As one of the smoothest cutting tools any woodworker will have, a band saw is on just about the same level of versatility as a router. Used primarily for cutting curves or other unusual cuts into wood, a band saw is also used to rip lumber, make cross cuts, or even cut metal.
They come in various sizes, from large floor-standing models, smaller benchtop models, and portable electric models (corded and cordless). The best band saw will be sturdy, long-lasting, and powerful enough to handle whatever task you throw at it as long as you understand its limitations. Here are what we believe to be the top models, one of each style.
A floor-standing band saw can be an important part of a busy workshop, and Grizzly’s G0555LX is designed to surpass expectations. Featuring computer-balanced, rubber tired wheels, cast iron frame and table, and all ball bearing construction, this is one band saw that can handle abuse. This 14-inch, CSA-certified model is also smaller, allowing it to be installed in places a 16-inch model won’t fit. The 1 HP motor provides more than enough power for most jobs.
Band saw reviews are quick to point out that Grizzly products are made in Taiwan but you may be surprised to learn that tools made there are often on par with those made in the USA. Most of these same users are equally insistent that this may in fact be the best 14-inch band saw you will own. There’s an almost universal agreement that the durability and optional upgrade parts make the G0555LX their favorite band saw.
The single largest complaint about the G0555LX isn’t in regards to the band saw itself, but regarding delivery. Because of the weight (~250 lbs), some of the delivery companies which hold contracts with Grizzly have been known to damage the product while unloading or cause other problems. Consumers who have encountered this issue have been very vocal about these companies, and have also noted that Grizzly customer service is generally very prompt at replacing any parts damaged by poor delivery. It should also be noted that while the saw comes with one blade, it is meant to serve only as a starter. Grizzly has included it with the intention that it be replaced with a more permanent blade that meets the user’s preferences after delivery.
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Considered to be perhaps the best benchtop band saw of its size, the 3960 has a 2.8-amp motor capable of spinning blades at 2,460 feet per minute. The one foot square work table is able to tilt up to 45 degrees, while the 62-inch blades can cut up to 3 5/8 inches deep. Included with the 3960 are a dust port, miter gauge, quick release blade adjustment lever, WEN’s standard two-year warranty coverage, and fence.
Consumers who use the 3960 tabletop band saw love the way it cuts compared to other stationary saws of its size. The machine is able to cut incredibly straight lines with even the thinnest blades, although a good deal of adjusting is required for optimal functioning. The addition of a work light and the large working surface have also brought many compliments.
The single biggest problem reported by consumers occurs with the set-up. It requires a lot of patience and work to properly adjust this saw, and many give up due to a lack of markings on the tension springs and high overall sensitivity. Another common complaint comes in the form of how this small band saw handles. Like other 9- to 10-inch band saws, the 3960 has far less power and stability than a larger 14-inch model, like our top pick Grizzly model.
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Portable band saws are often difficult to wield, but not the DCS371B by DeWalt. This compact, lightweight model is designed with maximum durability in mind, with an eight-percent cobalt content and Matrix II High Speed Steel Edge. The DCS371B is capable of cutting up to two-inch SCH 40 pipe and i compatible with the entire DeWalt 20-volt MAX line.
One of the biggest drawbacks of portable band saws is the need to clamp down whatever is being cut. According to the feedback given by DCS371B users, this model is light enough to be used one-handed, allowing its operator to hold the target material with one hand. They have also commented on the high durability and ability to cut anything from PVC to steel with almost no effort. Those who work with iron and other dense materials have noted that the battery lasts much longer than they expected on even the toughest projects.
There are very few complaints regarding the DCS371B. Many owners have complained about having to order the blade guard separate for one-handed operation. Another omission is some form of carrying case, requiring the purchaser to find a suitable case on their own. Also keep in mind that this portable model is often sold as a “bare-tool” so you would need to also purchase the band saw and battery combo pack if you already don’t own another DeWalt tool that used the oh-so-good 20V MAX lithium-ion battery. The only complaint regarding functionality is the maximum cutting width of 2 1/2 inches, which limits the scope of what this band saw can do.
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