Buying a bandsaw

Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
I've had the Grizzly G0555 for about 10 years. It's been a very reliable saw, plenty of power for day-to-day work. Fence, roller guides, dust collection are all pretty good, not spectacular but definitely value for money.

The resaw capacity is limited to 6", that's the only real drawback. I've thought about getting the riser block, but I'd rather keep this saw for cutting curves and buy a larger saw for resawing in the future.
 

Charles-H

New User
Charles
I guess it's because I dont really understand them. I mean, I know their use is to keep the blade aligned and prevent it from shifting too much one way or another but using a solid block especially if the blade does run into it doesn't seem like it would be good for the blade between metal on metal contact and heat. Maybe you can explain it more?
 

PeteStaehling

New User
Pete
I guess you do need to set them up somewhere near correctly, but they are not especially fussy. Some folks set them up with a pice of typing paper worth of clearance. I just make sure they are not super tight and binding. I've never had them heat up and cause any problem. They aren't necessarily metal, mine are some kind of composite fiber stuff. Some folks have used lignum vitae (wood).

Just me, but I always figured that the ball bearing guides were an expensive upgrade that I didn't need. Maybe I don't know what I am missing, but the saws I have used in my shop and in shops where I was employed that worked fine without ball bearing guides. A set of the carter guides cost a good portion of the cost of a used saw so if on a budget skipping them seems like a slam dunk to me. You can always upgrade somewhere down the road if you find that you need to.

There have been many thousands of saws in home and commercial shops without bb guides so they aren't a necessity. I am pretty sure they far outnumber the bb guides overall (someone correct me if I am wrong). On the other hand some folks swear by them and are willing to fork over the $$$ for them.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Know that there are two attributes of any good band saw:
smooth (pretty much vibration free when running with a tensioned blade)
quiet (when idling with a blade on, it will be more noisy than just the motor, but not a lot more)
Observing any saw running before buying it is pretty safe protocol.

As to guides, do the math on blade support length. Contrast the height of solid blocks to the contact area of two tangent circles (side ball bearings). You'll get at least a 25:1 ratio. Rolling side guides will emboss resin and dust on the blade where square blocks have a tendency to scrape it off. Embossed resin and dust on the blade tracks on the tires and can alter tracking slightly. Steel blocks can be reground true when worn. Rollers have to be purchased. Rollers get to be screamers when the lubricant dries out. Delta has been supplying blocks with their bandsaws at least since 1939. Heat buildup from friction against a steel block isn't an issue. On the only roller guide band saw I have, I replaced them with square blocks and have been delighted.
 

Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
I have mixed feelings on how much to spend on "quality" when buying band saw blades. I have not been completely convinced that once you get to a decent blade that spending more is always a better value. I don't buy junk, but sometimes I think buying a moderately priced blade in a decent brand and changing a little more often has worked out better for me. I have gone back and forth on this though.

For sure I have had some expensive ones that have been a pretty disappointing value compared to fairly low priced Olson ones when they started out great, but didn't last well.
[/QUOTE
]'m sometimes guilty of using a blade longer than I should. I have a true oddball bandsaw which limits me to blade suppliers that make custom lengths.
Do you recall which expensive blades were a disappointment?
 

PeteStaehling

New User
Pete
Do you recall which expensive blades were a disappointment?
It seemed to be a general trend, but I had a falling out with Timberwolf re-saw blades after I decided that I was wooed by what was wonderful performance when new that didn't seem to last long. I also had other blades that didn't seem to last long after paying a premium price. Perhaps, I cut some wood that was especially hard on them or something, but regardless of the reason I found it nice to not feel bad about just throwing on a new blade as soon as the old one started to feel dull. The more I pay for a blade the worse I feel about that.

All that said I still go back and forth on what I buy. I do have a couple Woodslicers from Highland Woodworking on hand that I have not yet used and grown to hate :) I have been using cheap Olsons for most work, but will probably put on a Woodslicer when I need to re-saw a bunch of soundboards from some premium lumber (not that a fresh Olson wouldn't do fine).
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
It seemed to be a general trend, but I had a falling out with Timberwolf re-saw blades after I decided that I was wooed by what was wonderful performance when new that didn't seem to last long.
I had that same experience with their regular blades. When new, like all other blades, they cut great but dulled quicker than what I would have hoped for from a premium priced blade.

