Band saw Recomendations? And Goodbye to the Rikon

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Wellllll I bought the Rikon 18" bands saw sight unseen in late November. It changed design and model numbers before I received it 2 months later on January 31. Two weeks later I returned it Woodcraft for a full credit. Kudos' to Woodcraft for their return policy and smiling when giving me the credit. I usually hate to do something like this but when I purchased the saw the salesmen stated that they sell the units faster than they can get them , so none were actually on the sales floor. I asked, what if I am not satisfied with the saw. Bring it back for credit was the reply. Regretfully I took them up on the offer.
The band saw wad a true bargain but unfortunally not what I was looking for. For what ever reason I had an issue with Timberwolf blades that was not resolved. While I suspect that perhaps I got a bad batch of blades, I cannot totally discount the band saw from the problem. While running a 1/4" blade on the saw and was observing the problematic blade wobble as it moved forward and backward on each revolution I happened to peek inside the upper door and witnessed the 18" wheel wobbling back and forth. Extra tension eliminates the wobble but that required too much tension for a 1/4" blade. As it turns out I am also not a big fan of roller bearings guides especially on the sides. They get very noisy and spin a lot from build up even though they are not touching the blade and no wood is being cut.
That brings me to taking a harder look at the Laguna line of saws. I am not so much interested in width of cut as resaw capabilities. One of the smaller 14" Laguna's still has 12" resaw capacity and a 2 hp Baldor motor. The guide system uses 10 ceramic contact points and can be touching the blade all of the time if desired. Unlike the 18" Rikon, 18" Delta and perhaps a majority of Chinese built saws, the Laguna top wheel cannot be moved in and out when you gently pull back and forth at the 9 and 6 o'clock positions with a 1/4" blade installed and tensioned.
Going with the smaller Laguna over the regular competition I give up nice little additions that I am finding to probably be unimportant. Oddly the smaller Laguna saws still do not have a quick release on the blade tension. Equally as odd the Rikon quick tension release did not release the tension completely. The release from a 3/4" blade setting took the saw down to a 1/4" blade tension. Why bother having a release that does not totally release? You still have to turn the tension wheel to change blades or relieve all tension. Are other saws like this? The rack and pinion guide adjustment was a cool addition on the band saw but I quickly found it to be time consuming over the manual method.
So with that in mind, are there any suggestions pro or con with the 14" and or 16" Laguna's? Are any other saws recommended. Bells and Whistles are not as important as a saw that works as you would expect. I want to cut veneer's.
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Leon
There was a discussion several months ago comparing Laguna to Mini Max. My take was that they were both "good" but the Mini Max was better.
Craig

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I went through the $1K bandsaw purchase decesion about 2 years ago. and kept an eye on the "just over 14" saw market since.
I ended up with tthe woodcraft 18, my dad has the Wilke 17 and I have pawed over the Rikon. and a couple generals.
For me, I just could not justify $2K for a bandsaw, and I can live with that, however one truth that I came to accept is that all of the >14" saws at or around that price point are value-engineered undustrial machines. Unlike a high-end delta or powermatic 14 which is a homeowner machine (the basic design) built to a good quality standard and built up, these machines start with an undustrial design and are then built with thinner sheet metal and plastic handles.
By some accounts, the Rikon is best saw at that price point.
If you really want to be making veneers, I think that means that you have a real need to be looking up-market (Minimax 16/Laguna LT18). Laguna and Minimax also havesome entry level stuff, but I was left with the impression that those were tacked on to to fill out their product line and not where those people offered the best product.
BTW, I got a *much* better vibe talking to the Minimax people than the Laguna folks.
My intent is not to thrash the $1K BS market, but rather to point out it's limitations. It's kind of an El Camino vs. F150 kind of thing.
-Steve

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Leon, too bad about your experience with the Rikon - especially after waiting as long as you did. I guess Rikon shouldn't have messed with a good thing.
Good thing you worked with a reputable company like Woodcraft - good testament to their service.
Tom
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I think you are right. I have heard the tension change was not by choice.

