Band saw reviews woodworking, woodworking intarsia patterns - Reviews

Categories: Woodworking Shelf Plans | Author: admin 15.02.2012

The benefit of steel-frame rigidity is now extending to many smaller band saws that run on 110 volts. This saw comes with an Excalibur T-square style fence that, thanks to bearings, rolls smoothly on its front rail for ripping or resawing. A foot brake (left), common on larger band saws, makes quick stops for safety possible on General’s 90-170B. With the exception of Laguna, General and the other test saws come with ball-bearing upper and lower blade guides — a more heavy-duty solution than the “cool blocks” you’ll still find on some traditional 14″ band saws. At nearly $1,600, this saw is amply featured, but it’s priced high relative to most of the test group. For a penny under $1,900 street, JET’s saw will be a shock to the pocketbook of most hobbyists. Blades thread straight in through a front slit in the table — easier than saws with side-slit styles — and a hinged upper guard opens for wide blade access. Seven years ago, RIKON’s 10-325 won our “Best Bet” honors among a group of 14″, mostly cast-iron framed band saws. Other amenities include a geared lever for tilting the table, a spacious storage compartment and shelf below the saw and a flexible task light to brighten the table. In testing, the saw’s 11?2hp RIKON-built motor muscled through hard maple, and most of the dust was whisked away through a lower 4″ dust port.
Steel City calls this saw a “Hybrid,” and that’s because, in truth, it’s an evolution of sorts: the frame is elongated cast-iron, with the bottom half nestled in a steel cabinet that opens for lower flywheel access.
Steel City has been off of our tool review “radar” for a number of years, so I was anxious to try this saw and see what it would have in store. Small-shop owners will appreciate Steel City’s three-wheel mobile base (left), if a band saw must be moved in and out of position for use.
Dust collection through a 4″ port in the bottom kept this saw running clean throughout my cutting trials.
For years I’ve owned and used an old Delta machine, but when we started 360 Woodworking, Chuck brought in his Laguna 1412.
You are more likely to find a 14" bandsaw in woodworking shops than any other size - particularly in smaller workshops, and among hobbyist woodworkers.
The Laguna has plenty of oomph, with a 13?4-horsepower motor; most other band saws in this class are 11?2 hp or less. All in all, this is a well-engineered bandsaw with big-time features at an affordable price. I’m not the most patient soul, but after a long search for a band saw upgrade I finally found the one that I wanted; the Laguna 1412. My previous band saw, a 14” 1 HP American style band saw, was performing well and doing nearly everything that I asked of it. After following this evolving market for years, I gravitated to Laguna band saws for a few reasons. Quality components throughout.When I first heard about this saw, and the low price point, I was concerned that I would find some compromises on quality upon close inspection, but this has simply not been the case. If you're looking to buy your first bandsaw or simply upgrade from a benchtop model, consider a low-cost 14" bandsaw for your shop. New saw models are also sporting premium blade guides, better fences and big motors to deliver top performance for the dollar. A decade or so ago, steel-framed band saws were just beginning to catch on here in the States, and at the time, we still called them “European style.” Nowadays, these welded-frame saws have not only become commonplace in manufacturers’ product lines, but it’s hard to even find a new mid-size band saw that still has that familiar rounded cast-iron frame.
Heavy, cast-iron flywheels help the saw’s motor drive big blades through thick or wide material.
This saw comes with an oversized table for managing big workpieces, plus large hand wheels for tensioning the blade and raising the upper blade guides. Lower blade guides can be hard to reach under the tables of some saws if you have large hands, but JET’s are uncluttered, and a hinged guard improves access further. Laguna’s line of 3000 Series saws were introduced a couple of years ago as a more affordable alternative to the company’s other European-made saws, which they still offer. Laguna equips this saw with its signature ceramic blade guides that help to keep the blade running cool during sawing and wear slowly over time.

