A bandsaw is a simple yet ingenious device essentially comprising of a narrow, semi-flexible, interchangeable saw-blade that goes around two wheels oriented vertically, moving through a worktable.
As the wheels turn, the blade moves with a controlled and even sawing action.
With most types of saws, you control and manipulate the saw to cut a stationary workpiece.
With bandsaws, it works in reverse. While the bandsaw’s blade whirrs around two wheels and through the worktable, you control and manipulate the workpiece into the saw-blade. As a result, with the aid of a guide fence, perfectly straight cuts can be made but a workpiece can also be moved freehand through the blade to make all manner of contoured or curved cuts as a jig saw makes (in a different way). Thus, the bandsaw’s design makes it a very versatile saw.
Bandsaws are made in horizontal and vertical formats and in varying sizes and strengths with the largest ones being massive sawmill bandsaws for ripcutting logs and lumber. For non-industrial woodworking and metalworking, expensive heavy-duty floor models through less expensive medium-duty benchtop models to cordless horizontal light-duty models are available. We focus on the intermediate type of bandsaw in this set of reviews.
Among the important features of a bandsaw is the easily interchangeable blade. Different types of blades are optimised to cut different materials including soft metals, hardwoods, softwoods, and synthetic materials. The blades may differ in hardness of steel, diameter, teeth-per-inch, and tooth geometry. Another feature of bandsaws is that the table can be tilted, usually up to 45°, to allow bevel cuts.
A key technical differentiator between bandsaws is the number of bearings, their quality, their adjustments, and their positioning. It is on these factors that the stability of the blade and the trueness of its movement depend.
As for specifications, the most important ones to consider – perhaps even more important than raw power – are the maximum cutting depth and the maximum throat capacity or cutting width. However, a non-quantifiable ‘spec’ is surely the degree of ease, smoothness, and freedom with which a particular bandsaw allows a workpiece to be manipulated and fed for curved cutting. In this respect, some bandsaws are better than others and no spec can quantify that.
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Regardless of whether specs can or can’t be quantified, you’ll find plenty of them in our reviews, underneath.
Tough and rugged, Lumberjack’s bandsaw is a workhorse that is as accurate as it is reliable; suitable even for professionals, it is a prize for the novice.
Lumberjack’s 39-kilo bandsaw has an above-average cutting depth of 150 millimetres and throat of 254 millimetres. The cast iron table measures 360 x 320 millimetres and can tilt up to 45 degrees.
The BS254 takes blades of 1826 millimetres and 3 to 12.5 millimetres width.
The 375-watt motor provides speeds of 400 and 800 metres/minute. It handles hardwoods of 100 to 150 millimetres quite comfortably, sawing straight, smooth, and relatively quietly, and the kit is stable and sturdy. Verily this is a miniature sawmill!
The weak link in the chain is the LED light. Its positioning is peculiar, to say the least, because it shines on the poor workman rather than on the workpiece – which probably does not make much of a difference anyway because it tends to go on the blink.
The fence can be positioned on either side. It is a dual fit fence; you can use the full face or the small face.
The roller guides, albeit a bonus, are tricky to get right but other than that set up is straightforward.
The smartly-designed dust collection outlet can take 50-, 75-, or 100-millimetre uptakes. It has an integrated dust collection draw. Dust collection is particularly good even with no dust extractor attached.
The included circle cutter works remarkably well and is a welcome bonus. The power cord is 3 metres long.
Tough, robust, rugged, reliable . . . any and all such adjectives are apt descriptors for the Lumberjack BS254.
Though this bandsaw is targeted to professionals, the instructions are so lucid and comprehensive that even a first-timer could set up and use this bandsaw.
It comes with a floorstand, the dual-fit fence, mitre gauge, and the circle cutter attachment. A 12-millimetre blade is also included.
Lumberjack provides a one-year guarantee.
- Excellent sawing capability: it cuts straight and true and treats hardwoods like the proverbial butter.
- Standout build quality; this rig has robustness written all over it.
- Excellent dust collection by any standards.
- The LED’s positioning renders it nearly useless . . .
- . . . but don’t fret about it because the LED itself may not last long.
Not meant for serious woodwork, Silverline’s kit is more than good enough for light-duty work and at its low price it is made to order for DIYers on a budget.
Silverline’s budget bandsaw weighs only 14 kilogrammes and it is 750 millimetres in height.
It has a limited cutting depth of 80 millimetres and a throat of 190 millimetres. The table is 300 x 300 millimetres and tilts up to 45 degrees.
The 350-watt motor drives the blade at 1450 RPM no-load. It operates very quietly.
