There’s an old saying in the construction and woodworking industry that ‘every saw has its day’. For example when a number of different angles need to be cut the easily adjustable compound miter saw is the go-to chopper. When ripping full boards down to size, the table saw is the precision cutter of choice.
For mobile cutting up on a roof or when only a few boards need to be trimmed most contractors opt for an electric or battery operated circular saw. In the woodworking world when awkward and irregular circular or angular cuts need to be carved into a board the bandsaw is the premium tool bar-none.
The most common type of bandsaw in a woodworking environment is the standing device with an open cutting table. What novice users might not be aware of is that the blade is a continuous round shape that rotates on a pulley system of two fly wheels. The easy assumption would be that the blade is a straight singular piece that operates up and down like a jig saw but in essence the round blade shape is what makes the bandsaw efficient at what it does.
Below I have put together a really neat comparison chart that has the top seven bandsaws currently on the market all in one place so you can easily filter out the ones that don’t fit your needs. Hopefully it is of some help to you and aids you on your journey to buying a new bandsaw.
|Band Saws||Throat Depth||Motor||Price||Rating||Review|
|Band Saws||Throat Depth||Motor||Price||Rating||Review|
|Jet JWBS-10OS||9 Inches||1/2 Horsepower||$$||3.9||Read the Full JWBS-100S Review Here|
|LAGUNA 14 Twelve||13.5 Inches||1.75 Horsepower||$$$$||4.8||Read the Full Laguna 1412 Review Here|
|Rikon 10-325||14 Inches||1.5 Horsepower||$$$||4.3||Read the Full Rikon 10-325 Review Here|
|Shop Fox W1706||14 Inches||1 Horsepower||$$$||4.4||Read the Full Shop Fox Review Here|
|Rikon 10-305||10 Inches||1/3 Horsepower||$$||3.8||Read the Full Rikon 10-305 Review Here|
|POWERTEC BS900||9 Inches||1/2 Horsepower||$||4.2||Read the Full Powertec BS900 Review Here|
|JET 708113A Model JWBS-14S||14 Inches||3/4 Horsepower||$$$||3.1||Read the Full Jet 708113A Review Here|
How The Bandsaw Works
The main areas of a bandsaw that most users will work with are the blade, table, and guide system. The guide is used when straight cuts are needed as the piece of wood can be placed against it and guided straight through. The guide can be adjusted to different widths and moved out of the way completely when curved notches need to be put into the wood.
To best understand the inner workings it’s best to imagine the wheels of an army tank. If the tank is rear wheel drive the motor will propel these hind wheels while the track operates around the front wheel that is there simply to guide it. The inside works on the same principles.
There are two wheels inside, one of which is a driven wheel powered by the motor generally on the bottom of the bandsaw near the power supply. Directly above on the vertical plane is another wheel known as the idler that simply guides the blade (tank track) around in what amounts to an oval pattern.
Differences Between a Standing and Portable Band Saw
Most if not all professional woodworking shops deal with standing bandsaws. The guide system enables straighter cuts and more general cutting options. There is also a portable version that has similar functions as the standing model. The portable version works along the same lines of a jigsaw except for the fact the blade is in a closed system.
Portable models were once popular in the plumbing field but are seen now almost exclusively in the metal cutting industry for a number of reasons. First off the constant lateral pressure of a bandsaw compared to something like a back and forth sawzall produces a much cleaner edge.
A rough cut needs to be deburred and cleaned up before it can be welded or installed and the portable bandsaw saves workers a laborious step. Other times items are simply too big to be run through a standing bandsaw so the portable unit fills a need there. Lastly in closed conditions when torches or plasma cutters aren’t an option the portable models work perfectly.
Advantages of the Bandsaw
As stated earlier how each type of saw has its own distinct job to do, there are obvious reasons why the bandsaw is a staple in most wood and metal working shops. The following situations could all be reasons for owning one:
- Cut Smaller Pieces – The comparable tools that can do what a bandsaw does are the jigsaw and in some cases, the Sawzall. For safety reasons there are limitations on the size of wood or metal that can be cut with these devices because a guide hand is needed. There are workarounds to use a jigsaw to cut small pieces but the setup time is lagging and the accuracy almost always suffers.
- Low Impact – The constant cycling of the blade creates a consistent cut that has limited shake and rattling of the piece being cut. This is both user-friendly and enables a smoother cut finish.
- Versatile – With the guide system it can produce repetitive straight cuts but without the guide the bandsaw shines producing circular patterns, square cutouts, and arcs with minimal blade marks. Almost no other saw can say this because a circular saw is limited by its round blade, a jigsaw relies on a chalk line for a straight cut, and the impact of a sawzall leaves rough cut marks. Whether used in a metal or wood shop the standing vertical bandsaw has benefits that simply can’t be matched by other devices in the grand scheme of things.
What Can’t the Bandsaw Do?
While at first glance it appears the bandsaw just might be the most perfect cutter on the market, there are most definitely reasons while manufacturers like Skil, Milwaukee, and DeWalt are still in business. Here are some reasons why most shops or even individuals couldn’t get by on a this saw alone.
- Time – While it’s true that the bandsaw can cut repetitive straight pieces, the nature of the blade requires a more subtle walking of the wood through the cut. This pales in comparison to a table saw that can cut a board as fast as the user can push it through. For bulk ripping jobs a shop would probably lose their profit margin on labor costs alone with only a bandsaw.
- Stationary – With circular saws, jigsaws, and sawszalls the cutter goes to the object but with a band saw the piece needing chopped has to come to the stationary unit. Cutting objects around the house or in the field would require a secondary saw anyway. Plus if the bandsaw is in a smaller location like a crowded garage or a basement work shop long pieces of wood might not it in the room.
