Buying a bandsaw

Charles-H

New User
Charles
I'm still pretty new to the forum so forgive me if I'm posting this in the wrong place. I'm trying to put together a small workshop at my house because I've always wanted to get into woodworking as a hobby that might turn into something more and I'm looking for some advice on buying a bandsaw. At the moment I can only see myself cutting white wood or other softwoods. I'd like to be able to make Adirondack chairs for my family and such with bogging the machine down so I'm not sure how much horsepower it needs to have, if it should have roller bearing guides etc. I just want to get a good, solid one from the start.
 

Roy G

Roy
Senior User
Charles, I would recommend you get something around 14" like an old Delta. I have been impressed by Rikons that I saw at Klingspors but I've never used one-maybe a user will chime in with their comments. You don't need fancy guides to cut wood-just a sharp blade and maybe a half horse motor. You can always upgrade guides and motor after you use you saw and figure out what you mainly want to do with it. I have a 15" General which is excellent, but no longer made.

Roy G
 

frankc4113

Frank C
Corporate Member
I agree with Roy. If you can find an older Delta 14" band saw, possibly the 28-275 it probably will fill your immediate and possibly even future needs. This model was one of the last ones made in the U.S. After that they were made in China and quality went down hill (what else is new?). If you continue on, you can always upgrade to a bigger machine and always have the Delta there for smaller work. I think the 28-275 may have a 3/4 HP motor but not sure of that. If not, motors aren't that expensive to replace and the machine is sturdy enough to last a long time. I suggest that you don't buy a machine smaller than 14" in that they generally will be under powered and also too small to do anything than minimal work.
If perhaps down the road, you decide to sell the Delta, you will always get your money back.
 

Charles-H

New User
Charles
Well I'm trying to limit my budget as best I can. I've got no problem really with buying a used one, it's just kind of difficult finding a decently priced one. What is the real difference between the block guides and the bearing guides anyway? I've got limited space so I'm not going to be getting a table saw so I'm going to need a fence also and I know that kreg makes one that can be used on most bandsaws. Should I look for a saw with two speeds or just one?
 

frankc4113

Frank C
Corporate Member
You can always make your own fence. Look on line and you may see what others have done and if you find one you like just copy it to your own dimensions. I don't see any need for 2 speeds.
The older Delta band saws aren't very difficult to find but still are out there priced anywhere from $125 and up. When you find one on Craigslist or anywhere else, jump on it immediately in that they tend to sell quickly.
 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
I worked for decades using an 11" Shopsmith, then 'upgraded' to a 14" Home Depot display Rigid. Paid $125 and added a $100 Kreg fence and a link belt. Works for me. Most 14" bandsaws use a 93" band, available everywhere from $5 to $50. Old Deltas have riser kits also available everywhere, should you want to slice firewood. If you want to buy used, you have to search. But be careful that the motor is good, the frame is not warped, tension mechanism doesn't bind, bearings are good and the wheels run true. To fix an abused or neglected saw can easily equal a new price.
 

Charles-H

New User
Charles
The biggest problem is that I probably can't spot things besides obvious things that are going to be wrong if I buy a used bandsaw. So maybe buying a new one is just the safest way to go for me. Do you guys have any recommendations as to brands to go with or avoid? And I'm still not sure whether to go with block guides or bearing guides.
 

sawman101

Bruce Swanson
Corporate Member
Many years ago my Dad gave me his old Delta 14" BS. I used it occasionally in those days as my woodworking was running my old saw mill, and building shops, sheds, barns, and garages, mostly for my own homestead. I sold that saw, but got to missing it so much, I bought a 14" Delta clone named Buffalo, made in Taiwan. There was virtually no difference between the 2 saws. I used the Buffalo up to around 2007 when I bought all my brother's woodworking equipment and inventory. With that purchase came a Jet 14" BS, also a Delta clone. I outfitted that saw with the riser block kit, Kreg fence, and Carter guides, and Carter quick release tension kit. If I didn't already own that saw, I would be money ahead to buy a Rikon BS that has all the goodies already built in, and has a welded frame making a solid saw with less weight. Good luck with your choice, whatever you buy, I'm sure you will enjoy it!
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
I wouldn’t discount used machines because potentially imperceptible problems. They are not horribly complex machines to begin with. Test the machine you’re looking at first and if the seller doesn’t allow testing move on.

I picked up a used Delta about 2 years ago that is the same vintage as me. I had to replace the tires and blade—the rest of it was removing rust and waxing/lubricating various bits.

Whike this was technically my second band saw I used my first, a cheaper plastic craftsman freebie, twice and was less than thrilled.

