Best Budget Band Saws 2018 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

a budget bandsawBand saws may date back to the early 1800s, but that doesn’t mean that innovation has stopped. Manufacturers come out with new features every year that make band saws safer, easier to use, and more efficient.

You’re not going to find one of these bad boys in every shop. But if you’re a serious woodworker looking to craft beautiful projects with curved elements, owning a band saw will save you a lot of time and frustration, and the projects you will do will make you the envy of your neighborhood.

Even if you’ve never owned a band saw before, we have you covered. We’ve tested several band saws and created this list of budget band saw reviews so that you can make the right choice.

Our Top Picks of 2018

ModelPriceWeightEditor Rating
Grizzly G0555
Grizzly G0555
(Top Pick)

Check Price
195 lbs4.9/5
Rikon 10-305
Rikon 10-305

Check Price
76 lbs4.7/5
WEN 3962
WEN 3962
(Best for the Money)

Check Price
73 lbs4.5/5
WEN 3959
WEN 3959

Check Price
40 lbs4.2/5
SKIL 3386-01
SKIL 3386-01

Check Price
36 lbs4.0/5

5 Best Budget Band Saws – Reviews

1. Grizzly G0555 Band Saw – Top Pick

Grizzly G0555

If you’re serious about doing a lot of projects with a band saw, you can’t go wrong with the Grizzly G0555. This is our top pick because it has sturdy construction, ease of use, and features used by professionals, without having an inflated price tag. It’s sturdy enough to handle any job, but costs less than other 13.5” band saws with similar features.

This band saw is easy to assemble right out of the box, and comes with computer-balanced wheels, taking a lot of the guesswork out of assembly. The quick-release tension bar will save you a lot of time during projects, while the cast iron table is more durable than what the competitors give you. Did we mention that the table can tilt 45 degrees to the right and 15 to the left, enabling complex cuts?

The only downside to this band saw is that it doesn’t come with a table light, something found on most other saws.

Pros
  • Easy assembly
  • Powers through hard wood
  • Sturdy construction
  • Professional features
Cons
  • No table light

2. Rikon 10-305 Budget Band Saw – The Runner-Up

Rikon 10-305

If you don’t want to spring for the Grizzly, the Rikon 10-305 is a quality runner-up. It doesn’t have the same power as more expensive models, but if you’re doing smaller projects or working with softer woods, it gets the job done.

It is an excellent value at the price, with a steel frame and an oversized cast iron table, as opposed to the plastic ones found on other models at this price point. It also doesn’t vibrate as much as other models, leading to cleaner cuts. The guide post features a micro adjust handle which allows for precision settings.

While it doesn’t have as many features as the Grizzly, it has the oomph to get most hobby jobs done. The biggest downside is that it can’t handle harder woods or more significant projects. Its dust port is also small at 2.5”.

Pros
  • Good value
  • Quality parts
  • Powers through soft wood
Cons
  • Can’t cut harder woods
  • Small dust port

3. WEN 3962 Band Saw – Best for the Money

WEN 3962

With the WEN 3962, you can get some of the best cuts of any band saw, at a fraction of the cost. This 10” model features a table that tilts up to 45 degrees and can run at two different speeds, allowing you to adjust it to the project at hand. It also has a 3-in-1 dust port, enabling you to use different dust collection hose sizes, including ones you might already own.

What keeps it out of the top 2 is how difficult it is to adjust. Initial setup takes longer than other units. The bottom wheel also requires more adjustment than other models when switching blades, something that can be frustrating if you’re a band saw novice. Once set correctly, though, it cuts straight and with power.

If you know your way around band saws, this is the cleanest-cutting best band saw for the money.

Pros
  • Excellent work light
  • Beveling table
  • Two speeds
Cons
  • Hard initial setup
  • Difficult to change blades

4. WEN 3959 Bandsaw

WEN 3959

The WEN 3959 is a good band saw for hobbyists and those who only want to work on small projects, as it’s only a 9” model. If you’re looking to work with harder woods or make cuts to big pieces, you had better forget about them if you buy this unit.

Like other units, it has a table that can bevel up to 45 degrees, meaning you can make some more complicated cuts. It does have a smaller dust port, meaning more cleanup will be required. If you’re not looking to work on furniture or do anything particularly complicated, this band saw might be okay, but it lacks the power found in other units. That being said, it has one of the most comfortable setups out of all these models.

Pros
  • Easy setup
Cons
  • Not enough power for big projects
  • Loose miter gauge
  • Cheap fence

5. SKIL 3386-01 Band-Saw

SKIL 3386-01

The best thing going for the SKIL 3386-01 is that it’s dirt-cheap. Like all cheap products, there’s a reason it’s that way. The parts are low-quality and often break under light-to-moderate strain.

Compared to almost any other band saw, this one is underpowered, meaning you’ll be limited to the most basic of projects. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to work with hard woods or anything that requires complex cuts. You’ll also end up having to go slower on the projects you can do, as the blade often catches, even on softer woods.

While it certainly has the best price, it has some of the worst value. If you plan on using your band saw for a long period of time, you’d be better off buying something that costs more, but will last much longer.

