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A highly versatile tool, band saws can cut through wood or metal in a straight line, in a curve, or in a more irregular shape. Basically a long, thin looped blade that runs between two wheels, a band saw offers excellent control during the cutting process, meaning you can use it for far more delicate work than would be possible with most other types of power saws. Some band saws are built into a frame that stands on the floor, but there are also benchtop and portable models.
Here are the best band saws for a variety of uses and users.
Best Overall: JET JWBS-14DXPRO 14-Inch Deluxe Pro Band Saw
Frame Type: Floor | Power: 1.25 horsepower | Throat: 14 inches | Max. Cutting Depth: 12 inches
Very smooth performance
Cast-iron frame is very stable and durable
Does not include miter gauge or rip fence
The JET JWBS-14DXPRO band saw is a high-end professional-style machine for cutting wood, metal, and much more. It sports a two-speed poly-v belt drive system to cut at 1,500 or 3,000 sfpm. This two-tier speed function allows for extra precision when you’re making your cuts, allowing you to customize your approach based on your materials and project.
This bench-top band saw has a 5-inch by 15-inch cutting surface and can slice into material as wide as 13.5 inches and as high as 12 inches. It has a resawing function and a full cast iron frame. This machine also has ball bearing guides, an adjustable table angle and numerous safety features, such as a blade tracking window. This is a great band saw that can do just about anything, but it is designed more for experienced and professional users.
Best Budget: WEN 3959 9-Inch Band Saw
Frame Type: Benchtop | Power: 2.5 amp | Throat: 9 inches | Max. Cutting Depth: 3.5 inches
Perfect for hobbyists or small projects
Includes miter gauge and rip fence
Few complaints that it's difficult to maintain straight cuts
Not everyone needs a large band saw for cutting through wide or long boards and other materials. If you mostly work with smaller boards, or only expect to use your band saw on occasion, a more compact machine that’s still powerful enough to get the job done, yet won’t hog up too much space in your workshop or garage is all you need. And the WEN 3959 9-Inch Band Saw fills that need perfectly.
The work surface of this band saw measures 12-5/16 x 11-7/8 inches, and it uses any 59-1/2-inch band saw blade that’s between 1/8 and 3/8-inches thickness. At 2.5 amps, the motor isn’t the most powerful, but it still has enough oomph to slice through wood and similar materials up to a depth of 3-1/2 inches, including bevel cuts from 0 to 45 degrees.
The band saw comes with a ¼-inch blade, a 2.5-inch dust port, a miter gauge for setting boards at precise angles, and a rip fence to keep your cuts straight.
Best for Metal: Shop Fox W1715 Metal-Cutting Bandsaw
Frame Type: Floor| Power: ¾ horsepower | Throat: 6 inches | Max. Cutting Depth: 6 inches
Horizontal or vertical orientation
Handles most types of metal, as well as wood and plastics
Smooth cutting performance
Few complaints that stand is not sturdy
Buying a great metal-cutting band saw can be a little more difficult than finding a reliable, affordable woodworking band saw. However, the Shop Fox W1715 Metal-Cutting Bandsaw is an excellent option that works well on everything from steel and aluminum to copper or brass, as well as wood and plastics.
This Shop Fox band saw comes on its own wheeled stand, so you can easily move it right where you want it. The blade easily adjusts for either horizontal or vertical cutting, allowing you to tackle more complicated designs or cuts. The saw has three speeds— 78-, 108- and 180- feet per minute—for a range of options when you’re slicing through metal. Additionally, the band saw allows for cuts anywhere from 0 to 60 degrees and has a beveling vice for a sturdy grip. With this Fox Shop band saw, you get ball bearing blade guides, onboard blade tension and tilt knobs, automatic safety shut-off features, and a feed rate adjustment handle. The saw is powered by a ¾-horsepower motor and features a two-year warranty.
