Opinion on Band Saws?


Lee Bussy
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've been half-heartedly looking for a band saw.  Actually I heartily want one, but I don't want to/can't pay as much as some of these "beginner saws" cost.  In nearly every review or online post I see the words "save your money and buy a better one" or "pay a couple dollars more and get a Xxxx."  clearly these folks mean well but there are some folks who can;t justify that expense now.  The price jump from what I can afford to what these folks consider "a few dollars more" is pretty substantial.
 
I have never owned a band saw, but I've used a few here and there.  I have never been responsible for maintenance on one.  I can follow instructions (most times, don;t ask my wife) so I *think* I can handle what I have heard/read are setup issues.  I have watched a few videos by some pros and it all seems very straightforward.  Provided a saw has adjustment available, I struggle with how some folks have the problems they seem to be having.
 
Here's a saw that I noticed at what I consider a reasonable price for me right now:
 
81k%2Bo-%2BvspL._SL1500_.jpg

Rockwell RK7453 Shop Series 9-Inch Band Saw - $161.85 w/Free (Prime) shipping
 
I always skip straight to the 1-star reviews.  Here are a few excerpts:
 

Open box and parts came dropping out. Read the instructions thoroughly and tried to set the blade up. Forget it. I have been using saws for 50+ years. I could not get the blade to stay on. Would not track!!! The upper wheel is made very poorly. Would not recommend this piece of junk to anybody!!! Pay a little more and get a "real" tool and not his poor excuse for a tool!!!

 

Pretty much exemplar of the rather frustrating reviews I mentioned.
 
Here's how I read this:  The guy says he has 50 years experience using saws.  Let's say he started at 16 - that makes him 66.  He grew up watching "Leave it to Beaver" and when he got his first tools, ALL of them were American made.  To get similar quality to what he is probably used to now would be a little over a grand in close to the same size.  So no, it's not going to be just like the Rockwell-Delta that he grew up with.  Why would anyone ever think it would be for the price?
 
Pieces falling out of the box - welcome to imports.  The Upper wheel is made poorly ... HOW?  Could not get blade to stay on - how did you adjust it?  I'm not saying I know what expert know, but watching an expert with a bandsaw, it seems like as soon as you know what you are doing you can get things to line up (assuming the wheel is not wobbling I guess).  
 

when I cut a shape and cuts crooked when I want to cut a straight line. It might be me, but the blade doesn't seem to be very tight , even when I adjust it all the way.

This one makes me cringe.  Did the guy try to use the blade that comes in the box?  Is he using a 1/4" blade to try to resaw?  Does he think making a blade over-tight stops a thin blade from turning?
 

There is a good bit of play in the miter slide.

 

Anything at this price point is not going to have a good miter - or a cast iron table. 
 
So a fair question would be: "what do you intend to do?"  Well for starters I find myself SEVERELY limited just getting going.  For instance I would really like to have a zero-clearance insert but have no way to cut curves.  I could buy a coping saw but I already know what my work on one of those looks like.  I could use my jig-saw but that's only marginally better.  I have no way to cut small things even moderately well.
 
I'm just trying to get going.  Every direction I turn I'm stopped from even making my own solutions because I don't have the tools to make tools.

 

Here's another one I thought someone here recommended:

 

71ZVCYzPGCL._SL1500_.jpg

 

POWERTEC BS900 Band Saw, 9-Inch

 

This one has similar negative reviews.

 

I was not able to find the Menard's one mentioned previously.

 

Can anyone cut through it, see what I need, and recommend something that I can afford right now?  Or do I just quit and go back to my wife buying Ikea furniture?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You'll regret those.  Not because they're junk, which they are...but because they're too small for woodworking.  They're more suited for craft/hobby kind of stuff.  You might be able to work on your kid's Pinewood Derby car with those, but that's about it.  If you plan to build furniture, run away.

 

Keep saving and use this saw as your baseline...I wouldn't go any smaller than a 14", or any cheaper than a Grizzly, unless you buy a better used saw for less...

