Complete Buyer's Guide and Unbiased Reviews to select the Best Band Saw On The Market (top 5 band saws reviewed)
For woodworkers that are looking to increase the quality of their work and the speed at which they can complete projects, purchasing one of the best band saws on the market from a quality brand will prove to be a good decision. Quality band saws are a tool that will provide service for generations.
I only recommend saws made by top tier woodworking equipment manufacturers and brands that I know stand behind their products. This means that there are no cheap options. If you are new to woodworking, a band saw purchase probably doesn’t make sense for you yet.
Why purchase a band saw?
Band saws have a number of practical uses in your wood shop. It does a couple jobs more precisely and quicker than other tools could and it also makes some cuts that other tools just could not do.
Modern band saws allow you to:
- Cut curves and circles. This can also be done with a jig saw on most thin pieces of lumber, but you’ll find more accurate and cleaner cuts with a high quality band saw.
- Resaw. You simply can’t use any other tool in your shop to resaw thick stock other than a bandsaw. Band saws will resaw your lumber in half the time and much more accurately than a table saw.
- Bookmatch. If you make tables or any other large pieces in your wood shop, the band saw is a must have, make sure to get one with a high throat to bookmatch wide boards.
What you should look for to find the best band saw for you (Buying Guide)
Knowing what specs you’ll need in a hybrid saw will help make an informed decision. Here is a list of specs that you should look into before purchasing.
- Horsepower. Most band saw lines start at around 2HP and some saws such as Laguna’s line run all the way up to 7.5 HP.
- If you work with a lot of hard woods and thick stock, look at band saws with at least 4 HP.
- Dimensions. Most full-sized band saws come in at around the same size. However, you’ll still want to make sure that it will fit in your shop. In addition to standing saws, there are also benchtop band saws available that we reviewed below.
- Steel frame. While there are some cast-iron frames that hold up just fine, in general I advise steel frame constructed band saws.
Cast iron frame
- Tilting table. Most modern band saws are equipped with a tilting table. This is a professional feature that you likely won’t need as an amateur woodworker.
- Brand name. There are a few brands to avoid. If you buy any of the products that we feature, you’ll be doing just fine.
- Large throat. The higher you can raise the blade up, the larger pieces of wood you’ll be able to resaw and bookend. If you are looking to make professional caliber tables and counters, this is a must.
- Resaw fence. Chances are you’re looking to do some resawing with your new band saw. Make sure you purchase one with a fence that is tall enough for your resawing needs.
1. Laguna - LT14 SUV, 3hp Bandsaw
Winner for: Best BandSaw
Laguna specializes in making band saws and their engineers have done great work, these saws are awesome.
They’ve managed to create a line of saws from 1.75 – 7.5 HP that all perform exceptionally well. I really have nothing negative to say about what they do.
- Very low vibration (due to single belt drive)
- Unbeatable brand with a 5 yr. manufacturer warranty
- Competitively priced
- I typically favor Jet products as the industry leader, but Laguna is the best band saw on the market.
2. Jet - 18" Bandsaw, 3HP
Runner-up for: Best Band Saw
Jet is my favorite woodworking equipment company. Not just because they have great machines, but because their parent company JPW stands behind their products and provides excellent service.
Jet’s lineup of band saws rivals any in the class. Their resawing ability, power and the ease of which you can make adjustments and blade changes is rivaled only by Laguna.
If the Jets were a bit easier to move around the shop and had the same resawing fence as the larger Laguna’s, they may just take the top spot.
- Excellent brand name
- Manufacturers warranty
- Large lineup to find the right size and power saw for you
- Competitively priced
- Would ideally come with casters for mobility
- Blade tension gauge has been reported to fail occasionally
3. Powermatic - 24" Bandsaw 5HP, 3PH,
Winner for: Best for Professionals
Winner for: Best for Resawing
With 5HP and a 24″ throat his saw is an ABSOLUTE BEAST!
If you are a professional woodworker, this or the Laguna Italian series are the two saws that you should consider.
If you are considering bookmatching for large dining room tables, resawing large pieces of stock or want matching curved cuts from stacked hard woods, this saw is a must.
- Very sturdy with low vibration
- Powermatic is a great name
- 5 HP is enough power for any job
- 24″ of resaw capacity is unbeatable.
- Fence could be a bit taller
- Higher priced than competitors
- Not easily moved around your shop
4. Rikon - 10" Deluxe Bench Top Bandsaw
Winner for: Best Band Saw for Hobbyists
Winner for: Best Bench Top Band Saw
Rikon provides a quality line of bandsaws and more importantly, they provide them at a price point that entry level woodworkers and those on a tight budget can more easily afford.
This 10″ band saw is great for the garage woodworker. It provides a surprisingly accurate cut and is great for small projects. There is a well built stand that can be purchased as well which is great for those that don’t have the space on their bench to set it up.
When compared to standing bandsaws, benchtop saws (including this one) will be limited in cutting thick, hard woods and in their resawing capacity.