- Angles and Bevels – A compound miter saw that can be set to exact half-angles and simultaneously beveled is much more accurate than drawing a line with a carpenter square and running it through a bandsaw tilted.
- Price – A quality circular or compound miter saw will run from $100 to $300 with the higher price ensuring a premium tool. A stationary band saw worth its mettle however often retails for $700-$800 with top-of-the-line units costing $1,300 or more.
There are some things consumers need to take into consideration before deciding on whether they should equip their shop with a bandsaw or go a different route for the time being. In most cases people start off with the basic tools and add one of these saws later on to optimize their shop.
Things to Consider Before Buying
A consumer should make a checklist of just what they’ll need the bandsaw for before deciding if and which model to purchase. Is it strictly for home DIY projects or could it lead to a craft constructing business that will require extra features? Something else to take into consideration is the blade opening or the throat. This will tell you how big of a stock piece it will cut, most commonly either 9” or 14”.
As a word of advice, many experienced bandsaw users who started off with the smaller unit have found themselves upgrading within almost weeks to the bigger model for ease of use more than anything. Last but not least is to investigate the motor size in which at least a 1hp model is recommended.
To understand what makes for a great bandsaw and one that leaves something to be desired please check out the best band saw reviews below. We will review some of the best models on the market.
The 7 Best Band Saws
Below we have put together a list of the top 7 bandsaws currently on the market. We will break each one down and help you find the best model for needs. We know that finding one can be a hard time and a frustrating time but this list below should help you out a little.
The Jet JWBS-10OS solves one of the main dilemmas surrounding bandsaws, the stationary design. The unit weighs a respectable 70 pounds but is compact enough to be transported in the back of a job trailer or secured in a pick-up box. This model has all of the features of a bigger model but thanks to the compact design you get all of those features while saving a ton of space on your workshop.
The main selling point of this particular model is its compact design, perfect in a crowded garage or a shed that doubles as a wood shop and lawn mower home. Has a 10” cutting opening in addition to a handy integrated LED light for small precise cutting.
It also has an extra long table that allows for more space to work with when you are cutting, not to mention the cast iron table comes with retractable extension wings. This is a smooth running saw that will allow for accurate cutting all for a very good price. You can’t go wrong with this Jet model.
Very highly reviewed model which should be with a price tag upwards of $1,500. The 1412 is Laguna’s first release of a 110v model, as their previous experience was with 220v industrial models. The results are unprecedented with a 1-3/4 powerful horsepower motor and dynamically balanced flywheels for optimum cutting precision.
Windows on the device enable the user to check tension and centering while it is running and the 14” opening is ideal for large scale jobs. The Laguna 1412 has been called the finest consumer bandsaw on the market – a Cadillac that cuts like a hot knife through butter so to speak.
You will not come across another model that has all of the features that this bad boy has for this kind of price. This is an industrial type bandsaw for a very good price. The features are unmatched compared to any other one currently on the market.
Rikon is one of the most respected names in the business and their 10-325 model is a stalwart for both professional and home users. This Rikon model features adjustable quad guides that can ensure straight cuts in every direction, perfect for a cabinet maker or other production level manufacturer.
Durability is the name of the game with this model. The stand is constructed of a thicker gauge steel than its competitors and the cast iron table is bigger and smoother than similar models. Minimal setup or assembly needed for this quiet and efficient band saw. Not only can you cut wood, but also plastic and other materials thanks to the 2-speed setting that it comes with. This is a really neat feature that most of the other models won’t come with.
A 1hp motor and 6” cutting height leaves a little something to be desired but it has the option for a 12 inch extension kit for those that need more height. Regardless this Shop Fox Steelex is a good, solid shop saw weighing just shy of 200 lbs.
The sturdy cast-iron design is indestructible. On top of that blade changes are very straight forward and the storage underneath is a convenient place to keep all of the spare blades. By all accounts the saw cuts nice including some of the hardest woods but consumers can benefit by upgrading from the factory shipped blades.
Perhaps the finest bandsaw from the best manufacturer in the business, the Rikon 10-305 is in a class by itself in most consumer’s eyes. This is a scaled down version of the 10-325 but still can cut with the best of them. Where the 10-305 really sets itself apart though is user comfort when cutting.
For starters, it has a very large work surface compared to other bandsaws this size. So I would not be afraid to get this model if you are looking for a large work surface, because this one has plenty of it. This even comes with a miter gauge and fence so there isn’t a need to buy those separately. This benchtop model is one of the best on the market and it is built very sturdy.
This Powertec bandsaw is one the most cost efficient models that you can buy and it will still hold its own when compared to more expensive models. The reason for this is because of its blade guard adjustment and quick release tension lever which makes cutting a breeze.
If you are a hobbyist or ametuer wood worker then this bandsaw will do just fine for most of your cutting needs. But if you are looking for a more durable and feature packed model this one might not be for you. It lacks some of the girth that other models have but will be perfect for the beginner woodworker. This is also a great model for a first time user as it allows for easy cuts without much skill needed on your end.
Open stand models offer an extra spot for storage underneath which works great for cramped wood shops. The Jet 708113A is reasonably priced and is perfect for smaller home shops. The ¾ hp motor offers slower cutting for intricate circles and arcs.
Consumers have to understand what they’re getting when they buy this starter model. Custom pieces of small stocks of wood are about the maximum limitations set out by this bandsaw. The motor strictly isn’t powerful enough nor is the cutting height wide enough for any substantial products.
The Jet 708113A represents a good investment for toiling or for people to spend a little over $600 to get accustomed to the practices while working towards purchasing a larger more powerful unit someday.
There truly is a bandsaw out there for everyone, it just takes some research, time, and hit or miss practice to find the perfect match. Hopefully this article helped you out and made your life a little easier. Thanks for reading!