Welcome to our buying guide to help you choose the best bandsaw for the money in 2019. We cover a lot of topics in this article to empower you to make an educated decision. We discuss, review and recommend a wide range of bandsaws that we feel are worth buying.
Band saws are an essential tool for any workshop so choosing the right model is important so you know what your options are.
Intro | Best Bandsaw For The Money
You can use it for ripping lumber, resawing hardwood boards, and making curved cuts of virtually any shape in the material of your choice. No single tool in your woodworking shop will ever be as versatile as the humble band saw. This machine has been around for well over a century, and yet its basic design has remained the same. A saw blade shaped like a band, riding on a system of pulleys (2 to 3 wheels) is what constitutes the basic structure of a band saw.
They come in a variety of sizes (based on pulley diameter), and are available in both stationary as well as portable bench-top versions. You can slide in a miter gauge to make angled cuts, and the table can be beveled on certain models to give you extreme levels of flexibility on all your woodworking projects. Free handing cuts is extremely easy with a band saw, provided you are using the correct blade. Talking of blades, we have a whole section of this article dedicated to helping you select the correct type of blade for a specific job. What makes a band saw is so versatile is the ability to conveniently switch between thinner blades with more teeth for high-precision curved cuts, or a thicker blade with fewer teeth for stable, straight cuts through larger wood stock.
Delta 28-400 (14″) | Vertical Bandsaw
Once you have understood the design of a band saw blade and how it affects the type of work you are doing, the next step is to recognize the importance of a well-tuned band saw. Let’s be honest here, unless your band saw is properly setup for the task, you might as well be using a chainsaw. One of the most common issues that novice woodworkers face while operating a band saw, is the phenomenon known as “blade drift”. Unlike a table saw or reciprocating saw, the blade in a band saw isn’t a solid structure and is supported by the guides and tension between the pulleys.
If you don’t tune your band saw and maintain it properly between each run, you won’t get a high degree of precision while cutting wood. Making curved cuts is especially hard if the correct blade isn’t being used and the saw is not set up properly. But don’t worry – we are going to tell you everything you need to know in order to setup your band saw perfectly for whatever task you have in mind.
Unlike most other band saw purchasing guides on the internet, we shall focus on more than just reviewing a select group of products. Our goal is to provide you with the essential information needed in order to setup, operate, and maintain a band saw to ensure peak performance across a wide range of cutting workloads. Which is why, we have an entire section dedicated to explaining how a band saw works. Once you understand the inner working of this machine, it will be easier for you to carry out routine maintenance tasks and troubleshooting.
Laguna Tools MBAND1412-175 | Best 14″ bandsaw (12″ resaw)
There are several types of band saws for you to choose from. You have stationary models which rest on the shop floor, designed to take on anything from large home improvement projects to functioning as saw mills. Then, you have the smaller models which can be mounted on tabletops or workbenches. These portable band saws are for people who lack the space to install a permanent model, and they can be conveniently carried around between jobsites or used for the occasional DIY work in your home.
Finally, this article will tell you how to maintain your band saw so that it keeps working like new for several years to come. And, don’t forget to check out our band saw safety tips since they will ensure that the only things you are cutting with your saw are wood and metal – not your fingers or limbs. While common sense is the biggest safety mechanism, it doesn’t hurt to follow some basic rules that have been developed over the course of a century to prevent freak accidents from happening even when you are paying attention.
With all that said, let us get to the part that you’re here for – learning about some of the best band saws available for purchase right now, and in a fashion that helps you decide which one is perfect for your needs. We have covered a wide range of models from different companies, and there is something for everyone – floor mounted, portable, vertical/ horizontal, and even band saws for cutting metal. So without further ado, let’s get straight into the reviews…
Reviews | Best Bandsaw for the Money
— Vertical Bandsaws —
Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe
14-Inch Deluxe Band saw. Best 14″ bandsaw for the money.
- All ball bearing construction
- Cast-iron frame
- Precision-ground cast-iron table
- Computer balanced cast-iron wheels with rubber tires
- 4″ dust port
- Upper and lower ball bearing blade guides and thrust bearings
- Open frame stand
- Includes 3/8″ blade, extruded aluminum fence, and miter gauge
- Rack-and-pinion guide post adjustment for upper blade guides
- Cast iron frame, deluxe heavy-duty stand and powder coated paint.
- CSA certified meeting CSA C22.2 #71.2-10 and UL 987-7th standards!
- Computer balanced cast iron wheels with rubber tires.
- Includes : sturdy extruded aluminum T-shape re-saw fence, fence scale with magnifying window and miter gauge. Fence is adjustable for blade lead.
✓ View or download the MANUAL and the SPEC SHEET for the Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe.
Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe is designed by an American company, Grizzly, but isn’t built on US soil. The manufacturing facility is in Taiwan, which might cause certain people to doubt the reliability and sturdiness of this machine. But make no mistake – every single Grizzly band saw is just as reliable and tough as any of the top quality US – made products on the market. In fact, this thing weighs 229 pounds despite being a 14” vertical band saw with an open frame stand on the bottom. Yes, it is almost as heavy as full-size cabinet style band saw despite being a relatively compact model.
You know why it so heavy? Well, the table on this saw is made from precision ground cast iron. The open-frame base/ stand is constructed from preformed steel, and there are rubber stabilizers on the bottom to prevent the steel legs from scraping on your workshop floor. The upper frame is constructed entirely of cast iron, so there is literally zero vibrations or flexing whenever you are working on something, or adjusting the tension. Both the upper and lower wheels are constructed from solid cast iron, and to make things even better, they are computer-balanced so you don’t have to tinker with the wheel adjustment knobs. They are perfectly coplanar, right out of the box.
The wheel cover is made from preformed steel, and the paint seems to be of very high quality. It probably won’t chip or scratch very easily, and you can rest assured that the blade is locked securely within the frame whenever you close the covers. Rubber tires keep your band saw blade safely mounted on the wheels. As you have probably realized by now, this is a very well made vertical band saw, and as you will see on the internet forums, all its users can attest to the fact that it remains extremely stable while cutting, and there is absolutely no flexing or creaking in the frame whatsoever.
Another really neat thing that we like about this Grizzly is the fact that you don’t have to do much tuning on it. Its wheels are perfectly aligned from the factory, and the blade guides are set pretty well out of the box. All you need to do is some minor tension adjustment, which should be extremely easy thanks to the quick tension release lever on the back, that allows you to slip the band saw blade in and out very quickly.
The table measures 14” x 14”, and rests on an aluminum trunnion. You also get a rather high quality rip fence with this band saw, it slides right onto the table and is also made from aluminum, just like the trunnion. Sliding the fence around is pretty easy, and you can conveniently detach it for cleaning sawdust from the crevices. The table can tilt 10° to the left, and 45° to the right. Adjusting the table is a manual process, although a rather easy one – you just have to fiddle with a couple of black knobs underneath the table, next to the trunnion. Floor to table height is a comfortable 43”, and the table itself is extremely sturdy at 1.5” thick. Trust us – when you are working on a 1.5” thick precision-cut block of cast iron, there isn’t a piece of lumber on the face of this planet that can shake this table around, especially when it is bolted down onto a thick aluminum trunnion.
The top guide block slides up and down on a rack and pinion system, and both the top as well as bottom guide blocks feature ball bearing rollers that are easily adjustable for spot tuning in the middle of a project. Maximum resaw height is 6 inches, and you can buy an aftermarket riser to get that number up to 12 inches for processing small to medium sized logs. Cutting width without a fence (throat depth) is 13.5”, and with the fence installed, cutting depth is 11-7/8”.
This 14” band saw uses 92 – 93 inch long blades, and the standard blade width is 0.5 inches. Powered by a 1 horsepower dual-speed universal electric motor, the Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe can slice through everything from hardwoods to metals. You get to select between two different blade speed settings – 1800 or 3100 FPM (feet per minute). The slower speed setting is for cutting thicker materials or ripping logs of hardwood, while the higher speed allows you to get clean, quick cuts through softwood. This band saw is equipped with a 4” dust collection port, but most of you will probably end up needing some kind of a reducer to fit this onto a 2.5” hose that connects to your shop vacuum.