Best for Resawing: Rikon Power Tools 10-305 Bandsaw With Fence
Frame Type: Benchtop| Power: 1/3 horsepower | Throat: 10 inches | Max. Cutting Depth: 4-5/8 inches
Tire-cleaning brush reduces sawdust buildup
Smooth, powerful motor
Easy to adjust and use
Reasonably compact size
Few complaints of receiving saw with bent table
No miter gauge
Resawing refers to the process of cutting a piece of wood into multiple pieces rather than plaining. For example, you could turn a 1-inch thick board into multiple ⅛-inch-thick veneers or two ⅜-inch boards. It allows you to get more out of a piece of wood and create a pieces of furniture with mirror grain designs. To make the job of resawing easier you’ll want a ½-inch wide blade with 3 teeth per inch. This allows for a smooth and precise cut that’s still strong enough to get into the grain.
Pair this ½-inch blade with the Rikon 10-305 Band Saw for optimal resawing every time. This reliable benchtop band saw features a large 13-¾-inch by 12-½-inch cast iron table - larger than many competitors and ideal for woodworking projects. The 1/3-horsepower motor gives you plenty of power while the guide post is easy to maneuver with handle. Additionally, the rip fence can be moved or removed for optimal range. The Rikon band saw also has a steel construction and a 2-½-inch dust port.
The Rikon 10-305 can fit ½-inch to ⅛-inch blades. It is a great option for all types of woodworking, and particularly good for resawing.
Best Portable: Milwaukee 6242-6 Compact Corded Band Saw
Frame Type: N/A | Power: 7 amp | Throat: 3-1/4 inches | Max. Cutting Depth: 3-1/4 inches
Perfect for on-the-spot tasks
Not for very heavy-duty jobs
Not everyone has the space or need for a benchtop or stand band saw. A portable option can be the right fit for anyone who likes to work outdoors, bring their saw from worksite to worksite, or generally likes to save space. The compact Milwaukee band saw is a great option for a reliable, portable band saw that can get the job done.
Ideal for cutting pipes and metal working, this band saw is lightweight and easy to move. At less than 10 pounds and only 16 inches in length, you can wield this tool in any scenario and the handy grips make any movement feel natural—even overhead cutting. It features a variable speed system ranging from 200 to 360 rpm so that you can cut through copper or steel exactly at the right speed. You can adjust the shoe without tools and eject the blade easily. It even sports an aluminum gear casing in case you drop it. It has a 3-1/4-inch cutting capacity. This Milwaukee saw comes with a blade and a carrying case as well.
Best for Glass: Gryphon Corporation C-40 Band Saw
Frame Type: Benchtop | Power: ⅓ horsepower | Throat: 4-3/4 inches | Max. Cutting Depth: 2-5/8 inches
A must-have for anyone who creates stained glass or glass mosaics
Large water reservoir
Precise cutting ability
Not for cutting wood or metal
Most band saws are designed for wood, metal, or plastic, but the Gryphon C-40 is a great option for cutting glass, as well as tile, stone, and ceramics. Precision glass cutting is difficult for anyone but the professionals with the best equipment, but the Gryphon C-40 is a more affordable option than a CNC machine for precise cuts with this fickle material.
This machine has a very simple design with fewer features than the big wood-cutting band saws. This band saw can be paired with a diamond edged blade and operated at a high speed to slice through glass. It also has an easy-to-use water cooling system. The ⅓-horsepower tool is no frills and very effective.
Best Benchtop: Ryobi 2.5 Amp 9 in. Band Saw
Frame Type: Benchtop | Power: 2.5 amp | Throat: 9 inches | Max. Cutting Depth: 3-5/8 inches
Excellent performance for light to medium cutting tasks
Includes miter gauge
Some complaints that instructions are not clearly written
With that distinctive Ryobi design, the 2.5-amp, 9-inch benchtop band saw is an excellent option for a variety of work. This machine uses an induction motor for cutting pipes, wood and a variety of other materials. It features a 3-1/2-inch cutting height with rapid setting blade tensioners and a blade-tracking window. This Ryobi band saw also feature aluminum wheels and ball bearing supports. It allows for blades that are between ⅛ and ⅜ inches in width.
