Best Band Saw Reviews - Top 5 on the Market in 2018
While not a must-have for every construction hobbyist or professional, a band saw is one of the most used power tools for woodworkers. The ability to make precise cuts in a variety of shapes and sizes is the bread and butter of woodworking, which is why finding the correct saw can be invaluable. In the article below we have put together the best band saw reviews in order to help you make the right addition to your shop.
We have reviewed four different band saws, each appealing to a different type of woodworker, as well as a high quality portaband table. Depending on your budget, workshop, and skill level, you can find the right band saw for your needs right here.
The first product on our list comes from WEN, a relatively new manufacturer that has been making waves in the consumer market for power tools. The company’s product philosophy seems to be simple: identify power tools in the consumer market, then produce a more powerful version of that product and sell it for less than most of the competition. Unsurprisingly, this has allowed WEN to grow at an incredible rate in a fairly short period of time.
However, woodworking tools in general and bandsaws in particular are an entirely different kind of beast altogether. For woodworking tools, power is of course important, but it is not the end all, be all consideration. Instead, precision is far more highly valued for woodworking–often to the point that a slightly underpowered tool that is more precise is preferable to a more powerful tool with too much drift.
It seems that WEN got the memo on what makes a woodworking tool a quality power tool with their bandsaw. To be clear, the WEN is one of the least powerful bandsaws on our list. Its motor only uses 3.5 amps and its blades offer a maximum rpm of just of 2600. However, the WEN makes up for this small decrease in average bandsaw power with far more precision than you would expect from a consumer bandsaw.
In fact, the WEN can actually rival some of the professional models in cutting precision–with an important caveat. The WEN is extremely finicky when it comes to adjustments. This is likely due to the need to keep overhead costs down, so the product can still be priced in the appropriate consumer market.
Unfortunately, this means that the WEN falls into the same trap that many other budget power tool manufacturers fall into: using plastic components. The adjustment knob on the WEN is plastic which causes a few issues.
First, plastic threading is far from durable, but even worse, it often will not stand up to tension at all. This creates a situation where the knob can be tightened to the point that it simply pops off–as the plastic threading are not strong enough to secure it against the adjusted tension. Still, of all of our band saw reviews this is at the top of the consumer market.
- A 6” maximum cutting depth, the second largest on our list, and can be used onthe most commonly used size pieces of wood.
- The two speed settings provide additional versatility, allowing you to cut metal or plastic much easier.
- Cuts are incredibly precise with as little as 1/64” drift when using a ⅛” blade for a straight cut.
- The 3.5 amp motor is the second least powerful powerful on our list.
- A maximum rpm of 2620 is the lowest on our list and limits usefulness with the hardest of woods.
- Adjustments are exceedingly sensitive and not made with clear standard settings.
Skil is a brand that once hovered between the consumer and professional market. For some of its tools, professionals were happy to have it in their bag. For other tools, they were not exactly professional quality, but they were generally still considered better than the consumer grade meant for the “weekend warrior.”
All of that changed after Skil was bought out by Black & Decker. The company which exclusively made products for the consumer market and contracted the cheapest Chinese factories implemented the same policies for every brand it bought–including DeWalt, Porter Cable, and many other traditionally American made brands.
As can be expected, the Skil brand of tools suffered a decrease in quality and a subsequent plummet in reputation. Sadly, this situation has not been rectified, and the Skil bandsaw cannot be recommended for anyone beyond a low-skilled hobbyist.
Whereas the WEN sought to overtake the consumer market with a generally quality product–assuming you could figure out how to adjust it properly–the Skil does not truly offer any reason to purchase it beyond ancillary factors. Specifically, qualities that have nothing to do with the cut are the only real benefits this band saw provides.
For one, the Skil is by far the least expensive product on our list. Moreover, it is easily the most compact band saw reviewed here as well. These two factors combine to create an appropriate budget band saw. Keep in mind, woodworkers in the market for budget band saws are also liable to have limited workshop space.
This is not meant to be an indictment against new woodworkers or those with limited space, but the Skil’s low powered motor and fairly imprecise cuts–that drift almost regardless the adjustments made–mean you cannot truly grow with this band saw. The best you can do is practice while you refine your skills, then pony up a bit more cash to get a tool that will genuinely allow you to develop your woodworking skills.
