Best Bandsaws in 2023 – Top Picks, Guide and Reviews
Perhaps the most versatile of all saws — the bandsaw can complete both intricate work and heavy-duty projects. Its thin, reciprocating, toothed blade cuts irregular shapes, rips through robust plastics and metal, and turns thick boards into slats. And, if needed, it will even slice up frozen meat. While most commonly forming part of a cabinet unit — naturally requiring workshop space — increasingly common in our list of best bandsaws are the benchtop and portable models.
Bandsaw Categories You Can Choose From
If you lack the space for a full cabinet — the benchtop bandsaw is the answer. Featuring a vertical cutting blade, they sit on work benches or tables, and will deliver sufficient power to tackle plastics and hard timber. However, they’re still fairly weighty and designed to remain in situ once located in your garage or workshop. This is the most budget-friendly model.
Also known as a vertical contouring saw — this machine is a staple of workshops worldwide. Its vertical blade pulls downward toward the table to make the tears and is most suited for projects that need precise or irregularly-shaped cuts. Some models have the ability to create miters. Being substantial units, you need a fair amount of space for storage.
Instead of moving the material to make the cut — as in the vertical models — the horizontal bandsaw moves on a pivoting arm, while your timber remains stationary. Although they aren’t suitable for intricate jobs — they are ideal for cutting your working medium down to size. They can also deal with thicker timbers than the vertical type.
Running on rechargeable batteries — these bandsaws allow you to operate away from your home or workshop. However, while able to deliver accurate cuts and create bevels, they lack the power of the stationary models and can be difficult to control. They’re particularly heavy and require two-handed operation.
Here’s our Top Pick for Each Category
||Check Price at AmazonWRikon 10-305 Review
Rikon 10-305 Review
||Check Price at AmazonWEN 3962 Review
WEN 3962 Review
||Check Price at AmazonGrizzly G0561 Review
Grizzly G0561 Review
||Check Price at AmazonMilwaukee 6232-21 Review
Milwaukee 6232-21 Review
Finding the Best Bandsaw – Buying Guide
Pay attention to a few things before making your final decision. So many potential buyers make the common mistake of investing in the first thing they think may be worth investing in. However, you need to take into account the efficiency, reliability, and suitability of your potential purchase, as well as the price. Take a moment to check this buying guide out, it may give you a better insight into the aspects to be aware of when looking for the best bandsaw.
Different Types of Band Saws
As we mentioned previously, portable models are great for people looking to tackle a small project from time to time. For example, if you need a tool for cutting pipes, planks, or other small pieces, this particular type of saw might be a good solution. One of the biggest upsides of this type is that it usually doesn’t require much expertise at all, so you should be able to use one of these tools with minimal training
Furthermore, most models are battery powered, which further improves portability. However, this does bring some disadvantages to the table as well. The first thing users complain about is the limited amount of cuts. The majority of modern units can make around 150 cuts before they need a recharge. However, the time needed for a full recharge cycle is what counts here. So if you’re worried about a lot of downtime, you might want to avoid using battery-powered units.
The design is generally lightweight and compact. Many modern bandsaws are of a similar design to each other, although, it can sometimes vary depending on the auxiliary features of a particular model.
Anyone who’s planning on cutting complicated shapes should think about getting a horizontal model. While it’s not impossible to do it with other types, this particular one is foreseen for such endeavors. Also, cutting long objects down to size is much easier with this type than with any other.
The principle of these machines is pretty simple — they hold the material stationary while the blade cuts through it at high RPM. On top of that, most modern units feature an auto-off mechanism which prevents injuries and saves power. One of the main benefits of working with these is the fact that they are much quieter, allowing you to work in a calmer environment. Also, when you need to cut straight lines, this particular type is the most precise.
There’s a facility enabling you to adjust the machine and leave it unsupervised until it finishes the cut and switches itself off. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about downtime, thanks to the autonomous mechanisms within the machine itself. One more feature you may find useful is that, besides wood, most of these tools can cut through a variety of materials, including both metal and plastic.
Most people who aren’t sure which type to choose usually end up buying a benchtop model. It can be considered as an all-around tool for a vast number of different applications. These units are reasonably user friendly, although they do require a certain level of experience, but it’s nothing you can’t get familiar with in a short time.
