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Are you looking for the best band saw to take care of your woodworking and metal cutting projects?
Band saw is one of the most versatile tool for any DIY or professional work involving lots of cutting of wood or metal. However, with so many different models available in the market as well as different configurations including handheld portable models as well as benchtop models, finding the right model to suit your needs is not an easy task.
This is what today’s post is all about. We give you the 5 best benchtop and portable handheld band saws we found in our market research and survey. We also answer common band saw related questions at the end of this post. So let’s begin without further due.
Dewalt 5″ Portable Band Saw Model DWM120K – Best band saw for metal as well as the overall best portable handheld model
Rikon 10″ Benchtop Band Saw Model 10-3061 – Best band saw for resawing as well as the overall best benchtop model
Powertec 9″ Benchtop Band Saw Model BS900 – Best band saw for hobbyist
WEN 9″ Benchtop Band Saw Model 3959 – Best band saw for woodworking, home shop, small workshop, beginners as well as the best for the money
Milwaukee Sub-Compact Cordless Band Saw Model M12 2429-21XC – Best band saw for small pipes, HVAC refrigerant tubes and EMT conduits
Benchtop band saws are best suited for cutting larger workpieces such as 2x4s and 4x4s. These band saws are light enough to be put at the back of a truck and taken to desired location. Once you’ve reached the place, simply find a sturdy base or table for it and set it up. You are good to go. So without further due, we give you our top 5 recommendations on best benchtop band saw.
Overall Best | Best Bandsaw for Resawing
Our Rating: 9.2 / 10
Rikon band saw 10-3061 features a large throat size of 9-5/8” as well as a large cutting width of 5” for allowing you to work with larger jobs. Powered by a 5.5 ampere motor, it runs on two blade speeds of 1,515 ft/min and 3,280 ft/min allowing it to resaw up to 5″ cedar, pine, poplar and oak boards or 3-1/2″ walnut boards. Fitted with a good Olson or Timberwolf blade, it will also handle Osage and Wenge wood.
You may use it to rip 1 ft. sections of English walnut and birch logs. It works well for maple, plywood and MDF also. Whether you are a small hobby shop owner who makes jigsaw puzzles, a woodcarver looking for a band saw for rough-outs or a professional woodworker looking for a reliable and accurate everyday use tool, this tool is the right choice.
This package includes 5/16” x 70-1/2” 6TPI bandsaw blade.
We used the term Throat Size above. Throat size refers to the length from the band saw blade to its body frame as illustrated below:
Throat Size of a benchtop band saw determines the widest job you can feed to the saw blade.
Best Bandsaw for Woodworking | Best for Home Shop, Small Workshop or Beginners
Our Rating: 9.0 / 10
The WEN benchtop band saw 3959 works with band saw blade widths ranging from 1/8” to 3/8” to suit jobs from cutting curves to ripping cuts. Its 2.5 ampere motor powers its blade up to 2,500 ft/min giving it enough power to take care of majority woodworking jobs of light to medium duty nature.
To give a few examples of its utility, it can be used for crosscutting and ripping cedar and pine boards as well as 3/4″ red oak, 3/4″ birch, 2″ black walnut, 1-3/4″ maple wood as well as bog oak, poplar and African blackwood without slowing down. It will be your handy companion for that oak hardwood flooring project.
In metals, it can be used to cut up to 20 gauge steel sheet as well as thin jobs of brass. Based on high positive reviews, we found it to be the best band saw for beginners or for home shop and small workshop. This package includes 1/4” wide blade, rip fence and a miter gauge.
We talked about 20 gauge steel above. In sheet metal, 20 gauge standard steel sheet has a thickness of 0.912mm. However, 20 gauge galvanized iron sheet has a thickness of 1.006mm. For Stainless Steel, it is 0.953mm and for Aluminum, Brass or Copper, it is 0.813mm. Always refer to sheet metal gauge charts for clarifying the thickness of sheet metal.
Great for Hobbyists
Our Rating: 8.8 / 10
WEN has become popular in power tools industry for providing budget priced tools without compromising on performance and features. With cutting capacities of 9” x 3-5/8”, the WEN 3939T is compatible with blade width of 1/8” for cutting those curves and patterns up to 3/8” for straight cuts.
Its cutting power may not be great but you can stack up three sheets of 5mm plywood separated by 1″ thick boards of poplar all glued together and this band saw will cut through it. However, it is not the machine for ripping through walnut or oak consistently.
It is best suited for home workshop like for making a cradle or stairs gate or for hobby projects like for a pinewood derby car building workshop, making wands or to carve birds out of wood. It will cut 2″ Basswood without ever bogging down.
