This article is from the Woodworking FAQ Collection 2, by multiple authors.
From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Aug 6 18:16:25 1991
From: Jim McKim <email@example.com>
I tried a Skil benchtop bandsaw about six years ago and was very disappointed
with it. (I don't know if they still make it or not, but some of this might
apply to the others.) It was very noisy because of the spur gear drive
mechanism and high speed motor. The main problem, though, was the cast
aluminum table was not flat - it took a bend at the line of the blade slot
due to internal stresses in the casting. Others I looked at at the store had
the same defect. It was impossible to make a 90 degree cut reliably. I
eventually got my money back and bought a Delta clone. Now I'm wishing I had
the real McCoy.
From Barry.Andreasen@east.sun.com Wed Aug 7 10:13:00 1991
From: Barry.Andreasen@east.sun.com (Barry Andreasen - Sun BOS Hardware)
I have a Sears Bench top and have use it for most types of cutting
with no problems. The only complaints I have come from special cuts
that I have tried to do that either require a wider throat than it
gives (14 or 16 inches) or when I have needed to resaw some larger
peices (the cutting height is limited to about 4 inches). For these I
found an old cast-iron tri wheel bandsaw that works great (but
requires custom blades so I don't want to use it for everything). In
addition I have, at times, needed to take more time with a cut than a
larger machine might require since the blades I have (I don't think
you can get any wider ones) are not stiff enough to do some tight
radiuses (sp?), and tend to wobble in these situations.
From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Aug 7 13:42:49 1991
From: Santanu Lahiri <email@example.com>
I have a Shopsmith bandsaw, so I won't even suggest you consider it.
But I'd like to point out a few things I've learned the hard way.
1. The throat size can be important. Mine is about 11 inches, but I can
really use only 6 inches or so, cause the guide takes up the remaining
one inch of the table. Of course, I could take that out and try
2. Get a model that has a good blade guard on it. Ideally, the blade guard
should move up or down, to accomodate different depths of cut. My main
consideration here is safety. With the guard adjusted to the depth of
cut (well, a little over that), blade breakage will not be a major hazard.
One blade I was using broke, and I didn't have the guard down. About a
foot long piece came flying out. Thank God I was not close to it.
3. If you plan to buy several blades, make sure the length of the blade is
one you can find in the standard sizes. Mine is 72" and I think nobody
other than Shopsmith makes that length. That can be a costly proposition.
4. If you plan to try resawing or similar stuff, you might also want to look
for a good guide for the thing. In any case, a guide can be quite a help.
I don't know if the B&D and other models come with one. Don't recall
seeing one though.
Good luck with your purchase plans.
From LAHIRI%ohsthr.bitnet@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU Wed Aug 7 15:11:45 1991
Also, when I said guide in my mail, I was referring to the fence. Sorry
if the misapplied terminology confused you.
From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Aug 9 08:41:54 1991
From: Atkins D. Michael <email@example.com>
don't waste your money - i got a b&d when they first came out to
do little jobs with. things like 1/4" plywood for my wifes class
and our kids. the rollers are just too small and the flex on the
band from this tight bend causes them to break at the weld
constantly. if you really want to try one, you can have mine for
about $75 with any bands that i have left. i actually had bands
made at a local company both 1/8 & 1/4 using lenox stock. the welds
were annealed to relieve the stress and the 1/8" did fair if i was
real careful. the cost to have them made was about half that of
the b&d replacements.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (W. B. Ligon III)
Given the tone of this group, I hesistate to admit I have one of these
I went shopping for a bandsaw a year ago when just getting into woodworking.
The salesperson at Highland Hardware told me not to waste my money on one of
these, but buy the 14" Delta for several hundred dollars. I did not take
this advice, but rather followed a tool purchasing philosophy I often use:
Having found one of these 10" benchtop units for <$90.00 (an "Ohio Forge"
unit at Home Depot - basicly identical to the Sears or Delta unit) I decided
that if I bought it and used it to the point it was nolonger of any use
(because it had fallen appart or could not do what I wanted to do) then I
would KNOW that a $400 bandsaw was a worthwhile investment. Now this may
seem like a waste of $90, but at the time it was a matter of buy a toy
bandsaw NOW, or wait an undetermined length of time for a bigger one. I needed
to cut curves NOW, so I bought the thing. Here are my experiences:
So far I have EASILY gotten my $90 out of the thing. I use it constantly
to do the things my table saw can't. At the same time, I can see where a
"real" bandsaw would be MUCH nicer. Still, my limited budget has placed other
tools higher on my list (drill press (bought this summer), jointer (hope to
get soon), etc.) by virtue of the fact that I don't NEED the bigger unit,
due to having the little one. When I DO get the bigger unit, I will still
keep the smaller one around, loaded with 1/8" blad for detail work, while
the bigger one keeps the larger blade for heavyer work.
Using this littel bandsaw means learning to overcome it's cheap construction.
It has a number of adjustments, but I have also had to apply my grinder to
the little sled that mounts the upper wheel and I sometime put some washers
on it to adjust it laterally. Basicly these adjustments are needed whenever
I change blades (or rather, blade sizes). Generally this calls for breaking
out some tools and spending a 1/2 hour or so fiddling and adjusting to get
everything just right (but then, I am a bit of a perfectionist about it).
Still, I don't do this terribly often. Most of the time I leave a 3/8" blade
on it and have little or no trouble with it. Every now and then I need
something special, and then I just have to break down and set up.
There are few accessories for these little guys. Garrett Wade has "cool
blocks" for them. Blades come in only about 3 varieties (I'd kill for a
3/8" blade with 3tpi for it). I'm not aware of a fence for them (I have
several varieties of shop-made).
Anyway, my final advice is this: consider the task you will ask of it, the
abuse you will give it, and its place in your budget. If it is going to
be your main tool, you may want to spend more for a better tool. Consider
whether a scroll saw or saber saw of similar price would be as good or
better alternative. If all you are going to do is make rough cuts on
fairly small peices of wood, then it might be a good choice.
That about covers it. There was a related discussion about bandsaw blades,
but I didn't keep a complete copy of it.