Best Horizontal Band Saws – Reviews & Top Picks 2020
The horizontal band saw is a versatile and underrated tool. Often pigeonholed as a metal cutter or a replacement for chop saws, these little fighters are perfectly capable of handling wood, plastic, and metals both ferrous and non-ferrous.
They’re ideal for cutting stock down to size, as well as for trickier cuts. With a horizontal band saw, you can make cuts in metal that look as straight and professional as your miter saw cuts in wood.
“All right, I’m convinced,” you might be thinking. “But I’ve never owned a horizontal band saw before. Where do I start?”
With our reviews, of course! We’ve put together a list of five bandsaws to teach you everything you need to know about what’s on the market right now. Some are excellent, some merely good, and some ugly.
After the ranking, stick around for our buyer’s guide, where we’ll unpack all the features you should be aware of when buying your own horizontal band saw. We hope our reviews make this purchase a little bit less daunting.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Grizzly G0561 Horizontal Band Saw||
|The Runner-up||JET 414560 HVBS 712D Deluxe Horizontal Bandsaw||
|Best Value||WEN 3975 Band Saw||
|Fox Shop W1715 Metal-Cutting Horizontal Band-Saw||
|JET 414458 HVBS-56M Band Saw||
5 Best Horizontal Band Saw – Reviews
1. Grizzly G0561 Horizontal Band Saw – Best Overall
Grizzly Industrial can’t be beaten in the large tools category. With the G0561 Horizontal Band Saw, the company builds on its line of quality band saws, adding a portable, powerful unit that makes a capable inclusion in any workshop.
Without taking up much space, the Grizzly G0561 cuts through wood up to 7″x12″, and also makes short work of metal. Its 1-HP, 110V/220V motor keeps the blade moving at up to 308 FPM, while the heavy steel base keeps it from rattling. It’s also equipped with vises, adjustable blade guides, and a coolant applicator for cutting metal.
The G0561’s horsepower and ¾” blade width set it above the competition. What kicked it to #1, though, was the sharpness and consistency of its cuts. Whether working with wood or metal, this saw squared perfectly, cutting at the same angle every time. Grizzly’s responsive customer service also grants it several bonus points.
We only have one real issue with the G0561. Blade speed adjusts in steps, and changing the speed by changing the tension of the belt requires a lot of force — you really have to lean on it to adjust it successfully.
2. JET 414560 HVBS 712D Deluxe Horizontal Bandsaw – The Runner-Up
For our second-place finisher, we chose the JET HVBS-712D, an adjustable horizontal-to-vertical bandsaw. It’s a close competitor with the Grizzly G0561, featuring that model’s ¾” blade width and 7″x12″ capacity. In the vertical position, its built-in blade guides give it an 8″ capacity, while its large table helps balance workpieces in both settings.
You’re here to see how these saws cut horizontally, though, and we’ve got good news in that department. We tested it by mitering 2x4s and cutting through metal bars, and found the blade wandered less than a tenth of an inch.
The HVBS-712D comes with useful extra features. Its blade guides are fitted with ball bearings, making them easy to adjust, the chip tray catches most chips and burrs, and the storage cabinet in the base is great for keeping your smaller tools accessible. It’s also got the standard coolant delivery system for cutting metal.
In fact, the JET HVBS-712D is so close to the greatness of the Grizzly G0561 that we mainly marked it down for costing so much more. There’s no reason to spend extra on a very similar product. We’ve also noticed that the coolant system is inefficient, and tends to splash.
3. WEN 3975 Band Saw – Best for the Money
Band saws are an expensive business, so we get that some of you are just here to find the best horizontal band saw for the money. Look no further: the WEN 3975T is exactly what you want. This bench-top model is cheap, space-efficient, and boasts the best quality you’ll ever find for this price.
The 3975T is capable of cutting cylindrical workpieces up to 5″ in diameter, or square pieces as large as 5″x4⅞”. The blade can be adjusted from 0 to 60 degrees for bevel cuts. Its blade speed can be adjusted on a spectrum from 125 to 260 FPM.
The low price is obviously a big draw, but the lightness and portability of the WEN 3975T are welcome traits too. Being small, manageable, and easy to carry around makes this the perfect horizontal band saw for amateurs and hobbyists. The two-year warranty is also nice.
There is one drawback that makes the 3975T less of a bargain — it’s hard on blades. The interior wheel design puts them under a lot of strain, wearing them out much faster than a similar model would. That same system makes this saw extremely loud when cutting; we recommend ear protection.
4. Fox Shop W1715 Metal-Cutting Horizontal Band-Saw
The Shop Fox W1715 is another well-made, budget-priced horizontal band saw. It’s not quite as powerful or cheap as others in the price range like the WEN 3975T we put at #3. However, it’s still a dependable, portable unit you won’t regret purchasing.
With ¾ HP and 110V, its motor is powerful enough to handle most materials, and the factory-installed blade holds up far better than those usually do. Its three cutting speeds (78 FPM, 108 FPM, and 180 FPM) aren’t very fast, and you can’t adjust the speed anywhere between them — but while it will take longer, this saw can get through any stock you feed it.
