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Thread: Bandsaw Upgrade Advice?

  1. #1

    Question Bandsaw Upgrade Advice?

    Is a 17"~18" bandsaw really useful/necessary if you primarily use it for bowl blanks and the occasional log or can you get away with a 14" model and why?

    I ask because I'm tempted to just spring for a larger machine than 14" but really want to know if I would get by long term with a 14" bandsaw.

    I've been looking at the Grizzly G0513X2BF (17", 2hp, w/brake, $2K) which is available and in stock as a plan B to the Laguna 14bx ($1700) or 18bx ($2600) which are backordered until October '21! The Harvey 14" Ambassador runs about $1700 also. The Grizzly seems like a good value for the capacity. I definitely want a saw w/ a foot brake.

    There are other machines I'd consider. I'd like to keep my budget at $2,500 or less. $1,500 would be even better but I would rather cry once, as they say, if it makes enough sense to do so.

    My lathe has a 24" swing (and larger if I buy the extension at some point). I can source wood locally and partially prep for turning with my chainsaw, but, the 10" bandsaw I'm dealing with now just isn't hacking it. I stall it, it takes forever, and is small despite not a benchtop model. I need an upgrade. I have 220v power available.

    I like the Laguna in part because of what I've read/seen about the ceramic guides working well for green wood vs bearings.

    I'd like enough power and capacity within my budget to be able to mill turning stock and use for resawing to make small boxes, as well, but at least 80% of the saw's use will be making bowl and other turning blanks out of green wood and a small percentage of resin or hybrid blanks.

    I'm open to recommendations and feedback, thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Cambridge Vermont
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    1,603
    I started off with a 14" Harbor Freight bandsaw that I put a riser block on when I first got into turning. It worked but it was clearly not ideal. A coworker has a 14" Jet cast iron BS that I've used and it works better than the HF so I had thought about getting something like it. But the more I looked around the more I realized that there's not really much downside to going bigger, at least until you cross the 20" mark with a BS. Prices have gone up quite a bit so I don't know how that would impact my choice but I finally settled on either the 19" Grizzly or the Laguna 18bx. I liked the extra resaw height on the Laguna but the trunnions for the table looked to be a weakness. I believe they are made out of aluminum. So I went with the G0514X2 since it has the upgraded cast iron trunnions. If it was just doing woodworking tasks I don't know if it would matter but heavy wet blanks for turning I felt needed the extra strength.

    As for the 514X2, it was only a few hundred more than the 513 version. With a 10% off coupon it's hundreds less than what you've listed the 5132BF costs. I mention it because the price difference now could be much more and that would impact my decision. When I got the BS it vibrated on the slow speed and vibrated like crazy on the higher speed. I quickly figured out it was the urethane tires. To be fair to Grizzly I didn't ask for replacements so maybe a new set would have fixed it. Instead I got a set of Blue Max ones and now I can balance a nickle on edge, start it up, let it run, and shut it off. I probably could do it with a dime but it wanted to roll off the table. Now that I have the larger saw I have resawn boards over 10" with it. It'll easily tension a 1" blade (I got a bimetal one because I didn't want to invest in carbide tooth blade until I knew the saw was a keeper) for resawing. For bowl blanks I use a 1/2" bimetal blade that's lasted a lot longer than the wood turners blade I had on the old HF. The 1/2" blade is a little wide even with the set for making tight cuts, about 6" or so.

    I don't think Grzzly sells the 514 with a foot brake anymore. That's too bad. I'm sure the electronic brake is fine but I like being able to step on the foot pad to stop it. Often the bowl blanks are pretty heavy so it's nice to keep both hands on the blank and still be able to shut off the saw.

