Tool review: Deluxe 14-inch Bandsaws
Ranging from $770 to $1,495, these saws give you greater power and resaw capability than entry-level models.
Deluxe 14" Bandsaws
Choosing to purchase a 14" deluxe bandsaw says a lot about where you are in your woodworking journey. You're ready to move to a machine capable of tackling all curve-cutting, ripping, crosscutting, and resawing tasks in even the thickest and hardest wood species. Thankfully, you don't have to jump to a pricey 18" or larger bandsaw to get these attributes. This class of 14" bandsaws--measured by wheel diameter--does it all.
Ample resawing capacity. Start your search by focusing on the widest board the saw can rip standing on edge. Get as much capacity as possible, because you'll never wish you had less. Having the ability to rip a wide board into thinner pieces opens up greater project options, such as bookmatched door panels or thin slabs laminated around a curved form. Resawing allows you to maximize the face (showing surface) of a prized piece of wood, such as spalted maple or quilted mahogany.
A one-piece steel frame found on three of the bandsaws in this test provides 10-14" of resaw capacity. On the other hand, three of the C-frame saws--which look like big cast-iron C-clamps on bases--resaw only 6" out of the crate. But if you install an optional riser block ($70-$120), shown at right, you'll double that capacity. Though a C-frame saw, the Jet JWBS-14DXPRO comes standard with 12" resaw capacity built into its column; no need for a riser block. The C-frame Powermatic includes the riser-block kit as standard equipment.
Plenty of power. Cutting curves or ripping stock up to 2" thick won't challenge the power of any 14" bandsaw. But when you resaw--especially hardwoods 10" or wider--you need power in spades. For this, look at two factors. First, the motor should be rated at least 1 hp, but go bigger if your budget and shop's electrical capacity can handle it. (Bandsaws powered by 110-volt motors top out at 1 1/2 hp; anything greater requires a 220-volt circuit.) In our testing, the 3-hp Laguna 14SUV dominated the power showdown.
The second power factor: the wheels that drive the blade. Cast-iron wheels outperform aluminum ones because their greater weight generates more momentum to power the blade through a cut. This weight also dampens vibration, resulting in greater accuracy and cut quality. Of the tested saws, all but the Delta have cast-iron wheels.