Band Saw Reviews – JET, Grizzly, Rikon & more
Bandsaws are wonderful tools, and a piece of equipment we highly recommend. You don’t have to operate a woodshop to own one anymore either since benchtop bandsaws arrived on the scene.
From tabletop models that fit on the corner of a bench to machines that tip the scales at over 200 pounds, there are many options to consider when searching for the best band saw in 2018.
Consumers looking for something that can tackle 14” logs will find plenty of affordable solutions available. The same can be said for benchtop models, which are capable resawing and providing contoured cuts as well.
Regardless of the style of saw you need, we have you covered. Our bandsaw buying guide will walk you through every major area you should consider before purchasing a new piece of equipment whether the saw is for your woodshop or the garage.
Considerations before buying
Why do you need a bandsaw?
Are you going to work with reclaimed lumber to give it a new lease on life or do you plan on making veneers from exotic woods? You need to ask yourself why you need a bandsaw and what types of materials you’ll work with.
Once you establish what you will mainly use the saw for, it’s time to talk about space. If you are buying a band saw for occasional use, you will want something that does not take up much space. Lightweight machines are also an option and allow you to keep things mobile if you want to take a break.
Tabletop models and smaller bandsaws on stands are also great options if space is an issue. If you plan on dealing with long lumber or work on larger projects, you probably have room for a bigger saw and the 14” range is a good place to start.
While the best band saw for you depends on your needs, you should always pay close attention to the construction. With that in mind, there are two main areas to consider when it comes to the build quality with the table and frame.
It may add to the cost, but bandsaws that are made from cast iron or steel are heavier and less prone to vibrations. They will last longer than models with plastic parts and hold up better than aluminum as well.
In addition to the frame and table, check to see if the wheels are cast or aluminum or if they have quality tires.
Cutting capacity determines the size of the stock your bandsaw is capable of handling. It is also the most important thing to consider aside from the overall quality of the machine itself.
It’s only second to the build quality as you can extend your cutting capacity to a degree, but you can’t change the frame.
The depth of cut refers to the height and is the between the table and the upper blade guide. It’s also one area you can adjust thanks to a relatively inexpensive accessory.
Riser blocks will give you more clearance and are an easy accessory to install. Some blocks can add up to 6” of cutting capacity on larger saws which is quite the improvement.
The throat depth another area to consider when it comes to cutting capacity. It’s the distance between the frame and the blade at the back of the saw and is tied to the overall size of the machine itself. For instance, a 17” bandsaw will have a throat capacity a little under 17-inches.
While there are a few exceptions, even the best bandsaw under 14” is generally considered to be in the “hobby” class while larger machines are built for pros.
Just remember, you can change the depth of cut with riser blocks if you happen to find a saw you love that is underwhelming that regard. Here’s one useful video that explains riser blocks:
The bandsaw table is another integral part of the machine, and there are a couple of options to choose from.
Aluminum is a lightweight material used in many benchtop models and on some larger saws as well. While it is sturdy, it doesn’t add any weight to your machine. Cast iron tables will add heft, which in turn adds stability to your saw.
There are also two styles of bandsaw tables – ones that tilt, and ones that don’t. Obviously, a tilting table is ideal but not always an option on some models. If it does tilt, trunnions are the preferred option although the material they’re made from makes a difference as well.
Are accessories included?
Everyone likes getting something for free; it doesn’t matter what it is.
Most people flip out over a free cup of coffee, so getting additional accessories out of the box with your new tool is something to get excited about. While bandsaws are not necessarily packed with goodies, there are some things to look for out of the box.
The most popular bandsaw accessory by far would be the fence. It’s something you will find in the box with many benchtop and full-sized models, but fairly inexpensive if it is not included with your saw.
A miter gauge is another accessory that tends to show up but is somewhat rarer than fences on cheaper models. If you don’t have both of these accessories in your shop already, you may want to look for a saw that offers one or both of these handy tools.
While you may be chomping at the bit to test out your new toy, we highly advise you to pause and plan ahead before firing up the bandsaw.
We’re just going to come out and say it – most stock saw blades are terrible. Occasionally, a manufacturer will put a proper blade in the box, but usually, you will want to have a spare ready right away.
The type of blade you need depends on what you plan to cut. We won’t dig into the specifics, but you can find out more about the pitch, TPI, and different types of blades available in our best bandsaw blade guide.
Band saw guide
Now that we’ve covered a few areas everyone should consider before purchasing a new saw, we’re going to take a minute to go over things for beginners or those buying their very first band saw.