- Motor: 1 HP, 110V/220V, single-phase, TEFC, 1725 RPM, prewired 110V
- Amps: 11A at 110V, 5.5A at 220V
- Table size: 14″ x 14″ x 1-1/2″
- Table tilt: 45 deg. right, 10 deg. left
- Floor to table height: 43″
- Cutting capacity/throat: 13-1/2″
- Maximum cutting height: 6″
- Blade size: 93-1/2″ (1/8″ to 3/4″ wide)
- Blade speed: 1800, 3100 FPM
- Overall dimensions: 27″ wide x 67-1/4″ high x 30″ deep
- Approximate shipping weight: 246 lbs.
The Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe deserves to be on your list of the best bandsaws for the money. You get a lot for your money with this bandsaw, and customer satisfaction is very high.
Laguna Tools mband14bx220-250
Best bandsaw for the money — professional quality and still very affordable.
[table id=23 /]
Compared to the Grizzly that we just reviewed, this Laguna band saw is in a totally different class. Not just because it costs more than twice as much, but this is literally 2.5 times as powerful compared to the Grizzly G0555LX Deluxe. The Laguna mband14bx220-250 is equipped with a heavy-duty commercial grade 2.5hp universal motor, which is controlled with an extremely reliable and super-fast magnetic on/ off switch. It comes with all the features you would expect to find on a vertical band saw in this price range – dual light mounts for added visibility in cramped workspaces, factory-installed ceramic blade guides, a High/ Low aluminum fence, along with a worm gear rack and pinion.
VIDEO OVERVIEW | Laguna Tools mband14bx220-250
It is important to note that the 14Bx band saw is available in two different versions – a 110V variant, and a more powerful 220V variant. The one we are reviewing is the 220V variant which generates the full 2.5hp, compared to the 110V model which puts out “only” 1.75hp. While the 110V version uses a 14 amp TEFC motor, its bigger brother uses a single-phase 9.8 amp TEFC motor that is both bigger and heavier than the one you will find on the 110V variant. Now, you might be thinking if the added horsepower is worth the extra price. Let’s put it this way – the difference in power between the two variants is equal to the total power of certain 14” vertical band saws on the market.
When you slap some good quality resaw blades on both 14Bx variants and use them to resaw different sizes of lumber, one thing becomes very clear – as long as the resaw height is under 5 inches, the difference in cutting speed is not that big. But once you get into larger pieces of lumber that measure over 7 inches in height, the difference is literally night and day. In the video below, you can see that the 220V 14Bx is 2.5 times faster than the 110V variant while cutting through a 13” tall plank of walnut.
Another thing that was revealed in this test is the amount of current that both motors are drawing while under maximum load. The 220V 14Bx only drew 6 to 8 amps under max load, which means that it was operating well under its limitations, and is going to stay cool for longer periods. However, the 110V 14Bx was drawing 18 to 20 amps of current from the wall, and was clearly under much higher stress. It is going to run louder and hotter, and will not last as long under sustained heavy duty loads.
If you are a professional or do lots of resaw and ripping on a regular basis, it is well worth the money to spend a couple extra bucks and purchase the 220v version of the 14Bx. But no matter which variant of the 14Bx you purchase, one thing is guaranteed – surgical precision in every single resaw or rip cut that you make, and this stays true no matter what type of wood you are cutting. The primary reason for this insane accuracy is the design of the frame, combined with an innovative worm gear rack and pinion system for the upper blade guide.
VIDEO | Laguna Tools mband14bx220-250
The frame is easy to assemble, thanks to the unibody construction. The spine is made from thick-gauge steel for superior structural rigidity, and the cast iron wheels on either end are extremely well balanced straight from the factory. The frame is rock solid and extremely stable under high amounts of load, which helps you do all kinds of cuts and freehand carving with ease. Next up, is the blade guide block. More specifically, the upper guide block which moves up and down on a worm gear rack and pinion system. Compared to traditional guide blocks, this system lowers and raises much more smoothly, and instantly locks into place allowing you to make quick cutting height adjustments on the fly, with complete ease.
More importantly, the guide block remains extremely steady even when completely lowered down, which means there is literally zero wobble in the band saw blade as it presses against the side guards. The guide block in this saw uses ceramic pads instead of steel roller bearings. Not only are the ceramic pads quieter and more durable, but they also keep the blade cooler since ceramic is much smoother than steel and when the blade rubs against these pads, there is very little heat generation. All of this adds up to a very precise cut, no matter whether you are resawing or making curved cuts. Finally, you have the massive 8” x 13” dual trunnion system which is made from solid cast iron. This trunnion holds the cast iron table which can tilt 45° to the right, and comes with a high/ low adjustable aluminum rip fence installed.
Unlike most band saws that only include one dust port, the Laguna Tools 14Bx comes with dual 4 inch dust ports. One is beneath the table, and the other is located near the base of the saw, the lower one catches any dust that the upper one misses. Really neat stuff, almost as neat as the disk brake on the bottom wheel that is connected to a foot pedal which is conveniently located at the base of the saw. Press on this medal, and it will not only stop the blade, but also the motor.
JET 414483 VBS-1408 — 14″
Truly, the best bandsaw for the money — for professionals.
- Heavy-duty bandsaw, can handle large production pieces on its extra-large table
- Multi-tilting worktable
- Easy to read blade tension indicator
- Variable speeds provide proper adjustments for high efficiency cutting
- Bi-Metal blade welder, grinder and cutter
- Work lamp
- Chip blower
- Blade and tire cleaning brush
- Set of tools
- 1/4″ x 14/18VT Bi-Metal blade
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Jet VBS-1408 Vertical Bandsaw.
Not for the woodworking hobbyists or DIY enthusiasts. This is a serious vertical band saw, for extremely serious professionals who cut all kinds of things from hardwoods to metals. Mainly metals, since this heavy duty industrial grade saw has a 1hp motor which powers the drive wheel at a relatively low speed. You can vary the blade speed between 82 to 330 SFPM (Surface Feet Per Minute). This is an indicator of the fact that the VBS-1408 is intended for cutting metals as opposed to wood, because of its rather low blade speed. But, that is not all. The VBS 1408 can be wired to work with either 115V or 230V power, it is prewired from the factory to use 115V power.
The motor is a single phase, 1HP industrial grade unit, built to sustain heavy duty usage over extended periods of time without overheating. It draws 14 amps in 115V mode, and 7 amps in 230V mode. The entire frame is constructed from thick gauge stainless steel, and the upper blade guide uses a worm gear rack and pinion system which is incredibly smooth and accurate. The large work table is multi-tilting and constructed from cast iron. It tilts 8° front and back, 15° to the left, and 12° to the right. This band saw supports blade widths between 1/8” to ½”, and comes with a bimetal blade that is 114” long.
VIDEO | See it up close — Jet VBS-1408 Bandsaw
Well, that is all fine but what does this band saw have that makes it 5 times more expensive than a regular 14” model? Nice you asked, because its got a lot of stuff on the side. Stuff like a half-inch welder, a blade cutter, a grinder, and an annealer. Yep, you can break your saw blade, remove it swiftly thanks to the quick tension release, put it on the grinder to sweep away the rough edges, use the integrated welder to weld it back into one piece, and then you can anneal it for bonus strength. All of this, in one machine. And don’t forget the blade cutter which allows you to make band saw blades of custom length. Basically, this is a vertical band saw that effortlessly cuts metal, welds its own broken bimetal blades, and can create custom blades for other band saws that you have in your professional workspace.
— Horizontal Bandsaws —
Hydraulic Horizontal Mitering Bandsaw
- Runs on 110-volt single-phase power, so you can use it practically anywhere.
- Cuts up to 8.93” round metal stock at 90°.
- Swivel head miters up to 60°.
- Angle changes takes seconds—and the vise stays in place.
- Cast iron saw head and bow reduce vibrations and keep the saw accurate.
- Accepts a standard 1” blade.
- Adjustable speed from 66 to 280 fpm for the blade and the material, increasing the blade life and decreasing costs.
