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A guide To Buying The Best Bandsaw in America

Introduction to the bandsaw

A bandsaw is an important tool in woodwork. The main purpose of this power-tool is cutting irregular shapes. Secondly, a bandsaw is used for resawing or ripping lumber into thinner slabs.  Thirdly a bandsaw comes in handy when one needs to make very smooth cuts. Lastly, with a bandsaw, you can cut materials other than wood, including metal. All this makes a band saw essential for a workshop. I use it often in my furniture making shops and academy. My daughter who is an artist also uses a bandsaw to create her artefacts. Though not as crucial as a router. If you consider yourself to be a fairly regular craftsman you need to have a bandsaw in your workshop. This article is going to help you choose the best bandsaw for your needs. I am also going to give a review of some of the best brands in the US market. I hope you will get enough information.

Let me start by showing you things to look for when buying a bandsaw. A bandsaw is basically a set of two or three wheels holding a thin rotating blade, a table to support the work and a motor to run it. In the past craftsmen would build their own custom bandsaws. One would get wheels and other parts from suppliers like Gilliom Mfg Company. The table would have to be constructed by you and the motor purchased separately. However, these days I recommend buying a complete bandsaw.

Types of Bandsaw

In this subject, it is important to know all the options. First, I will talk about the three different types of bandsaws.

#1. Portable Bandsaw

According to my personal opinion, portable bandsaws are great for the people that are indulged in smaller projects. Let’s me help you with an example, if you need a tool to cut the pipes, smaller pieces, planks, or any such thing, portable bandsaw will be a better alternative.

One of the biggest benefits of using this machine is that you don’t need any kind of expertise in the usage of this tool whatsoever. Even if you have minimal training, you are good to use this tool. It is extremely handy.

Portable means anything that is light in weight and you can take to different places. Most of these bandsaws are battery powered. So, you just have to charge the battery and the saw comes in the operating condition.

Of course, there is a downside to the portable saws as well. The first thing is that it delivers a very limited number of cuts.

The modern machines in the niche can make not more than 150 cuts before the need of another recharge arises. Secondly, it takes a lot of time for the battery to be completely prepared for the usage. Therefore, if you cannot give a lot of downtimes then this model is probably not for you.

The design of these machines is compact. Most of the modern portable bandsaws have a similar design. However, the variation can happen with the auxiliary features of different models.

#2. Benchtop Bandsaw

When people are unaware and unsure of the right kind of bandsaw to purchase then they mostly end up buying the benchtop models. It is a versatile tool that can help you through a vast number of applications.

Just like the portable models, these can also be operated without any particular experience. Also, the weight of these machines is quite a lot. That is why they have to be set on a bench as you use. These are not portable at all.

It is kind of in the middle of heavy-duty and handheld models. One of the biggest advantages of using these saws is the kind of features they have. You can easily cut the rough lines as well as complicated shapes without much complication. However, you do require experience to undertake complex cutting.

In the context of safety, the benchtop models can be considered as a little lethal, especially for the people without any prior training. If you have started to take complex tasks then this could be a solution to all your prayers. You just have to handle it with care.

#3. Horizontal Bandsaws

Horizontal bandsaws are best at cutting complicated shapes. This is possible using other models as well but the horizontal saws make it easier to do the task. This saw can also handle large pieces conveniently.

The operational mechanism of these machines is extremely simple. These hold the material unmoved while the blade does its job. Also, the latest models launched in the market possess auto-off mechanism that prevents accidents.

Another advantage of these machines is that they are noiseless. You can expect some calm and quiet in the workspace while operating these saws.

You can simply adjust this machine and leave it unsupervised till it finishes the job and turns off on its own. There is no concept of downtime in these machines as they turn themselves off after usage. The battery is saved.

Lastly, there is one more thing that I would like to share is that this machine can be used on a variety of materials. You can use it on metals as well as plastics.