- This is an exceptionally inexpensive band saw that costs almost fifty percent less than the next least inexpensive model.
- The benchtop design allows you to take the Skil on the go if you need it for an offsite project.
- A compact design allows the Skil to fit into even the smallest of workshops without crowding out the user.
- At 2.5 amps, the Skil provides the least powerful motor out of any band saw we reviewed.
- The 3 ½” maximum cutting depth is the shortest on our list.
- The fixed single speed will prevent you from cutting softer materials well and limits versatility.
The Rikon is the first band saw on our list that truly scratches the surface of professional grade. However, it should be understood that the Rikon is not truly a professional grade band saw and instead is more accurately understood as a mid-tier product–skirting the line between professional grade and consumer grade due to incomprehensible manufacturing decisions.
One of the main gripes against the Rikon has to do with its maximum cutting depth. At 4 ⅝”, the Rikon is somewhat limited in regards to the size of lumber it can cut. While this cutting depth will have little to no impact on smaller projects that can require a great deal of craft–like jewelry boxes or figures–you will definitely be limited on larger projects.
The inability to truly work with 2x6s can limit certain projects–especially decks and the like. Granted, this may not be what many consider precise woodworking, but a master craftsman will want his skill reflected in every project, not just the fine ones.
A more appropriate limitation would be with furniture which can often make use of 2x6s. Of course, you could always substitute a 2×4, but that becomes a matter of necessity rather than choice with the Rikon. Another flaw with this band saw comes from its table.
As a product made in China, it is almost an expectation that certain components will not be manufactured to the highest of standards. This does not mean that everything made in China is junk, but simply that there should be a certain expectation that precision is not always the best. The Rikon’s table fits this bill where it often features a slight depression towards the center.
Still, the Rikon does provide a bit more power than the previous two consumer grade band saws. Moreover, the Rikon features a much better construction of the base and the wheels. The frame and table are made from steel with the wheels being constructed from cast iron. Together, this allows the Rikon to cut without much vibration, providing some much needed precision to a somewhat underwhelming table.
- A 4.5 amp, ⅓ hp motor is the second most powerful on our list.
- The heavy steel and cast iron construction limits vibration and increases cutting precision.
- This is reasonably priced for a band saw that skirts the line between consumer and professional use.
- The 4 ⅝” maximum cutting depth is the second lowest on our list.
- The quick release function is ineffective due to a stiff blade guides.
- The table is not especially level, but often bowed or warped in the middle.
The Laguna band saw is the first product on our list that can competently be considered professional grade. Unfortunately, you will have no doubt of that fact before ever turning it on due to its cost which is almost four times as much as the Rikon. However, if you are a skilled woodworker, you likely understand that professional, precise tools do not come cheap.
That being said, the Laguna is itself a fairly inexpensive band saw situated in a professional market with the likes of Jet, Delta, and Powermatic. In fact, the Laguna’s price is on par with Jet or Delta, but the band saw itself performs more comparably to the Powermatic. This makes the Laguna somewhat of a rare find.
First, the Laguna is by and far the most powerful band saw on our list–though this can be a bit of a double edged sword in some respects. First, the 14 amp, 1 ¾ hp motor generates an impressive 3600 rpms, giving it enough power to slice through the hardest of woods with ease.
Unfortunately, the Laguna does not feature a variable speed. This means softer materials that require slower cutting actions, like plastic or metal, will either be non-starters or require an exceptionally high degree of skill to pull off. In fact, even some of the softer woods may burn during the cut due to the high speeds of the Laguna.
Still, the Laguna definitely sets itself apart from the other products on this list in other ways as well. For instance, this band saw offers a maximum cut depth of 12”. While you will not find standard lumber with that dimension, you can definitely use this band saw to cut unusually shaped or sized pieces for more complicated projects.
Keep in mind, this band saw is not truly meant for beginner woodworkers unless you have the space to devote to it. This is due to its stationary form and size which will command a far larger workshop than any of the other products on our list. Of course, a novice woodworker with a good sized workshop can easily justify purchasing this band saw as an investment that will grow with the user as his skills develop.
- The 1 ¾ hp, 14 amp motor is by far the most powerful on our list.
- With 3600 rpms, there is no wood too hard for this bandsaw to cut with ease.
