A band saw is an important tool in woodwork. The main purpose of this power-tool is cutting irregular shapes. Secondly, a band saw is used for resawing or ripping lumber into thinner slabs. Thirdly a band saw comes in handy when one needs to make very smooth cuts. Lastly, with a band saw, you can cut materials other than wood, including metal. A band saw is one of the better choices when it comes to wood carving. Talking about good choices budget band saws, most of the band saws feature in this article are under $500 with two great options under $1000, making them quite popular for a hobbyist.
We also present a very good cheap band saw with the Skil 3386 01, the best budget band saw is the Rikon 10 305 as it is also the best band saw under 500 bucks while a number of other good band saws for the money are also going to be presented such as the Grizzly G0555 – the best 14 inch band saw and the Wen 3962 – the best budget band saw for beginners.
A band saw is essential for a workshop. I use it often in my furniture making shops and academy. My daughter who is an artist also uses a band saw to create her artifacts. Though not as crucial as a router. If you consider yourself to be a fairly regular craftsman you need to have a band saw in your workshop. This article is going to help you choose the best cheap band saw 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 band saw. A band saw 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 band saws. 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 band saw.
- So here is my list of The Top 5 Best Budget Band saws
- 1. Rikon 10-305 Band saw With Fence, 10-Inch – The Best Budget Band saw
- 2. Skil 3386-01 2.5AMP 9-inch Band saw – The best cheap band saw
- 3. Grizzly G0555 The Ultimate Band saw, 14-Inch – Top Pick Overall
- 4. WEN 3962 Two=Speed Band Saw with Stand and Worklight 10” – Best value for beginners
- 5. Delta 28-400 14 in. 1 HP Steel Frame Band Saw – For Professionals
- My take on choosing the best budget band saw
- #1. Purpose
- #2. Price
- #3. Materials
- #4. Frame
- #5. Wheels
- #6. Dust Ports
- #7. How long is the warranty?
- My checklist for buying a good cheap band saw
- Types of Band saw
- Band saw size
- Tips: Use A band saw effectively
- Final thoughts when buying a cheap band saw
Experience has shown me that one can use a band saw 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, find more about how to band saw blades here.
I believe I have given you an adequate introduction to this power tool. Let us get into the market to review the top five woodworking band saws. It is worth noting that the guide is made of the best band saws I have personally encountered.
So here is my list of The Top 5 Best Budget Band saws
1. Rikon 10-305 Band saw With Fence, 10-Inch – The Best Budget Band saw
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 that we will have to agree that the Rikon 10-305 is the best budget band saw under 500 bucks.
- Cutting capacity: 4-⅝ Inches
- Induction motor ⅓ HP
- Edge facing thirst bearings
- Safety paddle switch
- 5 Year Warranty
What makes it exceptional
This is a 10 inches band saw 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 for the value it brings. 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. Go for it if you can afford it. Thanks me later.
Updated: the Rikon 10-306
I recently stumbled across the new Rikon 10-306 and I gotta say I was impressed.
Now, the 10-306 has some good features over the 10-305 such as a stronger motor(1/2hp), 2 cutting speeds, more cutting height, toolless blade guides, and a new fence.
That is not all, the 10-306 also equipped tool storage for wrenches.
No score yet as I will update this article after a few more projects with this beast.
2. Skil 3386-01 2.5AMP 9-inch Band saw – The best cheap band saw
I strongly believe that this is the best lightweight portable band saw in America as of now. The Skil 3386-01 2.5Amp 9-inch Band saw is ideal for hobbyists and professionals who require a jobsite band saw 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.
- Factory blade TPI: 6TPI
- Throat Capacity: 9 inches 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 band saw 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. This bandsaw is also recommended by toolbros, good choice for budget bandsaws.
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 inexpensive price, making it the best inexpensive 9″ band saw in the market at the moment. It is the cheapest band saw you can get for the money.