Bandsaw size

In the market, they range in size from small benchtop models to huge floor models. For the jobsite or when working-space is limited portable benchtop models are recommended. Benchtop models also economical. However, size determines the stock size a bandsaw will handle. Floor models are larger so they have the bigger capacity needed in a professional workshop. Stock size is determined by two dimensions. Number one is the distance between the inner edge of blade and throat of the saw. This measurement ranges from 9 inches to 24inch. So, an 11-inch bandsaw has a 10-inch measurement between the two. The second measurement is depth of cut. Depth of cut is the distance between the table and the underside of the blade guard. If a saw is 6-inch depth of cut one can cut up to 5-7/8” due to the clearance needed for the guide to assure easy movement of the work.

Table size and type are important as well. I have noticed that larger tables make it easier to hold and guide stock through the saw. A good table saw should have the capability to be set at an angle up to 45 degrees. This feature comes in handy when removing the corners of a large turning block to speed up stock removal when turning on a lathe.

Motor size ranges from 1/3hp to 1-1/2hp. If one works with thin stock a 1/3hp motor should be enough. On the other hand, if you plan to do any resawing, a larger motor is recommended.

Blade size and tooth style vary a lot. Size ranges from 1/8” width to more than 1”. It’s important to choose the proper blade for the task. Sharp curves in thin stock require narrower blades. Resawing requires thicker blades. The pitch or number of teeth per inch(TPI) is determined by the hardness of wood being cut. (TPI ranges from 4 to 15). The coarser the teeth the faster the blade cutting speed. More TPI produces a smoother cut. Hardwood requires a blade with more teeth. Blades also come with different tooth patterns for various tasks. Hook tooth blades with wide and closely spaced teeth are for hardwood, plastics and nonferrous metals. Skip tooth blades have widely spaced teeth and are used for cutting soft materials like aluminium. Wavy and raker-set blades are primarily used for cutting ferrous metals.

Practical TIPS

Experience has shown me that one can use a bandsaw as it comes from the factory. No alterations are necessary. To increase depth of cut aftermarket riser kits are available as well as more accurate blade guides.

For safety, one needs to make sure that all the guides are adjusted properly. Another safety tip is to make sure that there is proper tension between the blade wheels to match blade width. This is done using the tension guide. Blade guides are adjustable up and down to match the thickness of stock being cut.

A bandsaw is a safe tool. This is because of the downward cutting action which eliminates “kickback”. However, I strongly recommend that beginners practice with softwood stock. More so do not cut smaller size than the blade capacity. If you do that the blade will bind and can jump off the wheel. When doing resawing wide blades must be used.

I believe I have given you an adequate introduction to this power tool.  Let us get into the market to review the top Six woodworking bandsaws. It is worth noting that the guide is made of tools I have personally encountered.


TOP 3 best-rated portable band saws review

As I mentioned earlier bandsaws come in two major categories.  Portable and Floor Models. Portable models have smaller capacity. Their biggest advantage is that one can carry them around if necessary. Portable models come as either battery powered or powered directly via the socket. Battery powered versions bring in the benefit of increased mobility. Whereas socket ones allow one to work for long periods without the need to recharge batteries.


1. Bosch GCB10-5 Deep Cut Band Saw, Blue – The best portable bandsaw

Bosch GCB10-5 Deep Cut Band Saw, Blue - The best bandsaw

Description

This is a very good lightweight bandsaw. Bosch rarely disappoints when it comes to quality. Having used this bandsaw before. I have a lot of good things to say about this power tool.

Specifications

  • Cutting capacity: 4,8 Inch (DEEP Cut)
  • Voltage 120V
  • Variable speed setting
  • Spark free operation

What makes it exceptional.

It’s very handy and powerful. When using it you find that the deep-cut features make it possible to make cuts of 4 ¾ inches in a single pass. Another good feature is the adequately powered 10 Amp motor. Because the motor is powerful one is guaranteed to have very clean cuts. This reduces the need to do any rework on burrs or tempering colours. The band saw is light, it weighs just 14.5lbs.

As far as safety is concerned the GCB10-5 has a nearly spark-free operation. This is very important because sparks may affect one’s eyes. The covered blades are another safety feature.

For convenience three features stand out for me. The first one is the LED light which illuminates the cut line. The second is a hanging hook for easy storage. Lastly, we have variable speed for adjusting cutting speed to material and style. These seemingly small features make a world of difference in a workshop.