It accepts blades of 1425 millimetres length.
The supplied 6 TPI blade is of so-so quality and is suitable for only softwoods of 40 to 50 millimetres. However, if you buy a better quality blade this little kit will saw through hardwoods quite well. In softer woods it delivers excellent straight-line cutting but with thicker pieces of hardwoods the line may well veer off course.
The mitre gauge turns up to 45 degrees each way. It is easily adjusted but does have a bit of play. The guides are easily moved to the required position but must be tightened and loosened with hex keys which is a bit of a drag as the very act of tightening disturbs the positioning.
Setup is not easy so it would be advisable to watch a video or two but once you get the table level and tightened, the tensioning correct, and other settings ticked off, this bandsaw proves its worth.
Now and again a unit turns out to be defective and gives up the ghost after a few months.
The 441563 model is not suitable for precision work or serious craftwork but is more than adequate for the advanced hobbyist on a budget. At the price it is an amazing value for money.
This kit comes with a mitre gauge, a metal hook, a fence, a push stick, and hex keys.
Silverline provides a 3-year guarantee provided the purchase is registered within 30 days.
- So lightweight that you can move it around in your workshop.
- One of the quietest power tools.
- Downright cheap, it is an excellent value for money.
- Limited cutting depth.
- Straight ripcuts are rather difficult with hardwoods.
- Setting this one up is a ticklish task.
A mixed bag, Draper’s bandsaw is difficult to set up and not meant for heavy-duty work but is excellent for tasks requiring delicate and precise cutting.
Measuring 366 x 281 x 735 millimetres and weighing 19 kilogrammes, Draper’s 13773 has a very deep cutting depth of 225 millimetres. The throat is 200 millimetres wide.
The cast and ground aluminium table is 290 x 290 millimetres and can tilt up to 45 degrees. It is rather an un-solid table as it serves up some vibrations, a little flex, and a bit of wobble.
The 250-watt motor drives the blade at 900 metres/minute.
It takes blades 1400 millimetres in length and 6 to 10 millimetres in width. The supplied 6-millimetre 6-TPI blade is very good for all softwoods.
It has a useful emergency stop button.
Setup is, quite simply, a technical headache and the instructions are not of much help here. You’ll have to adjust the blade, guide rollers, mitre guard, and more, so if you’re a newbie be prepared for a learning experience or leave this one to old hands.
Apart from the initial setup, the manual is simply excellent, and its step-by-step instructions are clear and thorough and would be appreciated by said newbies.
Build quality as such is good enough.
Where most bandsaws are supplied with dodgy fences, the fence included with this one is sturdy and accurate and very good in use.
This bandsaw comes with, besides the blade, a rip fence, a push stick, spanner, and hex key.
Not suitable for any heavy-duty sawing. But wait— switch in the right blade and the manipulable Draper 13773 will prove to be a very good buy for light-duty precision-oriented projects.
Draper provides a one-year guarantee.
- Both the cutting depth and throat are impressively deep and wide.
- Workpieces are easy to manipulate and this kit is very good for precision craftwork.
- Excellent instructions and manual.
- Not suitable for heavy-duty sawing.
- The somewhat shaky and flexy table detracts from confident sawing.
- Setup is so complicated and technical that novices should think twice before buying it.
Though quality is variable from unit to unit, Charnwood’s bandsaw is seriously robust and good for medium-duty cutting but is a bit costlier than it should be.
Cost: Price not available
Big and heavy, Charnwood’s bandsaw has dimensions of 400 x 520 x 840 millimetres and tips the scales at 30 kilogrammes. It has a 100-millimetre cutting depth and a 250-millimetre throat.
The ground cast iron table measures 340 x 335 millimetres and can tilt up to 45 degrees.
The 375-watt motor turns the blade at 800 metres/minute.
The British-manufactured 13-millimetre 6-TPI blade is perfect for light-duty cutting, such as 30-millimetre plywood. With the right blade this bandsaw will easily tackle hardwoods of 60 millimetres and is capable of medium-duty sawing.
Only the blade is manufactured in the U.K.; the bandsaw is made in China. The overall build quality in terms of assembly varies wildly so buying this kit is a crapshoot. In terms of materials, it is undeniably solid and rugged but could be better finished.
The design elements are a distinct plus; for example, this bandsaw has two side guide bearings and a rear thrust bearing, and a roller and two guide bushes under the table.
Be mindful that something or another – the table, the trunnion, or something else – will probably be out of whack and need adjusting.
The millimetre-ruled magnifier allows for precise adjustment to the rip fence. It also has an adjustable sliding mitre fence.