I used the Snodgrass method to setup the band saw and still use the original fence. There a lot of talented woodworkers and teachers in this site from whom I have also gleaned additional tips.
 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
You can add block or bearing after you get your saw, unless it's some real off brand. I've used lignum vitae wood blocks for decades.
Look at Carter for more options. If you have access to a Klingspor store, talk with them to expand your knowledge or ask if a member near you can help. There are members in Charlotte area that may be willing to show you their bandsaws and share some insights. Just open a thread and ask!
 

smallboat

smallboat
Corporate Member
I picked up a used Delta about 10 years ago. It was $175 and "had a bad motor". Drove to Raleigh in a snowstorm to get it and brought it home. Took out the motor, opened it up, blew it out with compressed air and put it all back together. Been running ever since. I did have a problem with the tension quick release about two years ago, but that was a quick fix. Still going strong. Like Joe I put a Kreg fence on it when I got it. Still using the block guides.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Hey, Charles. Since you are local - check out Leveane Machinery in Charlotte. Home page

I bought a new Shop Fox band saw from them a few years ago but they also carry used/reconditioned woodworking tools in the back - you just have to ask when you visit.
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
I picked up a used Delta about 10 years ago. It was $175 and "had a bad motor". Drove to Raleigh in a snowstorm to get it and brought it home. Took out the motor, opened it up, blew it out with compressed air and put it all back together. Been running ever since. I did have a problem with the tension quick release about two years ago, but that was a quick fix. Still going strong. Like Joe I put a Kreg fence on it when I got it. Still using the block guides.
Cannuk got a Delta 14" with "Bad Brushes" for around $100. Took it home, and pushed the little red button, and "bad brushes" disappeared. Monday, call Louis Ittura (Ittura Designs) and get a copy of his catalogue. Be sure and send him a donation after you receive catalogue. It's worth more than you will donate just for the info contained within.
 

Canuck

Wayne
Corporate Member
Cannuk got a Delta 14" with "Bad Brushes" for around $100. Took it home, and pushed the little red button, and "bad brushes" disappeared. Monday, call Louis Ittura (Ittura Designs) and get a copy of his catalogue. Be sure and send him a donation after you receive catalogue. It's worth more than you will donate just for the info contained within.
Still running strong too, Bruce!

Wayne
 

Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
Just my opinion(s)
  • Good value proposition(s): Used Delta 28-280, General 490, similar Powermatic
  • Excellent but expensive machines: Current generation Laguna and higher-end Rikons
  • Very nice machines: Larger Grizzly machines (European style / Laguna clones).
I would avoid:
  • Anything with three wheels.
  • Anything labeled Craftsman (with apologies to the Craftsman faithful)
  • Bandsaws can be fussy enough without inviting trouble, so I would shy away from low-level Delta clones, e.g. Harbor Freight.
  • Any bandsaw (other than Inca) described as “benchtop”.
 

PeteStaehling

Pete
Senior User
If you are on a budget a used 14" Delta is hard to beat IMO. Keep a sharp blade on it and it will cut fine for what it sounds like you want to do even without much HP. BTW, I don't see all that much reason to worry about upgrading to ball bearing guides especially if on a budget. Blocks work fine.

You won't have a lot invested and even if you want to upgrade to a bigger or heavier duty saw later it will be easy to sell and get your money back out of it. That said most folks will be more than happy with the 14" Delta for the kind of use you describe and will never need to upgrade. Mine is most likely my forever saw unless I get into some other kind of work in the future.
 

PeteStaehling

Pete
Senior User
+++ on all the sharp blade advice!! Moreover, opting for quality blades is highly recommended.
I have mixed feelings on how much to spend on "quality" when buying band saw blades. I have not been completely convinced that once you get to a decent blade that spending more is always a better value. I don't buy junk, but sometimes I think buying a moderately priced blade in a decent brand and changing a little more often has worked out better for me. I have gone back and forth on this though.

For sure I have had some expensive ones that have been a pretty disappointing value compared to fairly low priced Olson ones when they started out great, but didn't last well.
 

Charles-H

New User
Charles
I can't thank you all enough for the responses to this.

I agree with the importance of a sharp blade though, it's on the front line so to speak.

I'm anxiety prone and although I'm sure the block guides would be fine I'd still rather go with the bearing guides.

I was thinking about going with the porter cable bandsaw from lowes purely on the protection plan that I can get with them but it adds an extra 129$ to the bill and I'm not sure its necessary, worth it or how comfortable I feel with even getting a bandsaw made by porter cable for 550$. But grizzly is going a sale right now on their stuff and the 555 and 555lx are on sale for 562$ and come with roller guides, fence and miter gauge, none of which come with the porter cable. What do you guys think about the grizzly?

Because I've never owned a bandsaw before, I'm worried about what to do or if the wheels get out of alignment or anything else and I need someones help to fix it.
 

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