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Thread: What bandsaw is best for a wood turner?

  1. #1
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    What bandsaw is best for a wood turner?

    Ok. I know I know. There are tons of band saw threads here on the creek in other forums. But they are all so focused on things that just don't matter to me. Things like how clean is the resawn surface after cutting? I get why that would be important. Being able to cut larger things down into smaller thinner boards I suppose for furniture making, cabinents etc... is a great capability to have.

    But I don't do that kind of thing. I am just a wood turner. So what I want to do now and for the foreseeable future is to prep wood for turning. Lately I have been using logs I got from neighbors this spring to make my blanks. Where I used to buy pre-rounded blanks from that big auction site. I tried turning one that was literally just half a log. It worked but man it took some serious time to get it even remotely rounded/true. An hour to get close enough to get up to speed and then 30 minutes to rough turn the bowl. Would have been seriously faster and more fun to saw it to a rough round shape first.

    However my band saw is a 50+ year old Craftsman band saw. It is a workhorse and a great saw. But it has a cutting depth of about 4". If I get the guard smashed up into the top of the stop I can get about 5". But that is it.

    So these logs I was working on that were 12" or so in diameter were a waste. I just couldn't get a good enough cut just thanks to the nature of the log itself. Oh it helped a bit but I broke the blade trying to get that one little bit closer. That was at once both frustrating and unhelpful.

    I have for some time been thinking about getting a new band saw. I have I fear fallen into the trap of reading too darn much on the internet. Every saw out there gets both good and bad reviews. Those that love it are often short and those that hate the product are long, bitter and detailed.

    For instance the $1800 Jet 18" band saw is a joke for some. You read the reviews and it is beyond useless to them with every problem in the book. For them only a "$5k or greater saw..." actually has any use. Others love the $230 Ridgid band saw, which of course has just about as many haters.

    So if nothing works well, is a good purchase, is always a decent product then what? Follow suit for Mark Normal and build my own out of Concrete? I suppose I could though lacking his skills I expect I would make something even worse that the above mentioned bad reviews.

    So I thought I would ask here. Since most of you are, like me, a turner at heart I thought I would see if any of you actually had a reasonable recommendation for me?

    Now having said that I am just a turner you never know when a repair or simple project will come up. I would like to have at least a fighting chance to get decently straight cuts at some point in the future if needed. But 99% of my time using the saw will be to prep blanks for the lathe.

    So I was leaning towards the Ridgid BS with a riser block just to get to 12" so I could but anything I was likely to turn. Seeing Alan Lacer cut a log in half to make a pair of blanks on his bandsaw in one of his DVDs looked great to me. No need for a chainsaw each time etc... But I have read so many people saying that they can bog down a 14" bandsaw with a riser block constantly trying to do things like that. To get that I thought perhaps a grizzly, the larger HF saw, or even a Rikon 14" deluxe.

    But at some point the saws become more costly that it is worth for my planned use. However buying junk has gotten me into trouble in the past. So I want to spend the right amount for a good tool. How is that for a rambling summary.

    So if anyone has any experience/words of wisdom from a turners perspective I would really like to have it.

    Thanks,
    Joshua

  2. #2
    Joshua,

    I can say from my own experience that it depends on what you are trying to turn. I prefer to turn large items. I use as much wood as I can find and when I am trimming blanks, I need as much clearance as I can get.

    I have the grizzley 513 and I wish I had one more inch because there have been a few times that one more inch would allowed me to cut a few pieces that would not fit on the 17 inch. I think 18 inch clearance would be fine for larger pieces. Also, think about horsepower. I would get at least a 2 HP motor.

    I have not had any issues on my bandsaw that I didn't cause by not getting in a hurry and pushing too hard. The drawback to the Grizzly is that my blades are something like 131.5 inches which I can't buy locally. And I live in Dallas. I just have to order them from timberwolf. No biggie. I wish woodcraft carried that size, though.

    Here's what I have. http://www.grizzly.com/products/17-Bandsaw-2-HP/G0513

    You should take a look at what they have. If I had it to do over, I would buy the 19 inch clearance. Just me. It will depend on what sort of blanks you want to cut and your lathe swing size
    Last edited by Matt Haus; 06-29-2009 at 12:49 PM.

  3. #3

    I have the G0513X

    This saw has been a workhorse for me for both larger and smaller blanks. I got it when it first came out and paid $895 for it which is now what the G0513 lists. don't know what your budget is but this one has worked out great for me.

    Jim

  4. #4
    Josh, I use the Rikon 14" deluxe; while it is advertised as having great resaw capacity, I find the height available to be invaluable for cutting/rounding good sized bowl blanks - that is my main use for it. I have stalled it in green wood a few times, but with a good, sharp blade and the 1.5 hp motor, I've rounded and cut blanks a good 12" in height with little problem; just make sure you have that dust collector hooked to it, and running. Mike
    Last edited by Mike Minto; 06-29-2009 at 2:08 PM.