Powered by 2.8 amp motor running the blade at a maximum speed of 2,460 feet per minute, the WEN band saw 3939T is best suited for hobbyist and carving jobs. This package includes 3/8” wide blade, a fence for rip cuts and a miter gauge for cross cuts.
Best Bandsaw for Hobbyist Jobs & Woodcarvers
Our Rating: 8.0 / 10
Powertec band saw BS900 is powered by a 2.5 amp motor running its band saw blade at a maximum speed of 2,460 ft/min to cut through a variety of wood and light gauge metal jobs.
It works with band saw blade width ranging from 1/8” to 3/8” allowing you to cut curves as well as straight cuts. Another specialty is its patented blade guard adjustment for quick and easy blade replacements as well as a blade tracking window providing a clear visual to the operator to check blade alignment and intervene when felt necessary.
In hobbyist and crafts work, you can use it for stuff like bow making, musical instruments (like an ukulele), carving patterns on 3/4″ cedar for birdhouse parts or cutting 5″ holly blanks. With the right blade, you can cut plexiglass as well.
It is not meant for professional woodworkers, however, you can feed something like a 7/8″ cocobolo to it without any complaint. This package includes miter gauge for cross cuts and 1/4” x 62” band saw blade.
Our Rating: 7.9 / 10
Skil band saw 3386-01 is a very good combination of performance and features. Powered by a 2.5 amp motor running the blade at a top speed of 2,800 ft/min, it works with blade widths ranging from 1/8” to 3/8” for versatility in work.
It is great for light jobs. In metals, you can use it for cutting 1/4″ to 5/16″ stock of brass or aluminum. In wood, it would cut through 1/4″ plywood, 3/4″ pine, 1/2″ hickory board, pen blanks and similar stocks without any complaint.
It is a great choice for carving and crafting projects. You may make longbows or cut through buffalo horns without a problem. Or maybe make a wooden model of Taurus Judge to be used for making gun holsters. Or maybe for making fishing lures out of basswood, white cedar or balsa.
It is also great for furniture restoration projects and around the house jobs like fixing chairs and stools or maybe cut 3/4″ oak flooring for curves. It is a great tool for people involved in electronic circuit boards as well as it would cut through PCBs without a problem.
Skil has included a unique feature in this tool – an articulating LED work light that illuminates the job in whichever angle you prefer. The package includes a rip fence for straight cuts and miter gauge for cross cuts. A 6 TPI blade is also included.
Handheld band saws are best suited for cutting smaller workpieces such as EMT conduits, HVAC refrigerant tubes, iron pipes and flat bar. These band saws are meant to take tool to the job instead of bringing job to the tool. They are used for cutting stuff already installed onsite. So without further due, we give you our top 5 recommendations on best handheld band saw.
Overall Best | Best Bandsaw for Metal
Our Rating: 9.7 / 10
Dewalt band saw DWM120 is powered by an impressive 10 amp motor powering its blade from 100 to 350 ft/min controlled by a variable speed dial.
At 15 lbs., it does weigh a little towards the heavier side, however, this tool is designed to cut metal. From angle iron, cast iron and steel pipes to flat bars, it will sink through the material with the help of its own weight making it the best band saw for cutting metal on our list including iron, steel and aluminum. You may use it for anything from cutting fence posts to DIY metal shop work.
This package includes hex wrench, kit box and a pack of three 44-7/8″ long, 1/2″ wide and 0.2″ thick 24TPI blades to get you started as soon as the package arrives.
Our Rating: 9.6 / 10
Makita band saw XBP03Z is powered by the 18 V battery system by Makita making it fully compatible with 18 V family of Makita tools due to interchangeable batteries.
It will cut through EMT, threaded rods, closet rods, copper pipes, unistruts and sheet metal without bogging down.
With a cutting capacity of 2-1/2” x 2-1/2”, it has maximum blade speed of 630 ft/minute. From cutting refrigerant tubing in HVAC applications to cutting sheet metal, it is a versatile tool for any hobbyist or professional.
We used the term EMT above. EMT stands for Electrical Metallic Tubing. It is a thin-walled conduit made from galvanized steel or aluminum. It is used for carrying electrical wires in industrial and residential buildings. Electricians and contractors often need to cut through EMT conduits for which band saws come in handy.
Great for Iron & Steel Rebar
Our Rating: 9.1 / 10
Dewalt features again on our list with DCS371 that has a cutting capacity of 2-1/2” x 2-1/2”. It is powered by 20 V Max system by Dewalt making it compatible with the entire 20 V Max line of tools due to interchangeable batteries.
At a weight of only 8 lbs., it cuts through angle iron, steel rebar and metallic pipes with ease. It also features blade tracking adjustment that increases blade life by providing better blade tracking.
