Shop Tool Reviews
Sometimes portability and budget trump industrial and horsepower, such is the case for this new band saw purchase. The RYOBI BS904G band saw takes up very little room and is easy on the wallet.
Recently I decided to reorganize my workshop and rethink how I do woodwork. Currently the two main workhorses in my shop are the table saw and scroll saw. They limit the kind of work I do and mostly I end up doing basic cabinetry, small decorative fretwork or marquetry. I’d love to do some free-form band saw boxes or larger work that scroll saw can’t.
A band saw is the next logical addition to my shop, but a large and heavy 14” saw, like the Jet J-8201VS Vertical Bandsaw would challenge the small space and budget. The specs of the Ryobi BS904G band saw seem like a great fit for my needs. Its bench top size and lightweight make it easy for me to move where I need it. Since I tend towards smaller work, the cutting size is acceptable. The Ryobi BS904G does need to be either bolted or clamped to a bench to operate safely. The power is standard 120V so I don’t need to install a 220V outlet – that’s a plus.
The first thing to consider when getting a saw of this size is what kind of work will you do on it. It’s 9” throat size and cutting height of 3-5/8” inches limits the size of the work you’ll be able to do. You’ll do small pieces on this saw. Resaw capacity is limited, but if you’re doing that kind of work, likely you need a bigger saw anyway. Still, most small shops and the average DIYer will find a use for the Ryobi BS904G. The low price of the saw makes it great for those on a tight budget.
2.5 Amp Ryobi BS904G Band Saw Features
The Ryobi BS904G comes with a blade, miter gauge, switch key, and manual. The manual is basic, but provides the needed and useful information. The unit comes with a ¼” width blade with 1/8” and 3/8” blades available. I’ll likely end up buying a 1/8” blade for the smaller work I’ll likely be doing on the saw. I don’t often use a miter gauge with a band saw, so this will likely live most of its life in a drawer, but it’s nice to have. The table does tilt with the aid of a rack and pinion system. There is a 2-1/2” dust collection port that can connect to a shop-vac or dust collection system.
Ryobi Band Saw Setup
Setting up the saw was easy. Blade tension and tracking setup was simple and quick. The control knobs were intuitive and easy to adjust. I didn’t have any trouble with this part of the setup. There is a nice little window for checking blade tracking while the unit is running. Installing the table was a bit tricky, but take it slow and it fits together. I was able to connect my shop dust collector hose without a problem.
I chose to clamp the band saw to my bench. This allows me the option of being able to move it around, depending on the project I am working on. It can be bolted to a bench with four bolts, which you’ll have to provide. Another useful option for later may be making a rolling stand for the Ryobi BS904G. Squaring up the blade to the table was easy, although I did have to find my smaller machinist square to do the job.
Using the BS904G Band Saw
Then it was putting the switch key in and doing some cuts. I found that the Ryobi BS904G band saw did fine on ¾” plywood and most construction grade lumber I had lying around. Straight cuts and curves cut easily, but the 2.5 amp motor did bog down in places. I setup a simple circle jig and found that the motor would stall if the radius was too tight. While doing some freehand cutting on a yin-yang shaped top that I was making for a box, the saw did well on the curves for that. However, it would have done better if I had the 1/8” blade installed.
I did try a little resawing on some 2x4s and that worked fine, but that is about as thick as this saw will do and you’ll have to make your own resaw fence. Digging into my hardwood scraps, I found that the BS904G band saw would slice through anything I fed it. Again, small is the operative wood on this saw.
The dust collection worked well for the pieces I was doing. The dust collector port is on the bottom wheel housing and very little stayed in the machine while the vacuum was on. There is a brush on the wheel to knock off any dust. Overall I found that dust control was good and I didn’t feel the need to put on a dust mask while using the Ryobi.
The Ryobi BS904G is mostly made from high quality plastics with metal part in strategic places. The construction seemed solid, but the table was slightly out of flat near one edge and the miter gauge had a bit of a wiggle in the miter slot. Both could affect the accuracy of the saw. While there was some attention to detail in the design, the use of plastics and the general lightness causes some concern about the durability of the band saw. The blade is 62” so remember that when you’re ordering blades. A quick internet search did show a good number of blade options for this size.
In the end it really comes down to what you want to do with the saw. The average weekend DIYer can find uses for it. The work you do with this will be on the small side and will be things that don’t require a lot of accuracy or power to make – think freeform cutting. The woodworker with a small shop will appreciate the small size, easy to move nature of the tool and its low price. The Ryobi BS904G band saw isn’t likely to stand up to heavy daily use, but for light use it will be fine. This unit isn’t for those shops needing lots of power, doing resawing of large boards or very accurate cuts.
My shop will benefit from the BS904G for its portability, size and price. I can see using it to make small band saw boxes, making small parts for cabinets, rough cutting stock I’ll be using on the scroll saw, and even the occasional push stick for the table saw. There might even be the odd whirligig in my future.
Ryobi BS904G Band Saw Specifications
- Motor: 120V 60HZ, 2.5 Amps
- Throat Capacity: 9”
- Table Size: 11 ¾” x 14 ¾”
- Maximum Cutting Height: 3-5/8” (at 90)
- Blade Length: 62”
- Weight: 37.3 lbs
- Price: $129
To purchase the 2.5 amp Ryobi BS904G Band Saw, click here.
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