Yeah.
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I own the Laguna 18" and have used 16" MiniMax. The only thing I do with the Laguna is resawing so I am not the best judge of the full capabilities but I think that both saw are extremely close. If I were going to purchase again I would go with the MiniMax.
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I have the Laguna 16 hd and love it. I haven't used any other bandsaws so can't really compare it. The only problem I had was that it came slightly damaged due to poor crating. Since I didn't jump through the proper hoops in a timely manner, they charged me $35 (including shipping and handleing) for 2 small parts. It still makes me nervous to see the sparks coming off of the ceramic guides, but most of what I cut is wet wood for bowl blanks. Use a bi metal blade for bowl blanks, and the carbide blades for veneers. I got a 1 1/4 Lennox blade for about $130. The dust port on the saw works okay, but not well. There is a 1'4 inch cross hair grid in the port to keep you from sticking your hand in it, which I cut out because when I cut long grain, the long shavings would plug up the port in seconds. I will enlarge the hole to take a 5 inch hose rather than the 4 inch one that comes standard. This should be easy as there is a plastic fitting that will unscrew, and I can replace it. It has plenty of power. robo hippy
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I may be wrong, but I seem to remember about a year ago some here having warranty issues with the Laguna people. Something needed to be corrected and they didn't respond.
I questioned a rep that sold Laguna at a local woodworking show and he told me he knew of the problems and that they were working to fix them.
I would think a quick call to the Laguna help line/warranty center would be in order if you had any doubts.
Robert
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That would be a good idea however it would probably be advantageous to know what the warranty problem was specifically. I doubt that they would volunteer any information about problems that they may be having.
Do you know what the problem is/was and which models are affected?
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Leon wrote:
<<Do you know what the problem is/was and which models are affected? >>
We were talking about the 14 and 16 inch models which are probably their most popular sellers with the small pro shops. This will sound strange, but they were not having problems so much with the machines as with the people that were supposed to support them. To try to clarify, if a machine came with a faulty switch, it might take a month and a lot of follow up (even under warranty) to get a new switch. BTW, the problem they were having at the time was indeed some kind of switch (footswitch?), and something to do with the guides. We weren't specific as I wasn't buying, just looking and asking.
I was impressed that this guy actually admitted it, but he was sure that they had, or were in the process of making changes that would fix the customer support problems. It was refreshing to hear someone not create a story on the spot to cover my concern.
Turning around customer service can be done... I use a lot of Bostitch nailers as the local lumberyard I go to sells them, and will service them once a quarter for free. But over the years, if you needed a part such as a driver, latch or anything specific to your gun, you left a message on their New Jersey number and then it just went away. I waited over a year to get a part for one of my roofing coil nailers, so I went out and bought a Hitachi to replace it.
Now they have live people answer the phone, people that have been trained to read the schematics. I needed a part that is not considered routine service, and they had it to me in about 10 days. Not super fast, but they did get it done.
You might call Laguna and just see if someone live actually answers the phone. I have a buddy that has a custom cabinet shop here in town that I go see from time to time went with the 18" MiniMax. He thought the saw looked better engineered and seemed to him to have more low end torque when resawing than the other saws he tried. He also called their customer support line and asked the Minimax people specific questions about the saw, and like their responses the best.
On one hand, I was surprised he did this... he works at WoodCraft part time and I thought for sure he would take a Rikon or Jet and get his employee discount. He pointed out to me that he has two dead Jet 18" bandsaws in his shop now (broken motor shaft on one and the other saw that was about 20 months old needs bearings top and bottom as well as the fact it seems like it is coming apart when it is running) and was pretty well finished with the Asian stuff.
Robert
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Your problem is that you want a band saw of the same quality as that new planer you just bought. Me thinks the Laguna LT 16 might be the ticket.
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wrote:

Yeah. I am tired of fooling around with "Get by" equipment. I think. ;~)

I am looking closely at the 14SE, the 16 and the 16HD. There is a lot of price difference between the 16 and 16HD however the 16HD appears to be built differently when looking at the trunion and lower guides. IIRC the 16HD had lower guides that are much easier to adjust than on the lighter models. I read that one owner of the smaller models removes the table to make lower guide adjustments easier. I think on the heavier models that the lower guide moves up and down in a similar fashion to the upper guide.
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On Wed, 15 Feb 2006 14:36:06 GMT, "Leon"