 

http://www.grizzly.com/products/14-Deluxe-Bandsaw/G0555LX

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

See, that can't be the only answer.  Yes I am going to make some furniture some day - maybe lawn furniture to start out,  Maybe I just need to be able to build a jig to be able to build something else.  If the only answer is I have to pay 2-1/4 times more for the ability to make those basic things, well, why even bother?   What is it about this that would not work for furniture for instance?  Is it just incapable of sawing straight?  Is it capacity?  Would this work if/while I stay with S4S lumber?

 

I'm not discounting that the Grizzly may be 2.25 times better, but what saw CAN be "just enough" to get going.  None of them?  And what's "at least" a Grizzly?  Is a used Delta 14" okay?  Which Deltas are okay (since I know they have changed over the years)?  

 

I am not frustrated with you - and I appreciate you taking time to answer.  It just seems like the ticket to ride is awful severe.

 


I think Vinny had a saw similar to the menard's saw.  They seem to be the same design. Craftsman sells it as well.  Here is his review
 
That thread is sort of my point ... is it a bad saw, or is the size limiting?
 
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did a tonne of research, and the best "bang for your buck" I found was the new laguna 14" bandsaw.

Due to some poor planning, I couldn't fit it into my shop, so I invested that money into a kapex instead, to save a significant amount of space over my previous miter saw. The bandsaw will come later.

For the cost of those little bandsaws, you may be better of getting a decent jigsaw to get you by while you save some money for a bandsaw.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For your specific project, cutting curves for jigs, a small bandsaw maybe enough and quickly pay for itself. As for the quality of the tools in hand, you could send a PM to Vinny, I think he runs by Statler now, and ask him about his experience with his saw.

 

Of course, a 14" bandsaw would be a LOT more useful, but sometimes one has to start with something. A small, good quality bandsaw, will be better than no bandsaw at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're looking for someone to tell you, "Yeah, go ahead and get one of those and you'll be happy"...you've come to the wrong place.  Those machines are not equipped to handle the larger tasks that furniture making requires.  Yes they'll cut wood.  But not well and very slowly and probably not for too long if you push it beyond its abilities.  You asked for opinions and I gave you one...and it's almost not even opinion but conventional wisdom that those little meat slicers are not enough for general woodworking tasks.  If you've already made up your mind, then why even ask the question?

 

I'm sure people are tired of me saying this but it never stops being true...woodworking is not a cheap hobby.  If you want a cheap hobby, buy a pair of hiking boots and hit a trail.  Tools cost money.  Tools that will do the job adequately cost more money.

 

I'm an analogy kind of guy, so forgive me.  If you got a new job that was thirty miles away and you needed a car to get there but couldn't afford one, would you buy a bicycle instead?  No, you'd figure out a way to get a car.

 

BTW...that Grizzly I linked IS a very cheap saw.  If you buy one of those little ones first, you'll still end up with a bigger one some day and you'll have wasted your money on the little one.  Cold, hard fact.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the most part I agree 100% with Eric. I held off buying my bandsaw until I could afford a decent saw and reclaim the space to set it up. I went with the grizzly. If you want to give it a go, go for it. Just go in knowing it might be limited in some of its capabilities and eventually you may need to upgrade and this will only make saving take a bit longer.

I had a bunch of PVC to cut and needed something portable that wasn't a hand saw or hand held jigsaw, so I bought the attached, only version 1. Basically it is a table mounted jigsaw. It will cut wood, but it struggled with hard wood. I still use for cutting thin small pieces.

http://t.homedepot.com/p/Rockwell-BladeRunner-X2-Portable-Tabletop-Saw-RK7323/205611390

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree on holding off and saving for at least a 14" saw. You could get by with a jigsaw for now. I couldnt imagine that saw being anything but frustrating to use and eventually you will realise it was a waste of money. It is true this is a very expensive hobby.

Sent from my XP7700 using Tapatalk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're looking for someone to tell you, "Yeah, go ahead and get one of those and you'll be happy"...you've come to the wrong place.  Those machines are not equipped to handle the larger tasks that furniture making requires.  Yes they'll cut wood.  But not well and very slowly and probably not for too long if you push it beyond its abilities.  You asked for opinions and I gave you one...and it's almost not even opinion but conventional wisdom that those little meat slicers are not enough for general woodworking tasks.  If you've already made up your mind, then why even ask the question?