A band saw blade needs to be appropriate for the machine, A wide, thick blade takes a lot to tension correctly. Sometimes by the time the blade is tensioned the saw is stressed so much that its all the motor can do just to turn the blade, much less cut wood.

I don't envy anyone these days who wants a band saw and has never used one. The choices are bewildering and the various expert narratives even worse. My guess would be for that potential buyer to visit shops and see various samples being used. That may help align expectations.
 

PeteStaehling

New User
Pete
A band saw blade needs to be appropriate for the machine, A wide, thick blade takes a lot to tension correctly. Sometimes by the time the blade is tensioned the saw is stressed so much that its all the motor can do just to turn the blade, much less cut wood.
That brings up something else that I'll mention. The use of real thin blades allows using less tension for a given width and supposedly wider blades on a saw that otherwise wouldn't handle them. As a result you can supposedly use 5/8" or even 3/4" re-saw blades on a 14" delta cast iron saw. I have done this and managed, but decided it isn't really a good idea. Better to just stick to widths that the saw is really designed to handle. I find that mine will re-saw just fine with a 1/2" blade. The 5/8" blade that Infinity sells works, but is pushing it IMO.
 

PeteStaehling

New User
Pete
I have no experience with that exact model, but I have a number of Jet machines and have been very happy with them and also found Jet tech support and warranty support excellent. It looks like it is a newer incarnation of the cast iron Delta.

Does the price look good? If so It is probably a nice saw. If you are spending too close to the price of a steel framed saw you may want to consider going that route if you think you would benefit from a steel saw's ability to tension wider blades adequately.
 

Charles-H

New User
Charles
The price is 450 so I would think it's worth it. I'm not sure I understand the importance of the width of the blade like you're talking about though. It's making me worry that I'm just too new to all of this.
 

PeteStaehling

New User
Pete
It sounds like a good deal to me if it is in decent shape. It also sounds like it suits your needs based on my read of your comments. FWIW, I do a good bit of re-sawing of fairly wide stock with my 14" cast iron saw with riser block and am happy with it. I am doing mostly lutherie work though so I am re-sawing shorter lengths and most often thinner slices, almost veneers. If you want to do heavy duty re-sawing you may want a bigger saw later, but it will still be nice to have the 14" saw.
 

Charles-H

New User
Charles
I dont think from what I've seen or read about resawing that I'd really be interested very much in that but I might be at some point because I am trying to do scroll saw work also. I'm just not very good at it yet and I'll need to upgrade that machine too at some point. But jet does make a riser block for that model so that's always nice in case thats something I decide to do.
 

PeteStaehling

New User
Pete
The price is 450 so I would think it's worth it. I'm not sure I understand the importance of the width of the blade like you're talking about though. It's making me worry that I'm just too new to all of this.
I was talking about the ability to properly tension a wider re-saw blade which I guess you may be able to do with a steel framed saw (I have no personal experience with that). Probably best to just figure that a 14" saw is for 1/2" blades and under any way. The cast iron saw will tension a 1/2" blade okay in my experience, but wider is pushing it. I figure that is fine as long as you just stay within the limits of what the saw is made to do and you can do some re-sawing with the 1/2" blade. I think you would be happy with the Jet 14".
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Open the doors and check the tires. If they are sloppy loose, that means replacement.
Listen to it run. If it sounds like a tin can full of marbles rolling down a gravel driveway, then keep looking.
It looks like a clean saw that's been used some but not ragged out like some I've seen.
 

Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
Don't over-fret the wheel alingmnet issue. It's a rare occurrence. Moreover, I can attest to the fact that this site has a lot of experts lurking around who are eager to assist with issues of nearly any nature. To be clear though, I am a user of this expertise, not a provider. I share more thoughts than facts.

