If you’re someone who regularly works with wood, a band saw might be something you’re interested in adding to your DIY arsenal. A quality band saw allows you to make curved cuts and straight cuts alike, with a range of options to consider when seeking out a new model. A good band saw is a must for cutting wood and, when deployed correctly, can dramatically expand your woodworking capabilities. Need some help shopping for the best band saws the UK market has on offer? Our handy guide has everything you need to know.
Band Saw Variants
To keep things simple, it’s worth remembering that there are two main types of band saw available. One of these is the type of band saw that is mounted on a stationary surface or base. It’s an ideal choice for those seeking a band saw to put to use in a workshop. In addition to this, you’ll also encounter portable band saw models.
Stationary Band Saws
Stationary band saws are designed to be fitted to a stationary base and provide you easy access to the device itself at a suitable working height. As such, they’re an incredibly practical choice for use on job sites.
The weight of a stationary band saw can vary wildly, with lightweight options coming in at around 20 kilograms. The heaviest alternatives rarely exceed 500 kilograms in weight. A stationary band saw is designed with regular, heavy-duty use in mind, which is why they’re manufactured to be permanently mounted. If you’re looking to invest in a stationary band saw, you’ll want to ensure you have adequate space for one within your working environment, with easy access to the device from all angles. This will not only allow you to properly operate your machine, it will allow you to comfortably handle all sizes of material.
Motor for Stationary Band Saws
In the case of stationary band saws, the motor is situated beneath the work table. The purpose of the motor is to power the belts that are responsible for keeping the wheel rotated, thereby driving the cutting blade. In most cases, stationary band saws will utilise two different blades, although more substantial stationary band saws can use more.
Both upper and lower wheels are utilised in the design of band saws. Thanks to these wheels, the blade is able to move. Wheels are of crucial importance to the overall band saw model, with their size having a direct relationship with the blade width allowable. Wider blades are required when you wish to make straight cuts. A wider blade will require a wide wheel. What’s more, wider blades and wheels require adequate power in order for them to be effectively operated.
Generally speaking, blades used with band saws are long in their design and featured steel teeth. Cutting teeth vary in size and should be specifically selected in relation to the material you’re looking to cut. When the band saw is turned on, the blade continuously turns. So that the band saw doesn’t overheat when activated, ball bearings are located at strategic points to ensure smooth operation. These bearings also ensure the blade is guided properly.
Stationary Band Saw Materials
The materials used in the manufacture of band saws should represent the heavy-duty nature of the machine and its applications. Materials like aluminium are common, picked for its robustness and lightweight nature. However, studier materials like steel can also be encountered. Although steel and iron are heavier in nature, they are a good choice as the studier build of machines constructed from it will benefit from added stability. These types of materials are almost always used in the manufacture of larger band saws.
Portable Band Saws
Portable variants on the band saw have many distinct differences from the stationary type. First and foremost, portable band saws are far more compact and lightweight, rarely weighting in excess of 15 kilograms. The overall design of portable band saws is also more user-friendly. When it comes to changing blades on a portable band saw, the process is overall more straightforward. Blade tensioning features make the process fuss-free.
If you’re searching for a band saw to help with carpentry jobs, a portable option is well worth considering. You can make angled or bevel cuts with ease, with extra handles usually incorporated into the overall design to make such tasks straightforward.
Portable Band Saw Motors
The portable variety of band saws utilises an electric motor that is either fed by mains power or operates on batteries. Although mains power is always preferable in terms of performance, it does somewhat limit the benefits of a portable band saw. Battery-operated devices are therefore the best way to go if you’re looking to reap the perks of a portable model. The best portable band saws utilise quick-charge batteries that drive the device with plenty of power and deliver lengthy spells of operation.
Other Key Factors of Portable Band Saws
Compared to stationary models, portable band saws will offer you a lower overall cutting height. Cutting height capability can be increased by turning to portable models that feature a blade pivot function. With this, you’ll be able to achieve cuts a little deeper into the wood you’re working with. The range of blade widths will also be different than with stationary band saws. Generally speaking, portable band saws offer blade widths beginning at 6 millimetres. As a rule, you’ll probably not find blade widths in excess of 15 millimetres.
Safety Features to Consider
To ensure you minimise the chance of accidents and injuries while working, opt for a band saw that includes an emergency stop feature as standard. Should you encounter any trouble while working, you can simply hit this button to put a halt to proceedings. Additionally, you may wish to opt for a band saw that requires a key to commence operation.