 

I'm sure people are tired of me saying this but it never stops being true...woodworking is not a cheap hobby.  If you want a cheap hobby, buy a pair of hiking boots and hit a trail.  Tools cost money.  Tools that will do the job adequately cost more money.

 

I'm an analogy kind of guy, so forgive me.  If you got a new job that was thirty miles away and you needed a car to get there but couldn't afford one, would you buy a bicycle instead?  No, you'd figure out a way to get a car.

 

BTW...that Grizzly I linked IS a very cheap saw.  If you buy one of those little ones first, you'll still end up with a bigger one some day and you'll have wasted your money on the little one.  Cold, hard fact.

 

I get that - I do. I do believe in buy the one you want first and all that. I'm just saying I know what I need to do right now (cut stock 3/4" and under) and I am not absolutely sure I will need to do more than that later. (I want to, but I am being realistic)  I would consider the money a sunk cost but I don't want it to be wasted completely. If I can (for instance) successfully get my 0-clearance inserts and a couple other small things done, I will consider it a tool that did it's job.  If what you are saying is all of them in that price point are pieces of crap and there's no way I will be happy even cutting cat shapes out of 1/4" luan with it - that's another thing entirely.

 

I'm not looking for a cheap hobby, but I am also not looking to spend $10k on a shop that does "the basics" to find out I'll be for some reason not be using the shop in a year.  If you take the list of what the more advanced folks on here think are basic bottom-line tools, you really are in that range.

 

Here's an example of what I mean - maybe it applies and maybe it does not:  I watched a You-Tube vid of Norm Abrams talking about band saws, and what the absolute minimum he would recommend would be.  He basically said portable and contractor saws were not capable of doing the work and that a guy needed a cabinet saw.  I know for a fact I can get lazer-straight cuts on my Rigid 4510 saw.  Yes I took some time to set it up, yes the power is a little lower, yes I could really use more table space, yes the arbor is shorter than that of a greater saw, yes the fence sucks ... but I can rip and crosscut 3/4" oak plywood and S4S hardwoods  and that's what I need to do right now.  I imagine if I was going to be making cabinets for income I would immediately outgrow it.  However I can work around it's shortcomings by building an outflow table, building a sled, clamping the fence, using no more than a 3/4" dado stack, pushing slow and steady ... 

 

So when I ask if I can get by with a lesser band saw, that's the analogy I want to point to.  If the answer is still "no", well then I'll suck it up and try to figure out another way.

 

Don't let tools be an obstacle.  You can build "almost" anything you want without a bandsaw.  I went many years without a bandsaw (8+ years doing DIY, decks, trim carpentry, outdoor furntiture; 3+ years building nicer hard wood furniture).   A jig saw, router and sanders will handle curves.  

 

I get it, you want a bandsaw.  But you don't need a bandsaw to do woodworking.  But, if you are going to buy a bandsaw (something you want), then wait until you can get something decent.  No point in spending money on something you want, only to be disappointed.

 

I have tried with a jig saw and I was highly unimpressed.  Granted it's not a $130 jig saw, but all of them I have tried have always deflected or just made horrible cuts when I try to cut curves.  If you are saying a $130 jig saw is likely to cut better than a $160 band saw ... I'm all ears.

 

Yes I can cut curves with a router, but I have to have the curved patterns first.  How do you cut those without a band saw?  I'm being a smart-ass about that of course, I'll admit it - but it you have to start somewhere. The line directly above about jig saws applies though.  If that "good" jig-saw does let me do those things ... 

 

For the most part I agree 100% with Eric. I held off buying my bandsaw until I could afford a decent saw and reclaim the space to set it up. I went with the grizzly. If you want to give it a go, go for it. Just go in knowing it might be limited in some of its capabilities and eventually you may need to upgrade and this will only make saving take a bit longer.

I had a bunch of PVC to cut and needed something portable that wasn't a hand saw or hand held jigsaw, so I bought the attached, only version 1. Basically it is a table mounted jigsaw. It will cut wood, but it struggled with hard wood. I still use for cutting thin small pieces.

http://t.homedepot.com/p/Rockwell-BladeRunner-X2-Portable-Tabletop-Saw-RK7323/205611390

I'm back to my issue with the jig saws I have tried when considering that tool.  Do they deflect as easily as a jig saw does?  Is there an advantage to that I am not realizing, aside from maybe it being easier to see lines when the blade is "upside-down"?

