New bandsaw saga Part III (long)

(continued from part II)
Quality Impressions
Everyone has different standards so read this for what it is worth. Ive seen/used a number of industrial machines and took notice of how they fabricate their adjustment mechanisms. Things that get frequent tweaking (like spindle heads on a vertical mill) usually have dovetailed ways with lockdowns and cranks. Less frequently adjusted things have shims and lock bolts. The MiniMax uses pinch bolts everywhere. To adjust, you loosen the locknut, turn the bolt, and then reset the locknut. A very sturdy way to adjust and keep adjusted, but there always is a small amount of movement when the locknut is cinched that often requires "fiddly" tweaking. The good thing is that "everything" is adjustable! I cant think of one alignment that cannot be changed on this saw. The table tilt has a stop bolt that makes return to 90 degrees easy. The trunion lock bolt uses two washers that get bent to conform to the trunions curve. A curved faced washer or other mating part here would be a nice refinement, but what is there works. The table on my saw was dead flat; I only needed to square it up with the blade. Loosen the cinch nuts, turn the bolts, retighten, repeat. It takes a while, but Ill only have to do this once. The blade guide assembly tracked the blade fine as set at the factory with no offsets from full up to full down. If I did have to adjust it, there are four pinch bolts to tweak. The mechanism that raises and lowers this part is operated by a hand wheel that engages a sprocket and chain attached to the shaft of the blade guide holder. It stays put on its own but there is a lockdown wheel provided. An industrial machine probably would have a rack and pinion system here (like on a drill press), but this system is identical for all purposes and aside from a small amount of backlash felt at the handwheel, perfect for easy guide position tuning. All the hand wheels are plastic, but well made with brass bushings for the shafts and setscrews. The tension wheel is labeled "open" and "close" so I assume its not made specifically for the saw 8^). All the sheet metal is painted (drip/run free) and of a very heavy gauge metal, about 1/8" thick (the doors are thinner). The motor belt is adjusted with a jackscrew, very nice to set the belt, but potential is there to really over do it! Access to the nuts here is a tad difficult but easy enough. The motor pulley is machined steel. The blade guides are described as euro style. Basically a round disk with a shaft that rides in a bronze bushing.
Using the Saw.
It turns out that the blade I wanted was "backordered" so being eager to fire up my new toy I called the folks that make the Timberwolf blades and ordered a 1" and 1/2" blade (blade length is 145"). They recommended a 3 TPI profile for the 1" based on my request to be able to resaw 10" of white oak. The blades arrived a week later and the 1" was installed that night. I tensioned the blade to the proper place on the MiniMaxs built in tension gauge but the blade was still way too loose. I decided to make my own tension gauge from a very sensitive dial indicator I have handy and proceeded to set the blade to 15000 psi. The tension indicated on the MiniMax gauge was double what they indicated should be correct. Everywhere I read stated that all bandsaw factory tension gauges are junk and this one in no exception. They work by measuring the compression of the spring in the tension mechanism. This spring is only about 1 long and prone to wear. I made a mark on the gauge based on what I had found with my dial indicator. After several tension/detension cycles and returning the setting with the dial gauge, the factory gauge I had marked was different!
I set the wheel tilt and tracking with ease. No problems here! The blade teeth were just over the edge of the rim as specified on both top and bottom wheels. Next I fine tuned the table squareness and proceeded to fire up the saw. Wow! Nice and smooth! Next job was to make dust so I cut a 2x4 into pieces free hand. The cutting was not as fast as I had expected, but good enough nevertheless. Next job was to adjust the fence for blade lead. I grabbed a piece of oak, freehanded a line cut, then set the fence angle to match. A quick test showed I could cut 1/16" pine veneers from my 2x4 with ease and consistency. Next came the big test, resaw a 6 foot long 10" x 1" oak plank into two 1/2" pieces. This was difficult! Basically I could only cut about 6" per minute. I also ended up turning the blade thrust guides blue in the process. Way too much work was involved pushing this board through! It almost seemed the blade was dull, but it still felt sharp to my fingers. Maybe I need a different tooth profile. Ill wait for the "freebee" 1" blade to arrive to compare, but my initial impression of the Timberwolf blades is not very good. The Yahoo MiniMax mailing list also tends to confirm that Timberwolf blades are not that great. The saw never bogged down however, plenty of power! At least with the blades I have a lot of choices for vendors so I am not discouraged. The saw did fine. My only gripe was with the blade thrust guide.
