(continued from part II)
Everyone has different standards so read this for what it is
worth. I¹ve 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 can¹t 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 trunion¹s
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 I¹ll 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.
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 it¹s 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 ³euro style². 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
The blades arrived a week later and the 1" was installed that
night. I tensioned the blade to the proper place on the
MiniMax¹s 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 ³factory² 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 1² 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
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. I¹ll wait for the "freebee"
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
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 I¹ll
probably look for something that can handle more force. The
included guides use bronze bushings, I¹ll go for bearings
given my experience with resawing. The tension gauge is
totally useless so I¹ll rely on my home made device from now
on. The fence gauge is also basically useless, but I¹ll 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 16²
saws when I get a chance to see them up close.