A sturdy band saw makes rip cuts like a table saw, crosscuts like a miter saw, and reduces the thickness of a board like a planer. With the right band, these tools cut metal, too. Band saws do intricate work to speed workflow and improve overall results, which might just make them one of the most important saws for a DIYer.
But before you upgrade your workshop with this power tool, read this guide for tips and descriptions of the best band saws on the market today.
- BEST OVERALL: WEN 3962 Two-Speed Band Saw with Stand
- RUNNER UP: POWERTEC BS900 9 Inch Benchtop Bandsaw
- BEST BUDGET: WEN 3959 2.5-Amp 9-Inch Benchtop Band Saw
- UPGRADE PICK: JET 14” Deluxe Pro Bandsaw Kit (710116K)
- BEST PORTABLE: Milwaukee M18 Fuel Deep Cut Band Saw
- BEST CORDLESS: DEWALT 20V MAX Portable Band Saw
- BEST FOR GLASS: Gryphon 37″ AquaSaw Diamond Band Saw
- BEST FOR METAL: DEWALT 10 Amps 4.75-in Portable Band Saw
Types of Band Saws
You’ll choose from three types of band saws: floorstanding, portable, and benchtop. Each type comes with advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to take the following points into consideration when shopping for the best band saw.
Floorstanding band saws work best in a full-fledged shop with plenty of floor space. As the name suggests, these saws sit on the floor on top of a set of legs or a stand. They’ll sit anywhere in the shop that space allows.
Floorstanding band saws provide plenty of flexibility for maneuvering longer pieces around the saw. They may also accept larger boards or workpieces, but not always.
Benchtop band saws make great options in small garages or workshops with limited space. These band saws sit on top of an existing work surface like a bench or assembly table when in use and conveniently store away when not in use.
A big advantage of benchtop band saws over floorstanding units is that they take up less floor space. However, they require considerable space on a workbench. And not all DIYers have the shelf space to store a band saw when they’re not using it. Those who infrequently use a band saw might wind up losing valuable workbench space for a part-time tool.
When it comes to taking a band saw to the job site or directly to the project, you can’t beat a portable band saw. These saws run on batteries or plug directly into the electrical supply to bring the cutting power right where it’s needed.
In general, most portable band saws weigh less than 12 pounds, which makes them easy to transport. They usually cut around 300 feet per minute and can typically manage pipes and beams of up to 5 inches wide.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Band Saw
Aside from choosing between floorstanding, benchtop, and portable models, shoppers need to consider several other critical factors, including the saw’s power, its dust collection system, and blade compatibility. Keep the following considerations in mind as you shop.
As with almost all power tools, horsepower matters. DIYers and pros need a saw that will cut through the materials they use most often without bogging down or coming to a halt. Saw blades generate a lot of friction, particularly with thicker materials, and an underpowered saw won’t get the job done.
Most band saws have electric motors that produce between .5 and 1.5 horsepower. You can complete lighter-duty projects with a .5-horsepower saw, but heavy-duty work requires more power. If you want to saw hunks of hardwood into boards for woodworking projects, look for a saw that has between 1 and 1.5 horsepower.
Before landing on the best band saw for a workshop, DIYers need to consider construction. Be sure that the frame of the saw will last through the projects you plan to undertake, as it’s the one part of the saw that can’t be replaced.
In general, the best band saws have cast-iron frames. Cast iron makes for a solid and durable, albeit very heavy, frame. Unlikely to break or bend, these frames maintain the necessary tension on the saw band.
Some band saw frames come in die-cast or welded steel. A less expensive option, this type of metal weighs less and won’t last as long.
Throat size, an important measurement, refers to the distance between the blade and the band saw’s frame. It determines how wide a cut-off the saw can make. It also indicates how much space you have to maneuver a workpiece on the worktable for scrollwork and other intricate or complicated cuts. When you look for a band saw for a workshop, you’ll see throat sizes prominently listed on the side of every box.
To get the most out of a band saw, choose one that accepts different blade widths. Ideally, a range of ⅛ inch to 1 inch wide will handle most tasks from wood and metalworking to crafts and scrollwork. The right blade width makes tasks easier. For example, a wider saw blade allows for making straighter, truer resaws on chunks of hardwood, while thinner blades make scrolling cuts and curves a much easier process.
Weight matters a lot when it comes to the best band saws. A saw must be heavy enough to stand its ground while the user passes stubborn materials through the blade. In the case of a benchtop model, it also needs to be light enough to store when not in use.
Some older saws weigh more than 200 pounds. While a saw that heavy might not be necessary, the weight makes it very sturdy. As far as a benchtop model goes, DIYers should choose the heaviest benchtop model that they can lift. This will ensure it stays put while in use and that they can move it off of a workbench when the job wraps up.
