Buying a bandsaw

PeteStaehling

Pete
Senior User
Just a bit of clarification/waffling on my porter cable comment... I said I wasn't a fan. Just to be clear I don't own any porter cable products and my negative impression is based on seeing some junky looking machines in Lowes. To be fair I have seen some of my buddies porter cable routers, pocket hole jigs, and other stuff that looked like high quality stuff.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
my negative impression is based on seeing some junky looking machines in Lowes.
That comment is tactfully generous about the Porter Cable branded machines to be found there.

The Porter Cable name has been owned by several different businesses over the decades. A good reputation from past performance is no guarantee of current quality, particularly with items not associated with products that helped give that name a good reputation in the first place.

About the only way these days to get a good quality machine is to get an old USA-made one and fix it up or spend wheel barrow loads of cash to get European imports.
 

Pop Golden

Pop
Corporate Member
I started with a Shopsmith which I still have. More on that later. Then I really lucked up. Bought a made in US Delta. It came with mobile base, riser, fence, miter gauge, Carter guides for $600. I added a Carter tension release & wheel brush it's a really great saw. Built like a tank. Now, about the Shopsmith. I've been using Shopsmith since the early 60s. When I retired I got a brand new 520 machine & one of everything & two of somethings. Over the years I got rid of many SS things. I kept 3 of their best add on tools. The bandsaw, strip sander & 6 X 48 belt sander. Those machines are mounted on individual stands with their own motors. I have now fitted it out the bnandsaw with a Carter Stabilizer with 1/8 in. blade. This conversion sorta makes it into the worlds fastes scroll saw. The SS saw is a very good saw, but not like any other saw on the market.

I get my blades from Farris Belt & Saw. They are about 6 blocks from my shop & their blades are custom made with a good price. As I said I only run a 1/8 in. blade on the SS. For the Delta I keep 1/8, 1/4, & 1/2 inch blades.

When I started this espousal I didn't mean to carry on this long. Sorry!

Pop :D
 

Pop Golden

Pop
Corporate Member
Another thought, I worked for lowes for several months in the tool dept. That P-C saw is something NOT to buy.

I'm also in Charlotte. If you would like to come to my shop to see my machines give me a call.

Pop
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
I do have a Porter Cable bandsaw from Lowes. Had it for over 8 years. I put a Jet riser block on it. I've had no problems with it after installing Carter upgrades and new poly tires. I haven't done much resawing with it, but what I have done was fine. The key there is to have a good resaw blade.

Is it as good as more expensive band saws? What is in this world? Disclaimer - I'm a hobbiest and don't place the demands on my equipment that others may.
 
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PeteStaehling

Pete
Senior User
If you don't buy the used saw you were looking at, I'd consider taking advantage of the 15% off jet sale good until the 30th. You can find the Jet JWBS-14CS 14" Bandsaw at a lot of places for $679 plus $95 or so shipping. A pretty good deal... Check out the links below or google "Jet 15% off sale" for some other sources. I have used Woodcraft and shipping has been pretty quick and via a freight company truck with a lift gate. They have a pallet jack and have been willing to wheel machines up my concrete drive and into the shop, but I have alway had them drop them just outside so I could unpack/assemble stuff where there is a little more room. I think they are drop shipped from the manufacturer so I am guessing that shipping method is most likely the same regardless of who you order from.
 
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old-delta

Wes
Senior User
Reading the replies on here I'm going to agree with buying an old delta or a Rikon. The issue with the big box BS's is they're pretty much disposable and cost more in the long run. They'er all made in China with inferior metals. Older Delta saws were built very well. That's why they're still around and STILL in high demand. 14" is a perfect size actually. The guides are mostly a personal preference although the bearing type is better to me. The Carter Bearing is a great guide setup. Always remember, adjust guides so the blade teeth never drift between the bearings.


1587235008029.png
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
Has anyone besides me actually owned the Porter-Cable model being bad-mouthed? Or is everyone just repeating the usual anti-big-box mantras?

I'm not saying that there aren't some bad reviews out there for this bandsaw. I just read a bunch of reviews that spanned about 9 years. The biggest problems concerned things like missing parts, not having features some other (generally more expensive) bandsaws have, unmet assumptions about features that are included, a few damaged in the box, some notable motor failures, etc. There were a lot more postitive than negative reviews and an overall rating of 4.1 at the big box I was looking on.

You can find a lot of those complaints reading reviews for other saws as well. I don't know about the actual defect percentages on this or any other saws but I do know that it's always a gamble getting a heavy power tool shipped unassembled to your shop. Shipping it back or getting it serviced will always be a major hassle regardless of brand. Even those expensive green tools have been known to have their problems.

