Best Band Saws for Woodworkers: 2019 In-Depth Buyer’s Guide

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The best band saw can essentially open up a whole new level of design possibilities for the woodworker. While the best jigsaw is also a must in terms of essential woodworking tools, a well-tuned band saw can allow you to produce rough-sawn lumber from logs, cut custom veneer, and cut large sweeping curves. Choosing the right model can be time-consuming, which is why I’ve put together this buyer’s guide, complete with product recommendations for the five leading models on the market.

This is such a versatile tool, and because of this, it’s considered an integral part of any woodworking shop. It’s also a great tool to have for those simple DIY wood projects. This type of saw will be a great addition to any workshop, and it will definitely become your first choice when it comes to ripping through lumber since it’s extremely versatile, easy to use and set up, and safe.

Below, you’ll find a comparison chart, which displays important information including each saw’s rating, power, and cutting capacity.

Band Saws Comparison Chart

ProductBladeBlade SpeedMotorRating
WEN 3962 Band Saw
WEN-3962 small Check Price!
10-inchTwo-speed3.5 amp
JET JWBS-14DXPRO
JET-JWBS small Check Price!
14-inchTwo-speed10 amps
Milwaukee 6232-21
Milwaukee small Check Price!
21 inchVariable11 amps
WEN 3959 Band Saw
WEN-3959 small Check Price!
9 inchSingle Speed2.5 amps
Shop Series RK7453
ShopSeries small Check Price!
9 inchSingle Speed2.5 amps

Best Band Saw-WEN 3962 Two-Speed Band Saw with Stand

WEN 3962

Our Rating: (5/5)

This model by WEN features a three and a half amp motor, a twenty-inch blade, and a two-blade speed option. This saw is suitable for both pros and DIYers. The motor provides enough power to easily slice through wood. The saw’s large worktable will be perfect for processing large workpieces and will allow you to effortlessly make curved cuts without breaking a sweat. The blade operates at a couple of different speeds, based on what type of material you’re cutting. The built-in LED lights will ensure your workspace and material are brightly lit, so you can easily see your workpiece and make cleaner, precise cuts. The saw’s dust port is efficient and helps to keep your workspace clean and free of debris.

Pros

  • LED lights
  • Two saw speeds
  • 5 Amp motor
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Low price
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Dust port isn’t very powerful

Conclusion

The saw’s motor offers a consistent yield and a powerful performance. This model comes well-equipped and includes features that ensure a consistent performance and smooth cutting action. Versatile, easy to use, perfect for beginners and pros, this model earned a rating of five out of five stars.

Best Band Saw for the Money-JET JWBS-14DXPRO 14-Inch Deluxe Pro Band Saw Kit

JET JWBS

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model by Jet comes equipped with twelve-inch resaw capacity, which will allow you to work with larger pieces of lumber. The included two-speed poly V-belt drive system allows this model to handle challenging, thicker materials without overheating and provides the type of precise cutting results you’re looking for. The fame is made out of cast-iron, which helps to dampen-vibrations, increasing your control over the saw’s cutting action. This model features an impressive cutting capacity of thirteen and a half inches. It also features a retractable blade guard that’s able to move from zero up to twelve inches, making for one versatile saw.

The included table features a fifteen by fifteen-inch workspace that comes with ten-degree left and forty-five degree right tilting action. The enclosed stand design allows you to keep your tools and materials organized and easily accessible thanks to plenty of storage space.

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Can handle thicker lumber
  • Reasonable price
  • Cast-iron stand
  • Large workspace
  • Twelve-inch resaw capacity
  • Storage space

Cons

  • Stock blade should be upgraded immediately

Conclusion

This saw scored well in terms of power and versatility. The included stand is top of the line and made out of cast-iron which will give you a solid working space with minimal vibration. Easy to use and designed for both pro and DIYers, this is a model you can definitely rely on in the workshop or on the job site.

Best Benchtop Band Saw-Milwaukee 6232-21 Deep Cut Band Saw W/Case

Milwaukee

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model by Milwaukee is beginner-friendly and easy to control. It also earned top marks for durability. It comes equipped with Site Armor Technology, which means the saw is made out of high-quality composite materials and features crush zone barriers,  for improved durability. It also comes complete with an all-metal direct drive system. The dust and debris removal system is powerful and does an excellent job of removing shavings during use, so your workpiece will remain highly visible. The saw’s housing features a sleek design that promotes user line of sight, for improved cut visibility and accuracy. This slimmer design allows you to comfortably operate and easily control the saw. The tool-free locking system is another popular feature and allows you to adjust from no shoe to an extended shoe in a matter of seconds.