  5. #5
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    Joshua, what is your budget? How much resaw height do you think you'll want? I've got an MM16. 16" of resaw height, 4.8 hp motor. It's about as bullet proof a tool as I've ever seen. I don't know what the current price is, but I imagine it may be between 2k and 2.5k, so it ain't cheap, but it is a great saw. I bought mine before I started turning. If I had the money and were to buy one now, I'd probably get an MM20 for larger log sections.
    Where did I put that tape measure...

  6. #6
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    I have a Grizzly 14" with riser and 1hp motor. With a sharp blade and common sense, I can cut just about anything I need to. I run into trouble when I do not take the time to get the log ripped smoothly. If the blank to be cut sits nice and flat on the bandsaw table, I can easily round 10" blanks. If the base is uneven and I have to shim the bottom, it is a whole lot more work and safety becomes an issue.


    Phil

  7. #7
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    I have the Harbor Freight 14" fitted with a riser block, and a selection of Timberwolf blades... It has a 1HP motor that has never failed to do what I have asked of it. I know I will get some guff from folks that don't like Harbor Freight, but on the big stuff I have from them, I have yet to be disappointed...

    Having said that, I do have a friend with the Ridgid BS1400, which was the saw I originally considered. After using his saw, I bought my HF. My HF runs smoother, and is MUCH easier to keep in tune than that Ridgid is... But my HF isn't stock either.

    My modification list to the HF is...

    Riser block.
    Timber Wolf Blades.
    Cobra Coil.
    Grizzly tension lever assembly.
    Cool Blocks
    Sears fence & resaw guide.

    I have been very happy with this saw cutting blanks, and resawing. It does what I want.

    After dumping what I have into it, I probably should have just gotten a Grizzly GO555X though... Better saw, not much more money when you consider the $$ I have wrapped up in the HF saw...
    Trying to follow the example of the master...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua Dinerstein View Post
    For instance the $1800 Jet 18" band saw is a joke for some. You read the reviews and it is beyond useless to them with every problem in the book. For them only a "$5k or greater saw..." actually has any use. Others love the $230 Ridgid band saw, which of course has just about as many haters.

    So if nothing works well, is a good purchase, is always a decent product then what? Follow suit for Mark Normal and build my own out of Concrete? I suppose I could though lacking his skills I expect I would make something even worse that the above mentioned bad reviews.

    So I was leaning towards the Ridgid BS with a riser block just to get to 12" so I could but anything I was likely to turn. Seeing Alan Lacer cut a log in half to make a pair of blanks on his bandsaw in one of his DVDs looked great to me. No need for a chainsaw each time etc... But I have read so many people saying that they can bog down a 14" bandsaw with a riser block constantly trying to do things like that. To get that I thought perhaps a grizzly, the larger HF saw, or even a Rikon 14" deluxe.

    Well, I only have experience with the Ridgid, and I'll tell you that. I like the saw, but like any tool, you have to be ready to "tweak" it. If you're primarily going to be cutting green turning blanks, the factory motor might work if you're patient. I'm not always patient, and replaced the motor, and put a riser block in. The 3/4HP motor was nowhere near competent to saw thick blanks--over 8" thick. I initially put on a 1.5HP motor, then switched it out to a 2HP baldor when I found a really good deal on a damaged one that needed a new capacitor. I got the saw for $150 used, then spent about that on the motor, so all in all it wasn't a bad dealIf you're an Ebayer, you should have no trouble finding a motor that is 1725rpm and 5/8" output shaft. That way you can use the same pulley from the factory model without issue.

    The grizzly riser block works fine with a little bit of modification--I think I had to use a little grinding stone to enlarge one of the bolt holes or something like that. It was a couple years ago. The most important thing is that it was about 1/3 the cost of the ridgid part. The blade guard fit without modification.

    The factory guide blocks were a joke--just aluminum blocks. Coolblock graphite impregnated guides are less than $20, and most people replace guide blocks on import taiwan saws anyway. I also replaced the spring--it did NOT tension the blade properly, which is a common complaint among owners of various bandsaw models. The Iturra brand spring was I think about $35-40.

    I also replaced the belt with a link-belt Fenner drive one. This was about the most important vibration dampening upgrade, and was about $25.

    If you're a Fine Woodworking reader, there was an article in their projects section about a "resaw stand" for a 14" bandsaw. With a riser block, the Ridgid is extremely topheavy on the factory stand. When I had it on a mobile base--another 1.5" added height, I knocked it over once because of the formerly wobbly floor in one spot in the shed. (Since fixed & strengthened). The stand makes it much more stable, and serves as a place to store your blades as well.