This band saw is set apart from the others for its reasonable cost and solid performance. Its a great option for amateur woodworkers and crafty people. It can be a thoughtful gift option as well.
Our top choice of band saw, the JET JWBS-14DXPRO (view at Tool Nut), is powerful, versatile, and durable enough even for a professional, but is also well suited to the workshop of an avid DIY woodworker or hobbyist. If you need something less expensive, however, the Ryobi 2.5-amp 9-inch band saw (view at Amazon) has all the performance you need at the price you’ll like.
What to Look for in a Band Saw
There are two basic types of band saws: those that stand on the floor and those that sit atop a bench or table.
Floor or freestanding band saws are large machines with an attached stand or cabinet. They take up considerable floor space, but have the power and the capacity to tackle larger, harder, and thicker materials. Still, the average DIYer doesn’t need this level of performance.
Benchtop band saws sit atop your workbench or table, and so require less floor space. While many are quite powerful, as a general rule, benchtop band saws aren’t quite as powerful as their freestanding counterparts. However, they are more than adequate for tackling the typical DIY project around the home.
There are also compact, cordless band saws that are useful for construction sites or other jobsites where you’ll be working in tight quarters, doing overhead work, or working with small materials. These saws are often used to cut metal, as well.
There are two numbers that make up a band saw’s cutting capacity: throat and cutting depth.
Throat is a measurement of the distance from the saw blade to the vertical column of the frame. This determines the maximum width of material the tool can handle. When a manufacturer includes a measurement in the tool’s name or description, for example “18-inch,” they are referring to the throat. As a general rule, freestanding band saws have larger throats, typically over 16 inches, while benchtop tools have throats between 12 and 14 inches, although many small machines have a throat measurement of 9 or 10 inches.
Cutting depth is a measurement of the distance from the band saw’s table to the upper blade guides. This is the maximum thickness of material the saw can handle. Between 6 and 12 inches is the most common range of cutting depth.
As a general rule, larger freestanding band saws have more powerful motors than benchtop tools. Professional or heavy-duty band saws might have as much as 2-horsepower motors, but most DIYers will find 1-to-1.5-horsepower more than adequate. The motors of benchtop or small freestanding band saws are usually somewhere between .5 and 1 horsepower.
What is a band saw used for?
Like other power saws, band saws are very useful for cutting straight across the grain of a board—crosscutting—as well as cutting down the length of a board with the grain—rip cutting. However, where a band saw really shines is in making curved or more complicated cuts. A band saw’s thin blade gives you a lot of control while working around edges and curves.This makes the tool very useful if you make wooden toys, home decor, furniture, or pieces used as trim.
Band saws are also often used to cut metal.
What size band saw do I need?
Band saws come in a variety of sizes and configurations, but the largest are generally best suited for professional use in a carpentry or machine shop. Few DIYers or hobbyists require the size and power of a freestanding band saw. Unless you are using your saw very frequently to cut large materials, a benchtop tool is the best choice.
As for size, most hobbyists and DIYers find that a band saw with a 12- to 14-inch throat is sufficient for just about anything they might want to cut. When it comes to power, a saw with 1- to 1.5-horsepower is enough oomph for any but the most demanding materials.
What is a horizontal band saw used for?
The typical band saw is a vertical saw. The blade assembly is stationary, and the user pushes the board or other material along the saw table while the blades move up and down vertically to make the cut. A horizontal band saw, by contrast, holds the material being cut stationary while the user swings the blade assembly horizontally to make the cut.
As a general rule, horizontal band saws are far more common in commercial shops or for industrial use, and are often used to cut metal. While vertical band saws are also used commercially, smaller benchtop models are the most common type purchased by DIYers or hobbyists for use at home.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs.