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Tool Review: Step-up Bandsaws

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Step-up Bandsaws

 

If you need more power or resaw capacity than your 14" bandsaw can provide, it's time to take your woodworking to the next level.

When we ask readers to name the most important quality of a bandsaw, "resawing capacity" ranks at or near the top of their wish list every time. You can add a riser block to many 14" bandsaws to stretch that typical 6" spec to 12", but you can't jack up the motor muscle needed for those hefty cuts in hardwoods. So we set out to find a group of bandsaws that offer improved resawing capacity and power without breaking the bank.

Six bandsaws met our selection criteria: the Bridgewood BW-17WBS, Grizzly G0513 and G0514, Jet JWBS-16, Rikon 10-340, and Shop Fox W1707. Each sports at least 10" of resaw capacity, can rip stock 16" or wider, and sells for less than $1,100. Stepping up to this class of bandsaw not only increases performance, it also adds a number of meaningful features, shown below, that make it worth the leap.


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    • Introduction      Chart
     Tool and Tool Buying Forum
 
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7 reasons for stepping up from a 14" bandsaw

1. Tension gauge. No more hard-to-read, back-of-the-saw indicators: View the blade tension easily through a window in the upper wheel cover. (Note: Jet's window is on the back.)
2. Welded steel construction. This design is said to be more rigid than cast-iron saws; we like that little assembly is required before putting the saw to work.
3. Cutting power. Larger, heavier wheels and more powerful motors help these saws cut through the hardest woods with ease.
4. Blade tracking window. Safely make final adjustments to center the blade on the wheel with the saw under power. This window allows eyeballing it with the wheel covers closed. (Jet lacks this window.)
5. Handwheels. Large handwheels make tension adjustments faster and with less effort than the small knobs on 14" bandsaws. Many of these saws also sport a geared guide post with a thickness scale.
6. Resawing capacity. Unless you add an optional riser block, most 14" bandsaws max out at a 6" resaw; these saws can handle 10-12" stock.
7. Geared table. Tilt the table by turning a knob, lock it, and it stays put better than tables with trunnions only. Plus, gears make even tiny tilt adjustments easier.

Pure power: The true measure of resaw capacity

To compare cutting power, we put these machines to work resawing 10"-wide red oak using identical 1"-wide, 2-tpi Olson AllPro hook-tooth resawing blades. Before cutting, though, we set the blade tension using the flutter test and adjusted the blade guides. Next, we clamped our testing rig--a tall fence with a carrier mounted on precision drawer slides--to the saw table. After several test cuts to position the rig to eliminate blade drift, we started our power test.

First, we used 5 lbs of weight--a comfortable feed force--to pull the oak through the blade, timing an 18"-long cut. All of the saws completed this task without bogging down, although the length of time it took varied. To really challenge these machines, we increased the feed force to a brutal 15 lbs, and repeated the test. Four saws handled this task easily, one bogged slightly, and one couldn't complete the test.

WOOD Magazine Top Tool: Rikon 10-340
WOOD Magazine Top Value: Grizzly G0513

 


 

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