Do you work with metal, plastic, wood? Are you an art major, do you do home improvement, or are you a trained construction worker? – Whichever question you answer yes to, your interests align with the need to own a band saw.
There are very few tools that give you the same amount of versatility and accuracy. And you don’t even need a premium band saw worth thousands of dollars to take care of most projects. My favorite picks cover both ends of the spectrum as many of them are affordable, while a few others are pricier.
Best Band Saws for Every Budget and Workshop
Not one of the following band saws I reviewed, including the really affordable ones, is bad at what it’s supposed to do. Check out below what my favorite band saws have to offer and how they stack up against each other, or against that old band saw you’re looking to replace.
- Best Band Saws for Every Budget and Workshop
- What Accessories Are Mandatory?
- How I View Motor
- When Do You Need Variable Speed
- Safety First
- Fixed Stand vs. Portable Band Saws
This is a very solid band saw that I’m confident recommending to both amateur and professional woodworkers. Though not exactly professional-grade, the 3.5A motor puts the 72” blade to good use. You should be able to use the WEN 3962 to cut curved lines, straight lines, bevels, perfect circles, and use a variety of other techniques with speed and precision.
With a maximum blade speed of 2,620 FPM (feet per minute), the WEN 3962 is quite powerful for its price. It also comes with a fence and miter gauge. An LED light and a dust port are also included which further enables you to make a wide range of cuts while operating safely.
The saw comes with its own fixed stand and is made of mostly steel and aluminum. Therefore, it’s a good choice for both complex projects and continuous use. Although the 3962 has two different blade speeds, its top FPM of 2620 means it’s not really intended for cutting into metal sheets.
All things considered, the WEN 3962 offers great value for the money. Even if none of the accessories are high-end, the simple fact that they’re part of the deal means a lot. If you own a workshop vac that works with a 3-in-1 dust port, you’re pretty much good to go. Don’t forget to get a 72” long band saw blade as it doesn’t come with one (most of them don’t). You can use 1/8” to ½” wide blades with this band saw.
Although this very affordable band saw is only equipped with a 2.5A motor, it seems to work rather well on wood. It doesn’t have enough speed or power to handle metal but then again, band saws in this price range are not built for cutting metal sheets.
Stack cuts is an area in which the Skil 3396-01 excels, mostly because of its design. This is because Skil added pinion adjustment options you generally only see on table saws.
There is no speed adjustment here. The motor runs on one speed and one speed only, this shouldn’t be a problem for most people. Besides, having a rip fence, a dust port, miter gauge, rack and pinion adjustment, as well as an LED work light may just make one forget about the single speed.
Though the rip fence is accurate for straight cuts, you won’t get the same feeling when attempting bevel cuts or angular cuts. Stability is not the main selling point of the 3386-01. When tilting the table for angular cuts, I wasn’t too pleased with how much feedback I got.
That being said, it’s still a good choice for most house repair jobs due to its ease of cutting through ironwood, splitting buffalo horn, and the overall value for the money added by all the accessories.
You should know by now that not all band saws are designed to sit on a stand or bench. The 2429-21XC M12 is a tiny cordless band saw designed for maximum portability and quick jobs. With a fully charged battery, you should be able to get about 150 cuts in, depending of course on the depth.
To a professional construction worker, a 12V compact band saw might not sound appealing. But I found it to be a very cool idea. The lightweight design makes it ideal for one-handed cuts, including overhead cuts.
With a blade length of just 12”, it’s easy to reach tight spots. It’s a subcompact band saw with 1-5/8” cut capacity. In terms of balance and control, this 12V band saw has more to offer than meets the eye. In terms of raw cutting power, Milwaukee did a good job of making this band saw viable for cutting PVC, EMT, and even rebar. Though to be fair, you will deplete the battery a lot faster when cutting through hard material.
What is very nice is the 30-minute charger which prevents you from being out of commission for too long. The warranty is pretty good too as you get 5 years on the tool (not the battery). The only real downside is the small cut capacity.
