If you haven't seen this in this months Fine Woodworking magazine, you
gotta read it, especially if you are looking for a new bandsaw. It is
also available on line but you gotta have a memebership.
I was stunned at how good the Grizzly's did and even more stunned at
how BAD the Delta did.
Now I am wondering about the Delta line in it's entirerty. I seem to
be hearing a lot of bad rumors about Delta QA. I only own one major
stationary tool newer than 12 years old and it is the Powermatic 14"
bandsaw. It did pretty well on the review except for a misalingment
problem that I did not experience. My only Delta tools are an older
12" planer and an old Contracters saw. Both have serverd me well. I am
in the market in the next 6 months for a new jointer and a new cabinet
saw. I planned on the Jet 6" jointer and the Delta Unisaw, but now,
based on the issues they had wiht fit and finish, I think I will look
more towards the Grizzly / Steel City and at the Powermatic PM2000.
I bought a bandsaw this past December. I went looking for the best
bandsaw in my price range, rather than the best of a particular size.
I wanted some power for resawing, as well as the ability to take smaller
blades (but didn't see a need for 1/16" blades). Also, I live in Canada
which rules out Grizzly and makes shipping the Laguna very expensive.
I ended up with the 18" Steel City. The table and fence were both out
of true but they sent out new ones with no hassles and included upgraded
wing-screws for the upper guides. I also cut down the blade guard so
that I could change larger blades without removing the guard.
It's seen light use since then, but I haven't had any problems yet.
Dust collection is decent (it tends to collect around the lower guides,
may rig something up for that). The tension quick release is handy,
it's easily capable of tensioning a 3/4" blade and I don't anticipate
any problems with a 1" blade. Haven't had to compensate for drift yet.
Did you actually measure to see if your wheels are co-planar? I have
a Jet Deluxe 14" and the blades tracked fine. But after reading the
review in FWW, I checked my wheels with a 6 ft. straight edge. The
wheels were not co-planar - like the reviewer said his Jet was. And he
said he couldn;t correct it.
I bought the shim kit from Iturra, but never used it because I didn't
think I had a problem. Now I wonder.
I seem to recall that Louis Iturra and some vendor (Jet?) had a
disagreement about wheel alignment theory, as was described in the
So - if the blades track fine, why is it necessary for the wheels to
Good question. I have not checkd mine, but I do know that my blades
track dead on, and that my blade in respect to my table is dead on in
So, how importand is co-planar?
And now that you ask, I believe that I will pull my table and check it
out his weekend. But, like the Jet, I can't adjust mine anyway without
a shim, so I would like to know how critical it is.
If blade tracks and is perpendicular to table in all directions, what is
there to fix even if they aren't exactly coplanar? It can only matter
if the saw doesn't track or there is such a large discrepancy one to the
other that the blade tracks sufficiently out of square that it matters
measurably in use. It is wood, after all, and there's more movement in
a piece you lay down after milling from moisture and temperature change
overnight to the next morning than you're likely to find in even a
fairly mismatched set of wheels.
Taking even ten-thou over the distance between the top and bottom of a
piece being cut is probably nearly immeasurable even if the blades were
assumed to be tracking precisely in the center of each wheel, unless it
is a very thick piece...
I think it tends to be an overrated spec as far as real performance is
concerned. It's useful as an indication of overall quality of the
manufacturing process, etc., but unless grossly in error unlikely to be
a significant performance issue.
$0.02, ymmv, etc., ...
I was more stunned at how bad the article was.
I've got a 14" Delta bandsaw. Before you assume I'm an apologist for
Delta, though, let me sy that it's a 50+ year old Delta Milwaukee, and
that I'm not crazy about the quality of some recent tools I've seen.
That said, though, there is no way in hell that the Delta should take
nine times as long as a comparably powered saw to resaw a piece of
maple. I tried to come up with some reasons that might happen.
Perhaps the blade tension was too low, allowing the blade to vibrate
or bow. Most Delta owners have learned to ignore the blade tension
scale on the saw, and set it by feel and performance. Perhaps the
blade was set or sharpened badly, causing a large lead or drift which
they didn't compensate for. Other than that, about all I can figure
is that maybe the morons had the blade on inside out.
Whatever the reason for the tremendous difference, the magazine owed
an explanation of some sort. To just present those numbers without
any comment is highly unprofessional. I wrote them to say exactly
that - we'll see if there is a reply.
The really bizarre thing is that while the Delta was the worst in the
timing tests, there were four in the class of 3 minutes or greater while
the other four were 1 minute or less. The time doesn't correlate w/
motor hp or cost or any other of the published parameters.
As you say, John, there's a fundamental problem/difference between the
two classes of saws and to say nothing whatsoever about that extreme
difference is mind-boggling to be kind...
Delta 28-475X 5:36
Grizzly G0555X 3:23
Rikon 10-325 3:12
Powermatic PWB2-14CS 2:50
General 690-1 0:57
Jet JWBS-14DX 0:57
Grizzly G0457 0:59
Laguna LT14SE 1:00
Just for grins, other data as well...
Resaw Motor Misalignment Cost(3)
HP/V Wheel(1) Post(2) ($)
(1) Positive for top wheel forward relative to lower.
(2) Sideways movement of guide from full down to full up position
measured as distance from blade at top as opposed to snug at lower position.