Impressions.
Everything is adjustable! This is great since I can dial it all in perfectly. A more expensive industrial machine costing multi-kilobucks probably would have shims and nicer ways to set things, but the pinch bolt arrangement works and holds tight. The guides that come with the saw seem ok, but Ill probably look for something that can handle more force. The included guides use bronze bushings, Ill go for bearings given my experience with resawing. The tension gauge is totally useless so Ill rely on my home made device from now on. The fence gauge is also basically useless, but Ill rely on a more accurate ruler instead. This saw has plenty of power and a nice big table. It will serve me for years! After doing all this tuning and cleaning, I will really be able to qualify the Jet and Laguna 16 saws when I get a chance to see them up close.
-Bruce
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
|(continued from part II) | |Quality Impressions | |Everyone has different standards so read this for what it is |worth. Ive seen/used a number of industrial machines and |took notice of how they fabricate their adjustment |mechanisms. Things that get frequent tweaking (like spindle heads on a |vertical mill) usually have |dovetailed ways with lockdowns and cranks. Less frequently |adjusted things have shims and lock bolts. The MiniMax uses |pinch bolts everywhere. To adjust, you loosen the locknut, |turn the bolt, and then reset the locknut. A very sturdy way |to adjust and keep adjusted, but there always is a small |amount of movement when the locknut is cinched that often |requires "fiddly" tweaking. The good thing is that |"everything" is adjustable! I cant think of one alignment that cannot be |changed on this saw. The table tilt has a stop bolt |that makes return to 90 degrees easy. The trunion lock bolt |uses two washers that get bent to conform to the trunions |curve. A curved faced washer or other mating part here would |be a nice refinement, but what is there works. The table on |my saw was dead flat; I only needed to square it up with the |blade. Loosen the cinch nuts, turn the bolts, retighten, |repeat. It takes a while, but Ill only have to do this once. |The blade guide assembly tracked the blade fine as set at the |factory with no offsets from full up to full down. If I did |have to adjust it, there are four pinch bolts to tweak. The mechanism that |raises and lowers this part is operated by a hand wheel that engages a |sprocket and chain attached to the shaft of the blade guide holder. It stays |put on its own but there is a lockdown wheel provided. An industrial machine |probably would have a rack and pinion system here (like on a drill press), |but this system is identical for all purposes and aside from a small amount |of backlash felt at the handwheel, perfect for easy guide position tuning. |All |the hand wheels are plastic, but well made with brass |bushings for the shafts and setscrews. The tension wheel is |labeled "open" and "close" so I assume its not made |specifically for the saw 8^). All the sheet metal is painted |(drip/run free) and of a very heavy gauge metal, about 1/8" |thick (the doors are thinner). The motor belt is adjusted |with a jackscrew, very nice to set the belt, but potential is |there to really over do it! Access to the nuts here is a tad difficult but |easy enough. The motor pulley is machined steel. |The blade guides are described as euro style. Basically a round disk with a |shaft that rides in a bronze bushing. | |Using the Saw. | |It turns out that the blade I wanted was "backordered" so |being eager to fire up my new toy I called the folks that |make the Timberwolf blades and ordered a 1" and 1/2" blade |(blade length is 145"). They recommended a 3 TPI profile for |the 1" based on my request to be able to resaw 10" of white |oak. |The blades arrived a week later and the 1" was installed that |night. I tensioned the blade to the proper place on the |MiniMaxs built in tension gauge but the blade