There was a time when the phrase “power tools” denoted big and bulky pieces of machinery that were used only in large construction projects or building sites. Times sure have changed as we now see a wide range of power tools designed for various purposes and catering to different needs and scope or scale. Whether it is for industrial purposes or for smaller commercial or personal use, finding the right power machinery, equipment or tool is now a breeze.
Consisting of a wire, chain, or hard blade with serrated edges, a saw is most commonly associated with cutting wood, although now, it can now be used to cut a variety of tough materials. Cuts are produced by placing the serrated edge against the material that needs to be cut, and handling it with back and forth motions.
That is the “old school” perception of the saw; thanks to technological advancements and innovation, the saw has undergone various transformations, and we are now presented with other mechanized alternatives that make the process of cutting easier and significantly faster. The band saw is one great example of a mechanized saw. Nowadays, it is already considered a good investment to find the best band saw.
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Types of Band Saws
There are different types of band saws that you can choose from, depending on your needs.
- Double Cut Saw: It is a multi-purpose saw that is designed with teeth for cutting on both sides of the band. It is usually extremely large, and some band saw reviews even compared it to the size of a head saw. This is available in handheld, table top, and industrial-sized versions. They can cut through wood, plastics, and metals.
- Head Saw: It is created to make initial cuts on a log easier, with its cutting edge accompanied by a row of large silver teeth on its back. Each tooth is spaced widely, roughly two to three inches apart. Contrary to popular belief, however, the silver teeth are not for cutting but for sweeping away sliver or chips during the cutting process.
- Meat Cutting: It is used by butchers in cutting up large hunks of meat. Generally, it makes use of stainless steel blades, since they are easy to clean. This saw is not multifunctional since it is only meant for cutting up meat.
- Metal Cutting: This tool is used for cutting metal, is available in horizontal and vertical designs. The standard range of speed is 12 meters per minute up to 1,500 meters per minute. It is characterized by brushwheels, which keep small chips from becoming lodged between the teeth of the blades. It also has a cooling system where coolants effectively wash away residue while keeping the blade cool and lubricated.
- Resaws: They are utilized for cutting large timber along the grain in order to achieve veneer or smaller sectioned cuts. All too often, it has a small kerf, which is instrumental in minimizing waste that would have been caused by the wider blades used in this particular type of band saw.
- Timber Cutting: It is deemed to be the best tool for cutting timber. Although circular saws can be used, they do not always have the large diameter needed to accommodate the timber. Timber saws house blades that are at least 4 inches wide and 19 inches long.
For every type of material, a band saw model is available. However, with so many options in the market, how does one know which one is a worthy investment?
Top 5 Best Rated Saw Comparison
*Results Are Based On Amazon.com Band Saws Consumer Reports & Reviews*
When you started your hunt for the best tool, you must have been overwhelmed with the long list of options. Let us try to narrow things down for you with a comparison of the top 5 band saws today.
1. DEWALT DWM120K Band Saw
This is a powerful, sturdy, and convenient power tool that features a 10-amp motor and a 5-inch deep cut capacityfor round or rectangular stock. Those figures are considered to be “industry-best”, so you can be sure you have a serious performer in your hands. It even has a LED sight light which serves as an excellent cutting guide, as well as a lighting aid in poorly-lit working conditions. This compact best budget bandsaw is capable of handling extremely tough steel, as well as pipes and beams thanks to its variable speed control from 100 to 350 sfm.
However, according to some bandsaw reviews, the case feels flimsy, especially when subjected to too much use and abuse. Thus, it would be advisable to transfer the power tool into a more reliable tool box than the one provided in the set. The blades that come with the kit also tend to be vulnerable to too much metal fatigue and are prone to snap on occasion.
Similar to many other band saws, the included blades need replacing with a better quality brand. Of course, users that expect a long life out of their tool must also know how to maintain a band saw properly.
