When I was first building up my collection of woodworking tools for the shop, I had buying a bandsaw very, very high on the list. Unfortunately, other tools kept jumping the line in order of necessity, and I kept putting off buying one. A few years in, I finally decided to sit down, research the best bandsaw available, and pull the trigger.
Well let me tell you that once I added the bandsaw to the shop I was immediately kicking myself for not buying one sooner.
What was the Best Bandsaw for My Shop?
The bandsaw I ended up choosing was the Laguna 14bx in the 220v configuration. I wanted a more compact bandsaw with good resawing capabilities, a blade brake, and enough power to work with thicker hardwoods.
This bandsaw checked those boxes and then some.
My best selling product on Etsy requires resawing a lot of lumber, and I can definitively say that this bandsaw handles that task with ease. I have put 100’s of board feet of walnut, maple, sapele, and cherry through this saw, and it has never bogged down in the slightest.
I have also frequently used it to prepare fairly large turning blanks that I was worried might put too much strain on the table. Once again, there has never been a problem.
If you’re looking to add a new or upgraded bandsaw to your shop I highly recommend it! Here are some of the features I focused on during my search for a new bandsaw.
What to Look for with a Bandsaw
Every bandsaw will have specific requirements on the blade length that fits the saw. Usually, this falls somewhere in the 90 inches to 120 inches range.
Bandsaws can also handle a specific range of blade widths. Typically this will range from 1/8″ up to 1.5″ wide.
The Laguna 14bx can handle blades up to 3/4″ wide, but many other saws on the market can handle blades up to an inch wide.
I have had great luck over the years resawing with both 1/2″ and 3/4″ blades, so I’m not sure being able to move up to an inch wide blade will make a huge difference in the end for most woodworkers.
The motor sizes in bandsaws range from 1/2hp on the low end all the way up to 5hp for the top of the line bandsaws. Commercial level bandsaws will offer even larger motors but bandsaws that large are out of most folks leagues.
If you’re looking for a bandsaw to make cuts on thinner pieces of wood and don’t plan on doing any resawing, then the 1 1/2 or 1 3/4hp motor offered on many of the 12″ and 14″ bandsaw will be more than enough.
Those saws can get bogged down though when resawing harder woods or if you’re maxing out the throat capacity.
The Laguna 14bx, with its 2.5hp motor, has been able to handle everything I have thrown at it so far without showing any signs of struggle. And that is with me maxing out the 12″ of resaw capacity with sapele.
Being able to resaw lumber is one of the best ways to really maximize the usefulness of the bandsaw.
Your more entry level saws will usually have around 6″ – 8″ of resaw capacity. While some can be upgraded with riser blocks this can be a tricky situation as often these bandsaws don’t have enough power to adequately handle resawing thicker stock.
Your mid-range bandsaws will usually have around 12″ of resaw capacity. This actually works great for many hobbyist woodworkers as this size lines up well with the capabilities of most entry-level planers.
Once you get into the 3hp to 5hp range saws they will have resaw capacities of 12″ to 14″.
This may be surprising to some buy not all bandsaws come with a fence. Even at the $1,000 bandsaw level you may find yourself having to look for an aftermarket fence setup.
I use my fence all the time and would highly recommend choosing a saw with a fence included.
A miter gauge is another option that is not included with all bandsaws. While I don’t use mine all that much it is handy to have on hand. Luckily, the miter gauge slot on most bandsaws will be compatible with the miter gauges that come with table saws so you can always interchange those in a pinch.
Guide Blocks or Bearings
Guide blocks and bearings are responsible for keeping the bandsaw blade running true. They are also one of the most controversial components on a bandsaw.
Some folks are willing to die on the hill for bearings. Others think that guide blocks are the only way to go.
In my opinion, so long as the blocks or bearings are set up correctly, they will both do the job just fine. The Laguna bandsaws come with a ceramic block system that has worked well.
I know other woodworkers who bought saws with bearings and replaced them with cool blocks and have said they haven’t really noticed much of a difference.
Alex Snodgrass is generally regarded as the best in the business when it comes to setting up your blade and guides on the bandsaw. He has a great video that is a must-watch for anyone looking to set up their bandsaw for the first time or need a refresher on how to tune up the saw.
One of the reasons I went with the Laguna 14bx over the super popular Laguna 14|12 was the inclusion of a foot brake. The brake instantly shuts off the saw and stops the blade.