- Surprisingly stable
- Great power for it’s size
- Fits just about anywhere in a shop or garage
- Priced competitively
- Limited in cutting thick, hard woods
- Can only resaw and bookmatch small, soft pieces effectively
Do I Need A Band Saw? Can I Make Due With A Jig Saw and Table Saw?
A band saw is a “must have” for millworks companies and professional woodworkers. However, if you are just getting into woodworking and don’t have the room or budget for professional caliber equipment, you can make most of the same cuts a bandsaw makes with your trusty hybrid saw.
You won’t be able to resaw large pieces of wood and your angled cuts may not be as clean, but if you are a hobbyist, you’ll be just fine with your jig saw and hybrid saw.
Top Uses For Your New Band Saw
Here is a brief video that shows some of the many uses for band saws. Some were mentioned above in my “why purchase a band saw” section.
What Do We Look For In Selecting the Best Band Saws?
So, you’re looking to start cutting some wood but you don’t know where to start? We can all agree that band saws are the most different from all other woodcutting machines. With so many blade options to choose and so many band saws to attach them on, it can seem very easy to make a mistake and ruin the wood. Because there are a lot of options to choose from, we’ll help you figure things out and make it much easier on yourself.
When we look at Band Saws and try to compare them, almost all of them work on the same principle which was developed about 100 years ago but choosing to buy new is usually a smarter move, especially if you’re not interested in getting secondhand or worse, fixing one up without any actual experience and relying on what you can find online.
So, what do you look for? Well first you need to figure out what kind of wood will you be cutting. The size, type and what you’re looking to make and once you know this you’ll be able to pick something which will fit for exactly what you’re looking for. Each bandsaw tends to be priced according to the wheel size, so the bigger the wheel the bigger the bandsaw. People who are new to woodworking are always surprised when they compare a 10″ wheel bandsaw and a 16″ one. The difference is literally three times in size. Make sure to pick what you’d be able to work with, consider how much space you have, where dust collection will be, read through our detailed saw reviews. In the end, pick what works best for you.
Features You'll Find In All of The Top Band Saws
technology has really come a long way so it’s important to know what features the best band saws have in common. The top band saws have all the features available on them but do you really need everything? We’re here to help. When considering your options you should look into a couple of characteristics such as :
– Guides which are aligned properly and accurately
– Mechanism which allows for blades to be easily replaced and changed
– A very sturdy frame
– Adequate horsepower
– Adequate resaw capacity
In the long run, it’s very important to consider and think about what you’re looking for and how much work you’ll be putting in before you buy, but even then it’s easy to change your mind so make sure you’re 100% certain before you consider the price, model, your workshop size and other accessories you might be using.
10 Inch + Throat
The throat is the distance between the blade and the vertical frame of the body. This space determines which kind of cuts can be made and at which width. When you see a throat capacity of 10” that means that the maximum width can be 10”. The bigger the throat the bigger the price but it’s definitely worth it because having that extra space can make for some easy cuts with power and also precision. But it’s always smart to just buy what fits your woodworking projects.
Usable for Metal & Woodworking
It can seem crazy and almost impossible but yes, the best band saw can be used to cut both metal and wood. Of course, you can’t expect to be able to cut through steel as fast as you’d cut wood.
In order to properly execute this, you’ll need a blade made specifically for metal cutting. Although normal blades can be used and will do the job just fine, the blade will get dull relatively quickly and you’ll burn through them quite fast. Take a step in the right direction and make plans ahead of time because a lot of metal cutting takes time and in order to cut properly, you’ll need to make some adjustments. It’s not different from the work you’d put in by cutting wood but the most important aspect will be the blade so check whether yours is sharp before buying another one.
What Do We Look For In Selecting the Best Band Saws?
You’ve likely noticed that all of the band saws we have highlighted in this article and the bandsaws that we’ve highlighted in the related articles are all professional level tools. If you don’t need resaw capacity, a 17 inch throat or 4 hp, you may just want a basic jigsaw. You’re in luck, we put an article together for you on selecting the best jigsaw for your needs.
For those of you that want to see a more granular look at the band saws we recommend and you need them for commercial woodworking purposes, we put together an article on the best band saws for resawing. This will especially come in handy if you are looking to resaw and make showroom quality furniture.
What inch blade is best to use on a band saw?
Even the best band saw needs a good blade so check this workshop guide. If you’re new to woodworking, or you just got your hand on a new band saw, you’re probably wondering what kind of blade you should be using. Having the right tools in your workshop will help you work properly, be able to make different cuts on the table fast and easy.
Choosing the best band saw blade width
The first thing you should look at is the width of the blade but in reality, there are two things you need to check here:
- What width your band saw can accommodate and what is its maximum width
- The smallest radius you want to be cutting. If you are cutting very small circles, you will want a thin blade.
If you’re new to woodworking there is no way you can know these things on your own so it’s smart to ask the manufacturer for some instructions.
If you’re interested in using the maximum blade width to resaw or maybe cut-off saw it’s a good idea to check beforehand which blade width you’ll be using because you want to have nice and straight cuts. No one wants a broken blade and you probably don’t want one too.