- Patented blade tension device (a liquid-filled gauge) makes it easy to check the tension and correct it.
- An inverter drives the 2 hp motor through a gearbox, so there are no pulleys to adjust or belts to break!
- 2 ways to operate this metal band saw:
- Manual descent: Using the pull-down arm and trigger switch to activate the blade and coolant.
- Hydraulic descent: For production runs, you can switch the machine over to cut using the pressure you input. It will automatically shut down the blade and coolant system when the cut is completed.
- Includes a powerful coolant pump that washes away metal chips, cools the blade teeth, and
- lubricates the blade, helping it last longer.
- Baileigh covers this metal-cutting band saw with a 1-year parts warranty.
- We typically keep all replacement parts in stock for fast deliveries.
- Comes with lifetime technical support by phone. You can call up an experienced technical sales rep for troubleshooting and project advice anytime.
Think of what would happen if a miter saw and a horizontal band saw had a baby. Well, you don’t have to think too much, because that is exactly what the Baileigh BS-250M does – it combines the maneuverability and precision of a miter saw with the raw power of a full-sized horizontal band saw. While most band saws used in homes only have 2 or 3 fixed motor speeds, you can control the speed of the motor on the BS-250M much more precisely. How precisely? Well, anywhere between 66 to 280 FPM (feet per minute) in single fpm increments! And that is possible thanks to a very advanced inverter-based speed control mechanism that you can access by turning a simple dial on the control panel. Right below the speed control dial, you will find a digital readout that tells you exactly how fast the blade is running in FPM numbers.
VIDEO | Learn more about the Baileigh BS-250M
The whole frame is built from steel, aluminum, and cast iron parts. Its blade is driven by a 2hp industrial-grade motor, connected to a standard 110V supply which means you can use this saw pretty much everywhere without having to install new wiring or change the circuits. Its blade is 1” wide, 0.035” thick, and 96.85” long. Miter angle can be set between 0 to 60 degrees, by swiveling the bowhead to the right. A direct drive system between the motor and the drive wheel eliminates energy loss that occurs with pulleys, and also increases the durability of the machine. Not to mention, a direct drive is significantly quieter.
The vice on this Baileigh industrial band saw is special in that it comes with a unique quick-release feature. Once you have adjusted the vice to perfectly fit your work piece, you don’t have to undo it completely and spend previous minutes trying to get the perfect fit. Just use the quick release lever to free your work piece, and once you are done adjusting its position, push the lever back to grip your work piece with the exact same vice setting that you were using.
The control panel features an emergency stop button, a master on/ off switch, separate switches for starting the blade and coolant pump, along with the speed control dial. You can lower the bowhead manually, or with the help of a hydraulic bleed off valve that gradually brings the saw down into the material that you are cutting at a constant rate of descent. A pressure monitoring assembly on the saw checks blade tension and will immediately stop the saw if it senses a sudden drop in pressure, which may happen if the blade breaks.
Learn more about Baileigh industrial products by visiting their site.
— Horizontal/Vertical Bandsaws —
Best professional-grade bandsaw for the money.
- Heavy-duty geared head transmission for quick speed changes
- Heavy-duty cast iron saw bow and head
- Hardened and ground worm gear
- Large 8″ wheels and handle for easy movement
- Quick-positioning vise swivels to 45°, reducing set up time
- Built-in, self propelled blade brush extends blade life
- Vertical work table
- Coolant system
- Adjustable material stop
- 3/4″ Bi-Metal blade
Like all other JET products, the HBS-812G is built to surpass industry standards in terms of quality and performance. It is slightly expensive, but consider the benefits of owning a JET HBS-812G in your workshop. You can regularly make cuts in metal blocks and round stock up to 8 by 12 inches in thickness, and the automatic stop function means that the saw will stop itself whenever the blade arrives at the lowest point during its descent. You just put the material in the vice, secure it, and select the hydraulic descent by flipping a switch on top of the hydraulic dampers. And, there is a knob that opens or closes the bleed valve in the hydraulic damper, allowing you to speed up or slow down the rate of descent depending on the type of material that you are cutting, and the speed at which you are cutting it.
Changing the blade speed is extremely quick, thanks to the direct drive system which connects the motor and drive wheel through a system of gears. Pulleys? Who even uses that stuff in a serious industrial-grade metal cutting band saw. Pulleys are slow when it comes to shifting speed, and they make more noise, not to mention the headache that comes with replacing a worn out pulley drive. With this brand new geared drive system your saw is quieter, faster, and more efficient.
The saw rides on a base that is shaped like a storage box, and what do you know – the base actually opens up to reveal a small cargo space in which you can store tools and other stuff. There are a couple of wheels with rubber tires around them in the back of the base, allowing you to move this 308 pound hunk of metal cutting perfection. The bowhead can pivot on its base, allowing you to execute miter cuts up to an angle of 45°. There are 3 different blade speed settings to choose from – 155, 208, and 255 FPM (feet per minute). A coolant pump and line is preinstalled, all you have to do is fill the reservoir with coolant fluid and turn on the switch labeled as “coolant” whenever you are slicing through metal tubes and bars.
One of the most unique features of this saw is its ability to transform into a vertical band saw. The Jet HBS-812G can be transformed into a makeshift vertical saw by standing the bowhead upright, at a 90° to the base. You then twist the guide block around, and use the feeding plate as your work table. That is why we call this a horizontal/ vertical band saw. It accepts blades up to 0.75” wide, and 93” in length. The driving wheel is powered by a single phase 1hp motor running on a 110V supply.
- Cutting Capacity (W x D) (In.) 8 x 12
- Round at 90 Degrees (In.) 8
- Round at 45 Degrees (In.) 5
- Rectangle at 90 Degrees (In.) 8 x 11-1/4
- Rectangle at 45 Degrees (In.) 5 x 8
— Budget Bandsaw —
10″ Two-Speed Band Saw with Stand and Work-light. Best cheap bandsaw for the money. Cuts up to 6″ deep, nearly 10″ wide
- 3.5 amp motor creates cuts up to six inches deep and 9-3/4 inches wide
- Uses 72-inch blades anywhere from 1/8 to 1/2 inches in size (Blade included – 72″ x 3/8″ – 7 TPI )
- Spacious 14-1/8 x 12-1/2 inch work table bevels up to 45 degrees
- Operates at two speeds of either 1520 or 2620 FPM
- Includes a 2-year warranty, a work light, a 3-in-1 dust port, a fence and a miter gauge
- Dimensions of the stand: 13 3/4″L x 15 3/4″W x 25 1/4″H
A very capable 14” vertical band saw in the hands of an experienced woodworker, but not something that a novice is going to appreciate. Is it because the WEN 3962 is hard to operate? No, not at all. In fact, it comes with fewer fancy features and controls compared to more expensive models, which actually makes this saw very simple to use with basic training. However the real issue, and a pretty big one at that, lies in the fact that it isn’t easy to tune. When you purchase a WEN 3962, it is like rolling a dice. Some units can be removed from their box, assembled within an hour and be put to work right away with minimal tuning.
VIDEO | WEN 3962 : Very Affordable Bandsaw
But if you get one of the bad units, it means that you will have to spend several hours fiddling with the saw and trying to figure out why the damn blade is drifting so much. One of the things you can check if you are experiencing a lot of blade drift, is the front-back position of the upper blade guides. In saws that are poorly tuned from the factory, you will notice that the blade guides are too far back, which means that the teeth are free to flail around while the only thing being supported by the guides is the far end of the backer. Move the guides forward on either side, such that the front of each guide is about 1/16” of an inch behind the deepest position of the gullets on your saw blade.
If the saw blade is still swinging around, but this time it is swinging too far back, adjust the thrust bearings. Another issue with this saw is the position of the work lights, they almost always cast a shadow unless you have the blade guides rolled all the way up. Apart from these minor flaws, the WEN 3962 is an extremely well built vertical band saw for the price.