Other perks of the Shop Fox W1715 include its solid construction, reliable automatic shutoff safety feature, and handles and wheels that make it a snap to move.
Outside of the slower, less versatile blade, a couple other traits of this saw might make you say “you get what you pay for.” While the saw unit is built well, the base is not; we found it way too light to keep the saw from shaking. There’s also no lube system, so you’ll have to apply oil yourself if you’re cutting metal.
5. JET 414458 HVBS-56M Band Saw
Last on our list of noteworthy horizontal band saws is another product from JET, who also made our runner-up saw. The HVBS-56M is a mid-range saw mounted on an open stand, featuring a ½-HP, 115V/230V motor and a 5″x5¾” cutting capacity. You’ll find the full list of expected features here, including three blade speeds (80, 120, and 200 FPM), and a 45-degree bevel.
None of the HVBS-56M’s specs are bad on their own; they just pale in comparison to its competitors. For example, it’s hard to justify buying a band saw with a ½-HP engine when the Shop Fox W1715 gives you ¾-HP for a fraction of the price.
In fact, it seems as though most of the extra cost of this saw goes toward a pre-installed base, which isn’t worth it — especially when the allegedly heavy-duty base does not hold steady at all (serving as our daily reminder that the words “heavy duty” are as meaningless in ad copy as “high performance”).
One more aggravating flaw: like the WEN 3975, this band saw eats blades for breakfast, but unlike the WEN, it doesn’t cut straight. JET is usually great, but this saw is one to skip.
When buying a horizontal band saw, most people will look at the price sticker before they see anything else.
If you only buy the least expensive band saw you can find, not only will you miss out on a lot of the features and power you might need for your projects, but you could actually lose money if your cheap saw breaks down (or won’t stop snapping your blades).
Instead, we recommend spending some time to assess your needs. What do you plan to do with this saw? What do you need it for right now, and what might you need it for later? How much space do you have for it in your shop?
Horizontal band saws can only cut material up to a certain size. Above that, it just won’t fit. You don’t want to discover that your lumber or metal is too big for your band saw after you’ve already dropped $1,000 on it. Luckily, maximum workpiece size is one of the first things listed in any horizontal band saw’s marketing material.
- The average horizontal band saw has a capacity between 5 and 7 inches horizontally and vertically.
Like most other power saws, it’s not that important that your horizontal band saw have the perfect blade on it right away — so long as you can replace it later. Instead, look for these traits in the blade on any band saw you might buy:
- It should have the capacity to hold blades that are at least ½” wide, and ideally ¾”. Wider blades are easier to hold to a straight line.
- It should be easy to change out and replace the blade. Even the best band saws wear out blades over time. This is doubly important if you want to install your own preferred blade right away.
- The band saw should match readily available blades. You should be able to buy a new one at any hardware store.
- A strong factory-installed blade is not necessary, but it’s nice to be able to use the saw for a while out of the box without having to swap out aftermarket parts.
The power of the band saw’s engine determines how quickly the blade cuts (measured in feet per minute, or FPM). This is less about whether your blade can cut a certain material and more about how fast it will cut.
Guides ensure that you make the exact cut that you want: smooth, straight, and accurate. They’re pretty simple, but can make or break a saw’s usability.
Some horizontal band saws can be adjusted to work as vertical band saws. If this is important to you, make sure that the adjustment isn’t too difficult, and is tool-free if possible.
If you’re going to be cutting metal with your horizontal band saw, you’ll need to regularly apply a cooling lubricant to keep the blade from overheating.
Other FeaturesAll horizontal band saws worth your money will have clamps and vises to hold workpieces in place, safety switches to keep the saw from running at dangerous times, and an adjustable angle gauge for bevel and miter cuts. A few other extra features are also reasonably common.
· Clamps and vises should be made of durable, high-quality materials. Workpieces held in them should not move around.
· There must be a safety switch. This critical feature will keep the saw from turning on unless it’s disengaged. Whenever you’re not using the saw, or if anything unexpected happens in your workshop — like a child or a pet barging in — stop the blade and activate the safety immediately.
· If you need [thrive_highlight highlight=’default’ text=’light’][/thrive_highlight]adjustable angle gauges, make sure it moves far enough to make the cuts you want. An average horizontal band saw can be adjusted 45 degrees in either direction.
In our reviews, the Grizzly G0561 handily beat out most of the competition. Yes, it’s an import on the pricier side, and yeah, the blade speed adjustments can be tense. But in every other area — power, speed, user-friendliness, durability, extra features — the G0561 shines.
The JET HVBS-712D is close on its heels. Its big table, wide blade, and top-tier calibration make it a standout pick, even before considering that it’s decked out with useful accessories. Yet it’s a little expensive, and the coolant system disappoints.
Hopefully, our reviews have pointed you in the right direction, whether you’re looking for your first horizontal band saw or your new favorite. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you on the next project!
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- 5 Best Horizontal Band Saw – Reviews
- Buyer’s Guide