Best Band Saw
If you are a carpenter, woodworker, flooring professional or just a dedicated do-it-yourselfer the band saw is considered one of the most important pieces of equipment you can own. It allows you to create fast precise cuts with little fuss and even less waste. The band saw combines the best elements of the table saw with the best aspects of the jigsaw in a single tool that enables an unparalleled combination of quality and volume. If you don’t have a band saw your workshop can’t really be considered complete. The following are the 10 best band saws on the market today.
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Band Saw Buying Guide & FAQ
Things To Consider When Buying A Band Saw
When buying a band saw consider the following:
Cutting capacity – Cutting capacity encompasses both the depth of the cut and the so-called “throat” and is the first thing to consider when buying a band saw. The depth is the vertical distance between the upper blade guide and the table surface. While the throat is an industry term for the horizontal width of the finished product. For instance, if there is 12” between the blade and the column then the throat is 12” max. In most cases a freestanding band saw will allow for greater depth and a wider throat than a portable or tabletop bandsaw. You need to keep in mind what type of material you want to cut and its typical dimensions in order to purchase a band saw with the right cutting capacity.
Power – Once you know the cutting capacity you’ll need to consider the power of the motor. Some portable and benchtop band saws (particularly those that are battery powered) produce only a moderate amount of power. If you need the saw for intensive applications you’ll want a plugin saw that can provide anywhere from 2.5 to 10 amps. If you intend to use the saw on a variety of materials you’ll also want to make sure yours has a variable speed motor.
Safety features – Even a small bandsaw is capable of producing life-altering injuries so safety is always of paramount importance when dealing with this type of equipment. As such you’ll want a band saw that incorporates a number of safety features including a tension controller that sets the tension of the blade itself, a pulley wheel brake and a dust collector that will remove harmful particles from the air. That is particularly important when using the band saw to cut metal items.
Extras – If you’re involved in any sort of woodworking with your saw you’ll want to invest in rip fences. These allow you to generate very precise rip cuts regardless of the material. You should also consider a miter gauge which will ensure your angled cuts are accurate and clean.
Benefits Of Using A Band Saw
Versatility – If you have a band saw with a variable speed motor you’ll be able to cut an astonishing variety of material including all types of wood, plastic, metal and more.
Volume – If you deal with high volumes of wood or metal that need to be cut there is no substitute for a band saw. They are the ultimate productivity tool in such cases.
Cut quality – Because the action of the blade is even and continuous the quality of the cut you’re able to obtain is much better than anything you’d be able to achieve with a standard saw or even with a hand-held circular saw.
Less waste – Because the motion of the blade is so steady and smooth and because the band saw blade is typically thinner than other types of blades, there is less material waste.
Energy efficiency – The band saw goes about its business in an extremely efficient fashion. While it might seem like it’s consuming lots of power you would actually use far more trying to execute the same cuts using a hand-held circular saw.
Different Types Of Band Saws
Wood band saw – Wood band saws, like most of the saws on our list, are considered by many to be the most important power tool a woodworker can own.
Metal band saw – Some band saws are designed specifically for cutting metal. These typically have ways of keeping the blade cool as it cuts and brushes that keep the blade free of metal chips.
Meat band saw – If you are contemplating a career as a butcher you’re going to need a good meat band saw to section carcasses.
Vertical band saw – Versatile, easy to use and capable of creating precise cuts in high volume it’s a mainstay of the timber and flooring industries. Vertical band saws remain stationary while the material is fed through them.
Horizontal Band Saw – With the horizontal band saw the cutting blade is brought down onto the material to be cut. In that sense, it’s reminiscent of a table saw. Although you’re likely to get a cleaner cut.
Portable bandsaw – The portable bandsaw is for those who need to bring the cutting power with them to the site.
Band Saw Safety Tips
Always maintain focus – Do not allow environmental distractions like music, other people, TV or job site noise to divert your attention away from the job at hand.
Keep all safety guards in place at all times – The safety guards that come with the band saw are there for a reason. Do not remove them or alter them in any way.