Most vertical band saws that are cheap will be equipped with flimsy tables and lightweight frames to cut down on costs. However the WEN 3962 is quite sturdy and vibration resistant for a 10” model that costs under 300 bucks. It even comes with a 3-in-1 dust port, a rip fence, a miter guide, and a 7 TPI 3/8” general purpose blade. Granted, the blade is not a very high quality one, but at least you are getting something that helps you start cutting right out of the box. If you are going to use this saw regularly, buy a quality blade and spend some time on tuning the 3962 so that it cuts true. It is hard to tune this thing, but once you get it right, it will significantly outperform any other 10” vertical band saw on the market under 500 dollars.
— Horizontal Metal Bandsaw —
7″ x 12″ Metal Cutting Bandsaw. Designed to cut 7″ round and 7″ X 12″ rectangular stock. Best metal-cutting bandsaw for the money.
- Automatic shut-off
- Designed to cut 7″ round and 7″ X 12″ rectangular stock,
- Hydraulic feed control
- Quick-release vise
- Heavy-duty construction with cast iron bed, cast iron body frame, cast iron wheels
- Coolant system
- Permanently lubricated ball bearings and heavy gauge steel stand.
- Includes blade
- Easy-to-use hydraulic feed control and automatic shut-off
The G0561 from Grizzly is a dedicated metal cutting horizontal band saw which features all the stuff you need such as an internal blade brush, coolant pumping system, hydraulic feed control, and a quick release vice. All these features are present on most premium full-sized horizontal band saws, but what makes the G0561 unique is its relatively small footprint and 4 different blade speed settings – 90, 135, 195, 255 FPM. Yeah, the Baileigh BS-250M is a much more capable saw for cutting various types of metal because it features a direct drive system and an extremely precise inverter based speed control which lets you adjust blade speed down to one FPM intervals.
But, the BS-250M also costs much more than this Grizzly, and is a lot more complicated because of all its fancy tech features. It is also not mobile, since the base doesn’t come with wheels attached to the bottom like you will find on the Grizzly G0561. And, the G0561 weighs less while occupying less space, which makes it a brilliant choice for workshops that are extremely cramped. The table, trunnions, lower wheel, and body are all constructed from cast iron which immediately tells you that this is a serious metal cutting machine designed with professional users in mind.
The base is constructed from stamped steel, while the wheel covers use preformed steel. An epoxy finish protects the painted surfaces from degradation over time. Ball bearing guides are used on both the upper as well as lower guide blocks, and the blade runs on 11.5” wheels that are computer balanced for ultimate stability and precision. You can make 90° cuts in round stock up to 7” in diameter. Maximum width of cut on rectangular stock at a 90° angle is 12”. A miter function allows you to perform miter cuts between 0 to 45 degrees.
Tech Specs (Grizzly G0561):
- Motor: 1 HP, 110V/220V, single-phase, prewired 110V
- Maximum capacity circular @ 90 degrees: 7″
- Maximum capacity rectangular @ 90 degrees: 7″ x 12″
- Maximum capacity circular @ 45 degrees: 5″
- Maximum capacity rectangular @ 45 degrees: 4-3/4″ x 4-1/2″
- Blade speeds: 90, 135, 195, 255 FPM
- Footprint: 13″ x 38″
- Coolant capacity: 2-1/2 gal.
- Blade size: 93″ x 3/4″
- Included blade size: 93″ x 3/4″ x 6 TPI (similar to Grizzly model G5124)
- Overall dimensions: 48″L x 16″W x 40″H
- Approximate shipping weight: 343 lbs.
— Portable Bandsaw —
Makita XBP02TX 18V
Best Cordless Portable Bandsaw Kit.
It is ideal for faster cutting through Unistrut, all thread, channel, corrugated, conduit, pipe, sheet metal, square tubing, and more.
- 4-3/4″ cutting capacity accepts a 44-7/8″ blade and is ideal for cutting multiple metal materials
- Makita-built motor delivers faster cutting with variable speed 275-530 ft./min.
- Protection circuit with built-in alert light provides over-torque motor protection warning for increased durability
- Trigger switch with lock-off feature requires two actions to power on the band saw
- Conveniently located variable speed control dial enables user to match the speed to the application
- Thick protective rubber bumper for added durability
- Tool hook secures the tool when not in use
- Compact and ergonomic design at only 20-5/8″ long and 14.3 lbs. with battery for reduced operator fatigue
- Adjustable stopper plate protects material and provides positive support for accurate cuts
- Built-in L.E.D. light illuminates the work area for increased visibility
- Rubberized soft grip handle provides increased comfort on the job
- Externally accessible brushes for greater serviceability
- On-board wrench storage for quick and easy stopper plate adjustment
- 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 5.0Ah battery BL1850B features an integrated L.E.D. battery charge level indicator
- 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 5.0Ah battery BL1850B reaches a full charge in 45 minutes or less
- Equipped with Star Protection Computer Controls™ to protect against overloading, over-discharging and over-heating
- Rapid Optimum Charger communicates with the battery’s built-in chip throughout the charging process to optimize battery life by actively controlling current, voltage and temperature
- Rapid Optimum Charger has a built-in fan to cool the battery for faster, more efficient charging
- Makita technology delivers category-leading charge time so the battery spends more time working and less time sitting on the charger
- Compatible with Makita 18V Lithium-Ion batteries with a Star symbol
- 3-year limited warranty on tool, battery and charger
Cordless bandsaws are often available in kits that contain the base tool (i.e. the saw itself), a couple of battery packs, a blade, a carry bag, and some other goodies. These kits are well worth the added price over the base tool, since they offer you a combination of products that you will need for operating your portable band saw, at a much lower price than it would cost you to buy each individual component in the kit separately. Besides, it feels really good to get all the stuff packed inside a neat carry bag that you take around with you to the jobsite.
The Makita XBP02TZ is the model name of their 18V cordless band saw, it is powered by a Makita LXT lithium ion 5.0 Ah battery pack and accepts a 44-7/8” x ½” 18TPI bimetal blade that lasts up to 3 times longer than standard carbon steel blades.
The Makita XBP02TX kit contains the XBP02TZ cordless band saw, two 18V Makita LXT 5.0 Amp-hour batteries (model BL 1850B), one DC18RC Rapid Optimum Charger, a 44-7/8” 18TPI bimetal band saw blade (model 792556-A), and a nice tool bag to carry it all. The saw is powered by a brushless DC motor which can drive the blade at speeds between 275 to 530 feet per minute, capable of cutting through several types of metals and plastics.
The compact nature of this saw and its balanced weight distribution makes the Makita XBP02TZ a pleasure to use in construction projects and small workshops. You use your dominant hand to hold the fore grip, and the other hand to grab the rear handle which is coated with soft rubbery grip pads that assist with control even when your hands are really sweaty.
With one flick of your wrist, you can change cutting angles and there are thick rubber bumpers on either side of the saw to protect it from all kinds of abuse that it will be exposed to on a jobsite. Cutting capacity on a round work piece is 4-3/4”, for a rectangular work piece it is 4-3/4” x 4-3/4”. Net weight of the saw with a 18V battery installed is just around 14 pounds, and while that is by no means super light, it is one of the lightest portable band saws on the market. There is a built-in LED light for when you need to work in some dimly lit basement or a really restricted space without much ambient lighting.
A safety switch with lock-off mode ensures that you can never turn on the tool accidentally by just pressing on the trigger, you need to deactivate the safety first. Each one of the 18V lithium ion batteries can recharge from zero to full in just 45 minutes, thanks to the Rapid Optimum charger which is loaded with internal cooling fans and all kinds of sensors to ensure that the battery is performing optimally at all times.
The LXT battery pack itself is equipped with a bunch of data tracking sensors which optimize efficiency in real time by monitoring voltage, current flow, temperature, and many other parameters. If you have depleted one battery, just put it in the Rapid Optimum charger while you use the second battery. These 18V LXT batteries are compatible across a wide range of Makita products including leaf blowers, chainsaws, power drills, and much more.
Read our comprehensive buying guide on portable bandsaws for a full range of reviews and recommendations.
What are Band Saws Used For?
For any aspiring woodworkers out there who are looking to expand on their arsenal of power tools in the shop, a band saw is usually towards the end of the list. Not because the tool is incapable, but because it is often misunderstood. With a band saw, the only thing limiting you is your creativity. When most people think of must-have woodworking power tools, the first thing that comes to mind is a table saw. It allows you to crosscut and rip wood stock with relative ease, and the design of the machine makes it amazing for cutting in straight lines.
