There are many reasons why a band saw for home use may be one of the most versatile tools to add to your workshop. You will find that the band saw is popular since its inception in England at the turn of the 18th century. The band saw concept works by using a rotating thin ribbon saw, to make precision cuts. The thinner blades were better suited for the intricate Victorian furniture designs of that time. The original versions were steam and foot powered.
All band saws share a common characteristic with jigsaws, a thin blade. A band saw can cut smaller pieces than a jigsaw. This type of saw allows you to see your work better than a jigsaw, so you can make cuts faster. Introducing a band saw to your shop will add many different cutting capabilities. Another big advantage of a band saw over a jigsaw is the ability to stack cut. Band saws are better suited for cutting thicker materials because the blade does not wonder.
The innovative design of the band saw provided more accuracy than a circular saw, while using less power to operate. By using a long ribbon saw blade, the heat created is dramatically reduced. This is because only a small portion of the blade is being used at a given time. The cutting blades long looped design is perfectly suited for this type of use. The downward force of the blade hitting your wood helps to hold your wood snug to your saw table. This improves the overall accuracy of your cuts and reduces the amount of sawdust created.
When WWII broke out, certain tools and products became increasingly difficult to obtain due to price or scarcity. This led many craftsmen of that time to build their own, by using directions printed in Popular Mechanics magazines. These became very popular and homemade furniture began to become a normal site again.
Today, the band saw is a staple of the woodworker’s community, with a variety of different styles and configurations available. You can find the best band saw for your job requirements.
The Overall Best Band Saws List
|Product||DEWALT DCS371B||WEN 3962 Two-Speed||Milwaukee 2429-21XC M12||SKIL 3386-01 2.5-Amp 9-Inch||DEWALT DWM120K
|Voltage||20 volts||120 volts|| 12 volts||120 volts||120 volts
|Blade Speed (SFM)||Not Available||2620||Variable Speed||2800||Variable Speed
|Blade Width (Max) ||.02||.5 ||.5 ||0.375||.5
|Blade Width (Min) ||.02||.125 ||.5 ||0.125||.05
|Table Dimensions||Not Available||14 in. x 12-1/2 inches||Not Available||12 x 11-3/4 Inches||Not Available
|Table Height||Not Available||58 inches||Not Available||13 inches||Not Available
|Left Table Tilt||Not Available||0 degrees||Not Available||0 degrees||Not Available
|Right Table Tilt||Not Available||45 degrees||Not Available||45 degrees||Not Available
|Dust Port Size||Not Available||4 inches||Not Available||1.5 hp||Not Available
|Cutting Capacity||2.5||6 inches||1.625 inches||3.5 inches||5 inches
|Weight||10.2 pounds||73 pounds||12.4 lb||36.4 lb||15 lb
|Dimensions||8.7 x 12.2 x 15.38 inches||20 x 25 x 58 inches||6.5 x 11.6 x 16.8 inches||12.75 x 31.15 x 16.25 inches||7.94 x 14.25 x 23.5 inches
The DEWALT DCS371B 20V MAX Lithium-Ion Band Saw uses innovative Blade Tracking technology to improve the accuracy of your cuts. This unit can cut up to 2-1/2″ thick pieces of wood and 2″ of SCH 20 pipe. The center balanced padded handle provides better ergonomics and comfort. The lithium-ion battery charges quickly and can handle hours of heavy use.
A tool-less blade change lever reduces blade exchange times by allowing you to loosen the blades by hand. Only quality materials were used in the construction of this product. Dewalt stands behind the craftsmanship of this device with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty. This unit has a weight of 10.2 pounds and dimensions of 8.7″ x 12.2″ x 15.38″, so it very portable. When researching the best band, this unit should be considered because of the plethora of features provided.
The WEN 3962 Two-Speed Band Saw with Stand and Worklight incorporates a number of attractive options that increase its overall usability. A 3.5 amp motor produces up to 2620 FPM giving you the power you need to tackle tough jobs. The 72″ blade can go down to 1/8 in size and the worktable size has been increased to give you more workspace.
This unit operates smoother than most of the competition. The dual 10″-wheels are ball bearing balanced to reduce vibrations and increase accuracy. An innovative 3-in-1 dust port gives you added flexibility when attaching dust collection hoses.
This unit provides unmatched saw capacity; it is able to cut pieces of wood up to 6″ thick. The LED work light adds to the visibility of your cutting surfaces. The craftsmanship of this product is high and the durability is solid. A 2-year manufacturer’s warranty is included with the purchase of this unit. This is one of the best for small shop use available today.
The Milwaukee 2429-21XC M12 Band Saw Kit combines form with functionality. The ultra-portable design gives you added flexibility when working on your projects. This saw is designed to cut through conduit and pipe, with a max cut capacity of 2″. This unit comes with a hard plastic carry case that holds two 12-volt batteries, a charger, and extra blades.