Whether you are plumbing copper or a fence contractor looking for quick cuts on top rail and metal tubing, this band saw has got you covered. It is also great for mechanical and HVAC contractors as it cuts through HVAC, sheet metal, conduits, unistruts, 1/2″ stainless steel bolts and 5/8″ steel rebar without any complaint.
This package includes two 5.0 Ah Batteries, a blade tracking wrench and a 14/18 TPI blade to get you started as soon as the package arrives.
Great for EMC, PVC & HVAC Copper Tubing
Our Rating: 9.0 / 10
Milwaukee sub-compact band saw is optimized for single handed cutting applications with small size and weight of merely 6.75 lbs. Its capacity is 1-5/8” x 1-5/8” allows it proficiency in cutting EMT, PVC as well as HVAC copper tubing.
Whether you are a DIYer looking to build a sound cabinet for musical group sound system or an electrician looking for a tool compact enough to cut in confined spaces of a crawlspace or an attic and light enough for overhead work, this tool is the right fit for you. It cuts cuts threaded rods, steel pipes, channeling and thick gauge wire like a pro.
Its 12 V system powers its blade up to a speed of 280 ft/min controlled by a variable speed trigger. This package includes M12 batteries, charger, an 18 TPI sub-compact band saw blade and a carrying case for convenient storage.
Largest Cutting Capacity (5″x5″)
Our Rating: 8.9 / 10
Milwaukee band saw 2729-20 has the largest cutting capacity on our list at 5” x 5”. Milwaukee’s Powerstate brushless motor runs the blade at a maximum speed of 380 ft/min controlled with a variable speed dial.
Like Dewalt band saw DWM120, it is also on the heavier side at 15 lbs., however, the weight reduces user effort by allowing the tool to sink into the material under its own weight.
It cuts threaded rod, black iron, PVC, unistrut, pipes, tubing and EMT smoothly. It has received positive feedback from commercial electricians, industrial plumbers and general maintenance professionals. It is also great for commercial carpenters looking for a tool to cut kick plates and panic bars.
Another specialty of this tool is its constant power technology that keeps the tool’s speed constant under load allowing smooth cuts.
How do I Choose a Bandsaw?
What is the band saw throat capacity you need?
Ask yourself what is the size of the workpiece for which you are buying a band saw? Are you planning to rip 2x4s or 4x4s? Or maybe you are planning to cut flat bars?
The throat size of a band saw as well as the height of exposed blade determines the size of the job you can cut. For example, Milwaukee portable band saw 2429-21XC has throat size as well as exposed blade height of 1-5/8” making it suitable for smaller jobs such as cutting HVAC refrigerant tubes or iron pipes smaller than 1-5/8”.
On the other hand, Rikon benchtop band saw 10-3061 has throat size of 9-5/8” and exposed blade height of 5”making it suitable for relatively larger jobs such as cutting 2x4s and 4x4s.
Do you bring job to the tool or tool to the job?
The next most important factor is to ascertain whether your application allows you to bring the material to be cut to the tool, such as woodworking projects where you bring wooden workpieces to your workshop, or do you need to reach the material and cut it onsite for example EMT conduits, cast iron pipes and HVAC copper tubes.
If you have to cut through material installed onsite, you need a portable handheld band saw whereas if you are dealing with woodworking projects only, a benchtop band saw is best.
You are not going to use your band saw once, you will use it over and over again. There are many features you may look for that will make the job of maintaining the tool over the years easier. These features include,
1. Brushless motor to eliminate the need for carbon brush replacement. For example, Milwaukee band saw M18 Fuel 2729-20 is powered by a brushless motor.
2. Constant power technology is another great feature that maintains tool speed under load that not only improves cutting performance but also improves tool life.
3. Many handheld tools are equipped with electronic protection to protect the tool from overheating under load. Such a system protects the tool by limiting its speed under overload conditions or completely shutting it off. It is featured under different names, for example, Milwaukee calls it Redlink Intelligence in is handheld band saw models such as Milwaukee 2729-20 while Makita calls it Star protection technology in Makita XBP03Z band saw.
A Good Warranty is the Best Insurance Policy
A good warranty puts you on the safe side. Milwaukee offers a lengthy 5 year warranty for its band saws. Dewalt’s warranty terms are great as well with 3 year warranty, 1 year free service and 90 days money back guarantee.
A catch here is that many brands offer different warranties for personal use and commercial use. For example, Rikon offers 5 year warranty for personal use of its benchtop band saw 10-3061 while the same is reduced to 2 years for commercial use. Similarly, Powertec offers 1 year warranty with 90 day money back guarantee for its BS900 band saw but commercial use is not covered under it.
Ergonomic features to look for
Light weight design to reduce fatigue factor in handheld models. For example Milwaukee sub-compact band saw 2429-21XC weights only 6.75 lbs. where as Dewalt band saw DCS371 weights only 8 lbs. Anything under 10 lbs. may be considered light weight.
