Bargain Tool Review - Skil 9" 2.5-Amp Band Saw (3385-012)

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Review by SchottFamily posted 06-21-2012 08:16 PM 20062 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Bargain Tool Review - Skil 9" 2.5-Amp Band Saw (3385-012) No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I finally got a chance last night to use the bench-top band saw that I picked up a few months ago. My local Lowes sells it for for about $120 plus tax, but I grabbed it on sale, refurbished, at CPO for $69 back in January or February.
I had been looking at the PC 14? floor saw, but at $400+, but I had a tough time justifying it at this point. I’m really on a Porter-Cable kick lately. I’m so happy with both the PC joiner and planer that I got last year. Anyhow, back to this band saw review…
While I was at the store looking at the PC, I checked this little job out. It seemed a little small to me – which it is, with only a 3.5? cut height and about 9? between the blade and the chassis, but honestly – I bought it almost 6 months ago and this is the first time I broke it out. With that track record, I don’t think I could have convinced the wife to let me pick up much more of a machine. I’ve got to say though, for what I paid and with the realistic expectations I had, I can’t really complain.
The Skil 3385 powered through the task at hand, which was re-sawing some boards and cutting out some stars for the flag project I’m working on (I’ll post more on that when it’s done). It’s got good power with it’s 2.5 amp motor, and even with the stock blade, cut through the pine I was working with like butter. It didn’t bog down at all on the knots, which really surprised me. Considering that I didn’t have it bolted or clamped down to my bench, there was little vibration as I made my cuts. The 12×14? table was very easy to true up and once zeroed in, it didn’t move at all and was very sturdy. I wasn’t too impressed with the functionality of the fence when I was re-sawing. It was a pain to adjust, frankly and took a lot of time to square it to the blade after each adjustment. The saw has an on board LED work light that I found very helpful as I was making very detailed cuts, on very small pieces, in the garage at night, with what’s technically referred to as “crappy” lighting. The band saw also has a laser guide, but I really didn’t find that to be useful or accurate. In all fairness, it could just be that I didn’t set it up correctly when assembling the saw.
All in all, for an entry level budget band saw, I’m pleased with this purchase and the performance. That being said though, I’m sure that as my skills improve, I’ll outgrow this band saw very quickly because of the size limitations. With a blade upgrade though, I think my wife will find it very useful for her craft business. It’s a lot of fun to use and very easy to get good results.


View SchottFamily's profile


105 posts in 3262 days

8 comments so far

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3017 days

#1 posted 06-22-2012 01:32 AM

I’m glad you like it. Me and Skil are not friends anymore. The last few Skil tools I owned either weren’t worth using ever again, or broke. I am always an advocate of never counting out an entire brand of tool because even though some may be junk, some are ok. My two exceptions are Skil (with the exception of the mag77, but I have no use for that), and Black and Decker. Sounds like you found one of the gems!


View woodmaker's profile


321 posts in 3461 days

#2 posted 06-22-2012 12:48 PM

I have this same saw; I think it’s basically useless.
My scroll saw cuts better than this thing.
Sorry, just my .2 cents

-- Mike

View jim454's profile


35 posts in 3182 days

#3 posted 06-22-2012 03:31 PM

I went through two skill Band Saw in two weeks !
No more sill tools for me !

View SchottFamily's profile


105 posts in 3262 days

#4 posted 06-22-2012 08:13 PM

I hear what you’re saying, but I think you guys are a little too harsh sometimes. When I first decided that I wanted to get into woodworking, I did what everyone said – I scoured craigslist for MONTHS looking for some used tools, specifically a table saw. After two months, I resigned myself to the fact that anyone who suggests craigslist just doesn’t live in Southern California. I found nothing usable on there, and I wasn’t super picky either.
Believe me when I tell you, if I could have bought a powermatic, I would have. With 5 kids, it’s just not in the budget. I’m not doing this professionally either. So I guess I’m realistic with what I expect out of these budget buys.
I have a Skil bench top table saw, drill press, and now this band saw – all refurbished, and I didn’t pay more than $100 for any of them. The more time I get to spend in my rookie “shop” the more I find that these tools will be quickly outgrown. My only complaint though is that they’re too small. When they break, I wont be sad at all because I barely spent any money on them. I’ll invest in the next step up.
I’ll defer to your experience, but I’ve had a cordless B&D drill, circ saw, jig saw, sander, and plunge router for a few years and none have given me a problem. They work great but I’m to the point now where they’re not enough tool for me, so again, when they break – I plan on replacing them with something that more meets my needs, and I’ll probably never go cordless anything again.
Maybe if I was better at this, then I would think they’re crappy too. lol I’m happy being an ignorant rookie in the mean time :)


View Stephen Fox's profile

Stephen Fox

110 posts in 4163 days

#5 posted 06-25-2012 03:34 PM

I was able to upgrade my tools ( drill press, table saw, joiner) when it was time for new kitchen cabinets. I was in my fifties at the time! The cost of store bought vs. lumber and new equipment were about the same but of course my cabinets are curly cherry and heavier plywood than anything a Home Depot. Still I have done a lot of projects with little more than a skill saw, drill and hand tools. So if you want a nice trim router and sliding miter say perhaps you can build a deck. It adds value to your home, makes a better home, builds skills and justifies the expense. Your situation may be very different…. just a thought.

-- Stephen NYS

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3256 days

#6 posted 06-25-2012 04:05 PM

As much s I hate it, I have to agree with Schottfamily and Stephan.

A tool is only as good as it’s user. If the user understands the limitations of the tool, they will get along just fine.

Blaming a tool because it isn’t big enough or powerful enough to handle the job you put it to is like wretling a pig in the sh*tpile…. pretty soon you figure out that all you get out of it is covered in crap but you see that the pig really enjoyed the workout.

Remember the old adage, “It’s a poor workman who blames his tools”.

At a couple of times in my life I’ve owned small benchtop machines. I did creditable work with them, including about 60 complete window rebuilds at an old Commercial swimming pool with nothing but a $10 Benchtop Skil table saw, a 9” Skil bandsaw, a B&D router and some junky Craftsman router bits.
The budget for the job was small, and so was my personal budget… for a framing carpenter trying to expand into his own company, it worked out well.

Never forget that most of you started out with a hammer, a chunk of used wood and a couple of bent nails with maybe a roller scate to attach to the bottom for a skate board or a side walk racer.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4522 days

#7 posted 06-27-2012 10:08 AM

There are plenty of uses for smaller bandsaws….. even after you go out and buy a bigger one. Too many people post negative reviews about machines having little mechanical knowledge.

View Kelly287's profile


1 post in 823 days

#8 posted 04-03-2018 04:36 AM

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