I will softly say that you are very close to the price of a European (square-frame) machine from Jet, Rikon or Grizzly. Jet and Rikon offer 10-15% discounts two to three times a year and some dealers offer even more aggressive machine pricing and offers on freight. It was in this way that I saved hundreds on my last lather purchase. Personally, I would put more money into the core machine well before assigning budget to an extended service plan.
Of the machines mentioned though, I would probably be leaning towards the Grizzly. Porter Cable, not unlike Delta, has gone through a lot of changes since the brand saw so much Norm Abrams exposure. These days, apart from their core/legacy routers, PC's products tend to make me a little nervous.
Lastly, the anxiety of a major purchase can be both exciting and maddening. Whatever you buy, put it to good use and enjoy it!
 

PeteStaehling

New User
Pete
I will softly say that you are very close to the price of a European (square-frame) machine from Jet, Rikon or Grizzly. Jet and Rikon offer 10-15% discounts two to three times a year and some dealers offer even more aggressive machine pricing and offers on freight.
Am I missing something here? He was talking about spending $450 for a used Jet. How is that very close to the price of Euro machine? You seem to be referring to the 10-15% off offers that come up a couple times a year. Aren't these saws all going to be at least $1200 delivered?

Were you talking about a used euro machine? They can be pretty scarce on the used market and more expensive than the cast iron models, but that depends on where you live so maybe it is different in some places.
 

Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
Am I missing something here? He was talking about spending $450 for a used Jet. How is that very close to the price of Euro machine? You seem to be referring to the 10-15% off offers that come up a couple times a year. Aren't these saws all going to be at least $1200 delivered?

Were you talking about a used euro machine? They can be pretty scarce on the used market and more expensive than the cast iron models, but that depends on where you live so maybe it is different in some places.
In his last post, he spoke of Porter Cable and Grizzly machines, both of which were in the $570 range. He was also considering adding the Lowes extended service coverage option to the Porter cable, which would have elevated that machine to $699. Knowing (first hand*) that Jet, Laguna and Rikon have recurring discounts and that some retailers also apply those discounts to more their own aggressive pricing AND, in rarer instances will include the shipping, I wondered softly if $950 to $1,050 might get him to a Euro-style machine.

* My recent Jet lathe purchase started at $2,599. The Jet 15% sale brought it to $2,210. The dealer took another $100 off and waived the freight fee. The freight may or may not have been subsidized by Jet. I don’t know.

You are certainly right about affordable used Euro machines. They are not an easy find.

With all that said, I would not argue for a moment that a patient search for the right used Delta, e.g. #28-280 would deliver the most bandsaw for the buck—by far! $400-$500, some elbow grease, time and a new blade and possible new tires would be a terrific way to go. Good advice indeed!
 

PeteStaehling

New User
Pete
In his last post, he spoke of Porter Cable and Grizzly machines, both of which were in the $570 range. He was also considering adding the Lowes extended service coverage option to the Porter cable, which would have elevated that machine to $699. Knowing (first hand*) that Jet, Laguna and Rikon have recurring discounts and that some retailers also apply those discounts to more their own aggressive pricing AND, in rarer instances will include the shipping, I wondered softly if $950 to $1,050 might get him to a Euro-style machine.

* My recent Jet lathe purchase started at $2,599. The Jet 15% sale brought it to $2,210. The dealer took another $100 off and waived the freight fee. The freight may or may not have been subsidized by Jet. I don’t know.

You are certainly right about affordable used Euro machines. They are not an easy find.

With all that said, I would not argue for a moment that a patient search for the right used Delta, e.g. #28-280 would deliver the most bandsaw for the buck—by far! $400-$500, some elbow grease, time and a new blade and possible new tires would be a terrific way to go. Good advice indeed!
Ah, that all makes good sense. If we are comparing to a new Porter Cable or Grizzly cast iron machine that puts your comments in a different perspective and I get it. I am not a Porter Cable fan and think service policies are a rip off, so that one sounds like an especially bad deal.

I personally tend to shop the Jet sales myself and time big purchases with their sales. That is how I bought my Jet lathe and thickness sanders among other purchases.

I have never owned a euro saw, but one thing I have found with the cast iron saws is that they are so common that you can find parts even if the manufacturer doesn't make them any more. Someone makes or stocks something that will allow you to fix pretty much anything that might go wrong on an old delta. Parts from newer clones usually fit and if you can't find a new part there are old saws getting parted out. Sometimes it might take a little searching though. I wonder if the euro saws will be that universally repairable. Are they mostly variations on the same saw like the cast iron saws?
 

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