The adjustable shoe feature helps you to make exact changes with ease. The LED guide light automatically turns on during use; to give you increased visibility of your cutting surface. After you see how easy this unit cuts through pipes, you will never want to use a hacksaw again.
This product weighs 12.4 pounds and its dimensions are 11.6″ x 16.8″ x 6.5″. The lithium ion batteries are rechargeable and can be exchanged with red lithium batteries, increasing your operating time significantly. A 5-year manufacturer’s warranty adds to the overall appeal of this product.
The SKIL 3386-01 2.5-Amp 9-Inch Band Saw features a rack and pinion table adjustment for quick angle and height corrections. The one-speed motor is easy to operate and runs smoothly. A 1 1/2″ dust port gives you the option to attach a dust collection hose to reduce sawdust.
The LED cut line light makes woodworking in low light easier than ever. This unit is specially designed for cutting irregular shapes and ripping lumber into thinner pieces. The 6-TPI blade can cut through a variety of woods and metals with ease. The miter gauge makes crosscuts more accurate.
SKIL is known for producing quality tools and this product is no exception. A 3-year manufacturer’s warranty comes included with your band saw. This device uses a 120-volt 2.5-amp motor to make your cuts smoother and more exact. The added power makes a big difference in performance. This product is designed to reduce your workload while increasing your productivity.
The DEWALT DWM120K 10 Amp 5-Inch Deep Cut Portable Band Saw Kit gives you access to everything you need to start cutting today. The 5″ deep cut capacity is the best in the industry. An easy to use speed adjustment knob allows you to vary your blade speed, depending on your job.
The quick charge 10-amp motor provides you with extended cutting times. An integrated hang hook allows you to hang this saw and avoid any damage from laying it on the ground. A built-in LED light gives you better visibility in low light scenarios.
This saw can perform at speeds up to 350 SFM . Rubber bumpers absorb any unexpected shocks you may encounter in the workspace. The ergonomic design provides lasting comfort during extended use.
This unit weighs 15 pounds and its dimensions are 14.2″ x 23.5″ x 7.9″. This design adds portability to this unit. A 3-year manufacturer’s warranty is included with this device, so you can work with confidence. This is one of the best for home or small shop use. The price point is excellent and the quality is unmatched.
How to Choose
When learning how to choose the best bandsaw there are many important questions to take into consideration. Will you be primarily cutting metal or wood? Do you need the flexibility of a wireless unit? How thick do you need to cut? These are just a few important points that can influence your final decision.
The overall craftsmanship of any potential band saws should also be reviewed, with special attention paid to the length and terms of the products warranty. You should also consider how much continues use time you will require. Will you be sawing for a hobby or for a profession? What is your budget?
Home workshops will benefit the most from a table band saws capability. When operated correctly, a good band saw can easily cut through wood and metal with little to no loss of accuracy. A table band saw provides you with a stable platform to cut on. This type of saw allows you to cut pieces at angles, such as beveled cuts. Make intricate cuts with precision, and raise your craftsmanship to the next level by understanding how to use your table saw.
Band saws can come in many variations to fit your workspace. If you are cutting pipe in an area with reduced visibility, you should consider a band saw with an internal light. This will improve your low light visibility and accuracy. A wireless unit is going to give you more flexibility, but you are going to want to bring your backup batteries to ensure you don’t run out of power.
A band saw should feel smooth when cutting. This smoothness is attained by using ball-bearing stabilizers, located around the axles of the saw wheels. These wheels can come in two configurations, V-belt pulley, and solid steel.
These can come in many different sizes. Larger wheels will provide a smoother cut with 1″ being one of the most popular sizes on the market. The main thing to understand about band saw wheels is, they must be true round. If your band saw wheels are not balanced, this will cause harmonic vibrations to occur. Harmonic vibrations are the worst thing for band saws. They will cause unnecessary wear and inaccuracy. Blade tracking can decrease harmonic vibrations, significantly.
How to use a Band Saw
Understanding the proper use of a band saw is the first step on your journey to finding the right band saw for you. There a couple setting you must have set up in order to use the band saw. First, before setting up anything on your band saw you should unplug it. This will prevent accidental turn on and shocks.
Next, you need to tune your saw. If not properly tuned, your band saw will cut more like a chainsaw, and if your blade is drifting, your cuts will not be as accurate. Your guide bearings must also be set to control side-to-side movement of the blade.
Next, you should consider what type of cut you are making. Then, what type of blade is required. Blades come in all different thicknesses and tooth counts. The fewer teeth you have per square inch the coarser your cuts will be, but the faster it will cut. A smooth cut will require more teeth per square inch. The number of teeth on your blade will influence your feed rate.
Then, consider your cut radius. A curved cut will require a thinner blade. The thinner the blade the sharper the curve you can create. This is opposed to Resawing that requires a wide blade, usually close to 1″ in thickness.
Before installing your blade, you want to make sure your throat plate has been removed and your guide has been taken completely off. Also, make sure your table pin is removed. The tension should be backed off, so the wheels are closer together.