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 Band saw, 14-Inch – Top Pick Overall
Something that I will always love about this model is the heavy-duty construction. Now, I know that this is not under 500 but seriously, you cannot find such amazing designing and construction for the price of the G0555. No wonder that the cost is correlated but I can assure that you will enjoy work this amazing tool for its top quality.
If you are preparing to drop the cash then this is the one for you, hands down.
- Cutting capacity: 13-½ Inches
- Voltage 220V
- All ball bearing construction
- Deluxe heavy-duty stand
What makes it exceptional
You will be astonished by 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 band saw then don’t be. This machine has got an 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.
It is one of the best affordable band saws that is priced under $1500.
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 woodshop.
4. WEN 3962 Two=Speed Band Saw with Stand and Worklight 10” – Best value for beginners
This is the second-best floor model band saw for under 500 bucks budget. I have it in one of my workshops. Though it has a few flaws, The WEN 3962 serves its purpose very well.
- 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 swiveled 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 making it one of the best budget-friendly resawing band saw.
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 – For Professionals
This is a high-end powerful saw, so the price is not under $500. Again, I know. But it was bought during our recent workshop upgrading and retooling and I can’t help but recommend this piece of work. Especially as it was made by Delta, the Deta company. The reason it’s not number 1 is that it is expensive. However, if you are a serious woodworker this is the best band saw. I have many good things to say about the Delta 28-400.
- 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 very easy to use.
Design-wise the Delta 28-400 is made of durable material. These ensure stability and longevity. It is the best professional band saw under 1500 in my opinion.
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. The lack of fence can be compensated by purchasing a good bandsaw fence here.
Overall score 7/10 (Because of the lack of fence and miter)
Some other good band saws for your budget: Deluxe 14″ Band saws, Delta 28-206, Grizzly G0457, Jet JWBS-14DXPRO, Laguna 14SUV, Powermatic PWBS-14CS, and Rikon 10-325. More band saw reviews here.
My take on choosing the best budget band saw
The clear winner here is the horizontal band saw, considering that it possesses the maximum useful features. However, if your usage of a band saw is limited then you can also try out portable models.
Things To Consider
There are plenty of things you should keep in mind while purchasing the right model of affordable band saws. Here are a few of the things to notice:
So, the first thing that you should ask yourself is why do I need a band saw? Once you are able to locate the answer to this question, you will be able to streamline your research. Find out what a band saw can do here.
For instance, if you need to use this tool on an occasional basis then it is pointless to spend hundreds of dollars 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.
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 cheap price, the best budget band saw, however, does not come cheap.
As a general nature of a buyer, one can get overexcited about the performance of a band saw 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.
In order to be sure of the durability, it is important to check the material used in the construction of a band saw. If you wish to purchase a high-quality band saw 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.
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.
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 wheels must be balanced after truing. Remember, the most accurate results can only be achieved from having dynamic balancing as the wheel is checked for balance as it rotates.
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 band saw 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.
#7. How long is the warranty?
Always check for the warranty of your band saw, especially if you are on the look for a good affordable band saw, every little detail is valuable to you. Most of the band saws in this article have great support but you should always check to know if the warranty cover labor as well as parts and how close is the nearest service center. Over years of working with band saws, I can judge accurately when a band saw need to have a checkup. Call the supports when you feel your band saw is not running as smoothly as it should as one of the rotating parts of your band saw may not be trued or balanced properly.
My checklist for buying a good cheap band saw
- Frame strength: Check if the frame can properly tension the widest blade that the band saw accepts.
- Throat capacity: Is this band saw able to handle the widest stock I intend to cut?
- Height capacity: Will it be able to handle the resawing capacity for my work?
- Minimum blade width: Check if the bands saw can handle 1/16-in. or 1/8-in. blades for cutting tight contours.
- Maximum blade width: Check if it can handle a wide blade for resawing (at least 1/2-in.)
- Motor horsepower: Can it handle resawing operation? Keep in mind, resawing needs at least 1 hp.
- Blade guide type: Check if it has the guides that you want.