 

I'd thought a used scroll saw might get me by since they are anchored top and bottom and will not deflect like a jig saw - although the very fine blades make it beyond my ability to cut something that doesn't look like a beaver carved it.

 

How about getting the rigid oscilating spindal sander and useing that to smooth out the jigsaw cut curves?

 

If it is really fine things and tight curves you are after isn't that the job for a scroll saw anyway not a band saw?

Excellent point ... looking now.

 

(And I really DO appreciate y'all taking the time to post.  I swear I'm not being pig headed - it would be much easier to get my point across if we were face to face and I could just buy you a beer and have you listen as I explained.  If you do understand and I am being dense .. that's different than pig-headed. :) )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only specific job you have mentioned is cutting 0 clearance inserts.  A router and template and the sander to finesse the template and fit would strike me as a good alternative.  And the sander is still useful even if you later get a band saw because most people can not cut perfect curves and still finesse the lines on a sander like it.

 

Now on the flipside there was someone with a thread about getting a similar band saw.  He was happy with it at the time, as it was better than not having one at all.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 cutting cat shapes out of 1/4" luan with it

 

 

If that's really all you'll do with it then yeah it should be fine for that...but like the turtle said, you may as well get a scroll saw instead if that's the kind of work you plan to do.

 

Norm's remark about cabinet saws is exaggerated...and the words were probably put in his mouth by sponsors...and Delta held a gun to his head while he said it.  I do think jobsite saws are inadequate for furniture making.  Contractor saws, while not ideal, are serviceable enough.  Your Ridgid is not a good comparison to the bandsaws you linked.  Think more in line with a Harbor Freight circular saw if you want to go with that analogy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only specific job you have mentioned is cutting 0 clearance inserts.  A router and template and the sander to finesse the template and fit would strike me as a good alternative.  And the sander is still useful even if you later get a band saw because most people can not cut perfect curves and still finesse the lines on a sander like it.

 

Now on the flipside there was someone with a thread about getting a similar band saw.  He was happy with it at the time, as it was better than not having one at all.

 

 

I read that review and i seemed like it was okay for that which it was intended and he outgrew it quickly.  If that were to happen it to me that quick I would come back here, search out this thread, and humbly tell you all you were absolutely right.

 

Okay, on the insert/template/router thing ... where would I get the template to begin with?  I thought about taking the one I have, maybe using a collar to make it slightly bigger, and sanding it down but the metal stamped thingies on it mean there's no way to lay it flat to use as such.  Now I'm back to tracing and cutting out with a ..... 

 

 

If that's really all you'll do with it then yeah it should be fine for that...but like the turtle said, you may as well get a scroll saw instead if that's the kind of work you plan to do.

 

Norm's remark about cabinet saws is exaggerated...and the words were probably put in his mouth by sponsors...and Delta held a gun to his head while he said it.  I do think jobsite saws are inadequate for furniture making.  Contractor saws, while not ideal, are serviceable enough.  Your Ridgid is not a good comparison to the bandsaws you linked.  Think more in line with a Harbor Freight circular saw if you want to go with that analogy.

 

Well the luan thing was over-exaggerated - but I don't think I would cut more than 3/4" stock for an appreciable amount of time.  Would it do that with a decent blade?

 

By the way - when did rigid become a Home Depot house brand?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see those mini bandsaws up on Craigslist all the time. If you really want to try it pick up one someone else is upgrading from and try it out. Then if the collective advice here is right and you hate it you can put it back up and lose little to nothing but some time and frustration. If the size works but there are little things that a different model of mini bandsaw would address then you can resell the used one and buy new with a more specific idea of what to look for for your work.