If you’re ready to see our choices for the best band saw, feel free to skip ahead, but if this is your first shop saw, you will definitely want to keep reading…
Have you ever owned a bandsaw?
If you are new to woodworking or shop equipment in general, you need to be comfortable operating a saw before ever purchasing one. Fortunately, that is very easy to accomplish if you follow a few rules.
Common sense is your best defense against accidents in the shop. We went in depth on those issues in our guide to bandsaw safety, but a there are a few key components built into saws that can keep you safe as well.
How to use a bandsaw
If you answered no to our “is this your first bandsaw” question, then it’s safe to say you already know how to operate one. That won’t be the case for everyone, and if you fall into that category, we have something for you before we proceed.
Using a bandsaw is easier than it looks, but something that requires practice. If you need to learn the ropes or just want a quick refresher, you can refer to our guide on how to use a bandsaw safely. It’s a quick read and gets you ready beforehand so you can spend more time sawing and less time worrying.
We briefly touched on the bandsaw size and construction, but there are a few other areas we feel you should keep in mind before pulling the trigger on a new bandsaw.
Bandwheels help keep things running smooth and is one area where weight matters. Cast iron wheels offer up more stability compared to aluminum, a popular choice in desktop models and budget machines.
Tensioning systems can be an absolute nightmare for beginners on some models, and is something to keep in mind unless you have experience in that department.
Plan on working with multiple materials or already have a small arsenal of blades at the ready?
If so, you will want to choose a machine with a quick release mechanism. Some of the best band saws have this feature, and it’s great to have when time is of the essence, or you change blades frequently. You can find out more about what you should look for in our piece on bandsaw features.
Band saw reviews
It would be easy to slap the “best of” tag on the JET JWBS-14XPRO and simply walk away as plenty of bandsaw reviews have it somewhere towards the top of their list. Well, there’s a reason great reason for that.
JET makes quality products, and the JET JWBS-14XPRO is a top choice due to the build quality, ease of use and power. It’s hard to argue with its resawing capabilities as well considering it’s set up for 12” straight out of the box.
Highlights for this saw include an adjustable speed system with a poly-v belt drive and a spacious 15” x 15” tilting table. Those are both high impact features, and the motor is powerful at a full 1 1/4 HP.
As for the frame, this band saw is made from cast iron from top to bottom. It’s a solid machine with a rigid frame for increased stability which allows you to work on a wide variety of projects big and small. Some specifications of note include a cutting height of 12” and a cutting width of 13 1/2”.
This large bandsaw would make a great addition to anyone’s shop and an outstanding option for professional woodworkers or hobbyists. If you’re intrigued, you can read more about the bandsaw in our JET JWBS-14DXPRO review.
Grizzly’s bandsaws have plenty of fans, and the Grizzly G0555 is a right behind Jet’s beastly bandsaw in our eyes.
At 14-inches, this saw is built to rip through stock with ease or perform curvy cuts thanks to a tilting table. It’s a great all-around saw that is stable with a weight of around 200 pounds although underpowered compared to our top pick.
You can dig into the technical specifications for the Grizzly G0555 in our full Grizzly G0555 review, but we are going to touch on a few of its flagship features. Those would including a cast iron frame, tilting table, and a blade speed of either 1500 or 3200 FPM.
If the Jet is out of your range or a little too beefy for your needs, Grizzly’s G0555 is a good alternative. It’s not as powerful but will perform just as well in most areas aside from cutting capacity.
Our first two options are large, but far from gigantic compared to industrial models. If you need to save space, you may have found your best option in the Rikon 10-305 bandsaw.
With overall dimensions of 33 1/4” x 21” x 15 1/4” this saw is pint-sized compared to larger bandsaws. The height to base is only 14 1/2” so it certainly won’t overwhelm your work area although it is heavy enough to provide support at 76 pounds.
This saw was built with high-quality parts including steel access doors and aluminum rotors. The motor is more than sufficient for this class at 1/3 HP and capable of hitting a blade speeds of up to 2,780 FTM. We also thought the table was roomy at a little over 13” x 12” given the overall size of the machine.
The Rikon 10-305 is a wise choice for hobbyists and woodworkers that need a desktop model that performs as advertised. If you’d like to learn more about this particular saw, you can read our full Rikon 10-305 review.
This saw would be at the top of our list if it weren’t for one thing – the price. That is going to rule it out for some consumers, but if you are in the market for a professional solution, look no further than the Grizzly G0513XBF.
