Choosing The Best Benchtop Bandsaw
There are hundreds of tools available when it comes to woodworking equipment, and bandsaws are a favorite among hobbyists and professionals.
They come in all shapes and sizes including smaller models that are geared towards home use when space is important. While there are plenty of options on the market, finding the best benchtop bandsaw can be difficult for beginners.
With that in mind, we have put together a guide that focuses on several key areas to consider and have chosen three models that stand out from the pack.
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Considerations before buying
When looking at bandsaws, the first question you should ask yourself is what you will use it for?
This lets you know if a benchtop bandsaw is the right tool for you as there are some important differences between these portable wonders and full-sized models.
A benchtop bandsaw is great for performing curvy cuts and can be used to resaw or make veneer as well. They do not have the power of larger floor models however so you need to consider the size of the stock you plan to work with the most.
If you need a bandsaw and space or your budget is a concern, you will definitely want to consider a benchtop model. While not ideal for large-scale projects, they are a great way to start your wood shop or add to your arsenal without breaking the bank.
Having a bandsaw at the ready enables you to take on a variety of projects, but it isn’t without its drawbacks. The motors on smaller models aren’t as large, so you’re getting less horsepower which makes some hardwoods tougher to get through.
Motor sizes for benchtop models vary wildly, and most fall under 1 HP. Some will still have a variable speed setting in case you want to cut other materials or slow things down, but the motor size is far more important than adjustable speeds for woodworking.
One major advantage of benchtop bandsaws is the fact they are portable, and most are lightweight. Their size allows you to move them around your workshop without breaking your back although the overall weight depends on what it’s made from.
If you truly want the best benchtop bandsaw, you will want to keep plastic parts to a minimum. That is something you will encounter with this particular style, but you can still find models built from aluminum, steel, and cast iron as well.
Aluminum is the best option for portability while steel is still relatively light and very sturdy. A cast iron base is the best option for stability, but heavier than other materials.
Again, you want to consider your needs and think about how often you may move the saw or if it will stay in one place.
Just like other types of products or tools, bandsaws can come with a variety of accessories or extra perks.
One of the more common options is a fence, a handy accessory for resawing or refacing boards. Miter gauges are another popular accessory and great if you need to make crosscuts.
Like to keep a tidy workspace? Then look for a benchtop bandsaw that has a dust port.
Other features to consider are work lights, stands, and tilting tables.
The latter is a feature we highly recommend, and while work lights are nice, lights that feature independent switches are even better. This allows you to shut the saw off while keeping the light on to check out fine details.
Tabletop Bandsaw Reviews
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Rikon 10-305 Bandsaw
The Rikon 10-305 is a small bandsaw that packs quite the punch. This 10-inch saw is a little larger than some models in this class, but we think the pros far outweigh the cons if you want a reliable machine that’s built like a tank.
This machine qualifies as the best small bandsaw for several reasons, but the build quality and overall design stand out. It has a solid steel frame with a spacious cast iron table measuring 13 3/4” x 12 1/2”. It’s sturdy, but hefty measuring 18” x 35.5” x 13” with a weight of around 75 pounds.
A 3.5 amp 1/3 horsepower induction motor powers the Rikon 10-305 which is a little underwhelming compared to larger models, but powerful for the benchtop ranks. It has a resaw capacity of 4 5/8” and sports edge facing thrust bearings as well.
We also like adjustable guide post which you can raise and lower with the twist of a handle and the 2 1/2” dust port.F
Overall, this is a great choice for hobbyists and tinkerers that don’t mind a spending a little more for a solid machine. It’s not as budget-friendly as some of the other models, but you get what you pay for, and in this case, you’re getting the best benchtop bandsaw for your buck.
This bandsaw shares quite a few similarities with the Rikon 10-305 as both have 3.5 amp motors and are designed the same way aside from the colors. What sets this one apart is the fact it’s available in two different sizes and comes with a few extras you won’t find on our top model.
While the WEN 3962 has a 3.5 amp motor, it’s capable of running at two speeds. You can go full speed on wood at 2620 FPM or dial things down to 1520 FPM when you need to work with other types of materials.
The saw can handle a 72-inch blade between 1/8” to 1/2” and has a large table measuring 14” x 12 1/2”. The table swivels up to 40-degrees which allows you to find the perfect angle or you can zip through boards up to 6-inches deep. Ball bearings keep the wheels running smoothly while a built-in measuring guide ensures your cuts stay true.
Solid is the first word to come to mind when it comes to the build quality of the WEN 3962.
It weighs as much as our top option, so it’s not necessarily something you will want to lug around the shop. The small bandsaw has a work light and comes with a 3-in-1 dust port which works with three sizes of hose from 1 3/4” to 4-inches.
The WEN 3962 comes with a fence and a miter gauge, but that’s not where the real value lies. This particular model has a stand which elevates the saw and frees up space on your workbench. The company has included a 2-year warranty which is standard compared to other models.
On paper, the WEN 3962 is right there with the Rikon when it comes to power, features, and performance. You’ll receive more accessories with the 3962, and the fact it runs at multiple speeds is the icing on the cake.
the downside to this machine is the fact it can be difficult to set up so you may need some patience to get the tension right and everything tuned in. The guide can be tough to reach, and while the light is bright, we feel the placement could be better.
Our budget-friendly choice comes from SKIL, a company that knows a thing or two about making a quality saw. While smaller, this 9-inch machine has plenty of power thanks to a 2.5 amp motor and we think you will be impressed by what it can do for the price.
The first thing you’ll notice about the SKIL 3386-01 is the design and weight. It’s not what we would consider “dainty” but doesn’t look as rugged as other saws this size.
There’s a good reason for that, and it has to do with the construction. Plastic is the main material used in the construction of the 3386-01, and it tips the scales at only 35 pounds.
That’s light, but unfortunately, it also means you’re going to deal with vibration and will need to clamp or bolt it down. That won’t be ideal for everyone although there’s a lot to like if you can get around that.
Affordability aside, this saw has a tilting table made from aluminum which features a blade guide. There is also a miter gauge included to go along with an attached work light and a blade. The table on this model measures 11 13/16” square with a cutting depth of 3 1/8-inches.
The best quality about the SKIL 3386-01 would be the price. It only costs half as much as our top picks, but it does have a plastic frame. That’s a major drawback if you’re going to use this one as your daily driver and will be a deal breaker for some. That said, you will get a 3-year warranty.
If you just need an affordable saw for craft work or hobbies, you will want to give the SKIL 3386-01 a shot. Otherwise, stick to a model with a metal or cast-iron frame as it adds a considerable amount of stability to the machine.
The best advice we can give you is to simply buy a saw to suit your needs.
If you only plan on using the saw occasionally or for small projects, it’s okay to spend down and put that extra money towards exotic stock or accessories for your saw.
If you feel that power will be a concern sooner than later or work in your shop daily, you will want to spend up and buy a high-quality benchtop model.
Sturdier frames will help with your cuts, and quality parts are well worth the trade-off as you won’t have to deal with sourcing replacements if something goes wrong.