When it comes to outfitting your home workshop, a bandsaw should not be the first consideration. Other tools, like a table saw, chop saw, and bench planer will see more use. But as craftsmanship improves, a bandsaw becomes critical for cutting delicate curves in sheet goods and resawing planks into thinner slices. Bandsaws are not limited to woodworking, either. Metalsmiths, plumbers, and other tradesmen find them indispensable for making precise cuts on pipe, conduit, and sheet metal. Here’s how to find the right bandsaw for your project list.

The 3.5 amp motor on this model drives cuts up to six-inches deep. WEN

An upright 14-inch bandsaw is the standard machine in many home shops. Day in and day out, that’s enough capacity for most nominal wood dimensions. One-speed saws are fine, but it is nice to have a variable-speed unit when torque is more important than RPMs, such as cutting aluminum, copper, or steel with bi-metal blades. For all-around woodworking, a 1/4-inch blade will handle most jigging or cross-cutting tasks. A 1/2-inch blade will perform better on straighter cuts when ripping or resawing.

This model includes a built-in LED work light. JET

A combination vertical/horizontal bandsaw can handle everything from scroll cuts in metal plates to repetitive cuts in conduit and other tubular material. Metalwork requires heavy-duty construction, so any saw intended for a home shop should have a mobile base. Solid clamps, a blade-lubrication system, and micro-adjustable stops and fences are all invaluable to the serious metalsmith.

This machine has a built-in storage cabinet and chip tray. DEWALT

Some cutting tasks, like through large metal pipe on a landscaping or plumbing job, are best handled with a portable bandsaw. Cordless models that have at least 18-volt, 5 amp-hour batteries are the most versatile. Some lighter saws with less power and a smaller cutting depth are fine for processing rebar, angle iron, and other thin stock. As with upright saws, a variable-speed blade optimizes control in different materials.