With just a table saw, the novice woodworker can take care of almost any basic project that he or she might be interested in, but there is one thing that the table saw cannot do – cutting curves. Well, now you have to look at something like a scroll saw or jigsaw for cutting curves in wood. Curves are quite an essential component of woodworking, since they allow you to make things like cabriole legs, gift boxes, fancy picture frames, ornamental pieces, etc. A band saw gives you the ability to carve through wood stock much more freely compared to something like a table saw or miter saw, since you are not relying on a circular blade to do the cutting.
Think of it this way — would you rather buy a table saw + jigsaw + scroll saw, or simply get a band saw and do most of the work that the aforementioned 3 machines do combined? Besides, a jigsaw is not meant for cutting through materials that are thicker than a couple of inches, and the scroll saw’s curved cutting abilities are mainly used to create decorative pieces. With a band saw, you are able to cut really thick pieces of wood depending on the size of your model. When we mention the size of a band saw, we are referring to two things — the “throat” of the saw (determined by the pulley diameter), and the “depth of cut”, which is the distance between the table and the bottom of the blade guard/ guide. With a standard 14” floor-mounted band saw, you can make irregular as well as straight cuts in logs of wood up to 12 inches in diameter.
Apart from making irregular/ curved cuts in wood of all shapes and sizes, the band saw is also used for resawing which is basically vertical ripping. You take a single board or plank of wood, and slice it up into two planks of equivalent surface area. This technique helps you “make” more wood out of existing stock, and is a great way to avoid wastage of wood by passing a board through a planer. Similarly, you can cut thinner slices or “veneers” out of thicker boards and use these to make all kinds of creative projects.
You can also take 5 or 6 thin wooden boards where each one is made from a different type of wood, glue or tape them together, and make curved cuts through the whole thing using a band saw as if it was one single block. The resulting material will look unique because of the variance in grain pattern and color from the different types of wood in the block. If you own some exotic dimensional lumber that you purchased from the local home depot or an online store, and wish to use it in a project but the board is simply too thick, you can pass it through a band saw for resawing.
Most people wouldn’t want to pass their exotic lumber through a planer just to get a board of desired thickness, and you would much rather use your band saw for resawing it and save the excess for some other project. Another thing you can use the band saw for, is making curved or bent laminate that can later be glued together to form a curved piece of furniture.
Band saws can also come in handy for all those times when you bring home timber from a fallen tree in your backyard, or even firewood that you cut down from the forest with your chainsaw. For those who don’t know the difference between timber and lumber, timber refers to the raw, unprocessed chunks or logs of wood you get when you cut down a tree. Lumber is wood that has been sawn and cut into length, for convenient usage in projects. You don’t just fell a tree with a chainsaw and make a chair out of it. You have to pass the raw stock through a saw mill, slice up the logs into manageable size, then cut up those smaller blocks into planks and boards which will go into your projects. But when you have a band saw in your garage/ workshop, you can in fact chop down a tree and bring the logs straight to your home to start working on whatever project you have in mind. Why? Because the band saw doubles up as a saw mill.
Now keep in mind, your band saw is not a full-blown saw mill, rather it is a means for you to process small logs and chunks of firewood that would otherwise be wasted. Most standard floor-mounted 14” band saws can handle logs up to 12” in thickness. So for example, if there was a storm in your area and you notice some fallen trees nearby, maybe in your own backyard, you could chop away pieces from the fallen tree with your chainsaw and bring them straight into the garage/ workshop where you have your band saw for being cut down into lumber. Cherry, maple, oak – any band saw can cut through all of these with ease as long as it well-maintained and you have installed the correct blade for ripping wood. With some creativity and a few power tools, you can turn that fallen tree from your backyard into a brand new table top or cabinet. Below, you can watch a video that gives you an example of how the band saw can be used as a miniature saw mill.
VIDEO | Tips on Using your Bandsaw
Most people don’t factor this in when making a purchase, but a band saw is statistically the safer tool compared to a table saw or any circular saw. First of all, the amount of blade that is exposed on a band saw can be controlled by lowering or raising the blade guard and guides, such that they are positioned just above the stock you are cutting. Not only does this make the cut more accurate by limiting the amount of free-hanging blade, but it also reduces the chances of someone accidentally placing their hand on a running band saw blade.
Secondly, no matter which vertical band saw you use, they all have one thing in common – the teeth go down, into the table. The bottom pulley is usually the drive pulley, and it is connected to an electric motor. It spins clockwise, so the cutting action automatically draws the lumber towards the table, which means that you don’t have to force it down in order to keep it stable. And most importantly – there is no kickback with a band saw. Table saws can kickback, because the teeth are spinning outwards from the table, so if the circular blade of a table saw gets bound or pinches on the wood, it flings the work piece back at you with great force. But a band saw doesn’t cut outwards, the teeth are traveling down while making a cut so you don’t have to worry about kickback.
How Does a Band Saw Work?
Now that you have a good idea of what a band saw can do, it is time to understand how it does that. Basically, what you have her is a band of metal with teeth on one side, traveling along 2 or 3 pulleys to form a continuous cutting loop. There is a table between the two pulleys, and that is where all the action happens. The band saw blade is not a rigid structure, and is quite flexible. Which is why it has to be tensioned properly between the pulleys in order to cut clean lines through different types of materials.
VIDEO | Understanding How A Bandsaw Works
Most band saws use 2 wheels, one of which is the driving wheel. The band saw is available in many sizes, and there are two main types – vertical, and horizontal. Band saws are used to cut meat, wood, plastic, and metal. DIY enthusiasts and hobbyist woodworkers use them to create stuff like furniture and fences. Industries use them for slicing through large sheets of metal and plastic. Saw mills use huge band saws for processing tree trunks and logs, since a band saw blade has very low kerf and less material is wasted.
With a twin wheel band saw which is the most commonly used configuration, you have two wheels on opposing sides (top-bottom in a vertical band saw and left-right in a horizontal model), only one of which is powered by a motor. The motor is almost always an electric motor, and its output can vary between 1/3 to 1.5hp on most residential band saws. Commercial and industrial band saws are equipped with much larger motors, and direct-drive systems in which the motor is directly connected to the drive pulley. On a band saw that is intended for home use, the motor is located near the base of the machine and is connected to the drive pulley with a belt.
The top pulley is free-rotating and its position can be adjusted to increase or decrease the tension in the band saw blade that is connecting both pulleys together. On triple pulley systems, the pulleys are arranged in a triangular formation. Floor-standing cabinet models have larger motors and sturdier frames compared to their more portable benchtop counterparts. If you are doing lots of cutting on a regular basis, it is highly recommended that you invest in a proper vertical 12” or 14” band saw. The higher quality models will feature steel frames and heavier bases along with lots of extra features that make tuning the band saw much easier. Bigger band saws also come with more powerful motors, which allow you to cut through thicker or tougher material (such as 12” logs, or sheets of non-ferrous metals like copper, aluminum, etc.). The heavier a band saw is, the more stable it will be while cutting. More stability means a higher degree of precision, especially while doing longer cuts. And heavier generally means better build quality, so the parts will not flex as easily and will last longer.
The typical floor mounted vertical band saw will come with a square table that is 16” in both width as well as length, equipped with a track for a miter guide that will help you make miter cuts (angled cuts on the X or horizontal plane). Most tables also have the ability to rotate sideways, allowing you to make bevel cuts. If you are confused between miter and bevel cuts, here is the thing – both are angled cuts. For example, let’s say you have a board of wood that is 2 inches thick, 4 inches in width, and 16 inches long. So a “miter” cut is any cut along the face of the board, i.e. the 4” x 16” plane. A “bevel” cut is any cut along the thickness of the board, i.e. the 4” x 2” plane. In a crosscut, both the bevel and miter angles are zero degrees.