Lastly, Blade change is easy it’s too less.

Overall, the Bosch GCB10-5 is the ideal jobsite bandsaw. It can be used by both professional and hobbyists alike.

Where is it found wanting?

There isn’t much to dislike about this tool. Some complained about it not being battery powered. Bosch bucked the trend on this bandsaw given that most recent contractor bandsaws are battery powered. Have heard some complain that its small. I think this criticism is unjustified because it’s a portable bandsaw.

Overall score 10/10

2. Milwaukee 6232-21 Deep Cut Band Saw W/Case

Milwaukee 6232-21 Deep Cut Band Saw W/Case

Description

This is the second-best bandsaw in the market. The Milwaukee 6232-21 is a direct competitor to the Bosch GCB10-5. Milwaukee is a top brand as far as power tools are concerned. I have had the privilege to use this bandsaw.

Specifications

  • Cutting capacity: 5 inch (Deep cut)
  • Voltage 120V
  • Motor 11 Amp
  • Power source corded.
  • LED light
  • Debris Protection System.

 What makes it exceptional?

Milwaukee, claims that this bandsaw is 2x more durable than its competitors. This could be true. Let us examine some key features that make the 6232-21 exceptional.

Firstly, the outside casing is made of impact absorbing crush zone barriers. This acts as some form of armour to protect the important interior parts.

The internal mechanisms are made of an all-metal drive system which has a longer life span than the chain drive setups common in bandsaws. More so, inside there is a clutch that absorbs high impact forces should the blade lockup. This protects the sealed direct drive gearing.

As far as convenience is concerned the Milwaukee has several features. Firstly there is an LED light for illuminating the workspace and increasing accuracy. Tool-Free Locking Adjustment shoe makes allows the user to quickly adjust from an extended shoe to no shoe in seconds. Thirdly there is my favourite feature DBS(Debris protection systems). It increases pulley life by removing debris during use.

Power wise the 11 AMP motor delivers more torque than the Bosch. The machine is adequately powered. Variable speed is also another cool feature.

During use, I found that the narrow motor housing allows unmatched visibility.

Where is it found wanting?

Like the Bosch, there isn’t much to dislike about this tool. However, I have a few concerns.  This particular bandsaw is a bit loud. One might need earplugs to operate it. Secondly, there is no hook to hang it in the workshop. These are the things that make it second best.

Score 9/10

3. Dewalt DCS374B – Battery Powered Bandsaw

Description

This is the 3rd   best portable table saw in the market. I encountered it while looking to buy a bandsaw for my daughter. The DCS374B has a durable and adjustable material guide. It also has a convenient LED sight light for operating even in poorly lit areas. The 10 Amp motor has a variable speed control for material and application-specific cuts. What sets it apart from the DW715 is that it doesn’t come with a storage case. For storage, the DCS374B has a hanging hook. That could be the reason it is cheaper than the Number 1 portable bandsaw. This is a battery powered tool.

Specifications 

  • TIP: 14tip blade is included from the factory.
  • Tool-less blade change
  • Cutting capacity: 5inch
  • Battery powered
  • Blade: 44-7/8 inch by ½ inch by 0.020inch inches.
  • Carry case
  • Hex wrench

Why it stands out?

The DCS 374B is battery powered making it very versatile. I bet you also know that DeWalt is an established power-tools brand, therefore, quality and support in the US are assured.  The DCS 374B bandsaw is no exception. Its design is robust due to the high-quality materials used (metal and rubberized shrouds on the sides.). These shrouds make it possible for one to operate the bandsaw without worrying about suddenly damaging it.

During use, the integrated LED provides extra lighting. I have learnt to appreciate this feature when working in poorly lit conditions.

Variable speed makes this band saw more effective (up to 5 different speed levels). Depending on what you are planning to cut, each level has a slightly different result Blades are easy to change out making it ideal for novices.

Where is it found wanting?

I don’t like the fact that one is required to buy a battery separately. The charger is also sold separately. This may be a deal breaker for some. However, if one is willing to invest in a battery and charger then they are home and dry.