was still way |too loose. I decided to make my own tension gauge from a very |sensitive dial indicator I have handy and proceeded to set |the blade to 15000 psi. The tension indicated on the MiniMax |gauge was double what they indicated should be correct. Everywhere I read |stated that all bandsaw factory tension gauges are junk and this one in no |exception. They work by measuring the compression of the spring in the |tension mechanism. This spring is only about 1 long and prone to wear. I |made a mark on the gauge based on what I had found with my dial indicator. |After several tension/detension cycles and returning the setting with the |dial gauge, the factory gauge I had marked was different! | |I set the wheel tilt and tracking with ease. No problems |here! The blade teeth were just over the edge of the rim as specified on both |top and bottom wheels. Next I fine tuned the table squareness and proceeded |to |fire up the saw. Wow! Nice and smooth! Next job was to make |dust so I cut a 2x4 into pieces free hand. The cutting was |not as fast as I had expected, but good enough nevertheless. |Next job was to adjust the fence for blade lead. I grabbed a |piece of oak, freehanded a line cut, then set the fence angle |to match. A quick test showed I could cut 1/16" pine veneers |from my 2x4 with ease and consistency. Next came the big |test, resaw a 6 foot long 10" x 1" oak plank into two 1/2" |pieces. This was difficult! Basically I could only cut about |6" per minute. I also ended up turning the blade thrust |guides blue in the process. Way too much work was involved pushing this board |through! It almost seemed the blade was dull, but it still felt sharp to my |fingers. Maybe I need a different tooth profile. Ill wait for the "freebee" |1" |blade to arrive to compare, but my initial impression of the |Timberwolf blades is not very good. The Yahoo MiniMax mailing |list also tends to confirm that Timberwolf blades are not |that great. The saw never bogged down however, plenty of |power! At least with the blades I have a lot of choices for vendors so I am |not discouraged. The saw did fine. My only gripe was with the blade thrust |guide. | |Impressions. | |Everything is adjustable! This is great since I can dial it |all in perfectly. A more expensive industrial machine costing |multi-kilobucks probably would have shims and nicer ways to |set things, but the pinch bolt arrangement works and holds |tight. The guides that come with the saw seem ok, but Ill |probably look for something that can handle more force. The |included guides use bronze bushings, Ill go for bearings |given my experience with resawing. The tension gauge is |totally useless so Ill rely on my home made device from now |on. The fence gauge is also basically useless, but Ill rely |on a more accurate ruler instead. This saw has plenty of |power and a nice big table. It will serve me for years! After doing all this |tuning and cleaning, I will really be able to qualify the Jet and Laguna 16 |saws when I get a chance to see them up close. | |-Bruce | |
Wow. Thanks Bruce for all of the work writing this up. Hope you have many years of enjoyment from your new saw.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 30 Dec 2003 11:42:42 -0700, Bruce wrote:
<snip bandsaw review>
Thanks for the interesting write-up. Nice to see you looking at the machine from the perspective of somebody who has worked around machine tools and it sounds like you've got yourself a pretty decent machine that will last you years. I'm green with envy!
Not too sure why it's struggling with the 10" oak as it should be within your machines capabilities & it should go a bit faster. Sounds like you set up the drift & blade tension OK & you've got plenty of grunt. What I'd try is a higher fence than the 4" if you haven't already - an 8" fence would be a useful size I think.
When I resaw I usually use a fence that is greater than 3/4's the height of the timber being resawn and aswell as pushing the board into the blade, I keep the board pushed onto the fence just in front of the blade. If it's a long board you might require the assistance of somebody else .... that's where SWMBO earns her keep ;) She also earns her keep when I'm ripping boule oak into boards on the bandsaw. Alternatively, a decent featherboard arrangement could help with the resawing and/or cutting your boards to length before resawing.
Anyway, I'm sure you'll sort something out given time. I've always found it takes me a bit of time to get comfortable with new tools & it takes me a few months before I start to `enjoy' using them.
--