Though there is nothing particularly poor about the W715 and overall it is a good rig, the price is still unjustifiably high.
Charnwood provides a one-year warranty.
- Big and heavy, this rig is also robust and rugged.
- Handles medium-duty sawing without complaint.
- The overall design and the design elements are worthy of note.
- The overall quality is inconsistent and varies from unit to unit.
- Made in the U.K.? Not!
- A little overpriced.
A tidy little kit, Record Power’s all-rounder of a bandsaw is one of those solid B-grade tools that do not distinguish themselves in the pros or the cons.
Cost: Price not available
Record Power’s bandsaw measures 480 x 550 x 860 millimetres and weighs 19 kilogrammes.
The cutting depth is 92 millimetres and the throat is 228 millimetres.
The 300-watt motor rotates the blade at 770 metres/minute.
The 300 x 300 millimetre table tilts up to 45 degrees on a solid trunnion.
A well-designed and useful lever to the rear releases or re-engages blade tension.
This is a strong little bandsaw which will take care of hardwoods of up to 80 millimetres.
In relation to the bandsaw’s size, the wheels are large and strong but otherwise the build quality is adequate. The door closures in particular are cheap and unreliable.
The 50-millimetre extraction port is tucked away to the rear of the kit.
Not especially suitable for any specific woodworking or cutting task and equally lacking in any recognisable strengths or any standout flaws, this compact kit is a good all-round bandsaw for the hobbyist’s workshop.
Record Power provides a 5-year warranty.
- No serious standout flaw.
- A solid ‘B’ all-rounder of a power tool.
- The most generous warranty in the business.
- Cutting depth is on the shallow side.
- Cheap and unreliable door closures.
- Has no distinctive quality or feature that stands out!
What Can You Make With A Bandsaw?
You can do a lot of things with a bandsaw; that is, you can accomplish various cutting tasks, including straight mitres and straight bevels. But besides the obvious, the ability of a bandsaw to make contoured or curved cuts as the operator manipulates and feeds a workpiece freehand through the blade means that you can also make a lot of things with a bandsaw.
First, though, even the bandsaw’s ability to cut straight, but with delicateness and precision, means that the thinnest of strips can be sawn off pre-existing pieces of wood to ‘re-set’ the edge, either for fitting or for aesthetics. A block of wood can be sawn lengthwise at angles to ‘re-set’ the face so as to expose more pleasing grain patterns. Because of the same qualities, that is delicateness and precision, veneers and laminates can be sawn from fine woods with which to cover and embellish furniture made of common, coarse woods.
A bandsaw is ideal for making smaller pieces of furniture. Stands, shelves, cabinets, and even tables can conveniently be fashioned using a bandsaw.
However, what you can make especially well with a bandsaw in particular has to do with its ‘reverse jig saw’ capabilities. You can make figures and figurines of human and animal forms, stylised forms, still life, and abstract shapes. If you can trace or draw it on a piece of wood, then you can ‘make’ it with a bandsaw by sawing along the tracing and drawing.
But over and above those, all manner of intricate woodcraft projects are ideally suited to bandsaws. Interlocking artefacts, miniature chests of drawers and shelves, decorative miniature objects such as cars, bottles, clocks, clothing, and more are made by bandsaw artists.
How To Use A Bandsaw
A bandsaw is a very versatile power tool that can be used for myriad woodworking tasks. Here we look at just one common bandsaw task, re-sawing. Make sure that you have the right type of blade fitted; in fact, purpose-made resaw blades are available.
- Mark a straight line in pencil through the length of the workpiece along which you will feed the woodpiece into the blade.
- Put the workpiece on the worktable along the fence and adjust the fence such that the workpiece will be fed through the blade along the marked line.
- Keep a push stick and push plate at hand.
- Adjust the upper blade guide so that it will be quite close to the surface of the workpiece but not so close that it might touch it.
- Put on goggles and a dust mask. Depending on the noise level of your bandsaw, you may want to wear ear defenders.
- If your bandsaw has adjustable speeds, set the speed to between 600 and 900 metres/minute.
- Turn on the bandsaw and wait a few seconds for it to reach full speed.
- With the push stick in one hand and the push plate in the other hand, slowly and steadily but firmly feed the workpiece into the blade by pushing the end with the push stick and stabilising the side against the fence with the push plate.
- Once the re-sawing is started, do not stop in the middle and start again; cut all the way through.
The rate at which you should feed the wood and at which the sawing should be done depends on the type of blade and the type of wood. Softwoods can be resawn at a faster rate than hardwoods.
If you opt to use your hands to manipulate the workpiece for intricate cutting, wear cut-resistant work-gloves.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.