Other handy features to look out for include dust extraction units. This will drastically reduce the amount of dust expelled into the air when cutting, which is particularly important for those looking to cut wood for long spells at a time.
Laser Guides and Lighting
If you’re worried about struggling to make precise cuts, picking a band saw model that utilises laser guides is worth the consideration. Laser guides won’t just help your levels of cutting accuracy overall, they’ll also limit the amount of costly mistakes you might make. If you’re working with more expensive pieces of wood, laser guides are a must. What’s more, models that incorporate LED lighting are worth a second look. LEDs will illuminate the work area and wood you’re cutting, helping you maintain better levels of precision and minimising the incidence of mistakes.
As with any heavy-duty piece of machinery, it’s worth taking the time to outline how much you’re willing to spend on your investment. A quality band saw needn’t cost a fortune, especially if you’re only looking to purchase a bench top model to begin with. If you’re prepared to part with several hundred pounds from the off, you can consider complete models that include a table and stand, saving you the need to prepare a designated workbench beforehand. You should also consider what extras are included in the models you’re considering buying. Even bench top models come with essential features like laser guides, dust extraction facilities and the like. Often, these features will only equate to a small premium in price versus those models without, so it’s worth not skimping on small change and investing in a band saw that boasts these a standard.
Feeling inspired? Now we’ve breezed through some of the most crucial things to keep in mind when shopping for the best band saws available, it’s time to see what’s currently on offer. We’ve brought together some of the best options currently available on the UK market, with choices from a wide range of manufacturers to accommodate every budget.
Check out our article on the best table saws in the UK.
A great choice for woodworking tasks, this Lumberjack BS254 Band Saw Tilt Table should also be fit for task for most professional applications. Standout details here include a very impressive 150mm cutting depth capacity, with a 245mm throat capacity to boot. The cast iron work table is a robust base of operation for woodworking, with precision markers in place to ensure accurate cuts at all times. Other key features of this band saw are its quiet induction motor, making it a good choice if you’re looking to minimise unwanted volume in your workspace. A mains powered LED work light is also included in the overall design, further enhancing accuracy as you cut. Finally, there’s an integrated dust collection tray to minimise the amount of unwanted dust debris while working, keeping your workpieces completely visible as you carry out your business. An affordable option that hits all the right notes in terms of build quality, user-friendly functionality and performance.
If you’re after a more budget-friendly option of band saw, this S1101-F1 model from Starrett is worth looking at. Although you’ll need to mount this band saw model to a work surface, everything else is accounted for. A very robust choice that’s designed with heavy-duty use in mind, this band saw still maintains a rather lightweight bulk of only 23 kilograms. This model utilises a gravity feed with three feed pressure options and allows you to make cuts at 0 to 45 degree angles. With that level of versatility allowable, it’s an easy choice. This model also features a manual vice with quick grip system for ease of use. Finally, there’s an automatic stop at the end of the cut, making it a good option for the less experienced user looking for a model that does the hardest work for them.
If you’re after a budget-friendly option, this bench top band saw from Silverline should fit the bill. This band saw has some powerful specs to look forward to, with a 350W induction motor that provides superb cutting action. On that note, you can look forward to max cutting depths of 80mm, making this a suitable choice for working with all manner of materials and workpieces. The overall user-friendliness of this bench top model is further enhanced by its 300 x 300 millimetre table, with a handy tilt of up to 45 degrees. With these specs as standard, you should have no trouble carrying out all manner of everyday cutting tasks. This model is also supplied with a 6 tpi blade so you can get straight to work.
If you’re prepared to fork out a little more for a band saw, the Sheppach Basa 1 is well worth considering. A great model for handling those simpler jobs, such as crafts and model making, the Basa 1 is incredibly easy to use and utilises all the innovative design details usually reserved for larger Basa band saw models. This bench top band saw is a good choice for those working in smaller workshops, with the relatively compact design requiring little space. Just like its bigger variants, the Basa 1 boasts a table made from solid cast iron, ensuring maximum stability. Thanks to this robust housing, you can enjoy better levels of control as you work. What’s more, the table can be tilted to angles of up to 45 degrees. This model can be operated with one hand, without you having to compromise on precision as you cut. Perhaps most notable about this relatively compact bench top band saw are the top and bottom triple roller precision guides. You’ll struggle to find such premium precision guides in other models of the calibre, making this a must for those looking to embark on woodworking projects with the confidence of knowing they’ll be making accurate cuts.