My review of the Rikon 18" Bandsaw

Thought I'd post a brief review of my Rikon 18" bandsaw, as this saw often gets asked about on the net. I'm very happy with the saw. I think it is a good value, but obviously it's not as good as a high end bandsaw.
I saw very little on the net that explained the pluses and minuses. I was interested in the compromises that you made when buying this saw, so I thought I'd share.
I bought this saw primarily to cut bowl blanks. I haven't done any serious resawing, so maybe someone else can comment on that. It really shines in cutting blanks.
Another note is that I bought this saw in November 2005, and I think they've come out with a new version.. so some of this info might be outdated.
=======Likes========= What I like about the Rikon: Those cast iron wheels and powerful motor really give it great cutting power. I've used an 18" jet, and the Rikon seems to have cut better. Note, this is not a scientific study, just my impression that the Jet seemed less powerful. The dust collection works great. It was tuned great out of the box. Very little tuning or screwing around needed. That was impressive, as I expected to have to do some tweaking (like you do on most imports). The blade tracked well right out of the box. I love having the tension release lever. The table is huge. There's two miter slots in it. The saw is packed very well. Blade changes are very easy. Great design for that. Awesome ball bearing guides for the blade.
=======Dislikes================= What I don't like. Not necessarily huge deals, but here's where they cut corners. The fence is crap. It only locks in the front. It flexes easily. So if you plan on resawing, you'll need to make your own fence or buy an upgrade. I really don't know if the fence can be adjusted for blade drift or not.. it's so crappy, I didn't investigate. Also the cylinder on the fence (for "point" resawing) is a lot smaller than the Jet and other saws.
When I took the saw out of the box, it came with a blade (I think 3/4" or 5/8"). However, the blade was fully tensioned. So the saw sat in the box for God knows how long fully tensioned.. not good, although it didn't seem to have any immediate damage. I wish the factory had used the tension release lever before crating it up.
The fence rails have sharp edges, which scratch you up if you don't fix. My old delta had rubber ends that you could slip on the ends of the rails to prevent this. The fence rails have a ruler on them.. that was a nice idea, except the plastic curser on the fence was not glued in, and popped out while I was assembling the saw. Thus, the scale is useless.
The insert around the blade is plastic. Kind of cheap, but not a huge deal since you don't have to remove the insert during blade changes as you do with other saws. Not a huge deal.
There's no feet to level the saw. You really shouldn't put a saw like this on a mobile base (IMO). Thus you are forced to shim the bottom on a concrete floor to prevent it from wobbling, unless your floor is perfectly level. Would've been nice to have leveling feet on it. The manual says to bolt it to the floor, but let's be realistic. This saw is aimed to the hobbyist, and few people are going to do that.
All adjustments (guide bearings, everything) require an allen wrench. In contrast, my old delta had knobs to turn. It's a PITA to move those ball bearing guides,etc.. because the procedure is: loosen allen bolt. slide guide, tighten bolt and hope guide doesn't move. Really hard to make fine adjustments. So, while the blade change is easy, readjusting the guides, etc is a real PITA. They were nice to provide a holder on the back of the saw for the 4 allen wrenches which you will frequently use, but it's still a PITA.

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