Maybe I just got lucky but my PC bandsaw arrived with all its parts and there have been no failures of any kind. Was the original blade junk. Why yes it was. As it seems most original blades are on all but the most expensive tools. If you spent what I spent on this saw then you can afford to research better blades and buy a good one for your purposes. I researched bandsaw add-ons and upgraded the tires, blade, guides, fence and even the insert where the blade passes though the table and added a Jet riser block. The fact that the Jet riser block fit with only minor alterations to a couple of bolt holes says something to me about where both brands are manufactured. All that meant to me was that I could install the accessories I wanted and still not spend as much as on other bandsaws. You might find that you add some of those same parts to a more expensive saw too.

I'm still not actually suggesting that anyone buy this saw over any other saws. What I'm saying is it's a relatively inexpensive saw and a good starting point for anyone who enjoys fettling and getting a tool set up exactly how they want it. But, if you don't enjoy fettling (modifying, changing out parts, polishing, etc.) or simply don't know how and want a tool to be all you want it to be out of the box then you need to be ready to spend a lot more money. To me it's more of a choice and not a quality issue as such. I've been satisfied with mine. And because I did the modifications I pretty much know where every nut, bolt and part is on the bandsaw and can repair pretty much anything that goes wrong, if that ever happens.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
About any band saw to a new user will require some fooling around to get it right. Even when blades are changed, there are settings that have to be re-done.
The charm of the old USA-made Delta saws is that they are so easy to adjust, particularly the lower guides. As far as heavy duty goes, the Delta 14 is not built for that. The top wheel shaft is housed in pot metal. So are the so-called clones. Putting big, thick blades on a Delta 14 puts a lot of stress on the upper wheel assembly that it is not made for.

Here's some photos showing some aspects of the saws that don't seem to show up on other sites. Look at the photos and judge for yourself. Even photos won't show the actual differences one observes when looking at the saws and their components side by side.

Low priced band saws may have great utility to the user, but that doesn't mean that they are as well made as some other saws.

1 BS comparison - 1.jpg


On the left is an upper wheel carriage from a Powermatic 141 14" band saw. All steel and cast iron. On the right is the cast aluminum upper carriage for a Delta band saw. There's a radical difference here in quality. Granted, the Powermatic 141 saws are hard to find and very sought after.

1 BS comparison - 2.jpg

Delta's aluminum upper carriage, close-up

1 BS comparison - 3.jpg


Delta's aluminum upper carriage, close-up inside. There's just not a lot of meat in there.

1 BS comparison - 4.jpg


Underside of a Taiwan/Chinese saw. A Jet in this case. Just not much there.

1 BS comparison - 5.jpg


Lower guide and trunnion bracket of an Asian made saw. Beyond is a cast iron trunnion bracket from an older USA-made Delta saw. This specimen is pretty ratty looking because it is all that I had at hand when I took the photos. The Asian saw has an aluminum trunnion bracket. The Delta guides have adjusters right out front that are easy to get to.

1 BS comparison - 6.jpg


Another comparison shot. Calling the Asian made saws "Delta Clones" is observably not so correct. They may look like a Delta from 40 feet, but that's where the similarity ends.

1 BS comparison - 7.jpg


Lower part of a Delta, this time cleaned up.

1 BS comparison - 8.jpg


another shot of the lower part of a Delta saw.
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
About any band saw to a new user will require some fooling around to get it right. Even when blades are changed, there are settings that have to be re-done.
The charm of the old USA-made Delta saws is that they are so easy to adjust, particularly the lower guides. As far as heavy duty goes, the Delta 14 is not built for that. The top wheel shaft is housed in pot metal. So are the so-called clones. Putting big, thick blades on a Delta 14 puts a lot of stress on the upper wheel assembly that it is not made for.

Here's some photos showing some aspects of the saws that don't seem to show up on other sites. Look at the photos and judge for yourself. Even photos won't show the actual differences one observes when looking at the saws and their components side by side.

Low priced band saws may have great utility to the user, but that doesn't mean that they are as well made as some other saws.
Bob, thanks for the comparison photos. All good points in your post.

I certainly wouldn't consider a 14" saw for heavy duty work and not for any work where I was using it to earn my living. In fact, I've considered removing that riser block from my PC 14". It seemed like a good idea at the time but in reality I've never even tried to resaw a board wider than 6" with it. I still have all the original parts. That said it hasn't been an issue for the light stuff I do use the saw for.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I agree that a 14" band saw isn't for heavy work, but it is about the perfect all around size for a home work shop or a secondary saw in a cabinet shop. It can be a great make-do substitute for a larger saw for the very short term or occasional use.

Lots of years back I got to know Chuck Olson of Olson saw. I asked him what he thought was the best all-around blade for the Delta 14" saw. Without a second of hesitation he said, "A 1/4" 6 tooth skip". I followed that advice and my experiences with it over the years proved him correct.