Overall score 8/10 (Because of the extra costs)

4. Makita XBP02Z Cordless Portable Bandsaw



Makita is relatively a less-popular brand but its products are remarkable. Just like this model that I found extremely useful. Whether its the construction or feature of this little bandsaw, everything is just great.

Specifications

  • Cutting speed: 530 FPM (Maximum)
  • 18V Lithium-Ion Battery
  • 6 Setting Variable speed setting
  • Spark free operation

What makes it exceptional

So, this brand is known for the affordable tools. This model is an excellent choice for the starters and professionals that don’t avidly use the bandsaw in their work. You can select the speed range from various settings. The minimum speed is 275 FPM and it goes up to 530 FPM.

The design is a conventional one. The material used in the making is quite durable and can withstand outdoor abuse. Also, there is a rubber shroud at the bottom which makes sure that the unit is not damaged.

Since this is a battery powered model, you can simply charge it and take along anywhere you want. You can easily lend it to a friend in need because this is among the least demanding bandsaws that I have come across.

This is a super simple model with limited features. So, if you are looking for something to start with which is also affordable then this is it.

Where is it found wanting

So, the things that can prevent you from buying the bandsaw is the number of cuts it produces on a single shot. The manufacturers failed to mention the exact number so this will be doubtful. Secondly, you should know that the charger is not included with the unit. You will have to buy it separately.

Score 8/10


Top Three Floor Models Band Saws Review


1. Rikon 10-305 Bandsaw With Fence, 10-Inch – The Best Bandsaw



Oh, so this one is not just flooded high great features but also given the looks of a stunner. But this is irrespective in case of woodworking tools. Surely, we want performance and not some fancy piece of a useless item sitting in the workplace. But this is something extraordinary.

Specifications

  • Cutting capacity: 4-⅝ Inches
  • Induction motor ⅓ HP
  • Edge facing thirst bearings
  • Safety paddle switch

What makes it exceptional

This is a 10 inches bandsaw and one of the best-sold pieces. Actually, this is a professional piece so if you are a starter, this is probably not for you. I will start by appreciating ⅓ HP motor which is great for multiple applications. Primarily, this model is meant to cut the wood. However, you can also try it with other materials such as plastic or metal.

What I love the most about this saw are its design and the durability element. Crafted with steel, this model is rigid and stands where it belongs. Using the built-in knob system, the guide post can be easily adjusted.

Now, one of the highlights of this model, the cast iron table which is surprisingly spacious. You can stack the material on the table before cutting it. Also, because of the tilting property, you can move the table from an angle of 0 degrees to 45 degrees.

Considering the amazing features of this model, the price is acceptable and justifiable. I couldn’t find anything wrong with this saw and absolutely love it for the features.

Where is it found wanting

As I said, there is nothing that I don’t like about this model. Yes, some people may found it too large but honestly, there is no problem with this model that I can point out.

Score 10/10

2. Skil 3386-01 2.5AMP 9-inch Bandsaw – The best budget floor model bandsaw

Skil 3386-01 2.5AMP 9-inch Bandsaw - The best floor model bandsaw

Description

I strongly believe that this is the best lightweight portable bandsaw in America as of now. The Skil 3386-01 2.5Amp 9-inch Bandsaw is ideal for hobbyists and professionals who require a jobsite bandsaw or have space problems. It comes with a medium sized 6TPI blade. The table is adjustable. Extra features include dust collection ports and an adjustable LED work light.

 Specifications

  •  Factory blade TPI: 6TPI
  • Throat Capacity: 9 inch making it lightweight
  • Rating: 120V can work on domestic power sockets
  • Blade type: 1/8 inch-3/8 inch by 1/4inches to 59-1/2 inches
  • Motor size….

Why it stands out?

The Skil 9” is robust I purchased it for my class in 2013. We use the 3386 almost daily and it has not given us major problems. I personally love that it doesn’t make so much noise for a power tool. (I can comfortably give audible instructions to my students while the machine is running).It’s the best bandsaw for cutting irregular shapes and ripping lumber into thinner pieces. The 6 TPI blade allows one to cut through a variety of materials. For convenience, the rack and pinion adjustable table allows one to quickly adjust cutting angle and height.

