Wellllllll Swingman, Nailshooter, Mrs. Nailshooter, my wife and I got together today and did the WW show in Houston. It was very nice meeting Nailshooter and Mrs. Nailshooter. :~)
I have been going back and forth between the Laguna 16HD and the MiniMax MM16 band saws trying to decide which would be the better buy for me. Last weekend my wife and I went to the MiniMax store in Austin to meet with a rep to see the saw in action. While the service has always been reported as superior, I'll say that my meeting was arranged weeks in advance and e-mail conformations were sent late last week. We arrived Monday morning as expected and they did not have a machine that was in running condition. Basically a 300 mile round trip for nothing. Anyway I will say that the machine did look better than the brochure and the web pictures.
Today I was able to compare the MiniMax MM16 directly to the Laguna 16HD. Both are nice machines and are most likely more than I will need in a band saw but IMHO hands down the Laguna wins.
The MiniMax simply looks like it needs to be finished. The paint and welds look terrible for a $2500 saw. While looks do not affect the performance of a machine I would hope that the machine at least looked new. The sales reps indeed compared their machine to the Laguna but were not factual about the Laguna with respect to saying that you cannot adjust the Laguna fence for drift, which you can. They indicated that the Laguna front fence guide bar was hollow, which it is not. They indicated that the ceramic guides get so hot that they delaminate from the holder. I have my doubts. They did demonstrate that you could grab the upper guide bar to tip the machine over however I cannot think of a reason to use this feature. ;~) Strongly the mobility Johnson bar had a broken wheel and could not be demonstrated. The rep did cut a wide laminated chunk of wood in to a sorta thin veneer slice. The center of the cut was about 3 times thicker than the beginning and end of cut. The MiniMax tension wheel is actually made out of stamped steel and has many exposed edges on the top side. The table tilts off center in relation to the blade. Basically the table insert has to be removed if you tilt the table to a 20 degree or greater angle. The blade ends up about 1/2" from center when the table is tilted to 45 degrees.
The Laguna machines looked new. ;~) I did grab the upper guide bar and it felt plenty sturdy to me however I did not try to tip the saw over to see if the bar would flex. I still cannot see the need to this. :~) The Laguna has a slightly smaller table than the MiniMax. The Laguna has a huge honking 4.5 hp Baldor motor hanging off of the back side. The Laguna produced a smoother resaw cut that was thin enough that the piece of walnut curls in my hand and lays flat on a table. Saw blade tooth marks were almost undetectable. The Laguna was fitted with a Resaw King blade and the MiniMax had a Lennox carbide blade. The Laguna top and bottom doors open at the same time which I thought odd but after opening the doors 1 time I felt that this would not be a problem for me. The upper and lower doors are connected by a square tube that covers the slot that the blade goes through in the spine when removing or replacing the blade. I can see how this might eliminate or lessen the chance of standing up and hitting your head on an open upper door also. The Laguna of course had the 10 point ceramic guides as compared to the European guides on the MiniMax. The blade tension wheel on the Laguna was basically what you would expect as far as being smooth with no thin rough edges however I could not determine if it was metal or plastic. Either way it was much more comfortable cranking up for a blade wider than 1 inch.
Both saws are similar in price however the longer I stood around the more accessories the MiniMax rep threw in. It started off at $2495 for the saw, carbide blade, and delivery on the ground. It ended up at $2495 for the saw, carbide blade, miter fence, mobility kit, and delivery on the ground or the same with 2 carbide blades instead of 1 if I would drive from Houston to Austin and pick it up myself. This is $100 more than just the saw alone. Normally this would total about $2850 + delivery from Austin to Houston.
Laguna offered the saw, Resaw King blade, mobility kit, 3 Swedish Silicon blades, and delivery on the ground for $2595. This is $300 more than just the saw alone. Normally this would total about $3040 Delivered.
I ordered the Laguna and expect to see it the second week in April.