Portable band saws can be great power tools but also very situational. This DeWalt portable electric band saw has a powerful 10A motor for its size. it is a corded design which means you can use it continuously for a longer time. Just have an extension cord ready if you need range.
An LED light is there to illuminate the work area and help you be more accurate with your cuts. However, keep in mind that the DWM120K weighs around 15 pounds. Though it’s still possible to do overhead cuts with it, you will need steady hands and some experience to get the best results.
Every power tool comes with pros and cons. The DWM120K has its fair share of shortcomings but DeWalt seems to do everything it can to gloss it over. Take the adjustable speed function for example. This allows you to work on a wide range of materials and sizes.
The 3959 is a solid choice if you’re only looking to work on small projects. That being said, it can benefit both pros and amateurs on such projects. It is a highly affordable benchtop band saw with 9” cut capacity and a 2.5A motor. It’s not going to deliver amazing results when faced with hardwood or large pieces. However, for accurate bevel cuts or making cutouts, it’s a highly competent cheap band saw.
You can use the 3959 to perform bevel cuts up to 45 degrees. As you might expect from the low investment, the accessories are only average or above average quality. The fence is nothing to write home about and the miter gauge doesn’t exactly have a tight fit.
That being said, you get a lot of accessories for the money and a pretty complete overall build. There’s also a small dust port which is more than enough for small home repair tasks or hobby woodworking.
The table is 12.25 x 11.85 inches. This would offer enough space for working with even for larger pieces of material. But the 2500 FPM cutting speed puts a limit on things.
One thing that I thought set this band saw apart from most is its unique blade guard adjustment. It makes changing blades over with in just a few seconds. Along with that, the band saw also features a solid metal shell that’s surprisingly lightweight.
The accuracy of the measuring system is also impressive. If you’re looking to make precise cuts and don’t mind not being able to work with large pieces of wood, then the BS900 might be a solid choice.
Although it has a 2.5A motor, the blade speed doesn’t exceed 1725 FPM. As long as you invest in a quality blade, this band saw is viable for most woodworking projects. The BS900 can accept blades 1/8” and 3/8” wide.
Now, what does it lack? – A number of things. It has no dust port connection, no LED light, and it doesn’t come with a rip fence. In any event, its accuracy and ease of use as well as its solid construction make it great for working with small pieces of wood. You can always add accessories to this cheap band saw.
Makita power tools are often preferred by industrial workers. It came as no surprise to me that the XBP02TX 18V cordless band saw is a work of art. Granted, it is more expensive than most one-handed saws, but if you’re shooting for quality and budget is not an issue well, you will get what you pay for.
The Makita LXT battery life is nothing short of amazing. The motor works at six different speed settings which are adjusted via a dial. The tool tops out at 530 FPM. The overall design and the rubberized grip help reduce vibrational feedback which can only help you to cut more accurately.
To further improve accuracy in hard to reach places, an LED light is used to enhance the visibility. The blade length is 44” and the cut capacity is 4-3/4”. Last but not least, let’s discuss weight. Though the XBP02TX can be used for overhead cuts, it is over 20lbs which doesn’t make it exactly comfortable as a one-handed saw. It requires two 18V LXT batteries which are included.
This band saw with 10” cut capacity may seem big enough for larger projects. The 3.5A motor works the blade up to a speed of 2780 FPM which is really good for most woodworking tasks. The motor also has enough cutting power for metal.
In terms of accessories, the 10-305 comes with pretty much everything you need. It has guide bearings, a miter gauge, a stand, and an LED work light with a magnetic clip which means you can adjust the beam to whatever angle you want.
The cast iron table provides good stability. The safety paddle is also a nice touch that adds value for the money. If you want to get the most out of it, the 10-305 seems to be a real workhorse when equipped with a high quality 70.5” blades (of 1/8” to ½” wide).
