Our world would be a drab place filled with bland, blocky furniture if not for the beloved band saw!.
There’s no better way to cut smooth, accurate curves. I don’t care how steady your hand, or how fancy your jigsaw—you’re simply not going to get the meticulous curved cuts a quality band saw yields.
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Band Saw Basics
What are the best band saws for woodworking? Well, what do you want to cut? Do you need a free-standing model for heavy duty work, or will a smaller, bench top model suffice? How big is your budget? How big is your workshop? Our advice is simple—buy the best you can afford. The old adage is true: You get what you pay for, and if you buy the best, you only cry about it once. Buy junk, and you’ll cry about it over and over again.
1. Throat Width
A saw’s “throat” is the distance from the blade to the saw frame. The width of the throat determines how wide a section of wood you can cut. A cabinet or furniture saw will usually have a throat of at least 12-inches, wider than most home workshop saws.
2. Depth Of Cut
Depth of cut is the distance from the saw’s cutting surface, or “table,” to the upper blade guide. The depth of cut determines how a thick a piece of would you can run through your saw.
3. Motor Size
Home-level saws typically come with a 3/4 to 1 HP motor. Professional saws have bigger, variable-speed motors, which are powerful enough to slice metal and hard plastic.
A quality saw will have a steel, cast iron, or aluminum cutting table that often has built-in or detachable rip guide and miter gauge. (A good table will angle up to 45-degrees for miter cuts.)
5. Dust Port
Many saws have a dust collection port that connects directly to your shop vacuum.
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What is the best saw for you? There are many great machines out there, but the five listed below offer the biggest bang for your buck!
#1 Rikon 10-305
The Rikon 10-305 has a 10-inch blade, and is a good choice for novice woodworkers looking to step up to more serious equipment. This bench top model delivers much of the same power, performance, and features as its bigger brethren, but at a more convenient size and affordable price.
We love how the Rikon 10-305 didn’t hog up our workbench. The 10-305 is a smaller version of Rikon’s popular 10-345 and 10-325 models, and is built with a similar solid steel frame. An optional floor stand allows your Rikon 10-305 to stand tall and proud, and handle bigger jobs usually reserved for a 10-345 or 10-325.
The Rikon 10-305 has edge-facing thrust bearings, and a 13.75-inch by 12.5-inch cast iron table that is the right size for most jobs. The Rikon 10-305’s 1/3 HP, 3.5-amp induction motor spins at 2,780 ft/min, and is surprisingly powerful. The Rikon 10-305’s rip fence is made of stainless steel, and is removable for freehand work, while the Micro Adjustable Guide Post guarantees precise cuts (assuming you measured correctly!). The Rikon 10-305’s generous 4.63-inch cutting capacity will handle most stock with ease.
#2 Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe
Sometimes a 10-inch blade just won’t cut it. Literally. Step up to the Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe 14-inch, a freestanding saw. Unlike other saws in its class, the Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe utilizes all ball bearing construction, a durable cast iron frame, and a precision-ground cast iron table. The cast iron love is felt all the ay down to the Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe’s computer balanced cast iron wheels with rubber tires.
The Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe comes with a heavy-duty floor stand, and a quick release tension blade. The saw includes an aluminum T-shape re-saw fence, a fence scale with a helpful magnifying window, and a miter gauge. The Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe roars with a remarkably powerful 1 HP, 11-amp motor that conveniently plugs into a standard 110-v outlet.
The Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe also features upper and lower ball bearing blade guides and a rack-and-pinion guide post—an outstanding value for a freestanding saw in this price range. Long story short, the Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe 14-inch is compact enough to fit almost anywhere, yet powerful enough to cut almost anything. ‘Nuff said.
#3 JET JWBS-14DXPRO 14-Inch Deluxe Pro Band
With a cutting capacity width of 13.5 inches and cutting capacity height of 12 inches, the JET JWBS-14DXPRO 14-Inch Deluxe Pro can tackle almost any size project. The JWBS-14DXPRO 14-Inch Deluxe Pro is powered by a 1-1/4 HP motor, with a 2-speed poly-V belt drive system that enhances accuracy and control.
The JWBS-14DXPRO 14-Inch Deluxe Pro boasts a roomy 15×15-inch table that tilts 10 degrees left and 45 degrees right when miter cuts are called for. A versatile, built-in retractable blade guard moves up and down from 0-12in.
#4 Laguna Tools MBAND1412-175
The worm gear and pinion is ultra-smooth and engineered to have minimum flex even when fully extended—a Laguna trademark, along with the company’s renowned ceramic blade guides. Comb your hair and check your teeth for leftover lunch deposits in the MBAND’s micro-polished 21 x16-inch table.
Moving this big boy around the workshop is easier thanks to cold cast wheels fitted with polyurethane one-piece tires that to run cooler and are more durable than conventional tires. The steel frame and pyramid-shaped spine are incredibly rigid and durable, while the double view window lets you check both tension and tracking while the machine is running.
#5 The Powermatic PM1500
The Powermatic PM1500 has a lumber-munching 14.5-inch throat and a heavy, cast iron table and base assembly that offers maximum rigidity for heavy work pieces. The Powermatic PM1500’s exclusive T-square style Accu Fence maximizes both accuracy and safety.
Power Tips: Saw Like A Pro!
With its fast-moving blade and high-powered motor, this saw can seem menacing. Don’t be afraid of it! Respect it!
Woodworking expert Marc Adams offers the following safety and performance tips:
- Always wear safety goggles.
- Follow the Three-Inch Rule—always keep fingers three inches from the blade.
- Check your tracking and the tension of the blade before cutting.
- Use a jig you’re cutting a piece of wood that isn’t flat on the bottom.
- Don’t clear wood pieces while the saw is running.
- Don’t use your thumbs to push toward the blade.