Make sure that the table is made from metal, cheaper band saws might use plastic tables that are literally nothing but placeholders until you get an actual table. Cast iron is the material of choice in high quality band saw tables. Why? Well, for one – it is extremely sturdy. You can throw logs of wood on it and lean on the table while working, it will support both your weight as well as the weight of the lumber with ease. Secondly – you want to work on a heavy table that doesn’t move around too much. The heavier a table is, the less likely it is to vibrate or shake and that means you will get cleaner cuts all year long. Cast iron ranks pretty high in the “heavy metal” scale, so it is the number one choice for a reliable, well-functioning band saw table.
In case you want to do crosscuts or rip cuts on your band saw, you will have to attach a rip fence onto the table (although most vertical band saws come with one pre-installed). One of the major strengths of a band saw is its ability to rip large pieces of wood. With a table saw or scroll saw, you simply cant rip lumber that is any thicker than 3 to 4 inches. However, when you own a vertical band saw in the 12 to 14 inch neighborhood, ripping 10 or even 12 inch thick logs of timber becomes an easy task. Another reason the band saw is so good at ripping is because it comes with a more powerful motor compared to the scroll saw, and the kerf of the band saw blade is less than that of a circular saw blade found in the table saw. A smaller kerf means less resistance while ripping, and lower wastage of materials.
One of the most important components of a band saw is the blade, and we have an entire section which explains why it so important, and how to select the correct blade for a task. For now, all you need to know is that the blade is never fully exposed on a bandsaw since it sits inside a steel box frame and the only part that is exposed is used entirely for cutting, thanks to the “guide block”. As you already know, the band saw blade is not a rigid structure, hence it is prone to slipping and sliding around while cutting through wood. The first step to prevent this from happening is to set the appropriate amount of tension in the blade, which can vary depending on the size of blade that you are using and the material you are cutting.
Not enough tension, and the band will slip loose from the pulleys. When the band slips, the pulley spins but no work is being done. Not only is this detrimental to your project, but it also results in damage to the tires and loss of energy. The tires are made from rubber or urethane, and act as a medium between the metal pulleys and the metal band. Without these tires, your band saw would eat itself up from the inside since metal is rubbing against metal. It is the same idea as car tires — you cant expect the car to roll around on the road with just the wheels. If there is too little tension in the band, these tires will never be able to grip the blade and you aren’t cutting anything. Too much tension will wear out the tires faster, and can impair performance of the machine.
Tension is adjusted by raising or lowering the top wheel in a vertical band saw. The same idea applies to horizontal band saws, the non-drive wheel is always the one that is adjustable. When you move the top pulley upwards, you are increasing tension, and vice-versa. Most band saws come with tension monitoring gauges that tell how much tension you are applying based on the size of the blade. However, in practice these gauges aren’t very accurate. Bandsaw blades tend to stretch and contract over time, depending on how hot or cold they are running.
As a blade gets older, it will also become longer due to gradual stretching under tension over the period of months. And the tension gauge in your band saw does not take this into account. The best way to know if a blade is tensioned properly is by testing its drift with your hand. Flick it with your fingers to see how much it wobbles around. Too much wobble means low tension, and if the blade is extremely stiff, you are probably going to ruin the tires or snap the blade. Don’t worry, we are going to talk about band saw tuning in detail later on in this article. For now, you just need to know what it is.
The ”guide block” is one of the most crucial and underrated components of any band saw. Tension is one way to prevent the blade from drifting around, but a guide block physically sits on top of the blade, ensuring that it doesn’t linger too far away from where it is supposed to be. There is one guide block attached to both sides of the frame (top and bottom), and the top guide block can be slid up or down to lower or increase the height of exposed blade. It consists of two components – the blade guide and the thrust bearings. A blade guide prevents the band from swinging sideways, while the thrust bearing rests against the back of the band to prevent it from bending backwards while cutting.
When you purchase a band saw, it will come with stock blade guides that consist of metal rollers that sit on either side of the band. You can move these rollers closer to the band or further away, to decide how much the band is allowed to sway sideways. The same goes for the thrust bearing, it too can be move back and forth. However, if you are really serious about woodworking the best guides are aftermarket ones made from synthetic materials such as graphite-impregnated metal laminate. They are also known as “cool guides” because their frictional coefficient is much lower than standard metal guides. Less friction means less heat when the band saw blade rubs against the guide, and less heat means your band saw blade doesn’t expand while working. Less expansion in the blade equals consistent tension, i.e. more accurate cuts. You can also buy solid guide blocks that don’t feature any rollers on either side. Ceramic blocks are another nice option if you are looking for aftermarket guides. Ceramic guides are much quieter, and smoother compared to steel guides. They also last much longer.
The next component in a band saw is the motor. If you are using a vertical floor mounted band saw, it probably has an electric motor rated between 0.5 to 1hp. This motor is powered by the mains supply from a wall socket. Portable band saws come in both cordless as well as corded versions, and the best cordless models such as the Milwaukee 2729-22 and DEWALT DCS371P1 are powered by advanced DC brushless electric motors.
These motors are different from the ones you will find in your 14” vertical shop saw — they are meant to be nimble and efficient, to take maximum advantage of the lithium ion battery packs used in cordless power tools. Unless you are doing a lot of hardwood ripping and firewood processing, you don’t need a band saw with more than 1hp. Light carpentry, scroll work, crafting, making veneers – all that can be done with a motor between 0.5 to 0.75hp. However, it is generally better to have a slightly overpowered motor if you know you are going to use the band saw a lot. A motor that is too weak for the task will have to work harder and as a result it will get hotter and the lifespan will decrease, not to mention the noise that an overworked motor will make.
Finally, we get to the “extra features”. A couple decades ago, these were considered to be luxuries, but the world is changing and so are the tools we use. You want to be equipped with the best tool that your budget will allow, especially when it is something as versatile and capable as a band saw. Don’t cheap out on the little details such as dust extraction ports. Fine dust can be extremely harmful to your health, since it accumulates in your lungs without you even realizing it. Just like ash from a furnace, saw dust comes in many sizes.
The most common dust is the type you see lying around on your worktable and floor. Then, you have the microscopic saw dust which floats around in the air and creeps into your lungs. Which is why, you need to have a face mask and safety glasses on while working with a band saw. And make sure the model you purchase comes with a dust extraction port which can be connected to the shop vacuum. Another convenient feature found on most modern bandsaws is a quick blade release lever which instantly drops the tension in the band when you pull it, so you can extract the blade much faster. And since we are talking about good band saws, make sure the one you’re purchasing is equipped with a variable speed setting. Fast for softwoods, medium for hardwoods, and slow for metals or plastics.
Two Types of Bandsaws
Vertical Bandsaw —
In a vertical band saw, the work piece doesn’t have to be fixed, and you can move it around while the saw blade is stationary. The table on which you place the work piece can swivel about, and there is a little protractor underneath the table which lets you set your table angle for bevel cuts. In case you want to do miter cuts, the table is equipped with a track for mounting a miter guide. Rip fences are provided with most floor mounted vertical band saws for doing ripping or crosscuts. Although you can cut metal and plastic with a vertical band saw, you most likely aren’t buying one for that purpose.
Most people cutting metal or plastic are professionals or working in an industrial setting. And the better saw for that job would be the horizontal band saw since it is equipped with a more powerful direct drive motor and comes standard with 1” blades on most full-sized models. A vertical bandsaw excels at making curved cuts in wooden stock of all sizes and shapes.
The two main differences between a vertical and horizontal model are – a vertical band saw is used mainly for resawing/ cutting curves, while a horizontal band saw is much better at performing straight cuts in harder material such as metals. And, in a vertical band saw the saw itself is stationary while the table and work piece can be moved, but in a horizontal band saw it is the other way around. Vertical band saws are available in both stationary as well as portable models.
Horizontal Bandsaw —
In a horizontal band saw, the work piece is clamped tight with a vice, and the saw drops down like a guillotine on it. You can control the rate of descent manually, or use a hydraulic system to make the saw lowers itself automatically at a constant preset speed. Most horizontal band saws are capable of executing miter and bevel cuts, because the saw head is capable of pivoting upon its base. Horizontal bandsaws are mostly used for crosscutting metal pipes, tubes, and posts. They are excellent for cutting poles, posts, pipes etc. down to a desired length.