Pros

  • Tool-free locking adjustable shoe
  • Sleek housing design
  • Dust and debris removal system
  • Crush zone barriers
  • Site Armor Technology
  • All-metal direct drive system

Cons

  • Saw blade sold separately

Conclusion

As you can see, this is one feature-packed saw that’s designed with the beginner in mind. However, it’s raw power, ease of use, built-in safety features, and durable design also make this model appropriate for professional use. This is one tool you want in your workshop or on the job. Well-built and easy to control with minimal kickback, this model is packing some serious power. I gave it a rating of four and a half out of five stars.

Best Portable Band Saw-WEN 3959 2.5-Amp 9-Inch Benchtop Band Saw

WEN 3959

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This tough saw by WEN comes with a two and a half amp motor that has a lot of power to offer at twenty-five thousand feet per minute. It can create cuts up to nine inches wide and three and a half inches deep. It works with fifty-nine and half-inch blades that are 1/8 to 3/8 inches. It comes with a blade that’s a quarter of an inch thick and a two and a half-inch dust port which does a great job of keeping your workspace clean and free of shavings, for improved visibility and cutting accuracy.

The included worktable measures in at twelve inches by twelve inches and offers forty-five-degree tilting action. This model also comes with a fence for straight cuts, a miter gauge, and a blade guard that’s highly adjustable. The ball bearings provide smooth blade cutting action, and precise cuts. This saw is also protected by a two-year warranty. Should you run into issues with this model, you can easily contact a local skilled WEN service technician for an assessment, repair options, and part replacement.

Pros

  • Two and a half amp motor
  • Powerful dust collection system
  • Can make nine-inch wide cuts
  • Large work table
  • Table offers forty-five-degree tilting action
  • Fence included for straight cuts
  • Easy blade adjustment

Cons

  • Fence doesn’t stay tightly up against the blade

Conclusion

WEN has done it again by producing a saw that’s powerful, highly adjustable, and easy to use. If you’re looking for a band saw for woodworking, this model is a great investment. Durable, reliable, and well-built, this model earned a rating of four and a half stars out of five.

Best Table Band Saw-Shop Series RK7453 9″ Band Saw with Light

ShopSeries

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is a compact band saw that features a two and a half amp motor, a die-cast aluminum table bevel for tilt action that ranges from zero to forty-five degrees. It’s also covered by a two-year product warranty, which will give potential buyers confidence in their purchase considering the manufacturer clearly stands behind their products. The included micro-adjustable rack is equipped with a flexible built-in work light and a pinion blade guard that offers precise adjustments for improved cutting accuracy.

The saw also comes with a fifty-nine and a half-inch durable carbide blade which offers a cutting depth of a little over three inches. It has a cutting depth of nine inches. The built-in safety features include a keyed safety switch which will prevent accidental startups. Additionally, you’ll also get a miter gauge, parallel guide, stock blade, and work light.

Pros

  • Miter gauge
  • Built-in work light
  • Zero to forty-five degree tilt action for bevel cuts
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Two-year warranty
  • Carbide blade

Cons

  • Does not include a user’s manual

Conclusion

This lightweight band saw is perfect for DIYers, although it’s not exactly packing the type of power that the pros need. However, it offers the type of flexibility and versatility that most beginners can appreciate. This model will be a great addition to a small workshop, however, it doesn’t offer the type of power you’d need to handle larger lumber. It comes with some great safety features, a micro-adjustable rack, and offers clean, precise cuts. I gave this model a rating of four and a half stars out of five.

Buyer’s Guide

While it’s true that you may use other saws in your workshop more so than the band saw, it’s still considered an essential tool for any woodworker. The best band saws operate with a single blade that uses a high level of tension to make a cut. Because of this, the body of the saw is under a high level of stress during use. If you’re searching for a band saw that’s designed to last, then look for one made from heavy-duty high-quality materials. A lower-priced model isn’t going to last very long, especially if the body is made primarily out of thinner metal. A cheap body will put too much pressure on the blade, which can result in poor quality cuts.

