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
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 ?
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)
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. ;)
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.
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
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).
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.
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
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
The address in the header is invalid for obvious reasons. Please
reconstruct the address from the information below (look for _).
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
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..
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
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.
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).
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.
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