- Table tilt: Does the table tilt in one direction or two? How far will it tilt?
Types of Band saw
In this subject, it is important to know all the options. First, I will talk about the three different types of band saws.
#1. Portable Band saw
According to my personal opinion, portable band saws are great for the people that are indulged in smaller projects. Let me help you with an example, if you need a tool to cut the pipes, smaller pieces, planks, or any such thing, a portable band saw 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 band saws 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 band saws have a similar design. However, the variation can happen with the auxiliary features of different models.
#2. Benchtop Band saw
When people are unaware and unsure of the right kind of band saw 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. Benchtop band saws are small, lightweight that work well for fine and delicate cuts.
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.
Tips: Do not use a wide blade on a benchtop band saw. The saw is designed for small, delicate cuts and its frame is not stiff enough to properly tension a wide blade.
#3. Stand Band saws – perfect choices for budget band saws
Stand band saws are best at cutting complicated shapes. This is possible using other models as well but the floor saws make it easier to do the task. This saw can also handle large pieces conveniently and has become an icon of the home workshop and small professional shops. Its low price and versatility make it popular for people who are looking to buy an inexpensive band saw. The best budget band saws are usually 14 inch. as those are of great value. Most of them can cut a riser block that doubles the resaw capacity to 12 inc, most of them are under 500. The price of the best 14 inch band saw – the G0555 is a bit over $500 on retail but if you are looking for used bandsaw, you can get a pre-owned G0555 for under 500 bucks easily.
The operational mechanism of these machines is extremely simple making it great entry band saws for beginners. 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.
Band saw 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 are also economical. However, size determines the stock size a band saw 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 the blade and throat of the saw. This measurement ranges from 9 inches to 24 inches. So, an 11-inch band saw 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 aluminum. Wavy and raker-set blades are primarily used for cutting ferrous metals. I talked about the best blades here if you are looking for good blades for your band saws.
What size is big enough?
It depends on the type of woodworking that you do.
I recommend an 18 in. floor model band saw if you are planning to do a lot of resawing.
If you are on a budget, the 14 in. band saw G0555 is very popular because of its reasonable price and moderate cutting capacity. This band saw accepts a riser block that can double its cutting weight easily, it is a great choice for most woodworkers for the money. With one of the largest motor, you will get good resawing out of it.
What about 18-in. band saws? They are much more versatile but are much more expensive. However, look into used band saws as you might be able to find some gems for cheap. But before doing that, make sure you’ve read my guide for buying a good used band saw, thank me later when you bought the best budget band saw without going broke.
Tips: Use A band saw effectively
Using a band saw is not a complex job. Even with the most durable band saw, we need to pay good attention. With a cheap band saw, we have to take extra care.
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 blades to be used for a specific task. The band saw 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. Learn how to weld your own band saw blade here.
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 band saw. You have to attach the blade firmly so that it won’t slip.
- If the band saw 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. Check out how to set up a band saw by this article from Fine woodworking.
Make sure you have the protective gear on while operating the saw to prevent accidents. For more of how to use a band saw, refer to this article.
Final thoughts when buying a cheap band saw
If your budget is flexible, the Grizzly G0555 must be your top pick for the money as it is definitely the best budget band saw you can get, it is also my choice of use at home.
If it is tight, the Rikon 10-305, Wen 3962 and Skil 3386-01 are my recommended for best cheap band saws.
I hope I have given you enough information on some of the top inexpensive band saws.
Learn more about your band saws by checking out our articles about band saws: what your band saws can do and how to change your band saw blades in 12 steps. For safety when working with a band saw, check out this article. Woodmagazine has a very good article on how to fold band saw blades.
As always, you can reach me at [email protected] if you need any advice or just need someone to talk to. After all, winter is coming soon.
Updated December 2019:
- How to adjust band saw blade tension.
- Cutting curves with a band saw.
- How to remove band saw marks here.
Till next time. Adios.
Source: Band saw review from Fine Woodworking