I've got a Laguna 16HD but it is in storage and I only used it briefly before it went to storage.
When we were looking at developing a line of euro style bandsaws, it was one of the units we bought to evaluate, looking for best of breed to emulate. We had several others, but our consensus opinion was that the Laguna was the best. We, however, did not have a MiniMax but we certainly liked the Laguna. All this several years back.
Frank
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So did the BS endeavor work out?
I understand the MiniMax is a pretty good saw also and IIRC they are in Austin, TX which would be worth a trip from Houston TX to save on shipping charges if that is possible. I am particularly impressed with the Laguna guide system. I was pretty dismayed with the roller bearings. They made since until I actually worked with them. Way too noisy and a lot of vibration came from them as the sawdust stuck to them, IMHO.
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On Wed, 15 Feb 2006 17:43:06 GMT, "Leon"

No. We got to the prototype stage, actually built a couple of rough prototypes and the consolidation with PC resulted in us to losing control of the new product development process. The project was dropped.
Our goal was to make a unit as good as the best and try to get to market as close to that $1K target as possible. Just didn't have enough time to flesh it out.
Well, at least I got to buy the Laguna 16HD at a great price.
Frank
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I belong to the 'Cry Once' school, Leon. Unless I absolutely know for sure that the use of a piece of gear is going to be occasional/seldom I buy the best I can afford....and usually one step up from there. That philosophy has served me well over the years. I recently bought a King bandsaw for $ 300.00 with the sole intention to give it away at some point if it became clear that a better saw would fit into my new direction. I am already trying to sort out my dilemma of living in Canada and neither MiniMax nor Laguna have a whole lot of representation here. You guys have it made-in-the-shade when it comes to things like that down there. I am 50 minutes from Detroit. Maybe I can make that work. For now I'm heading into the CNC direction.
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Leon wrote:

In all my looking (teetering on the end of a crowbar applied to my wallet, wrt buying a bandsaw) I never see any details about the trunnion in the feature list or specs.
Makes looking harder, and slower.
I've been considering Grizzly's G0555, with many sidelong ogling glances at the G0513x.
er
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Yeah. The latest Rikon has a Cast aluminum trunion that works smoothly. That is one of its strong points. The good saws have the cast iron trunions and with the Laguna there are 2 styles. One appears to hide the lower guide pretty well and the $1000 extra machine gives you a clear view of the lower trunion.

I am impressed with the ceramic guides that come on all the Laguna's. The bearing guides on the Rikon that I had briefly left me less than satisfied for that set up in general. Unfortunately that limits the choices to Laguna.
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Leon wrote:

I've been trying to look at the trunnions on all the bandsaws... not much luck. In fact, in the manual assembly directions, they sometimes aren't even pictured... or just the base.

That's more than I want to pay at the moment... but I'll keep looking in the local lists for an old old bandsaw--if something really solid shows up for the right price I don't care if I need to do a little renovating.
er
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wrote:

Well I finally made my decision the other day. I guess like you I wasn't looking in the same price bracket as Leon. I had it narrowed down to the 14" Craftsman, Delta 28-206, Jet (the 1 hp one, too lazy to dig up the mile long model number) and the Grizzly G0555.
I didn't want to go with roller bearings, mostly I'm going to use small blades. I couldn't find much not to like about the Craftsman (basically same as the Rikon but 2" more resaw) but when I emailed Sears to ask about putting regular guide blocks on it they said they couldn't answer and gave me the manufacturer's email address. I figure if that is the level of support I'm going to get from them, no thanks.
With the current amazon pricing and jet rebates both of those ended up (with shipping) at $550, the griz by the time I added guide block holders to it was $520. So pretty much a wash. I eliminated the griz because of the smaller table and that the motor is face mounted to the side of the saw. I figure if I have to replace the motor later on it's going to be easier with it in the stand. They were excellent about getting back to my questions though. The Jet didn't have a quick release, which wasn't a deal breaker for me but it just seemed like it was the same saw with prettier paint, and having to deal with a rebate.
So the Delta is on its way, and I get to squirm for a while and pray for good weather when it shows up. Originally they estimated the 23rd, now it says the 27th.
-Leuf
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