A sturdy band saw can be one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in any serious workshop. These power tools make rip cuts like a table saw, cross cuts like a miter saw, and can help you reduce the thickness of a board, much like a thickness planer.
Simply designed with just an electric motor and a set of wheels with a band stretched around them, band saws are handy for quick cuts and intricate work alike, helping to speed your workflow and improve results. Outfitted with the right band, these saws also can cut metal. If you’re ready to upgrade your workshop with this power tool, this guide will get you in the loop about the best band saws options on the market today.
- BEST OVERALL: WEN 3962 Two-Speed Band Saw with Stand
- RUNNER-UP: POWERTEC BS900 9-Inch Benchtop Bandsaw
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: SKIL 3386-01 9-Inch Band Saw
- UPGRADE PICK: JET JWBS-14DXPRO 14-Inch Deluxe Pro Band Saw Kit
- BEST PORTABLE: DEWALT Portable Band Saw, 10 Amp, 5-Inch (DWM120K)
- BEST CORDLESS: DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Portable Band Saw (DCS371B)
- BEST FOR GLASS: Gryphon C-40 Band Saw
- BEST FOR METAL: WEN 3970T Metal-Cutting Band Saw with Stand
Types of Band Saws
There are two main types of band saws that you can choose: floor-standing band saws and benchtop models. Each style has its benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to take this next section into consideration when shopping for the best band saw.
If you have a full-fledged shop with plenty of floor space, you might be interested in a floor-standing band saw. As the name suggests, these saws sit on top of a set of legs or a stand, and you can set them anywhere in your shop where you have the space.
The benefit of a floor-standing band saw is you have plenty of flexibility for maneuvering longer pieces around the saw as you cut them to length. They also tend to accept larger boards or workpieces, but not always.
If space is a concern in a small garage or workshop, a benchtop band saw might be worth considering. These band saws sit on top of an existing work surface like a bench or assembly table when you’re using them, and can be stored away when not in use.
A benchtop model’s big advantage over a floor-standing unit is that it takes up less floor space. However, it takes up considerable space on your workbench. Considering that these aren’t small tools, you might not have the shelf space to store one when you’re not using it. If you use a band saw infrequently, you could be losing valuable workbench space for a part-time tool.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Band Saw
Aside from choosing between floor-standing and benchtop models, there are other aspects to keep in mind when you’re shopping for the best band saw. The saw’s power, its dust collection system, and blade compatibility all matter. This following are a few important things to keep in mind while you’re looking for the best band saw.
As with almost all power tools, horsepower matters. You need a saw that can cut through the materials you use most often without bogging down or coming to a halt. There can be a lot of friction on a saw blade, particularly with thicker materials, and an underpowered saw won’t be able to get the job done.
Most band saws have electric motors that create between .5 and 1.5 horsepower. You can accomplish lighter-duty projects with a .5-horsepower saw, but heavy-duty work requires more power. If you plan to saw hunks of hardwood into boards for woodworking projects, a saw that has between 1 and 1.5 horsepower will manage the work.
Before you land on the best band saw for your workshop, give its construction some consideration. You should be sure that the frame of the saw will hold up, as it’s the one part of the saw you can’t replace.
In general, the best band saws have cast-iron frames. They might be very heavy, but they’re solid and durable. They aren’t likely to break or bend, which can mean a lot when it comes to keeping proper tension on your saw band.
You also might find band saws made from die-cast or welded steel, which aren’t as durable as cast-iron but tend to cost less. They’re also considerably lighter than cast iron.
Throat size is an important measurement that refers to the distance between the blade and the band saw’s frame. It can determine how wide of a cut-off you can make. It also indicates how much space is available to maneuver a workpiece on the worktable for scrollwork and other intricate and complicated cuts. When you’re looking for a band saw for your workshop, you’ll notice that the throat sizes are prominently listed on the side of every box.
One of the greatest benefits of the best band saws is their ability to accept saw bands of different widths. Band widths can make a particular task easier. For example, a wider saw band will allow you to make straighter, truer resaws on chunks of hardwood, while thinner bands can make scrolling cuts and curves a much easier process.
To make sure you’ll get the most out of a band saw, choose one that can accept different widths. Ideally, a range of ⅛-inch to 1-inch wide will handle most tasks from wood and metalworking to crafts and scrollwork.
Weight can be a significant factor when choosing a band saw. A saw needs to be heavy enough to stand its ground while you’re passing stubborn materials through the blade. In the case of a benchtop model, it also needs to be light enough to move around when you aren’t using it.
Older saws will usually be very heavy, with some weighing more than 200 pounds. While you might not need a saw that heavy, the weight makes those saws very sturdy. As far as a benchtop model goes, choose the heaviest benchtop model that you can handle comfortably. This will ensure it will stay put while in use, but that you can move it off of your workbench when you’re finished.
Dust collection with band saws can be a hot-button topic. Because band saws don’t create 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. They tend to accumulate slowly inside, rarely making it to the dust collection port often located at the bottom of the saw.
To make sure your band saw’s dust collection works as well as possible, be sure that it comes with the correct size of couplings to adapt to your dust collection system or shop vacuum. You will probably have to clean the saw out from time to time anyway, but finding the best fit will help manage the dust.
Even though band saws are an old-school power tool technology, today’s models have some safety-related updates. Features such as oversized stop buttons and adjustable blade guards help make floor-standing and benchtop models safer, while trigger safeties keep portable band saws from activating accidentally.
Floor-standing and benchtop models also can benefit from sliding bevel and tension gauges, as they’ll sit securely in a groove and allow you to make an accurate cut while keeping your hands clear from the blade.