    Another thing that you may try before replacing the motor if you buy the Ridgid, is to rewire the motor for 220V operation. There is a diagram on the inside of the motor cover for this. It helps the "bogging down" issue dramatically, IMHO, but I was working on a long 100' 12ga. run from the utility box. The 220v power is 8ga. cable from the box.


    I know it seems like a huge PITA to buy a saw and end up having to spend a bunch of time upgrading things on it, but I think you'll be happy in the end with a lot less $$$ input with the Ridgid, but for me it was completely unacceptable in stock form. That said, I like the saw a lot now.

  9. #9
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    My budget isn't what it used to be. New house was way more expensive than the good faith indicated. Almost $500 a month more. So not a simple mistake. But we put $10k down in earnest money so I was not in the mood to walk away.

    So the lower the price for a good machine the better. But spending $500 for a junky one version $800 for a good-great one is false economy. However I can tell you right now that the $1200+ ones from Jet and the others from European companies are beyond my price range.

    There is a used Jet 18", older blue model, for sale here for $800. Carter guides and lots of addons/blades. But it still seems a little high for a saw of that age. That is what got me to thinking about this. I had seen the G0513 on amazon for $770 with free shipping. I was going to go that route but sometime in the last 36 hours they took it off their website. The page I had up no longer goes to a valid page. Now that it is either the bay or griz directly it is more than $100 more than that. At that price the G0513x2 is tempting. Seems like a pretty substantial upgrade.

    But then it is a $1000 and getting something like the Ridgid with a griz riser kit could do what I am looking for. But I wonder if it "will" do it. Spending another $300 tricking out a cheaper bandsaw to find that it isn't going to cut it, hehehe bad pun intended, isn't what I want to do either.

    So that led me to looking at the g0555 model. It is in the middle on price. But needs a riser again and while fairly well respected on here doesn't have the kind of stats of the higher end band-saws. Which is why it would be cheaper.


    Which is what led me to asking here. If the stock ridgid with a riser block will cut down the logs I have and the corners off of my blanks then that would be great. But as written here just a a few posts before my reply, if I have to trick it out and it costs me > $500 then I should have just gone for the better saw in the first place.

    Hehehe, it would be nice not to have to worry about any of this.

    Joshua

  10. #10
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    Joshua, I have the Rikon 14 deluxe, it has 13 inches of height and a 1 1/2 horse motor...it has done everything I have ask of it....it is $799 at woodcraft an Im sure less at other places
    Dave

    IN GOD WE TRUST
    USN Retired

  11. #11
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    Joshua,
    The 14" Jet (enclosed cabinet, 1 hp.) is probably about as good as any in that category, better than most, acceptable value at the time (about $625 a few years ago). It does 95% of what I need very well, only limited by 6" resaw height. I replaced the blade tension knob with a home made bell crank (set the tension initially and then it's 9 turns on or off), and replaced the cheap plastic blade guides with ceramics.

    Would like to have 9" of resaw height, but rather not use a riser block. So I get to make a few chainsaw cuts rather than bandsaw cuts. If you anticipate cutting very much big stuff, suggest a larger saw.

    Where did you see the bad review of the larger Jet?

    Edit: The Rikon 10-325 (the one David has I think) looks good on paper.
    Last edited by Richard Madison; 06-29-2009 at 6:47 PM.
    Richard in Wimberley

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Christopher View Post
    Joshua, I have the Rikon 14 deluxe, it has 13 inches of height and a 1 1/2 horse motor...it has done everything I have ask of it....it is $799 at woodcraft an Im sure less at other places
    The one here in SLC has it for $849. But wants $75 in excess weight shipping charges and then tax makes it almost $1000. Is there a sale going on in your neck of the woods? If so perhaps I can get the local store to match it.

    Joshua

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Madison View Post
    Where did you see the bad review of the larger Jet?
    It was on Amazon. I would post a link to the review but apparently that is frowned upon so I won't. Let me see if I can find the text.

    Well assuming reviews are OK here is the link to the base reviews page:

    http://www.amazon.com/710750-JWBS-18...owViewpoints=1

    Joshua

  14. #14
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    Personally---------why use a bandsaw to trim blanks.
    Blades cost to much----tables don't like the weight and rust from the wet wood-----bark, dirt , and rocks really screw up a blade.
    You can buy a real nice chainsaw for $800.00 and be way ahead.
    ---I may be broke---but we have plenty of wood---

  15. #15
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    Joshua, here it is for 879 shipped

    http://www.builderssquare.com/xp_154...aw_185387.aspx
    Dave

    IN GOD WE TRUST
    USN Retired

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