The more you’re around the industry, the more you realize there are many ways a job can be done incorrectly but there’s only one perfect result. Great craftsmanship has driven me to know how it’s done since I was very young. Perhaps the most inspiring work comes in the form of fine woodworking. Even today I stop to appreciate intricately detailed corbels, posts, shelves, and so on. Many tools and much skill are involved in getting these pieces to their finished states. The band saw is one of those tools. Pros may gravitate toward larger, stand-alone models, but the light-duty needs of a DIYer or hobbyist fit the bill for the Ryobi BS904G 9-inch Band Saw.
Ryobi BS904G Features
There are only a few pieces to assemble on the Ryobi BS904G, but they are critical. In particular, I’m referring to the blade and the table. The saw’s two-door cabinet opens up without tools. Inside the cabinet are two aluminum wheels and ball-bearing supports. You’ll need to lower the lever on the back of the saw to lower the top wheel.
Simply feed the blade of the Ryobi BS904G band saw through the blade guide assembly and around the wheels and shift the blade in the center of the wheels. You can fine-tune the blade tracking with an adjustment knob also located on the back of the saw.
Even if your blade tracking is a little off at this point, raise the lever to raise the top wheel. Then, spin the lower wheel by hand while using the tracking knob to get the blade centered. The process is really pretty simple, even for a first-time user.
- Powerful 2.5 Amp induction motor
- 9 in. throat capacity and 3-1/2 in. cutting capacity height for versatility
- Rapid set blade tensioning system
- Blade-tracking sight window for greater accuracy
- Tool free cabinet access
- All aluminum wheels and ball bearing supports
Setting the Blade Tension
To set the blade tension on the Ryobi BS904G 9-inch band saw, first close the cabinet doors. You adjust the blade tension using the top knob. Band saw blade tensioning is a mysterious process for some reason. Tensioners are expensive (more than this $179 saw) so eyeballing the blade deflection will suffice at this level.
On one hand, tension is important so the blade stays on the wheels. On the other, you don’t want to stress the blade or motor. A band saw really only needs to be at the highest tension for thick, hardwood stock.
Although the Ryobi 9-Inch Band Saw has a 3.5-inch cutting capacity, I don’t anticipate asking its 2.5-amp motor for such thick pieces, especially on hardwood. In any event, by raising the blade guide to it’s highest 3.5-inch level and pushing on the side of the blade, I tensioned the blade to deflect about 1/8-inch.
Let’s Table This Discussion
The second critical piece is the 11-3/4-inch square table. Although most work is done with the table at 90 degrees to the blade, this little band saw has an adjustable rack and pinion table for bevels up to 45 degrees. It takes a little concentration to the adjust the jam nut and bolt to square the table to the blade. Once you do, you can use the adjustment lever to loosen the table and create bevel angles. I don’t particularly like how the table flops around when the adjustment lever is loosened, but you should keep the simple design in perspective with the saw’s price point.
I bolted the saw to my workbench but it can also be clamped down for temporary use. During the course of my review, I easily moved the saw to a workbench outside between two sawhorses and back again to the shop.
Now for the fun part – cutting. When you reach for the power switch, you’ll noticed a curious yellow key. This key is a safety feature that must be inserted in the power switch for the saw to work. Without it, the saw can be plugged in but still inoperable. The benefits are obvious but the downside is clear – it would be easy to lose this little key. Just be sure to know where you put it when you’re done for the day.
Making the First Cut
Using this saw for a fun weekend project is, well, fun. With a little practice, even a novice can easily make smooth, curved cuts as long as you don’t twist the blade. You can make cross cuts using the included miter gauge guide at 90 degrees or miters using its simple adjustment knob.
Pro Tip: Grab some scraps of pine or other softwood to make some practice cuts before you start using your project stock. This will let you get to know your saw’s cutting characteristics and help you dial in the cuts you need to make.
The secret to band sawing is relief cuts and although you can have too many of them, it makes cutting easier and template cuts more accurate. The Ryobi handled my relief cuts and the curves that followed with ease. I quickly cut out two wine glasses and a wine bottle with the intention of making a wine rack. Of course, I had eye protection on the whole time.
The 9-inch throat is reasonable clearance for small projects. I used a 3/4-inch pine board to make template cuts for this review. The saw never bound, even in bevel cuts where the blade is in contact with more wood. However, the saw is missing a fence and that is a significant limitation. I made my own with a speed square and a clamp, but adding this feature would really make this model stand out in the value class.
You may read some reviews complaining that this saw can’t resaw. I didn’t really expect it to – that’s really the job of larger, professional-grade band saws. This is a great saw for the hobbyist who mainly wants to cut soft wood.
The Ryobi 9-inch band saw can help you create projects you can be proud of with a little practice. You’ll look back on some of your first projects and laugh (or cry maybe!) – all of have at some point. But it’s satisfying to see a new skill begin to take shape and to use the right tool to develop it.
As a side note, this project also gave me the opportunity to try out the Ryobi 12V Compact Drill/Driver. I’ll have a review on it soon, but it looks like it will be another solid value product from Ryobi,
Before buying a full-sized tool, the Ryobi BS904G 9-inch band saw provides a great way for aspiring amateur carpenters to hone their craft. If you retain reasonable expectations of what it can do, you’ll be pleased with the price and the results. You may choose to upgrade to a larger saw after a couple of years, but for $179 to test the waters, it’s hard to go wrong.
Ryobi 9-inch Band Saw Specifications
- Model: Ryobi BS904G
- Power Source: 120V AC
- Motor: 2.5 amps
- No Load Speed: 2,460 SFPM
- Cutting Capacity: 3.625 inches
- Throat Capacity: 9 inches
- Blade Length: 62 inches
- Blade Width: 0.025 inches
- Table Dimensions (LW): 14.75 x 11.75
- Total Dimensions (LWH): 31.3 x 17.4 x 12
- Weight: 37.3 pounds
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $179 (The Home Depot)