2. Rikon 10-305 Band Saw
This bench top band saw boasts a solid steel design, with a large and sturdy table constructed with cast iron with thrust bearings facing the edge, as well as a powerful 1/3 HP, 3.5 amp motor. The 4-5/8 inches cutting capacity is said to be at par with any standard commercial best bandsaw for the money. This tool features a speed of 2780 feet per minute. It is also notable for having a quality rip fence – something you don’t see in other models.
Priced affordably with unparalleled functionality, the Rikon 10-305 is a good buy. It is also more affordable than commercial and standard-sized models, but do not be fooled by the price tag as this unit is very well-made. The blade may not be top of the line but it can easily be replaced with your blade of choice. The tool is able to cut through thick pieces of wood and is handy to have around especially for hobbyists.
3. JET 414459 HVBS-7MW Band Saw
The hydraulic feed in this vertical band saw allows for easier slicing and cutting of numerous types of metals since it has a 5-inch throat depth and has a vise that is capable of swiveling up to 45 degrees. It comes with a cooling system that effectively prevents overheating and flexing of the blade. An automatic shutdown system is also installed so that the machine shuts off after every cut to avoid accidents. This also consumes less power.
The bow and bed are built from cast iron, and it comes with a chip brush, and a built in chip tray. The blade guides are easily adjustable for cut precision. Blade speed can also be set manually, so users can choose from speeds of 85, 130, 180 and 285 feet per minute. The four wheels of its roller cabinet make it easy to transport or move around. Assembling the machinery is easy thanks to instructions that are precise and simple to understand.
4. Milwaukee 6232-21 Band Saw
Reliable and rugged, this Milwaukee band saw showcases the key features of the best band saw, with a powerful 11-amp motor and various proprietary technologies. These include the Constant Power Technology (CPT) that ensures durability and maximum performance, and Job Site Armor technology for safety and protection. It is the perfect compact cutting tool for woods, plastics, and numerous varieties of metal and other materials, such as aluminum, brass, and copper.
Aside from being impervious to wear and tear, the portability of this unit makes it well worth the money, since it is a cost effective alternative to the stationary type of best benchtop bandsaws. Its biggest disadvantage is its weight. A bit heavier than the competition, this sturdy tool can be challenging to use.
5. DEWALT DCS371B Band Saw
The DCS371B features a 2.5-inch cutting capacity and can cut through a two-inch 40 SCH pipe. This lithium ion based power tool has an ergonomically designed handle, which is centrally positioned to ensure balance, resulting to more accurate cuts and less fatigue for the user. Compared to the best band saw alternatives out there, this soft grip ergonomic handle provides flexibility and comfort for the user even on extended periods of time.
It is also built with a LED work light, which helps illuminate work areas and poorly lit surfaces. An integrated hang hook allows the user to store the horizontal saw without causing any damage to the base or the handle. It also has adjustment features for blade tracking, which can extend its life and reduce the number of times it needs to be replaced. Portability is essential and this band saw delivers well in that department. It is also an affordable alternative and can match the capabilities of an industrial band saw.
Determining which type of band saw to get should be based on its intended use. Let us take a look at the features that you must pay attention to when looking for a machine.
1. Wheels: Band saws are classified into two categories, the two-wheel and the three-wheel band saw. Basically, each type of band saw in the market (i.e. head saw, double cut, etc.) can have a two-wheel or a three-when set up. Majority of users opt for a two-wheel saw because the blade offers up less directional change for every revolution. After all, it has been proven that the majority of premature breakage is caused by the blade changing direction constantly. This effectively reduces the strain to the blade, lowering its incidence of wear and tear. To be on the safe side, the 2-wheel saw is always the best bet.
2. Motor: The main objective of procuring a saw is to be able to cut rip down billets and to cut circular turning blanks from logs. The act of ripping will specifically necessitate horsepower. The tool with a motor of less than one horsepower will struggle when cutting hardwood blanks. For any of the models that fall under the best band saw categories, the most recommended motor speed should be more than one horsepower. There are certain saws in the market that utilize a series of pulley systems in order to facilitate varying ratios. This can boost the power of the band saw but not without the drawback of speed reduction.
