Tool Test: Bandsaws Athens OH
M-SA 7 am - 9 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm
The Plains, OH
Tool Test: Bandsaws
Tool Test Bandsaws
Same song, second verse. In our last issue, we tested 19 bandsaws that each cost less than $1,000 (AW #110, October 2004). This time, we're looking at the heavyweights in this class: saws that cost from $1,000 to $1,500. What you get is more power, larger capacity, a super-stiff frame and huge wheels that can easily take wide blades. The difference between this group and the last is comparable to the difference between a contractor's and a cabinet saw. Both will get the job done, but under tough circumstances, the bigger machine gives better results and is a lot more satisfying to operate. It can be a precision tool one day, a small lumber mill the next.
You simply can't have too much power in a bandsaw. For cutting wood under 2 in. thick, a 1-hp motor is plenty. But one of the really useful things you can do with a bandsaw is to stand a board on edge and split it into two matched halves for panels or tops. You can also save money by sawing thick wood into thinner pieces for drawer sides and jewelry boxes, for example. Either operation is called resawing, and doing it well requires lots of power. A smooth, consistent feed rate is the key to resawing success. If you slow the blade, it wanders. If you stop it (which is very easy to do on an underpowered machine), you get a nasty bump. On a 1-hp saw, you must proceed very slowly when resawing and pay a lot of attention to how the motor is performing. Resawing is easier on a 1-1/2-hp saw, for boards up to 6-in. wide. Beyond that, you want 2, 2-1/2 or even 3 hp —the more, the better. The kerf of a wide blade can be up to 50 percent thicker than the kerf of a narrow blade. Removing that extra wood requires plenty of muscle.
A bandsaw is a hands-on machine, like a lathe. You can feel right through your fingertips how the machine is performing. If it shakes and vibrates, you naturally tense up and have a hard time holding to a fine line. If your bandsaw runs smoothly, it's heaven. In this price range, we expect a saw to be very solidly built. We can overlook some vibration in an inexpensive saw, but who can accept a rough ride in a Mercedes? We carried out three simple tests that tell a lot about how well a saw is built and performs.