The saw is well-appointed with good features: double ball bearing side guides and edge-mounted thrust bearings, large hand wheels for setting blade tension and adjusting tracking, a quick-release blade tension lever in back, and a legible tensioning scale with a viewing window to assist the process. The hinged upper blade guard and front-mounted table slit gave this saw a leg up for me in terms of easy blade changes. If you need a saw that’s designed for cutting a variety of materials, take a closer look at this offering. Today’s “next generation” of steel-framed band saws solve the problem: their box-style spines are tremendously rigid to withstand the high tension required for a wide resawing blade, and their frames are extended for tall resawing. No matter how modest your shop, if you have a 110-volt receptacle, you can run this saw, and all others featured here. Blades load through a side slit on the table, then must be turned 90° in a small throatplate opening, while threading it in through a slit in the saw’s yellow upper blade guard and between the guide bearings. Once a blade is threaded, the saw has a three-position quick-release lever in back for tensioning.
A box-style, welded spine (bottom) contributes added stiffness to these steel saw frames to withstand high tension from resaw blades. It’s not an adjustment you’d expect to make on a new saw, and it wasn’t inordinately loose, but adding more tension fixed the glitch. RIKON provides a hefty flywheel spring (above) to help the saw withstand greater forces required for tensioning wide blades.
A slab of polished granite (right) provides a flat, sturdy and corrosion-free sawing surface for this machine. I just got the Laguna Tools 14 12 Bandsaw and it took just shy of a month to get everything.
In this review I'll share my impressions about what I feel are the key features of this new bandsaw. Some lighter-weight saws with two-piece bodies allow for the addition of a riser block for wider resaw work.
Now, after using a production model of the saw for a few weeks in my own shop, I highly recommend it.
These high-end guides are not typically found on bandsaws in this price range, a nod to the value inherent in this machine. Between my father and me, this saw has gotten plenty of use and we were reasonably happy with it, but it was not great at resawing. I believe that it was designed with the “occasional resawer” in mind, with a stout European frame, ample capacity for resawing (the specifications say up to 12” but read on and I will show you that I successfully pushed that a bit), and the same guide system found on Laguna’s higher end band saws.
I called in and was immediately transferred to a technician who spent a half hour on the phone with me, not only answering my questions but taking the time to explain some additional tips for band saw work. For professionals with volume production resaw requirements, you’ll probably want to step up to a saw with bigger wheels, larger blade capacity, and more power. Because bandsaws excel at resawing--standing a board on edge and cutting off thin slabs--you may use a bandsaw to get more use from prized figured or exotic stock. These new 3000 saws originate from the Pacific Rim, just as the rest of the test group models do. There are no extra frills, but it should prove to be a workhorse and a good reflection of Laguna’s band saw heritage. I backed off to only gentle feed pressure, and I was able to slowly resaw six slices of veneer, but if I applied feed pressure consistent with the other saws’ resaw tests, the blade slowed to a stall again. Powered back up, the saw was able to resaw at a feed rate consistent with the others, helping Oliver finish my cutting tests with a good showing here. As I prepped materials for the fans on Friday, I looked at a few options including purchasing veneer (it’s sooo thin), my table saw (a pain in the tuckus) and a bandsaw. It has the largest throat of the saws tested, making blade changes much easier, and the aluminum throat plate has leveling screws. A bandsaw is probably the most versatile shop machine, it doesn't take up much floor space, and it's one of the easiest and safest machines to use. Finally, the oversize throat plate features leveling screws so there are no hang-ups while you saw.
Yes, I could do some resawing on my old saw, but the setup process required delicate tuning and the results were hit and miss for me.

The project in the picture is a cutting board that I like to make by stacking two boards and cutting the pattern on a band saw. I wanted to look at machines in the 2- to 4-hp range, because that seems to be the “sweet spot” for this saw size. Notice that this saw bests the others for potential resaw capacity at a whopping 15-1?4″.
Its stout build quality testifies to Laguna’s long history of engineering industry-leading band saws. While it doesn't have the crosscutting ability of a table or miter saw, a bandsaw is superb for ripping rough and dimensional lumber to size, resawing lumber into shop-made veneer, cutting curves, circles, and irregular shapes, and cutting a variety of joinery, including tenons, lap joints, bridle joints, box joints, and tail boards for dovetails. The saw’s 5-1?2-in.-tall fence is perfect for resawing, but it’s easily flipped down for ripping too.
Well, truth be told I already had a pretty nice band saw and I didn’t really need an upgrade (my wife will corroborate this), so although it was not my happiest year you will be pleased to know that I got through it and I now have a 1412 on my shop floor.
Also, these guys have a clear passion for band saws and I have felt that they have led much of the innovation in this tool category over the past decade or so. When building this design on other band saws I used to perform an additional step, where I would have to sweeten up the joints using a router with a template and guide to eliminate the gaps left where the blade would flex as it changed direction in the cut.
Next, we installed riser blocks on models that will accept them (steel-frame saws do not), adding 6" to their resaw capacities. With all the bandsaws, however, we found no significant deflection when sawing through stock less than 2" thick. After spending time with this burly saw, it is clear that General designed the 90-290M1 with heavy-duty purpose in mind. Line-ofsight to the blade was OK, but there’s a tab on the bottom of the saw’s upper blade guard that makes a tall guy like me have to bend forward to see exactly where I’m cutting. Laguna sent me a mobility kit, which includes an axle, plastic wheels and a “rolling” handle that engages a hitch on the saw base. And the Laguna had a mobility kit designed for the saw while the Rikon would need a third party set of wheels. I will accept that some of this was due to operator error, as I have seen George Vondriska make resawing look easy on a saw less powerful than mine, but I was looking for a “resaw easy button”. And, OK, I will also admit that the stylish design of their band saws might have been a small secondary factor.
Honestly, I didn’t think it could perform this task in a way where I would ever want to do it again, as I have attempted this on other saws with an unpleasant outcome. Using the 1412 I can go directly from the saw to the glue-up table because the guides hold the blade so solidly that there is virtually no blade deflection when the work piece changes direction during the cut. For starters, its upper and lower flywheels are made of thicker cast-iron than the other saws. Of course, you can put an aftermarket rolling base under any band saw, but I like Laguna’s integrated approach.
I have never seen my wife so excited about a woodworking tool as when I invited her into the shop for a peek at the 1412 and she exclaimed “Oh my gosh! I figured that would be the compromise, and the reason why many people with similar requirements to mine buy more powerful 220V band saws. My verdict here: the 90-290M1 is a strong choice for ambitious sawing, and I doubt it would disappoint a demanding user. With a 14 amp motor there is plenty of electrical headroom to run this saw on my 20 amp circuits.
RIKON assures me that all of its inventory of 10-370 saws are being re-inspected so that this wiring problem won’t happen for you, too. I expected that this value would likely land in the 9-10” range, which would call Laguna onto the carpet for a bit of marketing exaggeration, but my actual finding is that Laguna has sandbagged a bit on this front, and the saw can comfortably exceed their own specification.

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