But if you’re not interested in resaw then you can use a narrow blade to do some contour sawing. The blade needs to be narrow enough to cut the small radius that you’re looking for.
This can be a lot of information at once so we made a simple chart which can help you identify which blade width has a minimum radius it can cut. Choose the option which works best for you ( all sizes are measured in inch ).
Blade Width Minimum Radius
Choosing the best band saw blade thickness
Now that we have blade width covered, what about blade thickness? This is very important as well because during strenuous work the blade will “get tired” and eventually fail. All tools have a life expectancy and it’s important to get the most of your blade for the price you paid.
Before you can choose your blade width you need ask yourself a few questions first because the thickness primarily depends on the work that needs doing and the wheels on your bandsaw. If your workshop doesn’t have too much space and you’re just doing some light woodworking you will need to use thinner blades but, if you work on other projects then you will need thicker blades which will withstand more strain but that comes at a cost. A thicker blade can break much more easily from all the twists, bends and work you put into your cuts. In order to better understand everything, we made a table which helps you understand which thickness works best with which wheel diameter. Choose the best option that works best for you, your bandsaw model and how big your woodworking project is. All sizes are in inch.
4 – 6
6 – 8
8 – 10
11 – 18
18 – 24
24 – 30
.042, .050, .063
Band Saw tooth styles
Before you can cut anything you need to know which blade style does what. It’s also important to know that even though It’s easy to grab any old blade laying around in the workshop and start cutting, if you want your work to stand out you need to know that each style is for different cuts.
Choosing a blade with more teeth will give you slower cuts but they will be smoother and choosing ones with fewer teeth will cut much faster but you’ll get a rougher finish. You can have one or the other, never both. There is always a tradeoff.
Most people buy a regular tooth blade and they use it for some general-purpose cuts. They have proportional spacing between each tooth and because of that they can be used for contour sawing and it’s ideal for thin material cuts.
If you’re cutting soft wood, plastic or similar you should choose a skip tooth blade which has each tooth widely space. Because of the spacing it prevents clogging which is very important when cutting softer materials.
When it comes to cuts for hardwood, plastic and even metal the hook tooth blade is the best option. Their teeth are large and at an angle which helps feed the material resulting in a faster cut.
If your woodworking project needs a smooth and fast cut then you need a variable pitch blade. It’s ideal for a fast and smooth finish which is usually required in joinery or when cutting curves.
Regular checkups still needed for the top band saws
It’s important to keep your band saw running and having a dull blade will not help.
In order to optimize your band saw and have the blade running at maximum efficiency it’s important to do a couple of things, regularly.
-Always apply wax and clean your table surface, rip fence and the space around the dust collection. Keeping the blade waxed will reduce friction.
-Out of the box blades can have imperfections which can lead to uneven cuts, especially when cutting curves. Use a honing stone to round the back of the blade to remove those troublesome spots.
-One of the biggest mistake people do is forgetting to lubricate the blade, regardless of what they are cutting. Tools need to be well oiled in order to work properly.
-Check the dust port and make sure dust collection is working. Make sure there is none built-up on the guide bearings or drive components.
-Your tools need to rest too so at the end of the day release tension on the blade so that it can properly work the next day.
The Flutter Settings For Your Band Saw
After completing your regular checklist, you should do some flutter setting. Each band saw model is usually set to work properly but the manufacturer suggests that different settings can be applied if need be, even on the best bandsaw. These settings eliminate vibration, remove manufacturer mistakes and most importantly helps your band saw work optimally. Regardless of your model each of these settings are essentially the same.
-The blade guides must be removed and this is one of the most important things to do first
-Replace the V-belt on the motor if it’s not tight enough
-Sometimes the band saw tires can be in a rough condition and should be replaced if that’s the case
-Each model has a recommended tension so check what your manufacturer recommends and apply it
-Make sure each cover is closed
-Once all of these are done start your band saw and go for the highest cutting speed
Why Tension Will Ruin Your Band Saw Blade
So now that you know how to do perform the necessary checks, it’s important to know why tension on the blades can lead to premature failure.
You probably know already that a blade expands, contracts and get especially hot when you work on your cuts and leaving that blade under tension creates a sort of memory which will lead to failure from fatigue. That’s not the only problem which occurs if you don’t de-tension after use. The crown gets distorted, the drive tires get flattened, the motor is stressed along with the V-belt and drive pulleys.
Your blades need to rest so at the end of the day it’s important to not forget about them and release that blade tension before going to bed. Most people write down how many turns it took to release the tension on their model so that when they re-engage the band saw tomorrow they won’t have to do a flutter test all over again.
The Hand Test To Measure Blade Tightness
To make sure that your bandsaw blade has been properly tightened, press gently against it with either your pointer finger or the side of your hand. You should be able to move the blade, but not much more than an eighth of an inch.
A mistake that many newbie woodworkers make is that they over tighten their blades. When your saw blade is no longer cutting smoothly, replace the blade, don’t just tighten it. Over tightening the blade will wear out your wheels and treads which will make for more long-term issues.