I¹m writing this for an additional reference to those faced
with the same dilemma I had when looking for my first
bandsaw. Other reports like this have helped me greatly on
other purchases so I though I¹d try to return the favor by
restocking the net information fishing pools. I tried to break this up into
reasonable sections that might help someone with a specific question.
Well I finally pulled the trigger and ordered a MiniMax mm16
16" bandsaw. The only previous experience I¹ve had with band
saws has been as a user, I never got to play with the
adjustments or really put features to the test, instead I just push the power
switch and cut wood/metal.
Overall I am quire familiar with large industrial machinery having worked in
a machine shop using and servicing CNC mills and other large equipment.
I can usually notice the "small" things that separate the good from
the mediocre when it comes to machine designs. With today¹s optimized
designs, quality is there for a reason. It is used minimally and only where
it will make a significant difference (either in tool quality or the
manufactures bottom line 8^)
My need for a bandsaw came with the desire to resaw some of
the firewood I had been cutting lately since it is fairly
unique to this area and quite attractive for small projects
like boxes etc. I also was getting more serious about "real"
woods and new the benefit to resawing for veneers and having
a tool that can cut with a thin kerf and with lots of cut
control for detail work.
I had seriously considered the standard import 14" saw but
I was a little concerned by the capacity which would be very
close to the size of the material I wanted to resaw. Choosing
a riser kit or larger saw was the obvious solution to future
needs. The problem with riser blocks on the 14" saws is that
while you do gain clearance (quite a bit of clearance), you
are still basically stuck with the 1 - 1.5 horsepower motors
the saws are shipped with. I read of many cases where people
wished they had a "tad" more power for the tougher woods. Of course you can
fit bigger motors but then the rest of the saw will be stressed more than
intended and overall I feel in the long run it¹s best to just buy the
I figured I'd best be served by a 16" or larger saw with a
metal frame that allowed higher band tension (for wider
blades) and more motor options. Basically it meant double the
cost from the common 14" variety. This is when I started
really searching for info from the saw users out there in
net-land. The Jet, Griz, etc. all looked capable and priced
right, but some the wood wreckers in this group clued me into
the European imports from Laguna and MiniMax. After reading
lots more reviews and gathering information, I opted for the
MiniMax based on general comments that overall it was a tad
"nicer" than the Laguna and customer support being 5-star
versus Laguna¹s rep for being rather "difficult". The other saws in this
group still seemed to have power issues when really pushing the limits.
Due to my location I didn't have a way to actually see any of
these saws first hand but I felt informed enough to know that
either the Laguna or MiniMax would be a worthy machine.
Typically I try to seek out somewhere I can actually touch
the machine as I did before getting a Unisaw, but I had no
options here. Fortunately I found loads of good detailed information from
first hand users.
I checked the MiniMax site when I was getting the itch to
spend some money and saw that they had a "special" going on
with bandsaw pricing. I fired off an email asking details (no
further info on the web site) and received back a reply from
Erik Delaney at MiniMax with the lowdown. Basically $100 off
with a free mobility kit, miter gauge, and blade added in.
After thinking about it for a day I called Erik and placed
the order. He gave me a good idea of what to expect and some
info on cleaning and wiring. My total cost without shipping was right at
$1800. Not as cheap as a year or two ago, but I beat the cost increase due to
the rising Euro.
The shipment arrived about 4 days later at the shipper¹s
terminal where I arranged pickup. Since I'm in a remote area,
local delivery would have added another $80 to the shipping
and it's virtually impossible to get anyone to understand
directions on how to find my house. I drove my long bed
pickup and with the help of a forklift the shipping company
was able to load the nearly 500 pound beast into the back.
The saw was mounted to a pallet, strapped down to a second
pallet, and surrounded by a sturdy framework of pine 1x4's.
Inside, the saw had the accessories all shrink-wrapped in
plastic so it was well protected from weather. All strapped
down, (saw was upright) I headed home. I backed up to my
garage and all by my lonesome tilted the saw onto it's back
in the bed of my truck. I then slid it out onto some saw
horses and with the use of two large floor jacks rolled it
into my garage^H^H^H^H shop. Getting it back upright was easy
enough with some creative use of saw horses and the floor
jacks. Plenty of nails in
the crating made the wood useless to salvage, but it was just
some nasty pine anyway. The kid will love making some
contraption from it to annoy the neighbors with I¹m sure.
Beneath the thick outer plastic wrap, the table was wrapped
in more plastic with the fence, toolkit, and miter gauge
trapped within. Since this wrapping was done at the Italy factory, I must
assume the miter gauge is not an optional item. The mobility kit was
tie-wrapped to the motor cable. Beneath this second plastic layer was all the
grease I had been warned about! Overall it was not as bad as
I had been led to believe, every bolt and cast surface was
slathered in the stuff but all the painted surfaces were
clean, besides, cleaning is one way to "bond" with your new
toy. One worthy note is I was able to access every bolt and hex head screw
with the tools included in the kit. Very handy! (everything is metric)
(continued in Part II)