All things considered, the 10-305 is a cost-effective benchtop band saw that should handle both professional and amateur tasks.
A heavy-duty band saw for all your heavy-duty projects. This is the best solution I’ve found that can cut through non-ferrous metal and hardwood. It may be a bit expensive for some homeowners, but if you want something that can handle any project, the Delta 28-400 may be the one to get.
The 1HP motor runs at two speeds. You can choose between 1,620 and 3,340 FPM. This is what allows you to work with a variety of materials. The band saw also features an easy tensioning system that allows you to make adjustments on the fly and ensures blade durability.
The blade tracking is precise. The band saw features upper and lower ball bearing blade guides. There’s also a 4” dust port which helps keep work area tidy and safe to work on. There’s very little flexing to worry about due to the heavy duty steel frame and thick outer shell.
Among the accessories, you’ll notice a miter square, a rip fence, and a bright work light. The 28-400 has both the power and the accessories necessary to do everything from cutting delicate curves to making cuts into large pieces of lumber.
What Accessories Are Mandatory?
Most of the band saws I reviewed were more or less complete when it came to accessories except for the blade. Besides that, the essential components that you have to watch out for are a miter gauge, dust port, and a rip fence.
The miter gauge and the rip fence provide cutting assistance and give you the ability to perform more than just straight and curved cuts. A work light is nice to have but not critical. You can always add your own to the band saw or make sure that your workshop has enough ambient light.
A wide dust port is just as important as guidance and measurement accessories. A 0.5” dust port may not be enough even with a powerful vacuum attached to it. Look for a wider dust port that can prevent splinters of wood and metal from going in the direction of your face or covering up the cutting lines.
How I View Motor
Without a doubt, the motor is a deciding factor when buying a new band saw. But, remember one thing. Two 3A motors won’t always give you the same cutting speed. Therefore, you might want to focus more on the motor build quality and the brand’s reputation.
Also, keep in mind that the bandsaw wheels are just as important as the motor. The wheel mechanism transfers mechanical power from the motor to the blade which actually does all the cutting. They’re also responsible for dampening vibrations.
When Do You Need Variable Speed
Keep in mind that even if you want variable speed, most band saws only give you two speeds at best. You may see more speed settings on handheld band saws, but not as often in fixed band saws.
So when do you need it? – It’s always nice to have variable speed no matter what you’re doing. But it only becomes really mandatory if you want your band saw to work just as well on metal projects as wood projects.
To cut through non-porous metals, you generally need a lot of speed, maybe over 3,000 FPM, depending on what you’re cutting. But you can also cut through something like rebar with a 500 FPM portable band saw.
High-quality blade guides are essential to have on any band saw. Blade guides are the only things that stand between a perfect operation and the band saw blade twisting during a cut. Look for ball bearing blade guides positioned both under the table and above it.
But, keep in mind that ball bearing guides need adjustments. If you switch your blades, you’ll also have to adjust the distance between the new blades and the blade guides. An easy way to gauge how much distance is needed is to try and fit a thick piece of paper in between. If it’s a tight fit, you have an appropriate setting.
Fixed Stand vs. Portable Band Saws
Band saws with a fixed stand are obviously a lot more versatile. They give you a lot more control over the angle and direction of your cuts. They also allow you to work with larger pieces of material.
On the other hand, a portable band saw is also a solid choice in some situations. It allows you to do repair work and finesse adjustments in tight places. It’s also relatively affordable, especially if you don’t need anything powerful enough to cut through metal.
A Final Word
The title of the best band saw is somewhat subjective. This is a power tool that comes in many shapes and sizes and with different degrees of difficulty when it comes to using it. It is also a highly versatile tool that can replace even table saws and jigsaws if built right and adjusted properly.
Make sure you know what materials you plan on cutting before you think of buying a band saw. But once you know what you’re looking for, always shoot for quality. Each model reviewed above is perhaps better suited for a specific job than the rest. Which one do you like for your workshop?
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.