Precision is aided by the rip fence which facilitates making straight cuts. The meter gauge also assists precision for cross cuts

Lastly, the quality is great for the price.

 Where is it found wanting?

The bottom blade adjustment is a bit tricky. Fortunately for my daughter, her old man has experience with these tools. However, for a complete novice, it can be tricky.

 Overall score 9/10 (Because of the difficulty) in adjustment can’t score 10.

3. Grizzly G0555 The Ultimate Bandsaw, 14-Inch


Something that I will always love about this model is the heavy-duty construction. Seriously, you cannot find such amazing designing and construction. No wonder that the cost is correlated.

Specifications

  • Cutting capacity: 13-½ Inches
  • Voltage 220V
  • All ball bearing construction
  • Deluxe heavy-duty stand

What makes it exceptional

You will be astonished with the performance of this model. It works on 1 HP using 5.5 amp motor for maximum performance. The frame is also made with rigid quality. The material used is cast iron. However, it weighs 195 pounds which is huge which keeps it stitched to the base while operating.

The wheels are also made of cast iron and have rubber tires. You will certainly admire the magnifying window that gives you close access to the projects.

Furthermore, there is a miter gauge and a quick-release blade tension lever to make changing of the blade convenient than ever.

If anyone is worried about controlling the speed of the bandsaw then don’t be. This machine has got adjustable speed option. You can slow down the cutting or make it faster. At the lowest, you can cut at a speed of 1500 FPM or take it at the top level to 3200 FPM. It also incorporates a 4-inch dust port to rub-away the wood chip buildup.

Where is it found wanting

Ok, so one thing that I know everyone will find difficult to digest is the exceptionally high price of the saw. If you are just a beginner then you wouldn’t want to spend a fortune to own a single tool in the wood shop.

Score 9/10

4. WEN 3962 Two=Speed Band Saw with Stand and Worklight 10” 

WEN 3962 Two=Speed Band Saw with Stand and Worklight 10” 

Description

This is the second-best floor model band saw. I have it in one of my workshops. Though it has a few flaws. The WEN 3962 saves its purpose very well.

 Specifications

  •  Comes with:6TPI blade.
  • Tool-less blade change
  • Cutting capacity: 9 -3/4 inches deep
  • Rating: 120V can work on domestic power sockets
  • Blade: 72 inches from 1/8 to 1/2inches.

Things I liked

This band saw has become a best seller recently. It has great support as well. I like that it is heavy and robust giving it great accuracy in a professional setting. I personally love the spacious work table which is 14 x12-1/2 inches. The table can be swivelled up to 45 degrees. Another great feature is the two-speed operation. You have options of 1520 0r 2620 FMP. The WEN has very effective dust collection too. Lastly, it has a full 6 Inch resaw capacity which is adequate for many tasks.

Things I did not like

The WEN can be difficult to adjust. Making it less ideal for complete beginners.

Overall score 8/10 (Because of the adjustment issues)

5. Delta 28-400 14 in. 1 HP Steel Frame Band Saw

Delta 28-400 14 in. 1 HP Steel Frame Band Saw

Description

This is a high-end powerful saw. It was bought during our recent workshop upgrading and retooling. The reason it’s not number 1 is that it is expensive. However, if you are a serious woodworker this is the best bandsaw. I have many good things to say about the Delta 28-400.

Specifications

  •  1hp motor
  • Cutting capacity: 14 inch
  • Heavy duty steel frame.
  • Rating: 230V can’t work on domestic power sockets.
  • 5-year warranty.

 Why is it exceptional?

Firstly, is the oversized working table. This provides ample space to work on. Secondly is 14-inch capacity. This means I can comfortably work with very large stock. Lastly, there is a dust brush on lower blades to keep the blades clean. Another thing I like is that it’s a very easy to use bandsaw.

Design wise the Delta 28-400 is made of durable material. These ensure stability and longevity.

 Where is it found wanting?

My biggest disappointment was the lack of a fence and miter tool. I had to buy and install my own. Raising and lowering the blade guide is done without a rack and pinion system. Another issue is that it requires assembly (some people find it inconvenient). Lastly, the manual is difficult too dense.