Table and Frame

A saw’s frame is what every other component is built off of. While it may not seem like an important feature, the frame will affect the way the saw works. There are several types of frame options available, however, cast-iron, welded steel, and die-cast are the best options.

Aside from holding the saw up, the main purpose of the frame is to provide weight and rigidity to the saw. It forces a couple of wheels spinning at a high rate to create wiggle and vibration for the saw, which then gets transferred to the blade. A saw that’s not stable will not be able to provide a quality cut.

Best Frame Material

Fortunately, most models will come with a cast-iron table. High-quality saws will come with cast-iron frames which are perfect, since this type of material is designed to handle stress. A low-quality model will be made out of aluminum or rolled steel. Some models may even come with bodies that contain plastic parts. Keep in mind the better the frame, the longer the saw will last.

A heavy cast-iron fame will do a much better job of absorbing and dissipating vibrations. This means that your cuts will be cleaner and more precise. Did you know that vibrations can also reduce the life of a saw? Because of this, a frame that’s able to absorb vibrations is a must.

Ball Bearings

The type of system used to move the blade also matters. A good saw will use ball bearings to move the blade. This design tends to last much longer than other systems. It also helps to minimize the amount of pressure placed on the blade, which will save you money on blade replacement costs.

Blade Design

Woodworking

If you’re familiar with jigsaw safety, then you know how important a saw’s blade is. The band saw blades consist of a large loop of metal that’s welded together with teeth on one side only. The cut finish and quality are determined by the number of teeth per inches. A higher teeth per inch rating results in a cleaner cut, but it can also cause the saw to cut slower. A blade with lower teeth per inch rating will leave a rougher finish but can cut faster.

Blade width and length will also matter. The length of the blade varies from model to model. The width of the blade you use can depend on what you’re cutting. There are minimum and maximum widths that each model will accept.

Typically, you’ll want to use the widest blade possible. When you re-saw something you’ll want to use a wider blade, however, when you’re cutting curves you’ll want to use a blade that’s wide but one that can handle the radius of smaller curves.

Upgrades

Most pros recommend replacing the blade that comes with a saw. This is a pretty basic upgrade, but it’s one that can instantly improve the saw’s performance. For the best cutting performance, go with a blade that’s equipped with hardened teeth that are not pressed, but cut. These blades will cost nearly twice the price as an economy blade, but they’ll last longer and offer a much better performance. This will improve the quality of your cuts and ease of use, giving you more control over the entire process.

While the narrowest and widest blades are good to have, if you buy midsize blades you’ll get more bang for your buck. These blades can make curved and straight cuts. Using one of these blades will also cut down on how often you have to change out the blade since it can be used for most types of cuts.

If you need to cut thinner or thicker boards, then buy a resaw blade which are designed for that specific task. This type of blade’s improved rigidity will prevent the blade from twisting. It will also allow you to cut thicker, tougher material, without overheating.

Motor

In terms of what types of materials you can cut, the saw consists of a couple of main components that will determine this. Despite the fact that they’re electric, a saw’s motor is usually rated in HPs

A motor below one HP is going to be designed for DIYers. These saws can still handle plenty of your sawing needs, but they’re not a good choice for pro use. They’re best suited for smaller jobs and occasional resawing.

Wheels

Wheels are another feature that may not seem important, but they can affect the way the saw behaves and cuts. The wheel weight also matters. The internal wheels are made out of cast-iron or cast aluminum. The heavier the wheel is the more inertia it provides. The inertia will get transferred to the saw blade, and it’s what allows for cleaner cuts since it helps to maintain a consistent cutting experience and steady speed.

Tension Indicator

Dark-haired man

You won’t find this device on all models, but it’s a great feature to have. A tension indicator will allow you to set the tension on the blade based on the blade type. However, setting the tension can be tricky, especially if you’re a beginner. Set the tension too high and you’ll end up breaking a blade or cause it to wear out twice as fast. On the other hand, if it’s set too low then it can make cutting nearly impossible.

As you can see, getting the right level of tension for cuts will be crucial. However, these tension indicators are the most reliable. They can be inaccurate at times and can measure too low or too high. The big problem here is that most users won’t really know if the setting is too low or high until they begin sawing, which can ruin a workpiece. However, the device can still be useful as far as getting you close to the correct tension setting, but I wouldn’t solely rely on it for tension accuracy.