Frank

http://www.freebsd.org /
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
To follow up my earlier post vis a vis the fence. What I'd do is make yourself an 8" high fence that you can clamp to the table when you have to resaw boards > 6" wide. For stuff narrower than that or ripping I'd use the supplied fence.
My shop made fence is basically half a box/come shelf which I clamp to the table with a couple of 12" quick clamps, which means set-up time is minimal. You should be able to do the same by pushing the existing fence to the side. You can possibly clamp your fence either to the table or the existing fence.
It's worth trying to keep your upper guide assembly as close to your work as possible, reducing the stress on the back of the blade and thus extending blade life, which is why any fence arrangement you may make needs to be easy to dismantle and setup.
BTW, use a pushstick. I make mine on the bandsaw out of any decent offcuts I may have and give them a sort of open bird's beak. I always keep one hanging by the bandsaw on a nail along with a 12" steel rule. Rule of thumb: if your fingers are closer than 2" to the blade they are too close & you should be using a pushstick.
On the whole the bandsaw is a pretty safe machine (no kickbacks!) but it can still make a nasty mess of you if you don't concentrate.
Hope this post has given you some ideas you may not have thought of.
--

Frank

http://www.freebsd.org /
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 30 Dec 2003 22:01:47 -0700, Frank Shute wrote
Thanks for the input Frank.
One plan is to make a riser for the fence that will give me an additional 4-6" of height, I'll probably make an assortment so I can keep the guides really close. The saw came with a nice push stick so I'm all set there.
I made a featherboard which really helped with consistancy. I tried reducing the size of the boards I'm cutting to 6" which sped things up (in proportion) but it's still way too slow. One thing I tried that helped some was to lube the blade with "Remoil", a teflon based oil that I applied with a rag. It seemed to keep the blade cleaner.
The saw is a keeper! I'll just need to build up my fixture inventory and play with a variety of blades.
-Bruce

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 31 Dec 2003 7:25:30 -0700, Bruce wrote:

No worries.

Sounds good. I'm sure you'll get better results with a higher fence for when you're deep ripping.

I'd go careful with the lube, if you get too much between the blade & tires, your blade might not go around too fast!
I assume you're facing one side & one edge of the boards before you're ripping, if not, you'll find that it will help to keep the board butted up tight to the fence and table which is critical. It's also critical that you set the drift right. I find that if I'm only a little out, the saw starts to struggle. If I've got it set right, then things go a *lot* easier. I set it by eye.

Damn! I was hoping I could arrange an exchange with you: my crappy 6" under the guides machine for your monster....sounds fair to me ;)
You'll get to love your bandsaw & wonder what all your compatriots see in their table saws whilst their fingers are getting scattered around their workshops...

I usually keep my widest possible blade on with 4 tpi & only change it to something thinner if I need to cut some tighter radii than my wide blade can handle. I hate changing blades - a lot of stuffing around on my machine with it's rubbish guides.
--

Frank

http://www.freebsd.org /
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bruce,
Excellent review! I have the same saw, and I too completely disassembled mine when I first took delivery. Since not everybody does that, I sorta felt a built guilty for not writing up a comprehensive review as you did, but you did a WAY better job than I could have ever done.
Bruce wrote:
<snip>

I've purchased quite a few blades for my saw, and most go unused. I have several Timberwolf blades, and I've not been impressed. 95% of the time I use only one blade: The "Woodslicer" from Highland Hardware. BUY ONE, you absolutely will not regret it. My only complaint is that they don't make any sizes other than 1/2 inch.
<snip>

You will snicker every time you do.
--
To reply, change the chemical designation to its common name.


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
for 15%off and got a rebate on the planer)I picked up local-no shipping.
I'm still on the fence on whether to sell the jet and get the MM16,but don't think i'll see $1k difference for my needs.(i might feel different after a hundred hours or so on the saw) I forgot to say thanks to the OP for the detailed and honest eval.Keith
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 31 Dec 2003 11:23:10 -0700, keith wrote
Honestly I'm sure I would have been happy with the Jet as well, but my current situation makes it better for me to get "overkill" now and only feel the pain once 8^) I think most all major power tools go exponential in price once a certain feature set is accepted and only "small" features are added on. I'm sure Jet has a lot higher volume and lower production costs so that $!k price difference would probably only be about $500 if it was made in Italy.
-Bruce

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bruce:
How did it do on the nickel test? I was looking at the Laguna and the comments out on the Laguna web site has definitely made me rethink the Laguna. I'm looking on purchasing a new BS within the next month or so and your review was very timely. I'm also curious as to why you chose the MM16 over the S45?
Thanks Rich

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Me too. I have and LOVE the S45.
On Wed, 31 Dec 2003 10:29:42 -0500, "RKON"

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The MM16 is a much newer design than the S45, and many improvements have been made.
Lawrence A. Ramsey wrote:

--
To reply, change the chemical designation to its common name.


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 31 Dec 2003 8:29:42 -0700, RKON wrote
Glad to help!
It passes the nickel and penny test, but the penny will sometimes fall over when I start it up.
I couldn't find much info (opinions) on the S45 but based on it's price range I think it is more a direct competitor with the Jet 16". It would be worth a closer look if you just can't find the extra $. MiniMax also has another "S" type saw listed on their website http://www.minimax-usa.com (at least it was there a few weeks ago).
-Bruce

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.