Comparing 18" Bandsaws

So my recent article on the Jet 18" caused me to go back and pick up FWW 170, where they reviewed 18" bandsaws. And it got me thinking - does it make any sense *at all* to rate these things on wheel size? They do a head-to-head comparison of (among others) a $1,200 Jet with a 1.5 HP motor and 10" cutting capacity against a $2,900, 5 HP, 18" capacity Laguna machine. GUESS WHICH WON? Why did they even need to write an article to figure that one out? How is it useful to even _compare_ these machines? They're obviously in completely different leagues! It's like grouping tablesaws by miter gauge width, or something... Wouldn't it make more sense to compare bandsaws by cutting capacity, since there seems to be such a wide variation in the capabilities of machines that are the same wheel size? Or am I just showing my bandsaw ignorance, here?
-BAT
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FWW ought to have their butts kicked for having such a disparate comparison. That particular Laguna saw should not have been included, in my opinion.
Bob
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On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 06:00:47 GMT, "Bob"

Including one that costs a lot more than the others gives a sense of what a significant difference in cost accomplishes, if anything. What is the bench- mark ? Also, I don't see why it matters which one "won." The real information in the article, IMO, is not that FWW decided that one is a "winner" but the details they present about each one, no ?
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OK. It's I can live with the inclusion of a ringer, but the omission of half of the competition in that price band renders the article quite lame.
IMHO, people first choose what class of machine they are willing to pay for. Once they determine wat class of machine is appropriate for their skills/budget they they scrutinize specific models.
It would be kind of like doing a review of all table saws that come with a Bies or Bies-clone fence, including a Griz contractor saw, a PM66 and leaving out the Unisaw because it comes with a Unifence.. (yeah I know that you can get Unisaw with a Beis, but pretend for a minute with me)
-Steve
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On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 08:23:41 -0500, "C & S"

Some articles mention that some manufacturers won't or can't provide a test example. The omissions might not be up to the magazine. The test subjects are often loaned, not purchased.
Barry
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GregP wrote:

Well, my point - which I obviously didn't make well enough - is that I think it would've been a lot more useful to compare, say Laguna's 14" or even 12" model (assuming they make such a tool). The performance of that tool is going to be a lot closer to the performance of the other tools in the test and provide a much more meaningful comparison. Maybe I'm just dense about using a bandsaw, but it seems to me that "wheel size" is pretty much a technical, internal detail - what's going to matter is motor power and cut size. Taking a bunch of saws that happen to have the same internal detail - wheel size - but differ greatly on the important external details of motor HP and cut capacity - doesn't seem like a way to make a useful comparison to me. As another poster said, it'd be like comparing all 10" tablesaws - from the cheapest contractor saw to the most expensive cabinet saws - head-to-head. Of _course_ the $2k cabinet saw is going to beat out the $500 contractor saw!
Comparing across wheel size is only useful because wheel size, cut capacity and motor size are largely correlated. When you hit a saw like the Laguna that completely blows the correlated variables, it means you spend a lot of time comparing tools that aren't really very like each other. From a performance (and cost) perspective, the Laguna is in the same class with 22" and larger saws.
What would've been a lot more useful to me is to know - if I want a bandsaw that has a 10" - 12" resaw capcity, which one's best? I bet Laguna has a tool that fits in there somewhere, but I don't know how it compares to the competition, because it wasn't included in that review.
Unfortunately I also have no idea how much it costs or if it exists *at all* because Laguna has essentially no actual information about their products on their website, but that's a different complaint. ;)
-BAT
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Brett,
I read the article and thought the very same thing. Having bought a $1K band saw in the last year, I am pretty up to speed on what's out there up in the up to $2k range. Not only was it silly to include a $2900 machine, but it it sucked that machines that should have been compared were left out Minimax 16" products come to mind at the higher end. It would have been nice to see how the Griz/Wilke 17" machines fared at the lower end.
It would also be nice to see a side bar for product reviews that explain what would you could expect from the next class up of machine.
-Steve

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wrote:

I think it does. It's the key independent variable of a bandsaw design. You can't put a riser block in the wheels.
Most of use are going to pick a bandsaw on two things; overall workshop space needed and price, trying to optimise a third measure of performance. Wheel diameter is a good fit for the first requirement and not a dreadful guide to the last. A 14" using risers like the Eiffel tower still won't resaw like a machine with bigger wheels.