Quick-Release

You can extend the life of your blades by releasing the tension if your saw is going to sit in the garage for several days at a time. Some models will have the quick-release tension system, which makes releasing the tension a breeze. If it doesn’t come with the quick-release feature then all you have to do is rotate the tension knob a couple of times. If you leave the tension on it can result in metal fatigue, which can cause the blade to prematurely break. It can also lead to tracking issues.

Bevel Cutting

This feature is pretty straightforward and it’s what allows the saw’s table to tilt in order to make a beveled cut. Most tables will only allow the table to tilt forty-five degrees to the right, however, some will only allow for an eight to ten-degree tilt.

Lighting

Some tables will come with built-in LED lights, allowing you to clearly see your workpiece and the blade in action. This will be an important feature when you’re making complicated cuts.

Blade Guides

Most saws will couple with a couple of sets of blade guides, one lower set placed below the table and one upper set. The guides sit next to the blade and can touch during complicated cuts. The guides are what ensures that the blade remains vertical, straight, and doesn’t turn or track during use.

The most popular types of guides include ceramic and bearing. A set of high-quality guides will improve the quality of your cut, while giving you more control of the blade.

Dust Collection System

Bigger dust ports are ideal. With many models, you can easily hook up a dust collection system or shop vac to the integrated port. Models with a four-inch port will expel more dust compared to a two or three-inch port.

Kickback

Kickback is always a concern with a large rotating blade. High-quality saws will have almost non-existent kickback.

Safety

The saw’s large blade moves constantly in a single direction, so user injury is another concern. To increase user safety, many models will come with a blade guard that will protect the user’s hands. To use, you’ll lower the guard until there’s approximately a quarter of an inch of clearance above the workpiece. This will minimize blade exposure and works to bring both sets of guides together, allowing the guides to control the blade more efficiently.

There are other things you can do to avoid injury and improve user safety. For starters instead of bracing your thumb behind the workpiece, move the material along the guides by placing your fingers on top of the material.

Blade Selection-Material Type

Use the right type of blade, based on what you’re cutting. A thin blade is perfect for tight curves, while a wide blade should be used for resawing. The blade should also be sharpened before use, if you’re not working with a new blade. If you try to cut with a duller blade, not only will the quality of your cuts suffer, but you’ll also have to push on the workpiece much harder.

Choosing a Saw Based on Intended Use

An entry-level benchtop model is highly portable. Because these saws are lighter you can expect some vibration. Blade choices can also be very limited. These eight to ten-inch models are typically designed for light cuts.

Floor models usually feature a heavy-duty construction, complete with cast-iron components for vibration dampening. They also feature substantial blade guides, induction motors, tracking and tension systems, and a wider range of blade options. These saws will have a larger cutting capacity compared to a benchtop model.

Usage Tips

When you cut with this type of saw, it’s going to leave large saw marks. Because of this, you should make cuts slightly wider so you can smooth the edges after.

  • If you cut just outside the line this will reduce the amount of material you need to remove.
  • The ability to accurately following the edge of a line can take plenty of practice, especially when it comes to curved lines. If you’re a beginner it’s a good idea to start far enough away from the line that you leave a little wood showing between the kerf and saw line.
  • Blades equipped with lots of very fine teeth work well for thin sheets of copper, aluminum, and brass. If you’re cutting metal, make sure the teeth on the blade are hardened, otherwise, the blade will quickly become dull.
  • If a blade is dull, make sure you change it immediately. Difficulty following a line, a slower feed rate, and burning are all signs that you’re working with a dull blade. Trying to work with a dull blade will only damage your workpiece and slow you down. But before you throw out a dull blade, make sure you check it thoroughly. If the blade is simply dirty, then it may just need a good cleaning.
  • Making contoured cuts can be tricky, even for experienced users. For this type of cut, always begin at the shallowest angle. If you cut in the opposite direction, this can result in ragged edges since the blade may veer off the line at the end of the cut. If you’re trying to make a contour cut and the angles are shallow on both ends, then begin at each end, cutting to the middle.

Final Thoughts

This guide and my product recommendations are designed to help you choose the best band saw based on your skill level, project goals, and budget. Each of the models I’ve included here scored high in a variety of areas including safety, performance, and power. I hope this guide will give you a clear idea of the important must-have features to look for in your next band saw, so you can choose the right model for your next big project.