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.
Tool tester Bob Saunders feeds an ash board through this bandsaw to test its resawing power and accuracy.
Deluxe 14" Bandsaws
Choosing to purchase a deluxe 14" 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.
Pluses: The steel-block blade guides performed well in our curve-cutting tests, even with the riser block installed. Two speed settings provide you the option of slowing the blade speed for cutting nonferrous metal, such as brass or aluminum.
Minuses: The 28-206 lacks the oomph of the other test saws, especially when resawing wide stock with the riser block installed. Setting the proper blade tension proved difficult because the saw's scale was so far off we could not use it. The saw vibrated more than any other we tested, its blade deflected the most (slightly more than 1⁄32 "), and its dust collection proved inadequate. It does not come with a rip fence, and Delta does not offer one as an option. The motor eats up potential storage space in the lower cabinet. 800-223-7278; deltamachinery.com
Pluses: We really like the rip fence on this saw. Although the G0457 has only 10" of resaw capacity, it was one of three models to cut with less than 1⁄32 " of blade deflection. That's important so you don't waste wood later at the planer flattening a resawn face. And we found it easy to square the table to the back of the blade by adjusting setscrews on the trunnion bracket.
Minuses: You can't install or remove 3⁄4 "-wide blades without removing the table first, because the blade teeth hit the rabbeted edge of the 2"-diameter table hole. (Grizzly's Bill Crofutt said his company will investigate this and might make changes on future models.) Because the aluminum rip fence mounts onto the right side of a cast-iron arm, you can't rip stock with the fence on the right side of the blade. 800-523-4777; grizzly.com
Pluses: This saw has the same rip fence as the G0457, but it has a different table, minus the blade-changing problems. And with a 110-volt motor, it cut slightly faster than the 2-hp, 220-volt G0457. You can install a blade and rely on the tension scale to be accurate. We like its wide-rimmed task light because it mounts on the blade side of the upper cabinet, letting you better direct light onto the cutline. The price above includes an optional riser-block kit that gives you the ability to resaw 12"-wide boards. If you don't need this resaw capacity, save the $70 and assemble the saw as equipped from the factory.
Minuses: The quick-release blade tension lever is stiffer to engage than on the other saws, although it held with no problems. Like the G0457, the rip fence will not work to the right of the blade. 800-523-4777; grizzly.com
Pluses: We could change blades quickest on this saw with its easy-to-set ball-bearing blade guides, and yellow tires on the wheels that make it easier to see the blade through the plastic window when adjusting tracking. The rack-and-pinion guide post makes it easy to adjust the top guides up and down without it crashing to the table. A second set of fence-scale markings helps you position the fence accurately for resawing with the attached pivot. If you cut brass or aluminum, you'll like the two speed settings.
Minuses: You have to buy the $100 fence kit separately, and we'd love that 21⁄2 "-tall fence to be a few inches taller for better support during resawing. The quick-release blade-tension lever is stiffer than most. 800-274-6848; jettools.com
Pluses: For this price you expect a saw to deliver above and beyond competitors costing much less—and that's what you get. The 14SUV has the most power by far, the greatest resaw capacity (14"), the best blade guides, an L-shaped fence you can use in up or down positions, and a magnetic power switch that prevents accidental start-ups. It also features a table with a rack-and-pinion gear and gas strut for smooth, easy tilting; two 4" dust ports for the best dust collection; a foot brake with power disconnect to quickly stop the blade; and a built-in mobile base. Plus, it comes with a 3⁄4 " carbide-tipped resawing blade--a $160 value.
Minuses: The table measures 351⁄2 " from the floor, about 5" too low for our 6'-tall tester. It's the noisiest of the lot--10 decibels more than the quietest. There's no lower cabinet for storage of accessories. 800-332-4094; lagunatools.com
Pluses: Although all the tested saws come with blade-tension quick-release handles, only this saw's orange handle could be seen from the operator position when untensioned. That helps prevent accidental start-ups with an untensioned blade. This saw comes with a 6" riser-block kit as standard equipment, as well as 3⁄8 " and 5⁄8 " blades. The task light mounts and works like that on the Grizzly G0555X. It's nice to have cabinet-mounted hooks for storing the rip fence and miter gauge.
Minuses: Despite a 11⁄2 -hp rated motor, this saw bogged down frequently in our resaw testing, necessitating a slower feed rate. The 1⁄4 " plastic tubing intended to blow dust off the cutline does little good. And the motor sits inside the lower cabinet, negating potential storage space. 800-274-6848; powermatic.com
Pluses: The 10-325 has 13" of resaw capacity and a powerful 110-volt motor. The near-absence of blade deflection makes it a great resaw machine. We like its L-shaped aluminum rip fence that locks solidly on a steel rod, yet slides off quickly. And there's more to like: a rack-and-pinion gear makes for easy table tilting; setscrews on the table trunnion bracket help it easily square the table to the blade; yellow tires enhance blade visibility; and two wheel speeds ease the cutting of nonferrous metals.
Minuses: You'd expect blade changes to be easiest on this saw because the blade slides forward through the table rather than to the side. But the guide bearings move as you tighten their setscrews, making it more difficult to set up accurately, resulting in the test-longest setup times. 877-884-5167; rikontools.com