Overall score 7/10 (Because of the lack of fence and miter)


My take on buying choosing the best bandsaw

The clear winner here is the horizontal bandsaw, considering that it possesses the maximum useful features. However, if your usage of a bandsaw is limited then you can also try out portable models.

Things To Consider While Purchasing The Best Bandsaw

There are plenty of things you should keep in mind while purchasing the right model of the bandsaw. Here are a few of the things to notice:

#1. Purpose

So, the first thing that you should ask yourself is why do I need a bandsaw? Once you are able to locate the answer to this question, you will be able to streamline your research.

For instance, if you need to use this tool on an occasional basis then it is pointless to spend hundreds of dollar and a machine that is highly complex to use.

Better of, you can save your money while investing in a battery-powered model with some standard features.

Same way, if the need is huge then you will not mind spending a decent amount of money on the tool. After all, it will be used for various tasks and stay along for the longest time. The professionals don’t need a purpose. They know what they want out of the tool and the features that will be resourceful to them.

#2. Price

Your willingness to spend a certain amount of money on these tools is also a big question that you should ask yourself. Surprisingly, you can find some of the fantastic products on a budget.

As a general nature of a buyer, one can get overexcited about the performance of a bandsaw and end up overpaying for it.

One should always emphasize on the budget before searching for the right product. You should only increase the budget if there is something extraordinary and highly promising is coming on the way.

#3. Materials

In order to be sure of the durability, it is important to check the material used in the construction of a bandsaw. If you wish to purchase high-quality bandsaw then pick metals like aluminum, cast iron, or steel. The maintenance depends on the material. Always be sure of checking the material of all the parts and not just the frame.

#4. Frame

As I said earlier, you should be extra vigilant about the frame material because this is one thing that holds all the components together. You can make a selection between cast iron or steel as these are the toughest materials.

#5. Wheels

The wheels of the saw should not be considered with any less significance as the frame. Make sure that they are either made of aluminum or cast iron material.

The aluminum material is lighter and enables faster cutting. Make sure that the wheels are strong and fast in action.

#6. Dust Ports

It is important to check that the bandsaw you are buying is compatible with the shop vacuum. It is better to buy a shop vac if you don’t have one because the wood chip and dust chip might just cause accidents.


How To Use A bandsaw

Using a bandsaw is not a complex job. We’ll go over point by point the working of these machines:
-First of all, you have to prep it all up. You can start by reading the instructions from the manual that was accompanied with the product. Then start collecting the protective gears because they are of absolute importance. These gears may include headphones, shoes, protective eyewear, gloves, etc. While finishing, make sure that the saw is unplugged.
Since you are woodworking, you will know the variety of blade to be used for a specific task. The bandsaw blades are known as bands. Basically, these are serrated strips made of metal and wrapped around a pulley.
-The blades differ in thickness and bone density which means the number of teeth installed on the edges per inch. The teeth on the blades can vary. They can be narrow or wider. If there are fewer teeth then this means the density is low and cuts will be coarser.
The blade pitches are also distinguished in three main types: fine, medium, and coarse. The coarse blades do a great job while chopping thick pieces of wood. Fine blades are suitable for more brittle material.
-It is important to follow the directions given by the manufacturers to adjust the tension of the blade. There is a tension adjustment screw in the upper rear portion of the bandsaw. You have to attach the blade firmly so that it won’t slip.
If the bandsaw you have comes with a movable blade guard then you might have to adjust it for cutting.
Then adjust the blade guides closer to the blade to keep the level of the blade in place.
Make sure you have the protective gears on while operating the saw to prevent accidents. For more of how to use bandsaw, refer to this article.


I hope I have given you enough information on best woorking bandsaws. Learn more about your bandsaws by checking out our articles about bandsaws: what your bandsaws can do and how to change your bandsaw blades in 12 steps. For safety when working with a bandsaw, check out this article and how to remove bandsaw marks here. Woodmagazine has a very good article on how to fold band saw blades.

Our other buying guide for woodworker: router bit setsrouter tabletable saw and jigsaw.

Till next time. Adios.