- The 12” maximum cutting depth is by far the largest on our list.
- The Laguna is almost four times as expensive as the next most expensive bandsaw on our list.
- As a stationary bandsaw, you will need a sizable workshop to use this properly.
- The absence of a second speed setting does limit versatility with softer materials.
The SWAG is the first product on our list that does not fit neatly into any prescribed band saw category. The reason is fairly simple: the SWAG is not at all a band saw. In fact, the SWAG is merely a table that is used to provide a platform for a separate band saw a platform.
To some, this may seem like a bit of a superfluous product. It is exceedingly difficult to purchase a band saw without some kind of included stand–whether a table or a stationary platform. However, there are a few reasons that you might want to consider a separate, third party stand if you purchase a benchtop band saw.
Depending on your level of woodworking expertise or general project specifications, you may opt for a less than professional band saw. There are a variety of reasons this might be the case–cost being first and foremost in many situations–but the point remains the same: there are numerous substandard band saws that are designed for niche markets.
Considering band saws are a somewhat specialized power tool, they generally have to meet a certain standard before they make it to market, or else, they will suffer an ignominious reception and fade into obscurity–likely to be discontinued within five years at best.
With this in mind, even makers of consumer grade band saws will often provide enough of the basic necessities to ensure that the lower price coupled with a technically functioning tool appeals to a certain subset of “budget” customers. However, with the basic functions of the band saw covered–often motor power at the least–the manufacturer will then look to trim overhead production costs in other ways.
There are a number of ancillary parts and components to a band saw that need not be up to snuff to simply pass the consumer test. Rips and fences are notoriously hit or miss–a trend that even persists to some of the “professional” grade band saws. Additional features may also be lacking like tilts, dust blowers, or worklights.
However, for benchtop band saws, one of the most common parts that manufacturers will skimp on to lower production costs is the actual table. This is where the SWAG V3.0 comes into play. The SWAG is rated to work with a number of consumer and professional grade band saws. The compatible manufacturers include DeWalt, Grizzly, Harbor Freight, Makita, and Milwaukee.
If you are a dedicated woodworker, chances are you own one or more power tools from at least one of those brands, or possiblye many of them. With that in mind, it is important to remember that those brands may not be as highly respected as Powermatic or various European makers of light industrial woodworking power tools, but they are some of the more widely- used makers of power tools–even by legitimately professional woodworkers.
Moreover, those makers are often significantly less expensive than the more professional and refined power tools, often by numerous multiples. As such, if you can find a solid benchtop bandsaw that sacrifices some of the auxiliary components and then purchase them separately, you can often come away with a complete power tool setup that rivals the professionals and still slides in at less than half the cost.
- Allows you to turn a hand heldhandheld band saw into a vertical benchtop band saw.
- It is mMade entirely from thick steel to reduce vibration and increase precision.
- FIt features an exceptionally narrow blade slot to prevent blade binding or side play.
- It is not actually a band saw, which must be purchased separately.
- The foot switch and miter gauge must be purchased separately.
- It oOnly functions with deep- cut band saw designs.
Best Band Saw Reviews – Conclusion:
As we can see, it is most important to find the best band saw that fits your needs. Each of the products we reviewed offer something a little bit different than the others beyond a brand name. Moreover, a completely different setup that relies on peripherals may even provide a better arrangement for your needs.
If you are in the market for a budget band saw, the Wen and the Skil offer decent options. However, budget band saws are best suited for novice woodworkers. Budget band saws as they do not offer the power or precision required for advanced users in which case the budget route and will simply create more trouble than their savings are worth.
More advanced users will likely drift to the Laguna, a surprisingly solid entry to a market that is already dominated by Powermatic, Jet, and Delta. In fact, at more than fifty percent less cost, the Laguna is fairly comparable to a Powermatic and blows the Jet and Delta models out of the water.
- 1 Best Band Saw Reviews - Top 5 on the Market in 2018
- 1.1 1. WEN 3962 Two-Speed Bandsaw
- 1.2 2. SKIL 3386-01 2.5-Amp 9-Inch Bandsaw
- 1.3 3. Rikon 10-305 Band Saw With Fence
- 1.4 4. Laguna Tools MBAND1412-175 14 x 12 Band Saw
- 1.5 5. SWAG V3.0 Portaband Table