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Thread: Bandsaw Upgrade Advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
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    138

    Bandsaw Upgrade Advice

    I currently have a Grizzly 514x 3hp bandsaw that Im pretty happy with. But in the spirit of continuous improvement, Im always looking for used deals to upgrade my shop. So heres the question: would there be a significant performance improvement if I upgraded to a 20 Powermatic Model 81 bandsaw? There are 2 in my area that look to be in good shape. I typically resaw and cut joinery, and am looking for improved cut quality if possible which might result from higher tensions. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
    Posts
    6,714
    Varibale speed and a blade welder open up lots of possibilities and more to go wrong. I would guess it is double the weight. The powermatic is almost double the depth of the Rockwell behind the blade in the base cabinet.
    Also consider a Grob or Doall saw. I would assume they are more heavy duty then most wood only saws
    Bill D
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 11-21-2021 at 10:34 AM.

  3. #3
    Do you have room for two bandsaws? Personally, I find having two to be a real benefit. My big bandsaw (Felder FB510) has a 1" Woodmaster CT mounted on it that I use for resawing and ripping. My Inca 10" has a ⅜" mounted on it that I use for cutting curves.

    So, the question really comes down to what are your work practices and space availability. Personally, I find the added flexibility of multiple bandsaws to be the big payoff rather than higher tension or resaw capacity.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    59,326
    'Seems like a very small incremental increase in capacity, but if the PM has a larger motor (be sure you understand if it requires 3 phase power since that's a cost consideration) it might be better for the heavier resaw work. I'm guessing that the PM is a "beast" that's much heavier, too. The question remains if it's "enough more" to justify the costs involved with making the change. I honestly can't say either way. It's an easier leap decision to a 20" from a 16" MM like I have than from a 19" to a 20" other than the "beef" factor.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    6,714

  6. #6
    I’ve never understood the draw of the Powermatic 81. It’s a huge, wide and deep footprint for its capacities. Having used one in someone else’s shop, I can’t say that I would prefer it over a decently built euro style steel spine saw. Never used the particular Grizzly model, but I have used / own a handful of different Italian mid sized saws and I’d choose that type of saw all day and twice on Sunday compared to an 81. Maybe I’m missing something.
    Still waters run deep.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Cambridge Vermont
    Posts
    1,754
    Isn't the Model 81 discontinued? I looked at a couple before buying a 514X2. They come in 2 different resaw heights, 12" and 24" (or maybe 20"). But I was only finding the older green ones for sale. The ones I looked at were underpowered for resaw work. I personally think it would be a step backwards depending on the type of work you do. They do have large tables, that can be worthwhile.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    138
    Thanks! My instinct is that the performance upgrade will be minimal compared to the effort required to buy/load/unload/tune the new bandsaw and sell the old one. Now a 36 northfield might be worth it if one pops up near me.

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