Feed with care – Do not feed material into the saw in a careless or haphazard fashion. If using a portable band saw make sure all materials to be cut are held firm before applying the blade.
Turn it off – As soon as the cut is complete turn the saw off immediately. Never walk away with the saw still running.
Keep the work area clean – In order to prevent accidents, it is important to always maintain a clean work area. Remove all unnecessary objects from the area and make sure the floor is clean and clear.
Keep hands clear – Never hold the material in a way that could potentially bring your hand into contact with the blade. Always hold the material at the sides, well away from the blade.
Wear goggles – Band saws send large amounts of wood and metal chips flying off into the air, often at great speed. It’s imperative that you wear goggles to protect your eyes.
Avoid loose clothing – You should never wear loose fitting clothes when working with a band saw. Such items can easily be snagged by the blade exposing you to extreme danger.
Keep a first aid kit handy – Always have a well-stocked first aid kit within easy reach of the work area. Also, learn the proper ways of treating serious cuts. It could save a limb or perhaps even your life.
Band Saw FAQ
Q: What is a band saw?
A: The band saw gets its name from its signature feature: a continuous band of metal with sharp teeth that runs between 2 or more wheels and is used to cut the wood or metal. With a standard saw cutting is interrupted each time the saw changes direction from up to down and back. With the band saw there is no interruption in the cutting motion which makes the process much faster and more efficient. Band saws have been around for more than 200 years and for most of that time were primarily used in the lumber and woodworking industries. The main advantages of the band saw are enhanced productivity, a uniform cut and the ability to mimic aspects of the jigsaw when cutting curves or irregular shapes.
Q: Can I use my band saw to cut metal?
A: You can use your band saw to cut metal as long as it is either designed specifically for that purpose or it has a slow or variable speed motor. If you have a variable speed saw you normally use for wood you’ll need to swap out the wood saw blade for one designed to cut metal. Also, when cutting metal you need to run the saw at a greatly reduced speed. Running the saw too fast when cutting metal will destroy the finer teeth of the metal blade in short order. So, whereas for wood you might be running the saw at 3,000+ feet per minute, for metal you may have to slow that down to just a couple of hundred feet per minute.
Q: Can I sharpen my band saw blade?
A: The short answer is “Yes”. The more involved answer is “Yes, but sharpening the blade yourself will take time and practice”. In order to sharpen your own blade, you’ll need a sharpening stone, as well as a flat-edged tool for filing the tips and a cylindrical filing tool for the underside of the tip. There are a number of instructional videos on the web that will show you how to sharpen your own blade. But again, it will take practice. Other options are to send the blade out to a company who will sharpen it for you or purchase a band saw blade sharpening machine.
Q: Which type of band saw blade do I use?
A: The type of blade you use will be determined first by the type of material you want to cut. Are you cutting wood or metal? (If you want to cut both at some point you’ll need variable speed saw, so keep that in mind.) Beyond that, there are 2 things to consider: the minimum cut radius you have in mind and the maximum capacity of your band saw. That said, not every blade will fit on every band saw. Consult the owner’s manual to find out what types of blades your saw will accommodate.
Q: What is the relationship between feed and speed?
A: The feed rate is the speed with which material is fed to the blade. The speed is how many feet per minute the blade actually moves on its circuit. In order to obtain a quality finished product, the speed of the blade must be in harmony with how fast the material is being fed into the saw (the feed rate). If the feed is too slow the material is likely to be burned by excessive friction. And if the speed is too fast you risk overwhelming the blade and causing it to jam.
Our Top Pick
We’re softies for versatile, well-made power tools which explains how the 2429-21XC M12 from Milwaukee made it to the top of our list as the best band saw. Whether you’re a plumber, electrician or carpenter you’re going to find myriad applications for this tool and it’s going to deliver for your time and again. With a powerful lithium-ion power pack, a 27-inch blade and an operational weight of just 12.4 pounds it’s precise, portable cutting power wherever and whenever you need it.