    As for slicing up blanks. The 3hp motor cuts right through the blank like butter. Before if I pushed too hard the belt would slip or the blade would start to twist and not cut correctly. That's no longer the case now. It's actually a joy to do now.
    Last edited by Alex Zeller; 06-12-2021 at 7:36 AM.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Zeller View Post
    I started off with a 14" Harbor Freight bandsaw that I put a riser block on when I first got into turning. It worked but it was clearly not ideal. A coworker has a 14" Jet cast iron BS that I've used and it works better than the HF so I had thought about getting something like it. But the more I looked around the more I realized that there's not really much downside to going bigger, at least until you cross the 20" mark with a BS. Prices have gone up quite a bit so I don't know how that would impact my choice but I finally settled on either the 19" Grizzly or the Laguna 18bx. I liked the extra resaw height on the Laguna but the trunnions for the table looked to be a weakness. I believe they are made out of aluminum. So I went with the G0514X2 since it has the upgraded cast iron trunnions. If it was just doing woodworking tasks I don't know if it would matter but heavy wet blanks for turning I felt needed the extra strength.

    As for the 514X2, it was only a few hundred more than the 513 version. With a 10% off coupon it's hundreds less than what you've listed the 5132BF costs. I mention it because the price difference now could be much more and that would impact my decision. When I got the BS it vibrated on the slow speed and vibrated like crazy on the higher speed. I quickly figured out it was the urethane tires. To be fair to Grizzly I didn't ask for replacements so maybe a new set would have fixed it. Instead I got a set of Blue Max ones and now I can balance a nickle on edge, start it up, let it run, and shut it off. I probably could do it with a dime but it wanted to roll off the table. Now that I have the larger saw I have resawn boards over 10" with it. It'll easily tension a 1" blade (I got a bimetal one because I didn't want to invest in carbide tooth blade until I knew the saw was a keeper) for resawing. For bowl blanks I use a 1/2" bimetal blade that's lasted a lot longer than the wood turners blade I had on the old HF. The 1/2" blade is a little wide even with the set for making tight cuts, about 6" or so.

    I don't think Grzzly sells the 514 with a foot brake anymore. That's too bad. I'm sure the electronic brake is fine but I like being able to step on the foot pad to stop it. Often the bowl blanks are pretty heavy so it's nice to keep both hands on the blank and still be able to shut off the saw.

    As for slicing up blanks. The 3hp motor cuts right through the blank like butter. Before if I pushed too hard the belt would slip or the blade would start to twist and not cut correctly. That's no longer the case now. It's actually a joy to do now.
    Thanks for the feedback. And ideas on how to get a 10% coupon?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Cambridge Vermont
    Posts
    1,603
    I've heard they only have 5% off coupons now and they probably don't work on sale items. The last couple I got (10% off ones) I got a popup while looking at tools on their site. It said "sign up and get a 10% off coupon" so I did. Before that they use to come on the back of their catalog. If they still have the catalog I would get it as it's fun to go through and look at all the tools.

  5. #5
    the wheel diameter is somewhat irrelevant to you if your intended use is to round turning blanks as you can always round the blank outboard of the blade. This may require extending the table with a table extension or fixing a piece of sheet good to the top of the table to create an extended table.

    The rest of the capacity issue is what thickness of blank might you turn? The relevant capacity of the bandsaw for that is the resaw capacity of the bandsaw. This is what the larger capacity bandsaws will really yield to you.

    As to sawing logs, or any circular item on the bandsaw, realize that this will require making a sled to limit the ability of the item to rotate when presented to the blade. A primary safety concern!

    Mike

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    7,466
    Cutting thick blanks and logs requires HP. My general rule of thumb is 4" / HP. So if you have 12" of resaw height, for example, you need at least 3 HP to be efficient - efficient means not having to measure speed with a calendar. I got by for many years with a 14" Delta with riser block and 1.5 HP, but after I got a 17" Grizzly with a 5 HP motor I was a happy woodworker, to be sure.

    Larger saws generally have larger tables and more robust trunnions. Both would be important if you want to saw logs on one. Also, if you have any desire to use a carbide blade you should strongly consider a saw with 16" or larger wheels to improve blade life.