There were some pretty good Sears 12" saws from years back, but by now those saws will likely need tires and bearings because they will be about 40 years old. I did a lot of work with my first Sears 12" band saw, but getting a Delta 14 was a game changer. There was still a part of me, even to this day, that I missed the smoothness and tighter curves I could get with that old Sears saw. Naturally it used a .020" thick blade so that helped. Problem was that those thin blades didn't stay sharp for long.

I guess bottom line is get a saw and get experience. Nobody started out knowing it all.
 

mgreene93

Mark
Corporate Member
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?
Once this pandemic is over, and things settle down, you might want to check out the Charlotte Woodworking Association.
 

old-delta

Wes
Senior User
Has anyone besides me actually owned the Porter-Cable model being bad-mouthed? Or is everyone just repeating the usual anti-big-box mantras?

I'm not saying that there aren't some bad reviews out there for this bandsaw. I just read a bunch of reviews that spanned about 9 years. The biggest problems concerned things like missing parts, not having features some other (generally more expensive) bandsaws have, unmet assumptions about features that are included, a few damaged in the box, some notable motor failures, etc. There were a lot more postitive than negative reviews and an overall rating of 4.1 at the big box I was looking on.

You can find a lot of those complaints reading reviews for other saws as well. I don't know about the actual defect percentages on this or any other saws but I do know that it's always a gamble getting a heavy power tool shipped unassembled to your shop. Shipping it back or getting it serviced will always be a major hassle regardless of brand. Even those expensive green tools have been known to have their problems.

Maybe I just got lucky but my PC bandsaw arrived with all its parts and there have been no failures of any kind. Was the original blade junk. Why yes it was. As it seems most original blades are on all but the most expensive tools. If you spent what I spent on this saw then you can afford to research better blades and buy a good one for your purposes. I researched bandsaw add-ons and upgraded the tires, blade, guides, fence and even the insert where the blade passes though the table and added a Jet riser block. The fact that the Jet riser block fit with only minor alterations to a couple of bolt holes says something to me about where both brands are manufactured. All that meant to me was that I could install the accessories I wanted and still not spend as much as on other bandsaws. You might find that you add some of those same parts to a more expensive saw too.

I'm still not actually suggesting that anyone buy this saw over any other saws. What I'm saying is it's a relatively inexpensive saw and a good starting point for anyone who enjoys fettling and getting a tool set up exactly how they want it. But, if you don't enjoy fettling (modifying, changing out parts, polishing, etc.) or simply don't know how and want a tool to be all you want it to be out of the box then you need to be ready to spend a lot more money. To me it's more of a choice and not a quality issue as such. I've been satisfied with mine. And because I did the modifications I pretty much know where every nut, bolt and part is on the bandsaw and can repair pretty much anything that goes wrong, if that ever happens.
Reviews are these days more opinion than actual quality or defects in the product. I have in fact owned a PC saw 5 years ago. I sold a Rikon to downsize to a 14" PC. If you're a novice woodworker these saws are ok. If you want a saw that'll do what you want it to do This is not the saw. It's cheap made plain and simple. cast aluminum (flimsy) table, inferior trunion for sure. It would not hold a setting. set screws would strip at the least tension. Like I said, if you're a novice and don't use a saw that often and you're doing ( LIGHT ) cutting these PC's are okay. I purchased mine brand new in 2015. It was impossible to sell so I junked it. AKA disposable machine made in China. I now have a 1961 circa Delta 14" Iv'e had ever since. All original cast iron made in USA old school. For the money they just cannot be beat AND you can still find parts.
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
Reviews are these days more opinion than actual quality or defects in the product. I have in fact owned a PC saw 5 years ago. I sold a Rikon to downsize to a 14" PC. If you're a novice woodworker these saws are ok. If you want a saw that'll do what you want it to do This is not the saw. It's cheap made plain and simple. cast aluminum (flimsy) table, inferior trunion for sure. It would not hold a setting. set screws would strip at the least tension. Like I said, if you're a novice and don't use a saw that often and you're doing ( LIGHT ) cutting these PC's are okay. I purchased mine brand new in 2015. It was impossible to sell so I junked it. AKA disposable machine made in China. I now have a 1961 circa Delta 14" Iv'e had ever since. All original cast iron made in USA old school. For the money they just cannot be beat AND you can still find parts.
I don't think your PC bandsaw was the same model I got from Lowes. The table is definitely cast iron on mine, proven with a magnet. It doesn't use set screws to adjust the table either. The lower part looks more like the last picture above, knobs and all.

Haven't looked at whatever they have in the stores today, so I can't say one way or the other if they are more like mine or your tossed one.

Edit: I did just look at the Lowe's web site and it says that the table on the current saw is cast iron. Just like mine. If you had an aluminum table your saw wasn't this model.
 