I find it very useful. It tells me how "similar" machines at different ends of the range will perform. When I bought my own bandsaw I had no idea how much to spend or how much difference it would make. Supposing I have space to house a new 18" machine, it would be very useful to know _beforehand_ whether I'm really looking at $2000, and if that $1000 bargain will actually work no better than my existing 14".
If I want to read a real "which machine to buy" review, then I'll go and read "Popular Tool Review" or even "Which". This will have ten machines and give me a score out of 10 for each. It's also not a magazine I would have the slightest interest in, because it would be American (the UK market can't support such a review-focussed magazine) and the same machines aren't on my local market.
FWW's machine reviews are thus "pointless" to me, yet they're something I read avidly. Not because I'm looking for model buying advice, but because they're telling me which sort of guide really is best, not just which maker spent the extra $5 for a guide that didn't wobble. They're also well-written articles, by people who really understand using the tool (most comparative reviews are anything but - I know, I've written them).
--
Smert' spamionam

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Totally agree. How about doing the comparison based on the sticker price, most people shop based on a fixed budget amount anyway. If I have 1k to spend on a saw, how about showing me the entire range I could get for that amount ( or an approximate range).
Perhaps some vendors may not like THAT perspective, others who offer more value would love it. I'm not in the publishing business, but I think perhaps it reflects how a company with extra bucks to spend on publishing 'relationships' can skew a contest.
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That is true for SOME people, not for MOST people.
A lot of people shop based on floor space. For example, I have a 200 sqft shop. When I buy a bandsaw, I will buy the best bandsaw that I can get into a small corner of the room. For me, that will pretty much have to be a 14" saw (and even then, I may want to store it with the table and rails dismounted, so it takes up less space).
And I won't care how much the saw costs (within reason). The reason is simple economics: Buying a good bandsaw will put me down somewhere between $600 and $4K. Building a new and larger shop will cost me $100K.
From this point of view, the comparison in FWW was very helpful and interesting. I won't buy any of the models discussed there (they are all too large), but I know what to look for, and what features make for a good bandsaw. Judging by the article, I would probably end up with a 14" Laguna (assuming it is built similar to the 18" Laguna).
The same is true for tablesaws (another poster mentioned that it would be insane to run a comparison test of all 10" tablesaws, because you are comparing machines that range in price and quality from $200 to $5K). I would love to have a european 10" saw, but they are way too big, and horribly expensive. The next best thing is a General 650: it might fit into my shop, if I put it on a mobile base, and use it most of the time as an assembly table (with a hardboard cover over it). Right now I have a cheap direct-drive contractor-style Delta - not because it is a good saw, but because it is one of the smallest 10" saws that I could find which still had a decent cast iron table. So I am an avid reader of the tool reviews in FWW, because eventually I'll buy a good table saw, and then I'll want to know what is important and what isn't.
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I have owned and used a Crapsman 12 inch band saw for close to 40 years ...and have been thinking about replacing it for the last 5 or so years...
Just have not gotten around to it...and it is NOT about money... like you said I also do not really care about what the saw costs...
Major reason is that the work that I have been doing over the last 40 years has all been handled with very little trouble by my old...tired...Crapsman (with a timberwolf blade however) ..
I just do not have the need to do a lot of resawing...never have..
Bob Griffiths

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Makes as MUCH sense as comparing ALL 10in cabinet saws, from 1.5hp to 5hp in the same article <<vbg!>>. Unless they narrow the field as to HP AND wheel size, you are always going to get this type of review, and if they narrow it down too much it may be a one horse race, or maybe a 2 horse race
However, resaw capability is often contingent on wheel size (as well as design), and one would expect to be able to do most things on ALL machines with the same size wheels, just maybe easier/faster on those with the bigger motors
John
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John wrote:

The article compared 18" bandsaws; not $1000 bandsaws. That's why it included all price ranges. I found it quite useful in deciding what would deliver the most bang for the buck. I also now know what they consider to be the best on the market just in case I win the lottery.
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Therein lies the problem. 18" wheels is really a useless criteria. It artificially excludes truely significant players from the mix. While the difference between 14 and 18 is significant but 16/17/18 is nothing more of an implementation detail. (a Minimax MM16 is probably twice the saw of a G0513 (Griz 17" at twice the price, and competes head to head with Laguna's flagship HD18). If the article intended to be an overview of all bandsaws, or "upper end bandsaws" a useful criteria could have been chosen. For example: >14", or > 6" resaw (not counting riser blocks).

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C & S wrote:

What he said. That's what I've been trying to say (in many more words): bandsaw wheel size is too arbitrary an element to define the class by. It puts in Lagunas that are way out of class and leaves out Minimax that probably should be there. I guess if you decide what bandsaw to buy based on wheel size (and the fella from Los Gatos concerned about floor space has a good point), this makes sense. But if you buy it based on resaw capacity (as I think most people do), wheel size is an arbitrary thing to compare these saws on.
-BAT
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wrote:

Maybe, but it's better than height under the guides. Motor horsepower also has the problem that some of those horses are those little Taiwanese Shetland Ponies.
--
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Charlie Self wrote:

What he said.
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN

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One horse, two horse, 1.5 horse, 5 horse...I'm sooo confused.
sorry.. won't happen again..
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