This is very convenient when resawing or ripping long pieces of wood as I’m often not in a position where I can easily reach the off button.
When running the dust collector and wearing ear protection it can also be very easy to forget the saw is even on so being able to stop the blade quickly was an important feature for me.
Our Best Bandsaw Picks
Best Overall Bandsaw: Laguna 14bx Bandsaw
I’m not sure there is much more to say about this bandsaw that hasn’t already been said.
The Laguna 14bx is an absolutely rock solid bandsaw that is small enough for the home woodshop yet capable enough to hold its own in a production shop.
This bandsaw is available in both 110v or 220v configurations and comes with an impressive array of features.
- 12″ of resaw capacity
- 2.5hp motor
- 2 dust ports
- Ceramic guides
- Dual-purpose fence
- Miter Gauge
- Solid steel body
- Quick shutoff foot brake
- Built-in plug for a work light
Literally my only complaint about this saw is the table insert that covers the area in the table around the blade tends to sink into the table over time. This is a quick fix but I usually don’t notice it until a piece gets stuck mid cut which can be a bit of an annoyance.
Overall I highly recommend this saw for all levels of woodworkers looking for the best bandsaw to add to their woodshop.
Other Laguna Bandsaw Options
If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper bandsaw then the Laguna 1412 is also very highly rated. It has a slightly smaller motor than the 14bx at 1 3/4hp and the body sits on a small stand rather than being a solid construction.
Best Budget Bandsaw: Shop Fox W1706 14″ Bandsaw
While this bandsaw may be out of many woodworker’s price range it is the best combination of features and price that we can recommend in a full sized bandsaw.
The 14″ bandsaw market is crowded with popular options from Jet, Grizzly, and Rikon, but we feel this option by Shop Fox offers the best combination of price and value.
What makes this the best budget bandsaw is it’s 1hp motor, 6″ of resawing capacity, included fence and miter gauge and solid cast iron frame and table.
Other Contenders for Best Budget Bandsaw
The cousin to the Shop Fox W1706 is the Grizzly G055lx. With many of the same features, this saw is also a great option.
It is worth keeping an eye on the Grizzly site as they often offer coupons or discounts on their bandsaws that can make this bandsaw an incredible deal.
Best Benchtop Bandsaw: Rikon 10-3061 10″ Deluxe Bandsaw
This little saw by Rikon is a GREAT benchtop bandsaw for anyone tight on space. Despite my maxed out shop I’ve actually considered picking one up as a second bandsaw that I could use with a dedicated 1/8″ blade.
While this bandsaw may not turn many heads with its 1/2hp motor it is more than capable for cutting flat stock. If you need to do any resawing of material then this saw probably isn’t for you as users report it frequently bogs down when cutting through 4″ thick hardwoods.
The Rikon 10-3061 comes with a 1/2″ blade, dust ports, tiltable cast iron table, dust ports and even an aluminum fence. You’ll be able to pull this saw right out of the box and get to work cutting immediately.
Another awesome feature with this saw is it offers a dual speed selection so you can easily toggle between cutting wood and metal.
A Few More Choices for the Best Bandsaw
These are some of the bandsaws that I considered before buying my Laguna 14bx.
The Rikon 10-326 Deluxe Bandsaw is a pretty similar bandsaw to both the Laguna 1412 in style and specs. I was initially drawn to it as the cost was a bit lower than the Laguna saws.
Ultimately, I chose to go with the 14bx as I wanted the larger motor and foot brake but this saw is a great buy as well.
The Jet JWBS-14SFX is another very similar model to the Rikon and Laguna bandsaws.
Once again this saw has a 1 3/4hp motor, 13″ of resaw capacity, and an awesome fence that can be reversed for resawing or cutting thinner stock.
The Grizzly G0514X is a step up in capacity and power from these other two bandsaws. With 19″ of cutting capacity on the table and a 3hp motor this saw is a beast.
If you’re frequently resawing thick lumber or need the additional 5 inches of capacity over the 14″ saws then this bandsaw by Grizzly is a great choice.
Final Thoughts on the Best Bandsaw
The bandsaw is probably my favorite and most versatile tool in the shop. If you’ve been on the fence about buying one for your woodshop, then I would highly recommend pulling the trigger.
You can’t go wrong with any of the selections above, as they are all fully capable bandsaws with a solid set of features.