You can also use the horizontal bandsaw to smooth out rough edges on tubing and support beams. Like a vertical band saw, the horizontal band saw can accept blades of many different sizes. However, it is incapable of making curved cuts as freely as a vertical band saw. The range of application for a vertical band saw is slightly limited compared to that of a vertical model, but it is brilliant for cutting through heavy duty materials because the motor on most full-size floor mounted horizontal bandsaws is very strong, and they are designed to accept larger blades.
Just like a vertical bandsaw, you have to adjust the tension and set the guides on a horizontal saw to ensure that the blade doesn’t drift or slip on the wheels. Industrial and commercial grade horizontal band saws are capable of standing upright in a locked position, which is when you can attach a table to transform them into a pseudo vertical band saw. We say “pseudo” because these aren’t true vertical band saws even if you stand them upright, since the blade is cutting at a vertical angle to the wheel and they don’t offer the same degree of freedom while doing curved cuts. You can purchase large, commercial-grade horizontal band saws —
…or more compact portable models like the DEWALT DWM120K.
Selecting the Correct Bandsaw Blade
Now that you know how a band saw works and what you can do with it, it is time to learn about one of the most important components of a band saw – its blade. Using the incorrect blade in a band saw can result in a variety of issues, such as inaccurate cuts, loss of time and energy, waste of material, and you could even break the blade or your saw. Besides, you need different types of blades for cutting through multiple materials.
The same band saw blade cannot be used to cut wood and steel, just like you wouldn’t want a fork for eating noodles as well as soup. Each type of blade is designed with a specific purpose in mind, and is meant to fit a certain size of band saw wheel. And there is the confusing nature of band saw design – just because you own a 14” vertical band saw doesn’t mean you can walk into a store and ask them for a “14 inch band saw blade”. How long is the blade? How thick is it? What about the width? Is it a 1/8”, 3/8”, ¼”, ½”, or a 1” blade? Now we shall learn about the 6 things you must consider before selecting a band saw blade-
The material you are cutting
Are you planning to cut metals with your band saw? Well, in that case you are going to need some specialized blades for the task. Most vertical or horizontal band saws used for cutting metal are equipped with either carbon tool steel or bi-metal blades. You should note that bi-metal band saw blades are rare and more expensive, hence many suppliers may not have them in stock. If you want to cut a lot of metal on a regular basis and don’t want to switch out blades every couple of weeks, we recommend that you purchase a bi-metal blade.
Even though it is more expensive upfront, a bi-metal blade is relatively economical in the long run since it can outlast a standard carbon tool steel blade by up to 10 times. And, you can even cut harder metals such as stainless steel with a bi-metal blade which makes it worth the extra cost. But we believe the majority of readers are going to end up with a carbon tool steel blade, because it is cheaper and more readily available. Besides, unless you are a professional working in a commercial workshop, you probably don’t cut metal all that often to validate the purchase of a bi-metal blade. A regular carbon steel blade will provide the best results at speeds under 200fpm (feet per minute), if you are using it to cut mild steel. Depending on the workload, you may have to use coolant.
Regular carbon tool steel blades feature a one-piece steel strip construction, and are available in hard or flexible versions. The hard version will have a specially heat treated backer and teeth that allow it to remain stiffer while cutting straight lines. Flexible carbon steel blades will only have heat treated blades, so the backer is free to flex around. You can use a carbon steel blade to cut mild steel, and non-ferrous metals such as copper, brass, aluminum, etc. It can also be used for cutting wood. Think of the carbon tool steel blade as a general purpose blade that you can slap onto the band saw and keep it on there for a long time while you cut a variety of woods and non-ferrous metals (even plastics).
bi-metal blades are made by electron welding High Speed Steel (HSS) teeth to a spring alloy steel backer. Then the whole blade is heat treated for extreme levels of structural rigidity. The HSS is usually M42 steel, which is a molybdenum-series steel alloy that contains 8 to 10% cobalt for added wear resistance and improved structural rigidity under high temperature cutting compared to regular carbon steel. bi-metal blades are able to cut faster compared to standard carbon steel, not just because the tips of the teeth are harder, but because the material used in the tips can maintain its hardness under much higher temperatures. That is why it is called “High Speed Steel” and is used in heavy duty drill bits or band saw blades.
If your bi-metal band saw blade uses cobalt-based high speed steel, it should have the letters HSS-Co on it somewhere. Reduction in the hardness of a bi-metal blade occurs somewhere around 1300°F, which is higher than the melting point of aluminum.
For woodworkers, the standard carbon tool steel blades are sufficient. However, there are different types of woodworking. If you are going to do a whole lot of resawing, it might be worth investing in a thin-kerf blade which will reduce material loss in the long run. Kerf refers to the width of the material removed from the wood stock in a cutting process. A smaller kerf means you can cut with extremely low tolerances, and less wood is wasted in the form of saw dust and chips. One of the main reasons band saws are so popular as resawing tools, is because the band saw blade has a lower kerf than a circular saw blade. And on top of that, you can even buy specialty blades for your band saw that feature even smaller kerfs, wasting minimal wood. If you are dealing with reclaimed timber, it might contain hidden nails buried deep within the surface. In that scenario, you will need a premium quality blade that uses HSS (High Speed Steel) or M42 steel.
If you own a compact tabletop saw or a 3-wheel band saw, you need to ensure that you purchase a blade designed specifically for those types of saws. The wheels in a triple pulley system are smaller than usual, hence a blade of standard thickness will flex beyond its prescribed tolerance levels when you use it in a triple-wheel setup. To prevent frequent blade breakage in smaller or triple-wheel band saws, check out 3-wheeler band saw blades, they are made from steel alloy that is more flexible than usual and is heat treated to maintain structural rigidity even under high flex conditions.
Tooth type and pattern
There are 3 different tooth styles to choose from, depending on what you want to cut :
Regular – Perfect for general purpose cutting, consists of equally spaced teeth that are ideal for cutting thin materials with a fine finish.
Skip – Used for cutting soft woods, non-ferrous metals, and plastics. The teeth are widely spaced, with a 0° rake angle. Rake angle determines the aggressiveness of your cut, and is the angle of the cutting face on the tooth. Skip tooth pattern cuts faster than regular, but also requires more power to push through the material because of the aggressive tooth angle. The wide spacing between each tooth allows for waste material to exit the kerf more easily, preventing clogging.
Hook – The most aggressive rake angle of the three, at 10°. Requires a powerful motor to run a hook tooth band saw blade, and it cuts into the material very aggressively resulting in very fast cutting rates. The gullet (rounded space between teeth, used for carrying out waste material) is deeper, which means that the blade won’t jam while ripping through large logs of hardwood. Hook tooth blades are also used for cutting thick sections of metals and plastics.
Pitch of the blade
The pitch of a bandsaw blade refers to the number of teeth per inch (TPI). A higher TPI will result in a smoother, but slower cut. A lower TPI will result in a faster, but coarser cut. You will want to use a high TPI blade (14 TPI and above) while working on thin sheets of metal or plastic. For ripping logs of wood, you need a 3 or 4 TPI blade with a skip/ hook tooth pattern. For general purpose cutting, 6 to 10 TPI should be sufficient. Here is a reference chart to help you out-
[table id=24 /]
Variable pitched blades will have alternating sets of varying tooth sizes to deliver a faster cut alongside a smooth finish. In a constant pitch tooth, the distance between each consecutive tooth is the same across the entire blade. Variable pitch saw blades generate less harmonic vibrations while cutting, and evacuate waste material much more effectively. Hence, they cut faster and cleaner (as well as quieter) compared to a constant pitch blade. If you are cutting odd-shaped materials, especially metal tubing, a variable pitch blade can come in handy since it will cut faster and last longer. The varying measurements in gullet depth, set angle, and pitch between each group of teeth on a variable pitch blade will reduce tooth stripping that happens when you cut hard materials such as steel.