(3) "Street price"; some included options such as riser kits, etc.,
required to make roughly equivalent units.
Another measurement/piece of information not provided in the review but
one that could at least conceivably be a significant factor in
explaining the discrepancies...
But, it apparently isn't...
hp/V Amps sfpm
Delta 28-475X 5:36 1.5/115 13 3000
Grizzly G0555X 3:23 1.5/110 15 3000
Rikon 10-325 3:12 1.5/115 14 2950/1445 (1)
Powermatic PWB2-14CS 2:50 1.5/110 -- 3000
General 690-1 0:57 1.5/230 8 3000
Jet JWBS-14DX 0:57 1.25/115 -- 3000
Grizzly G0457 0:59 2.0/110 20 3000
Laguna LT14SE 1:00 2.0/220 -- --
(1) Dual-speed option.
Also, note that while not noted, all the 110/115V motors are actually
dual-voltage as supplied with the possible exception of the Powermatic
which didn't indicate other than shipped 110V.
So the mystery still appears to be a mystery...
The saws were all tensioned according to the scale on the saw. If this
results in bad performance, that would be a valid complaint about the
saw, although not indicative of the maximum possible performance. On
the other hand, the article did indicate that tension was double-checked
by finger-pressure against the blade.
> Perhaps the
According to the article, all saws used an identical brand of 3tpi,
1/2", hook-tooth blade. Unless the blades have poor quality control I
would expect reasonable performance when new.
On the other hand, the results are certainly suspicious...23sec to 3min
37sec is quite the range for saws that are all supposedly in the 1.5-2HP
The numbers I posted were for the 5-lb test instead of 7-1/2 so all
eight would show up (the Jet stalled at 7-1/2 but tied for fastest at 5
w/ only a 1/4hp less than the General w/ which it was tied and a full
3/4hp less than the Grizzly that it beat by 2 seconds. The fastest to
slowest ratio is about 6 instead of 9, but still highly questionable.
The thing as noted is that there are two classes in the test--fast and
slow, with half of the test sample in one class and half in the other.
For it to be the blade, half of the blades would have to have been bad
if used one for each. I suppose it could be possible instead of buying
eight or one, they could have used two and the luck of the draw as to
which got which one killed the entire rating for the unlucky. And,
again, except for the Jet, the relative ranking of each was quite
consistent with the two groups clearly delineated at around 1:00/1:30 or
<0:30 with the exception of the Delta which was a real outlier on that test.
If half have that bad of tensioning devices, that would also have been
worthy of noting it would seem, and in fact the whole subject of
tensioning was essentially neglected other than to say "tension and
tracking are important" but other than complaining about the size of the
knobs on a couple, there was no mention of any testing at all of how the
tensioning mechanisms actually did their job...
Suspicious is an understatement. The fastest saw at 7.5 pounds feed
was the 1.5 HP General, the slowest was the 1.5 HP Delta. Nine times
I wasn't there, so I can't pretend to know what was wrong with the
test - if something was. To report results such as those, however,
without any comment or explanation, is asinine.
Maybe we'll see some further explanation from Fine Woodworking.
Remember, the reviewer stated that the blades were tensioned based on
the saw's tension scale.
My particular saw, a five year old version of one of the tested
models, has a scale stamped into the frame that is way off for most
blades. If I use the frame scale, I'm usually quite under tension. If
I use a pluck or flutter test, measured deflection, or a borrowed
tension gauge, and set the saw up properly, there's a huge improvement
in cut speed and quality.
To me, it says that the manufacturer of my saw could have used a
better (stiffer or more precisely measured) spring, or they can
improve the scale's usability by documenting it better. One of the
other complaints for my saw was vibration, which was totally removed
with a link belt. Again, the manufacturer could have easily fixed
this by including a better belt. Both were valid points, even on my
five year old version. Cut quality and speed are fantastic, once the
tool was tuned.
I think a better stationary tool review should always follow generally
accepted setup and tuning procedures, and document them, for the
particular tools being tested. It also wouldn't kill some
manufacturers to improve the quality of documentation included with
** http://www.bburke.com/woodworking.html **
This article was particularly egregious in that it mentioned various
out-of-nominal measurements, ignored other factors like the
effectiveness of the tension indicator as supplied, and then proceeded
to make the timed resaw test the cornerstone of the evaluation without
even the hint of what, if anything, was done to the saws before running
the test. Making the results essentially useless...
Tensioned based on the saw's scale, true, but then confirmed by finger
pressure. Which implies that it was OK.
We agree that the scale is miserable. It's based on the deflection of
the tension spring, which may be a worn-out old one, a brand new one,
a brand new higher-rate die spring, whatever. Not the best setup, but
I'm not sure that any of the others are any better. Like you, I've
found that the best way to set the tension is to start with the gauge,
go higher, then try the saw and see if you need to go even higher.
The belt vibration may not have been due to a cheap belt, but just to
an old one. A belt that has been sitting tensioned in one position
for some time can take a set, which can then cause vibration. A new
belt - even a cheap one - will usually make it go away. As will,
obviously, a link belt.
On the setup, tuning and documentation, again we agree.
If I had done the test, I think I'd have ordered the saws anonymously,
but then invited reps from each of the manufacturers in to set them up
and observe the testing. Documenting the steps, tools and time
required to bring each saw up to its best. As a prospective buyer,
that's something I'd want to know.
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