Safety glasses should always be worn when working with band saws. Before installing your blades, clean the wheels with a small piece of 220-grit sandpaper. Now place your blade around the lower wheel first. Then, place the blade around the top wheel and center it between the guides.
Once installed you must center and track the blade. Do this by adding tension to the blade to pull it taught. Once you have tension start turning the top blade wheel by hand. Now, turn the tracking knob to turn the center of the wheel. Do this until it is centered.
You must have proper blade tension to operate your band saw correctly. This is done by adjusting your tension to one size larger than the blade installed. For example, if you have a 1/2″ blade, you would take your blade tension to the 3/4″ setting. You should always take the time to fine-tune your blade tension. It is important to back this tension off when the saw is not in use. If you keep the tension on, it will compress the tires on the wheels and cause premature wear and tear. If you operate the saw with not enough tension, your cuts will be inaccurate.
Once your tracking and tension are correct you are ready to adjust your blade guides. The upper guide consists of a thrust bearing that turns to provide support. There are also side guides to prevent the blade from sway. These should be set to the width of a card from the blade, almost touching it. The lower guide should be set up the same way, keeping the width to that of a card. A business card can be used to get you as close as possible to the blade without any crossover.
One of the main things to adjust prior to making any cuts is the blade guard height. This moves up and down to expose only the cutting part of the blade reducing vibrations. This guard should be set 1/4″ above the surface of your cutting area. If this is not properly set up, you will lose accuracy during your cut.
Rotate the wheels by hand and check for any blade obstructions. If everything is still smooth, plug your band saw in and turn it on. Check to make sure nothing is binding. Now, unplug the saw and raise the guard. Take a square and check your square to blade. This will ensure your cut is square to the table. You don’t want to cut from an uneven table unless your plans call for such an action.
Blade drift is the natural tendency for blades to angle. Adjusting the fence can correct this. The fence is the adjustable wall on the table. Once these items are set up, you are ready to start sawing.
When you start your cut, you don’t want to be making contact with the saw, until the blade is on. Once the blade is on, you want to begin slowly moving your wood into the blade, steering it from behind. When cutting, you can feel the cut rate your saw blade requires to operate properly. This is called your feed-rate. This should feel smooth and even. It may be necessary for you to adjust your speed to get the best feed-rate possible.
Band saws come in two variations, a 2-wheel, and a 3-wheel configuration. Depending on your workload, you may find one better suited for the job. A 3-wheel band saw gives added throat but has some disadvantages. The throat is the distance between the down cutting side and the return blade.
A 2-wheel configuration is preferred in most scenarios. This is because there are less directional changes resulting in less blade wear. Below are some other subcategories of band saws.
These large saws are used to make the first cuts into a log. This type of band saw has a wider tooth spacing and silver teeth on the reverse side of the blade. The silver teeth are used to clear debris from the cut.
Small Shop Saw
This type of saw is very similar to a head saw design but much smaller. This saw is usually found in home workshops. This is the perfect saw for the hobbyist.
This type of band saw is designed to cut along the grain of timber to split it into veneers. Resaws use a wide blade to reduce the waste produced.
This type of band saw is very large. Double cut band saws have blades on both sides for cutting while removing from deep cuts.
This type of band saw is used to cut metals and comes in vertical or horizontal arrangements. The vertical band saw is called a contour saw. It is common for this design to have brushes to prevent residue from getting into the wheels. Besides metal, there are Meat Cutting band saws as well.
General Buying Tips
Before you buy any band saw, you should consider the amount of use you predict. You don’t want to buy a band saw that is designed for a hobbyist if you plan on commercial usage. You also don’t need to spend the same amount of cash on a hobbyist band saw, as you would on a professional saw. If you are purchasing a used band saw, you should change the blades prior to use.
3TPI blades, in extra-set, are great are great for woodturning. They can produce excellent results. You should always try to get at least a 1-hp motor. This ensures your cutting power is adequate to complete your projects. A 6” cutting height should be your minimal requirement.
Inspect all guides and rollers to make sure they are firm. Consider the manufacturer’s warranty length and the quality of the brand. Not all band saws are created equal; many have subpar craftsmanship that causes reduced durability. Avoid this by sticking with well-known manufacturers, most of whom provide 1-year plus warranties.
There are so many varieties of band saws available on the market today. With so many choices, it can seem overwhelming to choose the right one. This versatile machine has been a vital part of woodworking for over a century.
Prior to its invention, the majority of detailed woodcraft required handmade tools. Today, we can all benefit from the intelligent design of this product. Technology continues to shape band saws by adding new features. Safety has become a primary concern of manufacturers, who are eager to prove their product is the best value. A well-maintained band saw can last a lifetime.
By doing your homework, you can find the perfect band saw for your use. Use this 2016 band saw buyer’s guide to help you make an informed decision. Quality is going to be the main determining factor when considering the choice.
For more information on band saw history: wiki