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22 Bandsaws: Good ones work quite well


This article is from the Woodworking FAQ Collection 2, by multiple authors.

22 Bandsaws: Good ones work quite well

From: garyl@Sunny_Oregon.WV.TEK.COM (Gary Laroff)
Date: 2 Mar 90 01:17:41 GMT

I have an older (circa early 1950s ?) Delta Milwaukee 14" bandsaw
with a small Rockwell name plate, implying that it comes from
the era shortly after Rockwell acquired Delta. The machine
initially appears to be the same as the ones sold under the Delta
name today except that on more careful inspection it is a bit
more solid and looks like a higher precision machine. It cost me
about $100 some 12 years ago and spent its early life in the barn
of an Oregon furniture maker.

The machine is incredible. It's relatively quiet, despite having
an unenclosed base or motor and also having the fan belt sticking
out from the machine unenclosed.

The table is dead flat and is so smooth that even when neglected
and starting to rust, a bit of steel wool and kerosene cleans it
up. The table is perpendicular to the blade. At zero degrees a
tight scroll cut in a thick piece of wood can be disassembled
and put back together from either the top or bottom.

The table tilt gauge is accurate and the trunnions are solid.
There is relatively little vibration and I can work at the
machine for long times without any tedium setting in.

As for tuning, the machine has never needed it. The wheels have
drill holes in them apparently put in by Delta to balance them.
Back around 1980 I put a new 3/16 in. blade on the machine and
used it quite heavily for all sorts of cutting, even though a
wider blade would often have been better. Each day after
cutting, I release the tension on the blade.

When I moved to California in 1982, the bandsaw moved as is, with
the blade in place. On tensioning the saw in California, I
continued to use the blade. Moving the machine caused no lack of
accuracy in the settings. For lack of enthusiasm, being cheep,
or just waiting for the blade to break, I used the same 3/16 in.
blade for over 6 years of cutting wood, aluminum angle iron, and
enough PVC pipe to install a San Diego sprinkler system.

To keep the family tradition going, the blade stayed on the
machine during the return move to Oregon last May. The bandsaw
still did not lose its settings. (What the movers did to the
Sears table saw and Sears Belt sander is yet another set of

This past December the bandsaw finally threw a tire and I had to
install a new set. At the time I tried out a 1/16 in blade and a
set of cool blocks. The scrolling is quite impressive and there
has been no problem with tracking the narrow blade. (The cool
blocks though get eaten by the blade in a rather short time.)

There has never been a need to true the machine, shim the table,
balance the wheels, roughen up the new tires or do anything but
tension the blade and go. I guess this means that buying a new
quality bandsaw or finding a good used one makes quite a bit of
difference over buying a look-alike Taiwanese clone. My neighbor
is looking at buying the JET, and I'll give him a copy of the
original note on this subject.

For me, if I had to buy one now, I'd seriously consider buying
one of the three wheel varieties, which gives a 20" throat on a
table-top machine. I used a friend's INCA once, and it was an
extremely smooth machine.


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