As for jigsaws: I have a nice Bosch and rarely do I have issues with the blade deflecting. I've cut 6/4 rough hardwood plenty of times and the cuts are surprisingly clean and straight. A decent jigsaw to rough out the shape and the rigid OSS/belt sander combo unit (awesome tool btw) to make sure your edges are square and to smooth out the shapes should have you set for curves in 4/4 lumber and sheet goods.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you want a  cheap bandsaw, then GO CHEAP. Don't spend 150$ on garbage...  Theres pretty much always a cheapie craftsman small bandsaw on craigslist EVERYWHERE. I had one, and I wound up throwing it in the garbage. Spent 30$ on it and learned a lot, but it was a huge headache. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As for jigsaws: I have a nice Bosch and rarely do I have issues with the blade deflecting. I've cut 6/4 rough hardwood plenty of times and the cuts are surprisingly clean and straight. A decent jigsaw to rough out the shape and the rigid OSS/belt sander combo unit (awesome tool btw) to make sure your edges are square and to smooth out the shapes should have you set for curves in 4/4 lumber and sheet goods.

 

Okay, well since I have changed gears at least twice ... 

 

Sander + which jigsaw?  You mention the Bosch and they make several nicer ones.  Any other brands worth looking at?  I see a DeWalt 20v which would match my drills but I don't *need* cordless.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, well since I have changed gears at least twice ... 

 

Sander + which jigsaw?  You mention the Bosch and they make several nicer ones.  Any other brands worth looking at?  I see a DeWalt 20v which would match my drills but I don't *need* cordless.

Myself I try to buy as few cordless tools as possible.  I don't want to be tied into a limited life span battery and battery technology and running out of juice in the middle of a job sucks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to be contrary...it's my nature.  So...an OSS and a decent jigsaw...how much is that gonna be?  Compare that cost to the cost of a 14" Grizzly bandsaw, and realize how much more you could do with that machine than a jigsaw.  It's a poor choice, IMO.  My jigsaw gets used to break down rough stock and to make cutouts within a field...that's it.  A bandsaw is a shop staple...jigsaw and OSS are more luxury tools if you ask me.  I'm sensing short-sighted thinking.

 

But then again, maybe the work you plan to do isn't at all like the work I do.  Good luck with your decision.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee

With the rockwell, you can adjust the guides to help with the deflection. Since you are able to have better control of the workpiece it may produce a better cut than holding the tool, which brings in more operator error.

I do believe that a higher priced jigsaw is better than lower price. I also believe handle type factors in. What I mean by this is I had a d handle jigsaw and I hated using it, because of eye dominance issue it was hard to see the cut line and at times led me getting closer to the blade than was really safe. I bought a barrel grip Festool trion and now I make more accurate and safer cuts with it. I can also use upside down depending on cut.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to be contrary...it's my nature.  So...an OSS and a decent jigsaw...how much is that gonna be?  Compare that cost to the cost of a 14" Grizzly bandsaw, and realize how much more you could do with that machine than a jigsaw.  It's a poor choice, IMO.  My jigsaw gets used to break down rough stock and to make cutouts within a field...that's it.  A bandsaw is a shop staple...jigsaw and OSS are more luxury tools if you ask me.  I'm sensing short-sighted thinking.

 

But then again, maybe the work you plan to do isn't at all like the work I do.  Good luck with your decision.

But how often do you not need to sand to smooth curves and such after using a band saw?  So the OSS really is being used either way.

 

And for blade deflection how much is that in the jigsaw and how much is in buying good quality blades?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sure the dewalt would be good too, but I've had good luck with Bosch so I usually stick with them for smaller power tools. Cordless would be nice if you transport lumber in anything other than a truck and occasionally need to break down boards to get them into your car. Otherwise I'd say go corded.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But how often do you not need to sand to smooth curves and such after using a band saw?

 

Most of the time I'm pattern routing after a curve on the bandsaw or fairing it with rasps and sanding strips.  I use the OSS fairly infrequently...it comes in handy for quick one-off stuff, but it's not capable of producing a fair curve, so I don't use it much for important profiles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Vinny had a saw similar to the menard's saw.  They seem to be the same design. Craftsman sells it as well.  Here is his review

 

 

FWIW he sold it shortly after his somewhat positive review.

 

This thread should have ended here...   Mike was right to link Vinny...and Vinny was right in his analysis of his situation and his decision in that thread.   One of those Rikon/Craftsman 10" band saws is more than enough to do some basic curve cutting and getting a sense of what a bandsaw can do...and they can be resold easily (as Vinny showed) or kept as a small curves-only saw when you get a big one later (as is being done by various forum members).

 

JM2C

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share