    John

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
    Posts
    6,077
    Location? Do you have. a local source of blanks that size or do they have to be shipped in or glued up.
    Not much to go wrong on a BS so I would look at used. remove the table before moving it or the trunnions will get broken.
    Bill D

  8. #8
    I'm looking at the Grizzly 17" w/ cast iron trunions & brake, 2HP, the Harvey C14 3HP 14", Laguna 14bx or 18bx, and possibly some others (Rikon mainly).

    I'm glad to get confirmation about what is really important for what I do and that's mainly green bowl blanks sourced locally and hollow form & other turning blanks. A sled &/or circle cutting jig to extend the table and cut to the right of the blade is definitely a plan. If I can get by w/ a 14" I probably would just to save money but the Grizzly G0513X2 is 17" in the same price range. Both the Laguna and Harvey saws have 3HP and perhaps that is more important. I won't likely be doing resawing of wide boards though I will do some resawing for box making.

    If I can get a 18bx before OCTOBER, maybe I'll bite the bullet and have capacity and 3HP both. Tbh, if I could get a 14" good enough for $1K less it would allow me to work toward a hollowing system 🤔😀

  9. #9
    You haven't mentioned whether space is a limitation. One option is to look at old iron bandsaws. Most likely 3 phase. May require some work, but you can most likely get a much larger and better saw for less money.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike King View Post
    You haven't mentioned whether space is a limitation. One option is to look at old iron bandsaws. Most likely 3 phase. May require some work, but you can most likely get a much larger and better saw for less money.
    Space is not really a limiting factor, I use a 2 car garage in full and have room for a 14~18" bandsaw

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Alberta
    Posts
    1,843
    Allen I think you are on the right track as to the size of saw you are considering. I have said this before , I consider a 17''-19'' wheel size bandsaw the sweet spot if one is going to only own one bandsaw. I have a Centauro CO600 as well as a Delta 14'' saw for curves and smaller stuff. At one point I owned a Steel City 18'' machine that was sold when I found the Centauro. I loved that Steel City it would still be in my shop if I only had room for one.

  12. #12
    I've had 14", 20" Agazzani and now a 21"/5hp Grizzly. But, I also have a 14". The 14" is perfect for most cutting tasks, like cutting curves, notching lumber, etc. I would not want to try a 1/4" blade on a 21" saw. But you'll need one like that to cut tight radius cuts. I used the 21" last week with a 1" blade to resaw an 8/4 Walnut slab (10" tall) into two chartruterie boards. You'll want a bigger motor for green lumber or resawing, which was why I got a 5hp on the 21". If I were only going to get one, the heavy duty 19" Grizzly with the motor brake or the Laguna 18" would be my choice. My 21" has the motor brake and it stops the blade in about 3 seconds. The 3hp motor would be nice for heavy cuts.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Mattsen View Post
    Space is not really a limiting factor, I use a 2 car garage in full and have room for a 14~18" bandsaw
    Look at the machinery auctions then. A fair number of Northfield, Tannewitz, and Oliver big bandsaws for around or less than 1k. Most more than 30”. You will most likely need a vfd or 3 phase power.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike King View Post
    Look at the machinery auctions then. A fair number of Northfield, Tannewitz, and Oliver big bandsaws for around or less than 1k. Most more than 30”. You will most likely need a vfd or 3 phase power.
    Auctions are a viable option and I regularly monitor them, especially in my area. I rarely see them in my area, however (Portland/Vancouver). Larger used machines make me a little nervous, as I'm fairly inexperienced and can't risk a large purchase not working out, and 3 phase power isn't really an option in my home garage but I do have 220v. A VFD could solve that issue, maybe? Probably more trouble than it's worth for me. I have found some used machines in the 14" range but want to significantly upgrade what I have now, even if means being patient.

  15. #15
    I've gotten a number of "no-go's" regarding the ceramic guides on Laguna bandsaws, esp for woodturning purposes. Anyone have an opinion on their guides vs ball bearing guides that come stock on most new bandsaws?

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