These machines can weigh quite a bit, meaning they aren’t exactly portable. On the other hand, they are much easier to handle in comparison to horizontal models, which can weigh up to several hundreds of pounds. This type marks the middle ground between heavy-duty units and compact handheld ones.
The most notable advantage of using these is the versatility they bring to the table. You’re able to cut both rough lines and complicated shapes without too many issues. However, the more complex the shape is, the more experience is required from the user. As far as the safety measures are concerned, benchtop models can be considered dangerous, especially if you have no prior experience.
Thing to Consider When Choosing the Best Bandsaw
There are plenty of questions to ask yourself before deciding to invest in a particular model. Take a look at the list of things we have come up with — it may help you to recognize and differentiate the good deals from the bad
What Do You Need It for?
The first thing you should ask is – What do I want to do with my new machine?
Once you have answered this question, things get much easier. For example, if you’re an occasional user, there’s no need to invest in a massive or complex unit such as a horizontal saw. Instead, you can save a lot of money and effort by looking at a battery-powered model with a couple of additional features.
On the other hand, if you’re a devoted professional, something like a portable saw is unlikely to meet your expectations and requirements. However, most professionals already know what they are looking for in the first place.
How Much Are You Ready To Invest?
The price difference between various types can be substantial. You can easily get carried away by the sheer performance of a particular product and consequently pay over the odds for it. In order to keep everything as affordable as possible, it’s recommended that you first determine the maximum amount of money you’re willing to invest. That way, you will always know your limit.
How Experienced Are You?
Even though you may think operating a bandsaw is straightforward, believe us when we say that it isn’t. A worrying number of people use power tools without thinking about safety or prior experience. Statistically, the largest percentage of injuries happens due to a user’s negligence or misuse. These injuries can be severe and sometimes even fatal. Having your fingers near a fast-spinning blade is never a pleasant experience. Make sure you understand the way these things work and keep safety in mind at all times — read our safety advice below.
Choosing Between Brands
It’s always better to go with a reputable brand when buying power tools. However, due to the vast number of different brands on the market, choosing the right one can still be challenging. The key is in avoiding cheap rip-offs or copies of well-known products, mostly from Asian markets. Once again, research is of utmost importance here. As far as we are concerned, the difference in price is well worthwhile — it’s better to challenge your budget rather than jeopardizing your safety.
Important Features to Look For In a Band Saw
Apart from the points we’ve covered above, there are some important features you should look for in the unit you’re considering.
The amount of power output is crucial for smooth performance. Depending on what you want to do with your new tool, there are different levels of power you should consider. If you are planning on cutting smaller pieces of plastic, wood, or metal, there’s no need to invest in a particularly powerful machine. On the other hand, if you have massive projects in the pipeline, a minimum of 1 horsepower is recommended.
If you are looking for a machine with more than a single purpose, it’s a good idea to find one that’s as versatile as possible. Having an all-around tool in your workshop is always better than having something that’s only one useful for one task.
The first thing that comes to mind is the LED light. Even though it’s far from a mandatory feature, quite a lot of models come with one included. That doesn’t mean you should avoid any that don’t have an LED integrated, but it’s obviously a slight drawback if it doesn’t.
Another additional feature to look out for, especially in tabletop models, is a machine’s ability to make angled cuts. There are quite a few models on the market that come with a beveling table, which allows the user to precisely cut at the desired angle, usually up to 45 degrees.
Check for the availability and cost of spare parts, especially blades. Most reputable brands offer a substantial number of replacements off the shelf and at an affordable price. It’s important to take the price and availability of these into account when doing your calculations.
Of course, you will need to change the blade from time to time, depending on how often you use the machine and whether you work with a range of materials. Finding you can’t get an important replacement part halfway through a project could be disastrous. Also, having to buy an expensive blade because it’s the only one available for a specific model might turn into a budget issue eventually.
In particular, if you’re thinking of buying a cordless model, make sure to check how much it will cost for a spare or replacement battery. All these costs add up and what seems to be a bargain at first may not turn out to be so good in the end.
