you can do. Pay for power and you get versatility in the bargain.
The teeth on bandsaw blades are closer together because these saws are designed for maximum precision. That also makes them one of the most attractive options on the market to cut non-wood materials like sheet metal, plastic, and plasterboard. Resawing a 2×4 might not be in your immediate future, but you might need to shape floor tiles or electrical conduit. You’ll want a bandsaw for those, and when shopping for one you’ll want to keep in mind that it’s not just wood you’ll be cutting.
Bandsaws were originally used in sawmills to saw thick planks into thinner ones. They proved better than alternatives because the way the blade was applied meant applying maximum cutting potential on a very narrow range. That means less wasted wood and less sawdust to collect.
While this is a function of the blade and not the saw itself, per se, when you are shopping for a bandsaw you want to keep this in mind. For a lot of saw lines, sawdust is a serious issue. For bandsaws, it is much less so. When considering a bandsaw, it’s probably always going to be an attractive option because it creates less waste. If a bandsaw brand has a reputation for creating a lot of waste, you’ll want to find out why, because it should be a secondary concern.
The primary difference between a bandsaw and a jigsaw is that the jigsaw is portable, whereas the bandsaw is locked to a fixed location. Bandsaws are not intended to be very portable. If you need to take a tool to a job to cut shapes, you’ll want to look at jigsaws.
Still, weight, construction, and ease of setup are pretty important. Some bandsaws, like Grizzly’s G0555LX, are very heavy. We liked it best because of its overall, next-level performance. It’s also super heavy. Here, we’d suggest that you think back to the days of bygone youth, where you spent the odd Saturday helping your buddy move into a new apartment. The one massive fight no one looked forward to that day was getting the heavy, oddly angled couch up the stairs and through the door. Do that long enough, and you figure out that instead of pushing heavy furniture up narrow spaces, you should size furniture so it can be moved easily. The same applies here. If you’re putting a bandsaw in your garage workshop, that’s one thing. If you have to fight to get it down to your basement, maybe ask yourself whether you need that much bandsaw.
The same goes for setting it up. If your bandsaw comes with very complicated, precise setup instructions and you barely have the patience to get through a half-hour sitcom on Netflix, maybe you should look at less complicated bandsaws. It does you no good to spend several hundred dollars on a bandsaw only to have the thing stay half-built because it’s too complicated for you to put it together.
Eventually, it’s going to come down to dollars. Be forewarned, if you want the kind of performance that our top picks deliver, be prepared to pay more for it. You’re also going to want to buy accessories for it, like different blades for different materials, fencings, and gauges. The price isn’t the end of what a good bandsaw is going to cost you. That’s also why we downranked the Delta 28-400. In almost every way, it was the same as the Grizzly G0555LX, except that it didn’t arrive as a complete package. You’ll need to buy a fence and a miter gauge to really get the most of it.
Those are the top-of-the-line saws we reviewed. You can pay less if your needs support that, but make sure you know what you’re sacrificing to get to an attractive price.
We gave our top picks to the Grizzly G0555LX and Delta 28-400 for a simple reason. They outclassed the competition. We really liked the Delta’s quiet operation, but couldn’t get past having to make additional purchases to really make it a complete bandsaw. That’s why the Grizzly got the top slot and the Delta the runner-up. Rikon’s 10-305 was our Best for the Money because while it isn’t the lowest-priced, the decline in its work output wasn’t as distinct as for the WEN 3962 and Powertec BS900. We gave the Powertec our bottom ranking because it achieved its price point by substituting plastic for quality construction.
We hope we helped clear up some of the mystique about bandsaws and helped you focus your search without loading you down with a lot of jargon about motor speed, number of teeth per blade, or what model and width of the clamp to use on the dust collector. We certainly hope that at the very least you found our buyers’ guide useful. Happy shopping.