A large worktable size in benchtop models gives you more space to work with. Rikon band saw model 10-3061 has the largest work table size on our list with 13-3/4” x 12-1/2” dimensions.
An LED work light is another nice feature to have that illuminates the job and reveals more surface detail to the operator. Skil Benchtop Band Saw Model 3386-01 has an articulated LED work light that can be grabbed and positioned in whichever angle desired by the user.
Tool free blade changing mechanism is another great feature that allows you to change blade without grabbing your tool box.
A variable speed trigger in handheld units allows precise control over cutting speed. Variable speed trigger is featured in Dewalt DWM120 and Milwaukee sub-compact 2429-21XC on our list.
A hang hook as featured on handheld units like Dewalt DCS371, Dewalt DWM120 and Milwaukee 2729-20 allows you to hand the tool when not in use.
A blade tracking window as featured on Powertec benchtop band saw BS900 gives you a clear visual for ensuring blade alignment and adjustment.
A dust port for connecting vacuum keeps your workshop clean.
Band saw injuries constitute 11.5% of all saw injuries as per OSHA database. The most frequently reported type of injury in band saw use is not kickback. It is the user’s fingers getting caught by the saw.
Take a look at the band saw reported injuries in OSHA database below:
Just notice how almost all reported injuries are a worker’s thumb or finger getting caught in the band saw blade.
A study of these reports reveals how some notable causes of these injuries include:
Therefore, apart from the standard safety principles in use of saws, always remember to keep your hands away from the band saw blade at all times.
Buyer’s Guide Questions
Band saws generally have a fixed speed at which they run. Handheld units have speeds of several hundred feet per minute while benchtop units have speed of several thousand feet per minute. Some units have multiple speed options for example Rikon 10-3061 that has two speed options, 1,515 and 3,280 feet per minute where the lower speed is for softer metals and high speed is for tough materials.
Size of a band saw is characterized by its throat size and exposed blade height. Throat size is simply the length after which material will touch band saw body thereby limiting further cutting. Throat size can range anywhere from 1-2” for handheld units, all the up to upwards of 10” for benchtop units.
The exposed blade height on the other hand is the length of blade that actually does the cutting while rest of the blade remains hidden and covered. It governs the maximum width or thickness of material you can cut. It can range anywhere from 1-2” in handheld units to 5” or above on benchtop units.
You should choose throat and blade height based on the largest job you will cut. For example, if you work with 4x4s, don’t go lower than 4” throat as well as blade height. If you work on 4x6s, look for at least 6” throat and 4” blade height.
It is just another experience to push wood into a thin blade and let the machine do its magic. Band saws are worth it if you have to cut through a lot of thick wood or metal frequently.
While circular saws, miter saws and reciprocating saws can be used as alternates of band saws in a variety of applications, bandsaws are designed for jobs such as resawing lumber and cutting curves on metals and wood. Bandsaws are suited for bulk cutting and not for working with small metal or wood projects. They reduce effort and time as well as improve the surface finish of the cut.
It is technically possible if you use the right metal cutting blade, however, in general, bandsaws designed specifically for wood will run at higher speeds than those designed especially for metals. Under such case, higher speed of wood bandsaw will likely heat up the blade faster as well as wear out the blade teeth.
Band saws are designed to cut metal including stainless steel with the right band saw blade. Check out the illustration below,
(Video Credit: “Metal Sawing Technology” YouTube Channel)
You can easily rip boards with a band saw by using a fence that will constraint the fixed length by which you want to rip the board as illustrated in the video below.
(Video Credit: “WOOD Magazine” YouTube Channel)
Band saw is best suited for cutting curves when used with a thin blade as illustrated in the video below.
(Video Credit: “wortheffort” YouTube Channel)
Throat simply refers to the length from band saw body to its blade. When you are cutting material with a band saw, you can push it only as much as the material passes through the blade and touches the throat. Throat size, therefore, is a measure of band saw cutting capacity in terms of the deepest cut you can make.
Throat size illustrated on a benchtop band saw.
Throat size illustrated on a handheld band saw.
The main difference lies in the speed at which the band saw operates. Band saws designed for wood will have greater operating speed as compared to metal band saws. The scientific reason is that high speed metal cutting generates more heat and wears out blades more quickly while high speed wood cutting does not – at least not as much as metals.
You can not only cut aluminum but also steel and iron with a band saw with the right choice of blade.
With the right blade you can cut meat with a wood bandsaw.
Copper is relatively a softer metal and can easily be cut with a bandsaw. Bandsaws can even cut harder metals such as iron and steel.
If you like our post and the information we have presented, please do give your valuable feedback and share this article with your friends.
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