3. Cutting Capacity: The distance from the top most guide from the band saw table when it is fully extended should determine the size of the wood blanks that can be cut or trimmed. A distance of six inches is considered to be the rough minimum for a good saw. In the same way, the width of the cut should also be considered, and the average width is 9 to 10 inches. As much as possible, choose a tool with a height of more than 6 inches and width of at least 10 inches.
This is connected to the motor power of the unit; band saw motors that are below one horsepower may be unable to cut six-inch blanks properly. In other words, the motor and the height are correlated and dependent on each other when it comes to determining the size of blanks it can produce.
4. Roller and Blade Guides: Two reactions occur when cutting is done. The forward motion of the blade is rewarded in relation to the forward motion of the wood while it is being cut. If the blade in the saw was permitted to move too far, it would cause it to fall off the wheels. The sideways blade motion is a result of cutting around the circumference thus forcing the blade to attempt to twist. When uncontrolled, these blades can easily result to skewed and uneven cutting. Every movement is counted by ball bearings and guides that are located on the top and bottom section of the cutting surface. In other words, many band saw reviews state that if a band saw were to behave properly, these guides should be set firm with no means to move in an opposing direction. Guides should come with easily adjustable settings to correct any movement issues.
5. Blades: Without a doubt, any band saw will be useless without the right blades. It is a fact that not all blades are created equal. For example, the average wood worker will generally rip or cut circles in order to turn blanks. It is suggested that the best type of blade for this action are course cutting blades.
Currently, the blades on the machines are still classified under imperial measurement. Teeth found on the blade are classed in TPI or teeth per inch; sometimes, it can also be categorized through PPI or points per inch. Of the two units of measure, teeth per inch is the more utilized method. As a general rule of thumb, hard wood will require a 3TPI blade. Not only does it handle the wood properly, it is also able to reduce clogging and sawdust buildup. However, there are now models with 16 TPI blades, and they are ideal for cutting very thin materials. Ideally, though, you should pick blades with 8 TPI to 12 TPI.
There is another type of band saw blade that is now being introduced. It is called the “Extra set.” To state the obvious, the “extra set” blade, according to band saw reviews, comes with an additional set of teeth compared to the standard TPI seen in many blades. The idea of this design is that it permits for tighter circles to be cut down correctly. It also features top of the line sawdust clearing. Shortly after being made available in the market, its effectiveness has increased its overall popularity and has turned it into one of the most highly recommended band saw blades.
When it comes to the cutting speed of the blade, the rule of thumb would most likely be “the faster, the better”. However, that is not all that you should look for. It would be more beneficial if you choose a tool that allows variable speed settings, which means users can freely choose the speed they want, depending on the job at hand.
6. Warranty: Check the manufacturer’s warranty before deciding whether to buy a device or look for another one. Some manufacturers offer limited warranty for periods of 1 year, while others make it a 3- to 5-year coverage. Dewalt attaches a 3-year limited warranty to its metalworking band saws while Milwaukee offers it up to 5 years for its portable band saws. As much as possible, you’re better off choosing a company with clear warranty terms, preferably one that lasts more than a couple of years.
7. Price: The prices of this tools available in the market today range from the inexpensive ($100.00) to the pricey (over $1,000). But you have to remember that the price depends largely on a number of factors. You are likely to get the basic model for around $100.00 to $399.00. The professional level saws, however, could reach up to $900.00, and they already come with various accessories. Of course, there are models that take it up a few notches higher, throwing in additional features that you won’t find in more affordable models. These could reach up to $2,000.
Band saws are, without a doubt, very useful tools to have especially for individuals who love to work with wood, metals, plastics, and various other materials. They are considered to be must-haves in any workshop, not just in industrial settings. Regardless of the scope of the operation – whether it is a big venture or just a small project by a hobbyist – this machine will get the job done.
Never underestimate the power of portable band saws. These power tools may be compact and, in some cases, plain-looking; however, in terms of performance and benefits, they might as well be ranked among heavy machinery. Look through band saw reviews to help you out in your search for the best one. Last but not the least, make sure that you know how to use the best band saw correctly and properly, so you can get the results you want, without any injuries or accidents happening.