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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
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 Benchtop: WEN 3959 9-Inch Band Saw
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: WEN 3970T Metal-Cutting Band Saw with Stand
Getting a great metal-cutting band saw can be a little more difficult than finding a reliable, affordable woodworking band saw. However, the WEN 4-by-6-inch Metal-Cutting Band Saw is an excellent option that works well on everything from steel and aluminum to copper or brass.
This WEN band saw is portable and foldable. It features a durable stand and a folding saw that easily moves for horizontal or vertical cutting. The saw has three speeds— 80-, 120- and 200- 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 WEN 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 4.6-amp motor and features a two-year warranty.
Best for Resawing: Rikon Power Tools 10-305 Bandsaw With Fence
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 bench-top 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
Not everyone has the space or need for a vertical 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
Most band saws are designed for wood, metal, or plastic, but the Gryphon C-40 is a great option for cutting glass. 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 Budget: Ryobi 2.5 Amp 9 in. Band Saw
With that distinctive Ryobi design, the 2.5-amp, 9-inch benchtop band saw is an excellent, low-cost 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 low 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 (available 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 (available 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.