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Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
Wow! This thread really got a lot of juices flowing! Interesting and fun to follow.
In any case and if it matters to Charles H (or anyone else for that matter), Grizzly's business must be suffering from Covid-19. Not surprising I suppose. They've slashed shipping on all machinery to just $25 through April. As freight costs on their machines can be considerable, a $25 flat fee might be attractive to anyone with a Grizzly offering on their short list.
 

Pop Golden

Pop
Corporate Member
I worked at Lowes in the tool dept. I also worked for Klingspore. Tools are something I keep up with. Make, quality price etc. Since I'm on the floor I had time to look this saw over. This is not a good saw! The advice Wes gave is a good overview of this saw. I pointed out the problems of our display model (no upper tire, loose trunion fittings, lousy blade guide system the list goes on) I figured no one in their right mine would buy after looking at the display. I never even had any questions much less sales on this saw. Management didn't seem to care. That's the way at Big Blue. I don't know about Big Orange, but they don't seem to want to sell large stand alone tools.

PS. If Ed's info about Grizzly's shipping is true, Grizzly looks like the place to go.

Pop
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
I worked at Lowes in the tool dept. I also worked for Klingspore. Tools are something I keep up with. Make, quality price etc. Since I'm on the floor I had time to look this saw over. This is not a good saw! The advice Wes gave is a good overview of this saw. I pointed out the problems of our display model (no upper tire, loose trunion fittings, lousy blade guide system the list goes on) I figured no one in their right mine would buy after looking at the display. I never even had any questions much less sales on this saw. Management didn't seem to care. That's the way at Big Blue. I don't know about Big Orange, but they don't seem to want to sell large stand alone tools.

PS. If Ed's info about Grizzly's shipping is true, Grizzly looks like the place to go.

Pop
Seems to me you are describing a really poor assembly job on that floor model saw as much as anything else. Did it have an aluminum table too?
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I think we've scared the heck out of Charles-H.
He probably went out and bought a coping saw or saber saw.

Despite its utility to the user, a three dollar hammer will always be a three dollar hammer.
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
Despite its utility to the user, a three dollar hammer will always be a three dollar hammer.
Just a lively discussion. Keep in mind I haven't actually recommended that bandsaw. In fact I've repeated that a few times. I'm only responding to the idea that everything Porter Cable makes is junk. That's a wide brush to tar a brand with. PC routers seem to be pretty well repected given the number of lifts that are made for it. I personally don't have one as I bought into Bosch for routers.

And I agree that a $3 hammer will always be a $3 hammer. The question is, do you need a hammer to drive a few nails a month to hang some pictures or are you going to re-roof someone's house with it for money?

There's also the total cost of ownership which has a lot to do with whether you are a pro who can depreciate your tools or an amateur who cannot. Or whether you are losing money (as a pro) when a tool has to be repaired, maybe a lot if you have to repair it yourself when you need to be using it. Being an amateur woodworker I can't depreciate my tools. Nor am I losing anything but time away from a project if I need to repair a tool. Buying a tool you may have to fettle before it's really usable may be better than spending 3 or 4 (or more) times that price for a true professional tool - if you know how to do that sort of thing.

That's one of the reasons I don't own any of the Green tools. I wouldn't be using them 8-12 hours a day earning a living. Most of my tools would be considered middle of the road. They don't come from Horror Freight. (Well, most of them don't.) Nor are they high end, with the exception of some nice planes and chisels. If one breaks after 10+ years of my usage then I just replace it. Of course, 10+ amateur years is more like 1+ month of pro years.

As far as buying an old Delta (for example) the very thought of that reminds me of when I bought a old 1967 MGB/GT back in the middle 80's. I must have spent the first 2 years I owned it just searching for parts to rebuild it. MG was no longer in business at the time. It also had real wire wheels with knock off hubs. I finally found an 80+ year old man who was one of 2 guys anyone knew about on the east coast who could respoke those wheels. I only had to do without those wheels for 6 months while he rebuilt and trued them. There's a long list of stuff I rebuilt on that car. At one time I knew where every nut, bolt and wire was. When done I got to enjoy the English way of sports car ownership. Drive it 2 hours, work on it 4. Owning a old English sports car has to be done out of love because it certainly isn't practical.

I'm guessing that finding an old Delta is a lot like finding an old MGB. But neither are junk - right? Nothing like nostalgia :)

P.S. - I do have some Estwing hammers. And some $3 hammers as well. Each does equally the same when I hang a picture.
 

Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
And as it happens:
A classic Delta 14" cast iron frame clone that appears to be in very good shape. The price seems right for what the pictures can say. I've seen them priced lower, generally in more questionable condition. I've seen them priced higher by optimistic sellers.
Carry on.
 

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