Our second option from Grizzly is completely different than our first. This one is more powerful with a 2 HP motor, although still sports two blade speeds at 1700 and 3500 FPM. Those are the two closest points of comparison however as the Grizzly G0513XBF is a 17” saw with a cutting capacity of 16 1 /4.”
Massive is the first work to come to mind when dealing with this saw. It weighs 460 pounds and has a 23 5/8” x 17 1/4 cast iron table that is 1 1/2-inches thick. It’s not a saw for the faint of heart, but it’s safe and easy to use and is built with high-quality components.
The Grizzly G0513XBF is the most expensive option on our best band saw list, but well worth your time if you want something that will last forever and runs like a champ. It’s also the type of machine that will make your neighbors and coworkers drool.
WEN may not be as popular as other brands when it comes to name recognition, but they certainly grabbed our attention with the WEN 3962. This two-speed band saw certainly won’t break the bank and is capable of making cuts 6-inches deep and 9 3/4” wide.
Whether you’re cutting tougher stock or soft wood, this saw can zip through material at 2620 FPM thanks to a 3.5 amp motor. While it does cut true, the metal frame does have a bit of flex and is not as rigid as a cast frame.
For metals or materials that require a lower speed, you can adjust the machine down to 1520 FPM. Regardless of what you cut, you’ll have a 14 1/8” x 12 1/2” work area to use which can swivel to give you a 45° angle.
The WEN 3962 has a work light and a 3-in-1 dust port to keep your work area tidy. It comes with a 2-year warranty, and you’ll get a fence, miter gauge, and a 3/8” blade to get you started.
This budget-friendly machine will make crafters happy and has quickly become a favorite of hobbyists as well. We like the affordability of this one and the fact it comes with more accessories than you will get with bandsaws twice the price.
If the 10” model is a little underwhelming, the company also has a 14” model with a similar build, but better specifications.
Best 14 inch bandsaw
Top pick: Grizzly G0555LX
When you make the jump from tabletop to full-sized models, 14” saws are usually the next step up. The Grizzly G0555LX is our choice as the best 14-inch bandsaw, and one to consider if you want a sturdy, cast iron machine.
Precision and top-notch performance are what you’ll get from the Grizzly G0555LX. Yes, it does resemble the popular G0555, but there are some important differences between the two saws.
One big difference is the fact the LX comes with cast iron wheel which adds inertia and stability to your cut. It doesn’t have the same fence you’ll find on the G0555 but has a lock for the power button. Other features of interest for this model include ball bearings in both the upper and lower blade guides and a cast iron table.
The Grizzly G0555LX was the top choice on our list of the best budget bandsaws of 2018, so it’s no surprise it made the grade when it comes to the top 14” models as well. It’s stable with a weight over 200 pounds and is easy to operate.
The only true negative for this particular model is the fact it was not made at an ISO 9001 factory. That means the quality control won’t be as tight, which is a downer considering you’re only getting a 1-year warranty.
Runner-up: Delta 28-400
Delta’s 28-400 bandsaw is just a fraction behind the Grizzly in our eyes, but someone has to take second place. It’s definitely a contender for the top saw in its class and a classic design that won’t take up much space in your shop.
While not cast, this machine has a solid with a steel frame that’s topped off with a cast iron table. That table is precision ground with t-slot capabilities and can tilt to the left and right.
It draws its power from a 1HP motor which provides two speeds with your choice of 1620 or 3340 FPM. That means you can cut both wood and metal with this band saw, and we’re pleased to say the blade tracking is top notch as well.
The wheel and pulley system is easy to deal with, and the aluminum wheels are balanced to help with blade tracking. Unlike some models, this one also has a dust brush on the lower wheel to keep your blades clean.
Brand names aside, the Delta 28-400 is capable of producing quality work with a 93 1/2” blade. Whether you want to cut curves in a piece of mahogany or just straighten out reclaimed timber, it can handle a wide range of tasks.
We like the heavy frame on this one, and while it isn’t full cast iron, it still weighs over 150 pounds. It’s not quite as easy to set up as the Grizzly or similar models at this price point but will get the job done.
While we covered most of the things you’ll need to think about before choosing the perfect saw, it’s really simple in the end.
Budget is usually the most important factor for most consumers, and that alone helps you narrow the field considerably. Once you settle on a price range, simply consider your space then pick the buying points we covered that are important to you.
No matter which saw you choose, always keep safety in mind so be sure to pick up a pair of safety goggles and use caution at all times.