I'm considering purchasing a bandsaw. A big step for me since Mr. McDermot
my 8th grade shop teacher scared the crap out of us regarding the dangers of
bandsaws. So safety is a big issue as is I hate to say cost (I still haven't
won the Powerball). I'm just getting back into woodworking after a long
absence so wood welcome recommendations on size, and brands. I don't plan on
sawing any logs, more likely cutting routed bowls to shape would be my
Watch for the bounce.
If ya didn't see it, ya didn't feel it.
If ya see it, it didn't go off.
Old Air Force Munitions Saying
I agree with Dave. Check the Ridgid and Delta line (about $350). Many say
that the Harbor Freight equivalent is just as good. Expect to have to do a
little tweeking to make these units more enjoyable to use. You can check
that very subject on Ridgid forums and BT3 Central as well as many others.
One possible money saver to lessen the pinch of the add-ons is to buy a
rebuilt one from the traveling Cummins Tool Sale. I picked up mine for
about $250 and had money left to change the tires and replace the 'v' belt
with a link-belt and a pair of 'cool blocks'. I also did some home-spun
balancing of the upper and lower wheels with a drill - it's not brain
surgery, believe me.
For $350, I would definitely try craigslist. Here in SFO, almost weekly you will
find a few old or almost new bandsaw for sale. I found my Delta Premium Edition
28-262 (made in USA) for $250 or $275. I replaced the tension spring (from
Iturra) and add a new Delta Raiser for $60 (craigslist again). An old Delta
normally sells around $250, depending on the condition and age. Spend another
$100 or less for new tires, tension spring, maybe bearing etc. you will have an
excellent machine that will give you many lifetimes of pleasure.
I bought a 14" Delta a year ago. While there is nothing wrong with it, the
1hp motor is just not adequate. One of these days I am going to replace it
with the 17" Extreme Grizzly. I wish I had done it right the first time;
one of these days I will learn.
They're just about the safest powered saw you'll meet. It chops any
body part you stick into it, but it won't reach out to pull you in and
it won't throw things at you.
14" wheel diameter is where the useful machines start. 18" isn't
unreasonable in a home workshop, but that's not cheap. Nothing under
14" ever makes their owners happy. Welded steel frames are arguably a
bit more rigid than cast iron, but cast iron (the same pattern every
maker sells) has the ability to take a useful riser block. Spending to
upgrade guide blocks and tension springs is usually worth it.
Saw blades quality is important, but only at the level where you have
to avoid the real junk. Saw blade width, tooth shape and size is a big
issue though -- have a selection, use the right one for each job. Very
false economy not to.
Read Mark Duginske's bandsaw book before spending any money.
In fact, part of the safety problem is that a smoothly running,
relatively quiet power saw quickly doesn't seem scary. An operator can
soon become complacent. Some safety tips:
1.) Get an incandescent light for a work light. Certain blades can
appear stopped by certain florescent fixtures.
2.) Use push sticks and never place a body part near the front of the
blade. If necessary, walk through the cut with the power off, until
you're comfortable. Not comfortable? Rethink the method.
3.) Unplug all power tools before servicing them. Always assume it can
start if plugged in.
4.) Eye and ear protection!
5.) Any time a power tool gets "weird", makes strange sounds, requires
extra feed pressure, etc... stop using it and find out why. Sometimes,
it's difficult stock. More often, something needs attention and the
tool is trying to tell you. <G>
A band saw is a fantastic and extremely useful tool when properly
adjusted. I'll second the Duginske book recommended by Andy and join
the "buy a decent 14" choir, leaving the brand recommendations to others.
With all that great advice there isn't much I can add. I'll second the
opinion that the band saw is the safest of the power saws. I have had
a Jet 14" (no riser block) for about 7 years now and it does all my
heavy work. My ancient (1973) Craftsman does all my fine work. The
important thing is to use good blades. I swear by the Timberwolf by PS
Woods. They don't cost that much more, they are very sharp, and they
last a long time. It is after all the blade that cuts the wood- the
machine just turns it around and around. I also have roller guides on
the bigger machine and cool blocks on the smaller. The Jet has an
aftermarket fence that works great for ripping. I use the original
tension springs and tires that came with the machines. Replaced the
belt on the older machine about 7 years ago with link belt.
If I had to make a recommendation it would be for the Powermatic 14"
for the most versatile machine with all the bells and whistles. I cut
out a lot of thick basswood and that little blower would be great for
me to be able to see the guidelines. Donna Menke, author, The Ultimate
Band Saw Box Book
I favor blades from BC Saw and Tool. I have other blades (new) rusting
because they just don't perform.
I followed Michael Fortune's recommendations with a 1/2" 3tpi skip tooth
blade from BC saw. I've never
regretted it. With the wheels being co-planar, and a new tension spring
(Iturra), there is no blade drift.
Resaw operations go well with no excessive heat build up. My saw is a 1 hp
Jet with riser block.
I use the saw to cut tenons among other things.
OBTW, I periodically apply Johnson's wax (no silicon) to the blade and table
to prevent rust.
Besides the Craigs list reference, watch on eBay (if you are in the
Seattle area I am selling a 4speed 14-inch right now)
Personal e-mail is the n7bsn but at amsat.org
Was Mr McDermot the PE teacher who was roped into teaching woodwork? Just
Bandsaws don't kick back, don't suck you in and the position of the business
end is always a lot more predictable than with a table saw and less [agile]
than with a RAS. Safest tool in my shop, next to the finishing plane and the
cabinet scraper. I just have to watch out that my father is not moving around
in the shop behind my back. He once banged me from behind and I actually got
the tip of my thumbnail nicked before I managed to pull back. Clumsiest man on
Having got that out of the way, let me mention something that someone once said
to me about a musical instrument (I think it was in a Steinway store): "how can
a beginner play an instrument that a master couldn't play on?"
My first BS was a cheap 18" 3 wheeler and it was crap crap crap and I'd better
have saved my money considering the mileage I got out of it. So my advice is to
get something at least half way decent. And stay away from small and mid-size 3
wheelers, cause they break a lot of blades.
good luck, -P.
firstname dot lastname at gmail fullstop com
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