Pros
  • Good work light
Cons
  • Underpowered
  • Requires lots of maintenance
  • Small dust port
  • Plastic parts
  • Low-quality blade

Buyer’s Guide

We hope that we’ve given you some insight into band saws in the above reviews that will help you make the right decision for your needs when you’re ready to buy, whether you’re an expert or a novice. Understanding what features and power you need to complete your projects is vital when purchasing a band saw. While we don’t know your specific project, we have some general advice that we used in reviewing these budget band saws.

How to choose a great band saw

In compiling this list, we considered quite a few factors that separated the best band saws from the not-so-great ones. Value, of course, was at the forefront of our minds, but we also considered quality, ease of assembly, the range of included features, and raw power.

If you’ve bought power tools before, you know that being cheap may end up costing you more money in the long run. More affordable products often have inferior design, making their operation more time-consuming and frustrating, but many also have inferior parts, which break more easily and more severely. You may end up replacing a cheap tool much sooner than you’d like to.

Consequently, we considered the durability of each band saw a critical feature. Even though some were priced higher, they ended up having a better per-dollar value because they will last longer. More expensive band saws tend to be able to cut harder woods and perform more complicated cuts. For this reason, we ranked band saws with these features higher than other units.

Ease of assembly is also important. Every band saw will require some assembly and tuning right out of the box, not to mention the necessary retuning when you change blades. Some models were clearly designed with experts in mind, while others were more novice-friendly. If this will be your first band saw, you will likely save yourself a lot of time and frustration by choosing a model with easy assembly and blade changing.

The kind of project you’re doing

There’s no way around it – if you’re planning to work with harder woods in the future or make cuts on bigger pieces of wood, you’re going to need a more expensive band saw. While there’s a chance you might be able to get the cuts you need with a cheaper model, it will likely be a time-consuming, frustrating project, and there’s a chance it won’t have enough power to make the cut at all. There’s nothing worse than purchasing a tool and realizing that it doesn’t have the “oomph” you need to get the job done.

If you’re planning to use your band saw for years to come, you’re going to want one with a more durable frame and cutting surface. Every time you use your band saw you’re going to put wear on it, and some of these models stand up to that much better than others.

The ease of swapping blades

If you want to do a lot of projects with your band saw, get one that is easy to swap blades on. Different projects require different blades, which means you may find yourself replacing the blade every time you work on a different piece. Some machines make great cuts, but also make it difficult to change the blades out. Others make good cuts and also have designs that make it easy to replace the blade. You’ll need to approach this realistically. If you’re doing the same kind of project repeatedly, this won’t matter as much, but if you see yourself embarking on a variety of different projects, you’ll save a lot of time and frustration by going with an easy-swap band saw.

Value

We have assembled a list of band saws that can be affordable on a variety of budgets. While the more expensive ones might be some of the best on the market, they may come with features that you won’t end up needing. If you’re only going to use your band saw once or twice, there’s no reason to buy a more expensive model just for the durability factor. Make sure you’re shopping in a way that gets you the most value for the projects you plan to do.

However, if you want to make more complex, angled cuts, you’d be better off spending a bit more money. Having a more powerful band saw will also speed up your projects, saving you a lot of time in the long run if you plan to use the machine regularly. More expensive units also tend to be easier to assemble and adjust, again saving you a lot of time. Sometimes the time saved adds up to a far greater value than the extra money spent up front.

Power

We’ve alluded to this in other sections, but having more power is never a bad thing with a band saw. More powerful band saws can cut more durable materials, but also greatly reduce the time needed to cut through softer ones. Underpowered machines will often lock up or freeze, meaning that you will have to go extra slowly or risk a lot of frustration. On the other hand, having “too much” power will make each cut a pleasure.

If you’re considering buying a band saw, it’s likely that you’re planning to do a lot with it for years to come, and you really need to consider the quality of that experience. Craftsmanship isn’t always about the end product so much as it is about the process of creation. Ask yourself if the experience a certain band saw will give you will be one that will spur you to create more or drive you out of the shop altogether.

A band saw is only as good as the cuts it can make. Band saws that are more easily adjustable and have more features will make for better cuts, and better cuts mean better experiences and better final products. If a new tool doesn’t live up to your hopes or is frustrating to use, it’s the wrong tool for you.

Conclusion

The Grizzly G0555 was the clear winner in our reviews of budget band saws. The Rikon 10-305, while not having as many features, is much less expensive, making it an excellent buy. The WEN 3962, however, trumped both in the value category, providing the most bang for the buck, and making it a great all-around purchase for inexperienced and experienced workers alike. The WEN 3959 was good for small projects but lacked the power for bigger ones, while the only thing going for the SKIL 3386-01 was its light.

We hope that you find this guide useful, not only because of the specific reviews of the different band saws but also because of the information you gained about band saws in general. There’s a lot of information out there, and sometimes it can be hard to know what’s relevant and what’s just marketing fluff. Hopefully, this guide will help you purchase the band saw that best fits your needs.

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Best Budget Band Saws 2018 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
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