Bandsaw Blade Width
Blade width determines how wide the blade is from tooth to back. Typical widths for band saw blades are – 1/8”, 3/8”, ¼”, ½”, ¾”, 1”, and 1-1/2”. The general rule for selecting a band saw blade based on its width is as follows – the wider the blade, the better it is for straight line cutting through thicker materials. A narrower blade is the best for contour cutting and making curves in less thick materials. It makes sense, since the minimum radius of a turn that you can make with any given blade is directly related to the width of the blade. Doing a lot of scroll work? Get a quarter inch blade or even a 1/8” blade.
If you are going to rip logs of wood, get a 1” blade. However, you cannot exceed the width of the wheel in your band saw so keep that in mind while shopping for a new blade. There is no point in buying a 1.5” for ripping lumber if your band saws wheel cannot fit that wide of a blade. Same principle applies to resawing and making crosscuts in thick material – get the widest blade that your band saw can accommodate. If you are interested in making cabriole legs and ornamental pieces for your home, check out this chart which shows how small of a radius you can cut with a given blade width:
[table id=25 /]
Blade Length | Bandsaws
You need to change the blade on your brand new band saw, but it seems that the owners manual is missing. Okay, let’s take a look at the machine itself, search for stickers that specify the length of the blade needed to operate this machine. No stickers that give you the blade length? Okay, it is time to use an old-fashioned trick which involves some basic math. Here we go-
- Step 1 – Set the top pulley in working position.
- Step 2 – Measure the radius of each wheel, let’s say they are “R1” and “R2” respectively.
- Step 3 – Take the distance between the centers of both wheels – let’s say it is “C”.
- Step 4 – Use this simple formula to get the size of your blade
Blade Length = (R1 x 3.146) + (R2 x 3.146) + (2 x C)
How did we get this formula? Well it is pretty simple. You see, we are simply taking half the circumference of each wheel, and adding it with two times the distance between each wheel. Here is a short video demonstrating how that works. Note: this is only for a 2 wheel pulley.
Blade Thickness | Bandsaws
Thicker blades can take more stress and are less prone to bending, but aren’t as efficient at making curved cuts through wood. Thinner blades are easier to make curves with, and you get a lower kerf along with more precise cuts. However, thinner blades may bend backwards or twist while doing straight cuts across large sections of wood, which results in uneven cuts. Thicker blades are also capable of sustaining higher tension levels because of their superior tensile strength.
Here is a chart to help you select blade thickness based on your wheel size :
[table id=26 /]
The typical wheel diameter for a vertical band saw in most homes is between 12 to 16 inches.
Setting Up Your Bandsaw
Unless your band saw is properly set up, you aren’t going to get the most out of it. A badly tuned saw will more noise, cut slower, and have a shorter lifespan. And you will find yourself changing blades frequently, even though you don’t cut regularly. There are plenty of guides on the internet that tell you how to tune your chainsaw, and each guide maker has his or her own special touch that they like to add in there. However, they are all pretty much the same, based around a few key steps – adjusting tension in the band, setting the guide block, and making sure that the blade is sitting correctly on the wheel.
We are going to present a band saw tuning technique used by Alex Snodgrass, which can be applied to pretty much any vertical band saw irrespective of brand or model. This setup method works for both resawing as well as making curved cuts on small blades. Before you start, make sure that the saw is unplugged. This is very important, many people have made the mistake of trying to work on their band saw while it is still plugged in, and that can cause some really nasty accidents.
Next, you want to remove any accessories mounted to the table, such as a rip fence or miter guide. Once you have removed those, take off the table itself. Most band saws will have some kind of screw or lever mechanism on the bottom of the table which allows you to take it off the trunnions. Open up the upper and lower wheel covers. Now, we are ready to start tuning.
Step 1: Installing the blade
In this step, we take our band saw blade and mount it onto the wheels, starting with the top wheel and finishing with the bottom. The teeth must point downwards as they come off the front of the top wheel, such that they are cutting down into the table. Now, seat the blade on the tire such that the deepest point in the gullet of lies dead on the center line of the top wheel. This will ensure that the cutting teeth are supported right on the crown of the wheel, and aren’t left hanging out there on the side where there is no support. Roll the top wheel by hand to make sure that the blade is tracking correctly on the wheels.
Step 2: Get some tension
Now that the blade is aligned correctly, we need to set the tension just right. There is a tension meter on the back or inside the top wheel well of each vertical band saw, but different manufacturers uses different standards and lengths of blades, and over time a blade tends to become longer as it is used, so that tension meter isn’t very accurate, nor does it have any industry standard to work with. Which is why, you need to feel the tension manually by flicking the middle of the blade with your index finger.
The sway in the blade should not be more than a quarter of an inch. Don’t strike the blade so hard that your finger becomes white, just flick it and see how much it wobbles around. Before you do this, make sure that the blade guides are completely loose and out of the way. Once you are satisfied with the tension, spin the top wheel some more to ensure that the blade is still tracking.
Step 3: Side guides
While adjusting the side guides, make sure that the front part of each side guide is about 1/16” behind the deepest part of the gullet on the blade. This is because a band saw blade is wider at the front than it is at the rear, since the teeth are set at an angle and point outwards from the blade. You don’t want the guide rollers to be touching on the teeth, otherwise that will ruin your blade completely. There should be just enough wiggle room between the side guide and the blade for you to be able to insert a piece of cigarette paper or dollar bill in there. Get the bearings as close as possible to the blade without actually touching it. Repeat this process for the bottom side guides.
Step 4: Thrust Bearings
The thrust bearing, just like the side guides needs to be as close as possible to the back of the blade, without actually touching it. It should not roll when you move the blade, but it may roll when you apply sufficient pressure to the front of the blade, for example – while resawing a piece of lumber. Once again, repeat this step for the bottom thrust bearings.
Step 5: Squaring the table
Now that we are done with the guide block and tension adjustment, let us put the table back in its place. Use the adjustment screws on the bottom of the table to attach it such that the table is at a 90° angle to the blade. Test it with a carpenters square. Finally, take a 2 x 4 or a 2 x 6 that you know is flat on both sides. Turn on the saw and feed it in to make a partial cut on the face of the board. Turn off the saw, flip the board around and try to get the blade to slide back into the slot. If it slides in easily, the table is at 90° to the blade.
To test out your tune, take a jointed and planed board, then slice off a thin veneer from it. It should be perfectly flat along either face which means your band saw is now perfectly tuned and ready to go.
Wear the appropriate personal protection protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses, face mask, and hearing protection while operating a band saw.
Always turn of the switch AND unplug the band saw before you proceed to do any maintenance or tuning work.
Never turn on the band saw while the wheel wells are open, close the top and bottom doors before attempting to cut with the band saw.
Never use your bare hands to remove cut pieces stuck between the fence and the live saw blade. Use a push stick, either a home made one or something that your purchased commercially.
Make sure that the based of the machine is firmly planted to the floor or workbench that you have mounted it on.
Attach a dust extraction line from the machine to your shop vacuum if you do a lot of cutting on a regular basis. Inhaling fine sawdust is quite harmful to your health.
Do not use too much force while feeding the wood into the blade, or else you can damage your band saw and even lose a couple fingers.
If the work piece pinches or binds on the blade, turn the saw off right away. Do not attempt to pull it back while the blade is still running.
Use a stick and brush to remove sawdust and clippings from the table, don’t use compressed air or else you will blow the dust all over your workshop.
Do not leave the machine unattended while it is running, turn off the power before you leave the area.
Make sure that the blade is running with proper tension. Too little tension can cause it to slip and fly around, and too much tension can snap thin blades.
If you are trying to cut metal with your band saw that you normally use for wood, ensure that it is designed for metal. Metal cutting band saws have variable speed settings that allow them to run at 800 rpm or lower while cutting metals. Too much speed, and you will harm the saw as well as yourself.
Don’t try to crosscut a piece of round stock with a vertical band saw, especially if its metal. The downward motion of the saw blade will try to spin the round stock around, and it will eventually bite in causing a sudden, violent spinning motion that will bring your hand straight into the path of the blade. Don’t hold round stock in your bare hands, use a jig of some sort. Or even better, try doing it on a horizontal band saw.
Don’t work in dimly lit environments, and make sure that the area surrounding your band saw is clear of debris before you start working.