Also, if you tend to have junior workshop partners walking around your tools, removable keys for power switches can keep children from activating a saw when you’re not looking.
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 your first band saw. This selection rounds up the best-in-class models to help cut out some of the guesswork.
You’ll get a lot of premium features in the reasonably priced WEN 3962 Two-Speed Band Saw. This 10-inch model uses a 3.5-amp motor and a 72-inch blade, and has up to 6 inches of cutting capacity. It adjusts from 1,520 to 2,620 RPM, which proves helpful for cutting different types of wood. The saw table also bevels up to 45 degrees for making cuts at challenging angles.
The three-in-one dust collection port accommodates three different sizes of hose—1¾-inch, 2¾-inch, and 4-inch—ensuring that you can hook it up to your system. Just be sure to use the dust collection system when running this saw, as the bearings are susceptible to damage from dust.
If you’re shopping for a band saw that can tackle your DIY woodworking projects, the POWERTEC BS900 9-inch band saw is worth a look. This saw features a ½-horsepower, 2.5-amp motor that produces 1725 RPM and spins a 62-inch blade. It has a 9-inch throat capacity and can handle ⅛-inch, ¼-inch, and ⅜-wide blades, allowing you to tackle light-duty projects.
The BS900 has an aluminum die-cast table that measures 11¾ inches both long and wide, providing enough work surface for scrollwork and milling. It also tilts up to 45 degrees, at which point it can cut through materials up to 2 inches thick.
The typical weekend workshop warrior doesn’t need an industrial band saw when a light-duty model with some nice features will suffice. The SKIL 3386-01 band saw fills the bill with a 59½-inch blade and a 2.5-amp motor that runs at 2,800 RPM. It has a flexible LED light to help you stay on track during long cuts, the table bevels up to 45 degrees, and a miter gauge and rip fence are included. The maximum cutting capacity is 3½-inches, making it enough to cut a 2×4 on edge.
The SKIL band saw has the smallest worktable on our list. While it’s enough space for most of the projects this saw can handle, it might not be large enough for some woodworkers.
If you’re a professional or just love pro-level tools, the JET JWBS-14DXPRO 14-inch Deluxe Pro Band Saw Kit might be right for you. This cast-iron, floor-standing band saw provides plenty of stability, weighing more than 200 pounds. It has a 1¼-horsepower motor that produces speeds up to 300 surface feet per minute (SFPM), powering a 105-inch long blade.
The JWBS-14DXPRO has a 14-inch throat with a resaw capability of up to 12 inches. It also has a 15-inch-by-15-inch worktable, allowing you to tackle some burly chunks of wood. The table tilts 10 degrees left and 45 degrees to the right, enabling you to accomplish the perfect angle. The retractable blade guard adjusts from 0 to 12 inches, and the see-through window allows you to keep an eye on the blade for extra safety.
If you’ve got a project that requires cutting a lot of metal or pipe, this portable DEWALT band saw could become your new best friend. Instead of tiring yourself out with a hacksaw or rattling your fillings loose with a sawzall, this model makes quick, smooth cuts in a range of materials. It features a powerful 10-amp motor that helps the saw cut at varying speeds between 100 and 350 SFPM. It can handle up to a 5-inch cut, so it’s ideal for most job site and workshop projects, and the on-board LED is a nice visibility bonus for working safely.
Don’t judge this saw by the way the included blade cuts, as it’s low quality and will dull quickly. Simply upgrade to a better blade to realize this saw’s true potential.
When you’ve got to make an awkward cut, you don’t want a cord tangling up or getting in your way. This band saw from DEWALT uses its 20-Volt Max lithium battery for excellent cord-free performance. It has a 2½-inch cut capacity and weighs around 3 pounds, which is less than corded models. It also cuts extremely fast for a portable band saw, covering up to 570 SFPM.
The tool-free blade changes also are nice, as they’ll have you back in business in no time if your blade dulls. A battery isn’t included, but if you already have a DEWALT 20-Volt MAX battery, you can use it in this saw.
The Gryphon C-40 might be the band saw you’ve been looking for. This wet saw has an onboard reservoir that coats the blade as it runs, removing the need for external water supplies or a water pump. The diamond-coated blade will cut through glass and tile with plenty of accuracy and control for exacting craftspeople. The thin blade removes just enough glass to make the cut, leaving as much precious material behind as possible. It has a 12-inch-by-12-inch work surface and adjusts to heights large enough to handle glass bottles.
The Gryphon C-40 has plenty of features you won’t find in a basic band saw. The motor is on top of the machine, keeping it clear from the water source below. The ⅓-horsepower motor doesn’t use belts. And it has a direct drive for a maximum speed of up to 2,850 RPM.
If you’re looking for a band saw to add to your home metal shop, the 3970T 4-inch-by-6-inch Metal-Cutting Band Saw from WEN is worth checking out. This heavy-duty band saw has a 4.6-amp motor that produces ¾ horsepower. It has three adjustable speeds: 80, 120, and 200 feet per minute.
The 3970T has an automatic shut-off that engages when the blade cuts through the metal. It also makes bevel cuts between 0 and 60 degrees, allowing you to create perfect metal joints. You also can stand the saw up vertically and use it as a standard band saw.
FAQs About Band Saws
Now that you know more about band saws and the most important features to consider, you may still have questions about the tools. Below is a collection of 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, 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. Be sure to hold the file parallel to the saw’s cutting edge, and do 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 amount of teeth within one 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 TPI, from 3 to 6 TPI.