Top Bandsaws from Each Category
This 10-inch bandsaw is among the favorites of both avid woodworking professionals and enthusiasts. The 1/3 HP motor offers a healthy amount of power for a vast array of applications. This particular model is best used for cutting through wood, although it will deal with other materials as long as the correct blade is installed. However, the manufacturer’s recommendation is to use it primarily for wood.
The design and durability are two main factors that make this unit worth checking out. In fact, it’s a scaled-down version of the popular 10-345 and 10-325 steel designs. Some people prefer aluminum over steel, due to its more favorable weight, but it can also cause issues with balance and reliability.
The guide post is easily adjustable thanks to the simplistic built-in knob mechanism. You don’t have to worry about adjustments and fine tuning while you’re working. The machine also includes a rip fence, which — if you wish — can be removed in a matter of seconds.
The cast-iron table is surprisingly spacious, especially if you compare it to some other models within the same price range. The dimensions are 13¾ inches by 12½ inches, meaning that you should have more than enough space to rest your material on before cutting.
The table also tilts, meaning you can cut angles from zero up to 45 degrees. An additional steel stand is also available, but this is sold separately. It’s not a mandatory piece by any means, but does come in handy when it comes to the product’s stability.
The overall price is acceptable, although may be out of reach if you’re on a tight budget. However, if you are indeed on a limited budget, check out some of the other models we’ve reviewed. You may find one more affordable, with similar performance but fewer features.
If you’re looking for something for more demanding projects, the WEN 3962 might be a good choice. This vertical bandsaw features a beveling table, reversible fence, sliding miter gauge, dust port, and much more. As you can tell, this particular model is quite versatile.
The 3-amp motor offers more than enough power to cut through almost anything you put in front of the blade. There are two speeds — 1520 and 2620 feet per minute. The unit is compatible with 72-inch blades that are anywhere from ⅛ to ½ inch in size. It’s a great option both for intricate cuts as well as simple ones. One of the most notable features is its capability to cut under an angle. Thanks to the bevel table, the WEN 3962 can cut at any angle up to 45 degrees to the right.
Among the additional accessories, the adjustable LED light and miter gauge are the two most notable ones. On top of those, this unit also features a reliable and sturdy fence that allows you to create straight cuts with ease. Furthermore, it comes with an included stand.
There are few downsides to this machine, but some reviews mention occasional issues. For example, adjusting the blade can be difficult, particularly if you’re an inexperienced user. It’s not particularly hard to fine tune the blade, but it does require some experience and basic knowledge.
Therefore, if you’re an absolute beginner, this model might not be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if you refer to the user manual and persevere, you should get the hang of it relatively quickly. The price also separates this model from most of the others. It’s quite affordable and, in fact, a great deal if you’re looking to get a decent semi-professional machine without breaking the bank.
Great and Accurate Saw
When versatility and professional performance are required, the G0561 ranks high on the list. This mobile, yet heavy-duty tool can cut through anything, thanks to its powerful 1-HP motor and hydraulic control. The blade speed can be adjusted to 90, 135, 195, and 255 feet per minute. Hence, fine tuning is one of the biggest selling points of this particular model.
It’s not a small piece of equipment by any means, but considering its power-to-size ratio, it can be considered reasonably compact and mobile. The unit itself weighs around 340 pounds, which can bring some confusion into the equation because that certainly can’t be considered lightweight or portable. However, it features a pair of well-designed wheels, allowing you to move the machine around single-handedly without any issues.
The design seems quite sturdy and reliable, with most of the included components being made of metal and strong materials. The hydraulic feed control significantly reduces fatigue and thus prevents prolonged downtime. The auto shut-off option is a useful feature for some projects.
What makes this unit so desirable is the fact that it doesn’t seem to have many drawbacks. The only thing a few reviewers complained about is the hydraulic system and its occasional inconsistency. It has a tendency to fail from time to time, although this is rare. Some reported leaks in their systems — however, this is not a design fault but rather a defective unit. This can be easily solved through the included warranty. The price is heftier than most machines we’ve reviewed, but it’s worth every cent if you’re putting the machine to good use.
This portable model is one of the best choices you can make when it comes to compactness and efficiency. It features a powerful 11-amp motor that delivers consistency, thanks to the innovative CPT technology. The direct drive system is made of metal, so you don’t have to worry about reliability and durability.