Dust collection with band saws can be a hot-button topic. Because band saws don’t generate the kind of revolutions per minute (rpm) that circular or miter saws do, they don’t send sawdust or metal shavings flying toward a dust collection port. Dust tends to accumulate slowly inside and rarely makes it to the dust collection port, often located at the bottom of the saw.
To make sure a band saw’s dust collection works as efficiently as possible, be sure that it comes with the correct size of couplings to adapt to existing dust collection systems or a shop vacuum.
Even though band saws represent old-school power tool technology, today’s models have some band saw safety-related updates. Features such as oversize stop buttons and adjustable blade guards help make floorstanding and benchtop models safer, while trigger safeties keep portable band saws from activating accidentally.
Floorstanding and benchtop models may also benefit from sliding bevel and tension gauges, as they’ll sit securely in a groove and allow for accurate cuts while keeping hands clear from the blade.
Also, for those with junior workshop partners walking around, removable keys for power switches keep children from activating a saw by accident.
Our Top Picks
Band saws are about as old-school as it gets. While they’ve been around for more than 200 years at sawmills, workshops, and furniture shops, it takes a lot of consideration to select a band saw for personal use. This guide rounds up the best-in-class models to help cut out some of the guesswork.
WEN’s reasonably priced 3962 Two-Speed Band Saw includes a lot of premium features. The 10-inch band saw runs on a 3.5-amp motor, uses a 72-inch blade, and offers up to 6 inches of cutting capacity. With speeds of either 1,520 or 2,620 rpm, the saw adjusts to cut different types of wood. The saw table, which includes an adjustable rip fence and miter gauge, swivels up to 45 degrees to help make cuts at challenging angles.
A three-in-one dust collection port accommodates three different hose sizes—1¾-inch, 2¾-inch, and 4-inch—to ensure compatibility with most collection systems. Just be sure to use the dust collection system when running this saw, as the bearings are susceptible to damage from dust.
- Type: Floorstanding
- Size: 10 inches
- Power: 3.5 amps
- Multi-size dust collection
- Large vertical capacity
- Adjustable rip fence
- Miter gauge included
- Bearing requires effective dust collection
For those shopping for a band saw to tackle DIY woodworking projects, take a look at the POWERTEC BS900. Its ½-horsepower, 2.5-amp motor produces 1,725 rpm and spins a 62-inch blade. It has a 9-inch throat capacity and handles ⅛-inch, ¼-inch, and ⅜-inch-wide blades, which are great for light-duty projects. A quick-release blade change lever allows for faster swaps.
An aluminum die-cast saw table that measures 11¾ inches long and wide provides ample space for scrollwork and milling. The table tilts up to 45 degrees, where it can cut through materials up to 2 inches thick. It comes with a 2-inch dust collection port. Do note that this saw runs at only one speed, though it should serve well for most materials.
- Type: Benchtop
- Size: 9 inches
- Power: 2.5 amps, ½ horsepower
- Table tilts for mitered cuts
- Large enough work surface for intricate cuts
- Quick-release saw-blade change lever
For all their versatility, full-size band saws take up a lot of room in a shop (and take a lot of money from the wallet). WEN’s 3959 makes a smart choice for those who don’t have much floor space or cash to spare. While not multi-speed, the 2.5-amp motor runs a 59½-inch blade at 2,500 rpm—plenty for most general work.
A large worktable measures 12¼ inches by 11⅞ inches and bevels up to 45 degrees. A miter gauge and rip fence allow for more accurate cuts. Be aware: The 2½-inch dust collection port, the only option, will require an adapter to hook up to a smaller shop vacuum.
- Type: Benchtop
- Size: 9 inches
- Power: 2.5 amps
- Affordable price point
- Large worktable
- Large 3½-inch capacity
- Comes with miter gauge
- Rip fence included
- Only 2½-inch dust collection port
Whether for a pro or a DIYer who just loves pro-level tools, JET’s JWBS-14DXPRO 14-inch Deluxe Pro band saw kit makes a great choice. At a hefty weight above 200 pounds, this cast-iron, floorstanding band saw provides plenty of stability. Its 1¼-horsepower motor powers a 105-inch blade and produces speeds of up to 300 surface feet per minute (SFPM).
JET’s Pro band saw has a 14-inch throat with a resaw capability of up to 12 inches. A 15-inch by 15-inch worktable allows for tackling some burly chunks of wood. The table tilts 10 degrees left and 45 degrees to the right, so users can find the perfect angle for their cuts. The retractable blade guard adjusts from 0 to 12 inches. A see-through window allows for keeping an eye on the blade’s position. All that said, these pro features come at a pretty hefty price.
- Type: Floorstanding
- Size: 14 inches
- Power: 1¼ horsepower
- Massive 12-inch vertical resaw capacity
- Large 15-inch by 15-inch work surface
- Accepts large blade bands for reduced heat
Milwaukee’s 2729-20 cordless portable band saw rivals many corded tools. It offers a maximum width and depth of 5 inches and a brushless motor that spins the 14-TPI (teeth per inch) metal-cutting blade at speeds up to 380 SFPM while making efficient use of the batteries.
A safety switch prevents accidental activation, and a built-in hanging hook helps keep it safely out of the way when not in use. Like many of its competitors, Milwaukee sells its band saw as a bare tool. The recommended pair of 5.0Ah batteries don’t come cheap, but they provide the kind of all-day running power typically required.
- Type: Cordless
- Size: 5 inches
- Power: 18 volts
- Large cutting capacity
- Adjustable speeds up to 380 SFPM
- Brushless motor for power and battery life
A tangled cord can make an awkward cut impossible. But that won’t happen with DEWALT’s 20V MAX Portable Band Saw. It runs on a lithium battery (not included) for cord-free woodworking. For those already invested in the DEWALT 20V MAX battery power tools, this band saw accepts the same batteries
The lightweight tool weighs about 3 pounds and offers a 2½-inch cut capacity. Speedy for a portable band saw, it covers up to 570 SFPM. Tool-free blade changes have users back in business in no time.
- Type: Cordless
- Size: 2½ inches
- Power: 20 volts
- Works with the brand’s 20V MAX batteries
- High-speed cutting
- Lightweight at only 3 pounds
- Smaller cut capacity than some competitors
Crafters looking to take their glass game to the next level should check out Gryphon’s AquaSaw band saw. It comes with a diamond blade for cutting glass bottles or sheets for stained glass and other projects. It has a 12-inch by 12-inch work surface with perforations for glass dust to fall through.
This band saw features corrosion-resistant materials like anodized aluminum and stainless steel, which allows the user to cut through beach glass and even coral without worrying about rust or damage. The design includes a direct-drive motor free from pulleys or belts for easier maintenance as well. Do beware, though, that this saw is solely for glass crafters. It is not for cutting wood or metal.
- Type: Benchtop
- Size: Adjustable
- Power: Unlisted
- Corrosion resistant
- Diamond blade specifically for glass
- Large work surface for cutting glass sheets
For anyone with a project that requires cutting a lot of metal or pipe, this portable DEWALT band saw makes a great option. Instead of tiring out with a hacksaw or rattling fillings loose with a Sawzall, this model makes quick, smooth cuts in a range of materials. And, with the corded 10-amp motor, users need not worry about batteries dying mid-cut.
This band saw cuts at varying speeds between 100 and 350 SFPM, which allows the user to adjust for metal, wood, or other materials on the fly. It can handle up to a 5-inch cut, which works well for most job sites and workshop projects. An onboard LED makes a nice visibility bonus for safer work conditions. Just don’t judge this saw by how the included, low-quality blade cuts: Simply upgrade to a higher quality blade to realize this saw’s true potential.
- Type: Corded
- Size: 5-inch capacity
- Power: 10 amps
- Adjustable speed for a variety of materials
- 5-inch capacity for larger beams and pipes
- Smooth cutting action
- Comes with a low-quality blade
Anyone hunting for an all-around quality band saw should check out the WEN 3962 band saw with stand with its adjustable speeds, effective dust collection, and excellent rip fence. But for those with a little extra money to spend, the JET 710116K band saw kit offers all the features, power, and capacity that most DIYers could need.
How We Chose the Best Band Saws
Though band saws are relatively simple tools, a lot goes into putting together a list of the best options out there. I had to perform extensive product research and draw on my own experience in order to put together this guide.
First, I compared the cost to features to make sure that each model’s features and capabilities lived up to its price tag. Next, I looked at the power relative to the model’s size to make sure the saw could handle the intended tasks. Finally, each of the models that made it through vetting earned an award based on its strengths and weaknesses.
Now that you know more about band saws and the most important features to consider, you may still have questions about the tools. Below you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how band saws work. If you still have questions, reach out to your saw’s manufacturer and speak to a customer service representative.
Q: Can I use a band saw to cut metal?
Yes, you can cut metal with a band saw. In many cases, band saws are actually the best way to cut metal. When cutting metal, it’s important to fit the saw with a metal saw band.
Q: Do I need specific saw blades for different cuts?
You might need a different saw band for different materials and different types of cuts. Resawing chunks of hardwood into usable boards might require a ripping band, while you can make most other cuts with an all-purpose blade.
Blades meant for cutting metal have many more teeth per inch than those meant for wood or woodworking, so it’s essential to match the right blade to the right material.
Q: How do I sharpen band saw blades?
The easiest way to sharpen band saw teeth is with a file. Hold the file parallel to the saw’s cutting edge and make a few careful passes to put a fresh edge on the front of each tooth.
Q: What is the teeth per inch (TPI) on a band saw?
Teeth per inch (TPI) refers to the number of teeth within 1 inch of the blade’s length. Blades meant for metalworking will have higher TPI ratings from 6 to 24 TPI. Blades for cutting wood will have lower TPIs from 3 to 6 TPI.