The design is acceptable, with a 5 × 5-cut capacity being more than enough for a variety of applications. Furthermore, the line of sight is exceptional, thanks to the slim motor housing. The overall weight of this model is about 14 pounds. While it’s definitely not the lightest around, it’s still lightweight enough to be considered user friendly.
The machine’s most notable accessory is the integrated LED light. It’s a great addition to an already versatile tool and it comes in handy if you’re planning on cutting something in low-light conditions. Furthermore, the ergonomic design allows you to utilize the machine without having to endure unusual and awkward positions.
There aren’t many disadvantages, but some things need to be mentioned so you know what to expect when considering this model. The first thing some users mention is the fact that no blades are included with the unit. While buying blades isn’t a big deal, it’s still a nuisance to do it separately at the start. The carrying case that’s included with the model could be better quality.
The price is relatively acceptable, especially taking into account that it comes with a 5-year warranty. Also, Milwaukee is a well-respected brand, meaning you can expect decent response times from the customer support department if you run into any issues.
Bandsaw Injury Prevention – Safety First
Like with every other power tool, you need to think about personal safety at all times. These machines feature sharp blades that spin at very high speeds, which can result in serious injuries if not handled correctly. Here are some things you should keep in mind while working with one of these tools.
Keep Your Hands Safe
Naturally, the first advice everyone will give you is to be aware of where your hands and fingers are at all times. One single mistake can cost you a finger in a matter of milliseconds, and there’s no coming back after that. In addition, you should always remain concentrated and focused on the path of the blade.
Regardless of your previous experience with these tools, you should always read the user manual before turning a new machine on for the first time. The reason is pretty simple – not all of them work the same way. They do operate on similar principles, but there could be some significant differences that you may have overlooked.
Keep the Wheel Covers Shut
Many people either forget to close the cover or simply choose to ignore it. Both scenarios are incredibly dangerous for the user. As you know, both the wheels and blade can spin at several thousand feet per minute which is more than enough to cut through skin and bones like a hot knife through butter.
Furthermore, if the covers are open and the blade suddenly snaps, there’s a good chance that it will come flying your way. Now, whether you’re wearing safety goggles or other equipment is irrelevant at that point, because it won’t prevent the imminent damage.
Adjustments and Blade Changing
The first rule when it comes to adjusting anything on a high-power tool is to unplug it from the power source. If you own an electric unit, remove the plug from the socket before changing or adjusting the blade. In fact, even if you have a battery-powered machine, the safest way to make changes is to remove the battery entirely and then safely make the amendments.
Using the Fence and Push Sticks
Regardless of your experience, it’s always recommended that you use push sticks for precise or complete cuts. While it can be a nuisance for some, using a push stick is a great safety precaution, as well as a convenient way to avoid cutting yourself.
Those models that don’t include a fence might still be acceptable, but are certainly subpar to the ones that come with a fence included, for safety’s sake if nothing else. Even though it may seem like the fence is always in the way, proper use of it yields much better results in comparison to the models that don’t incorporate a fence.
Stay Focused and Vigilant
The rule of thumb with every power tool is to stay as concentrated and vigilant as possible. The moment you lose focus, the risk of injury increases exponentially. For example, some people like to listen to music while working. While it’s a seemingly safe practice, it can affect your overall concentration and result in an accident. While rare, it’s still a possibility. Don’t be distracted by what’s going on around you — if you need to have a conversation with someone while working, take a break and switch off your machine first.
Every model that we have reviewed offers something unique for the user. Some feature powerful motors, while others offer ease of use and portability. There are numerous things you should think about before you choose the model for yourself. Take a look at our buying guide, which should give you a better idea of the model you need.
One of the important things to remember is not to rush into a purchase — and don’t limit your budget too much, if possible. As you can assume, buying something just because it’s inexpensive can consequently end up with an inferior product. In other words, don’t invest in cheap copies because they could do more harm than good, causing avoidable injuries or accidents.
When you’ve taken our advice into consideration, take a look at our full page reviews for more detailed information. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’re sure to find useful information that can help you to decide where to put your money.
While these machines are incredibly useful, they aren’t cheap. That’s why it’s important that you plan your purchase down to the smallest detail in order to find the best bandsaw that meets your expectations.