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Thread: Over all what is the best 18" bandsaw for the money?

  1. #1
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    Over all what is the best 18" bandsaw for the money?

    I know, I know, yet another bandsaw question. I'd like opinions on which 18" bandsaw would be good for making veneers and general use. Maby even splitting a log or 2. I like the JET but I know there's a lot more out there. Also which bandsaw fence is ideal for this type of work. Thanks in advance.
    What you listen to is your business....what you hear is ours.

  2. #2
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    Everyone will probably give a different answer depending on how the perceive value. If your looking for inexpensive, you'll probably get a lot of votes for the Grizzly, however if your looking upper end, my vote would have to be the Agazzani B18 (from Eagle Tools). I think it's ~2000 and is one heck of a saw, especially when you compare it to the MM and Laguna 18's which are more $$ last I looked.

  3. #3
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    If you want to go 18", than I agree with John...the Agazzani is a very nice machine. And then there is the MM16 and Laguna equivalents which offer a lot of capability even with the slightly smaller wheel size. The older version of the Jet 18" got very poor reviews...I don't know anything about the current version. Grizzly also has some nice value priced machines in this size.
    --

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

  4. #4
    Rikon is a good value, but the fence stinks and will need replaced (negating some of the savings).

    I think the Steel City is maybe about $100 more. It has a foot brake, and I think it had a decent fence. Haven't seen one in a while, so I can't remember. I don't know the blow for blow how it stacks up vs the Rikon,
    but it looked good

    I looked at the Jet 3 years ago, and thought it was inferior to the Rikon, but maybe it's improved now.

    That's part of the problem, many of these saws undergo tweaking over time. Sometimes it's for the better, sometimes for the worse.
    So take any personal experiences with a grain of salt.. For example, I know they redid the Rikon since I bought it, so I don't know if it's better or worse.

  5. #5
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    If you don't mind my asking, what was it that was disliked about the jet? I have a 14" Rikon right now but it only has about 6 inch resaw capacity. I looked at the new JET and it seemed to have nice bearing guides but as far as the other features i really didn't look that close.
    What you listen to is your business....what you hear is ours.

  6. #6
    The Jet that was involved in the tool test that I participated in a few years ago (AmWW) was not as substantial as the competition. If one firmly grasped the upper wheel cover, the entire top end of the saw could be twisted (as much as 1/4") relative to the bottom of the saw. There was only 1 other saw in the dozen we ran that exhibited similar issues. Needless to say, this is unacceptable. I believe this issue has been addressed since then but make sure before I bought.

    When comparing tools one needs to consider more than just features. Test drives and kicking tires is equally important, though not always easy which is where SMC comes in handy.

    If there was a consensus among the 20 or so people that participated it was that the Grizzly, Bridgewood, and GI were the best value. The MiniMax was in a different class ($ too) and the Laguna was interesting but "different". Rikon, Jet, Delta, Craftsman, Shop Fox and a few others were in the middle but had some issue or another or didn't offer the value of the others.

    I was shopping for a bandsaw at the time and ended up buying a Bridgewood. The saw has served us well and is well spec'd and built. Of course it's no longer being sold. The Bridgewood just has the extruded alum fence which works fine for us, we sometimes attach a shop-built tall fence or a fence with a pivot point, but if the blade hasn't been abused, it re-saws without thinking about it. We use the saw exclusively for re-sawing solid wood (except for Wednesday nt when somebody cut a bunch of freshly glued 8" stacks of 3/4"MDF...that blade is shot)

    Steel City wasn't on the scene back then, but their saws seem to be well priced for the features. A foot brake would be nice. Today it would be on my short list.

    kg

  7. #7
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    I went shopping for a 16"-18" last fall at IWF here in Atlanta where I had a chance to compare them all (with the exception of Bridgewood which didn't make the show) eyeball to eyeball. I had a deposit on a MM 16 at the time.

    If you don't need 16" re-saw.. you don't necessarily need an "Italian Stallion" and it's price tag. All of them are good (I like the Aggazani best if you rule out a 36 Tannewitz) and you can't go wrong with the Italians if tall re-saw is on your main menu.

    But.. if 12" re-saw is adequate for your needs and you like adjustable roller bearing.. cast iron wheels.. foot brake.. tension release.. doulbe springs for tension instead of single.. re-enforced overarm.. thick steel case.. large pulley bearing.. micro adjustable guide rod.. large 21 x 21 table and superb dust collection...... I wouldn't over-look the Steel City 18" on your shopping list as it won't show up in all the reviews done.

    And the new SC 18" will have a granite top after January... the granite is gauranteed flat as I have a granite fence on my 8" SC jointer. Won't rust either.

    Good luck in your quest and a reminder that if you compare apples to apples (visually compare)... the band-saw itself will tell you which one to purchase for your needs and what's the best value for your budget!

    Sarge..
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Wyko View Post
    If you don't mind my asking, what was it that was disliked about the jet? I have a 14" Rikon right now but it only has about 6 inch resaw capacity. I looked at the new JET and it seemed to have nice bearing guides but as far as the other features i really didn't look that close.
    The thing that really swung me over was that the Jet had aluminum wheels, and the Rikon had cast iron wheels. There were one or two other minor things, but that was the big one. I had a chance to use both before I bought, and the Rikon seemed to have more power, and at the time, it had 2" more vertical resaw.

    But this was about 3 years ago. the Jet may have improved since then.

  9. #9
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    You will like the Steel City 18". I bought one about 3 months ago, and cannot find anything that I do not like. It is really nice and smooth with a lot of power. I am glad I chose it.

  10. #10
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    Best bang for the buck for a new machine, IMO, I think is the 18" Rikon. When I was shopping for a saw I was impressed with the saw at it's price point. I purchased a used saw instead, but the Rikon was on my short list along with a Grizzly until I decided to go Italian.

  11. #11
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    Rikon 10-345 18"

    Bill - I've had the Rikon 10-345 18" for almost a year. A strong performer, I mostly use it for reasawing with a Timber Wolf 1", although I've got a 1/4" blade I've done some tight work with. Quality, fit & finish, and performance has been outstanding. Dust collection, bearing adjustment, and consistent blade tracking after re-tensioning. Many good choices out there, I'd keep the Rikon in mind, especially when Woodcraft has them on sale for $999. Good luck.

  12. #12
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    Best for the money? Grizzly for sure.
    Best? Probably one of the European saws at 50% more.

  13. #13
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    Several months ago, there was a very detailed post on another forum from a potential BS buyer. He got to see the Steel City and the Jet 18" side by side, and documented many of his observations in that post.

    Here's a repost of the text:
    "Warning: If you consider all Taiwanese tools as junk or below what you can afford to purchase in quality, don't waste your time reading this!

    They sat in a neat row toe to toe on the showroom floor at the Redmond & Son facility in Atlanta. General.. Shop-Fox.. Jet.. Steel City and Aggazani.. My over-all choice was the Agazanni, but the reality struck home that the price didn't fit what most here have available to spend on a BS!

    So... the question has been asked, have the boys at Steel City just copied the Delta or Jet that they formerly were employed by? Did they come down the same assembly line? I set out to find answers for the BS compartment and make my own un-baised comparison without professional help. They sure look the same in the pictures, but what's really under the cover hidden from view?

    Did they come down the same assembly line in Taiwan. Probably.. "mum" is the word even though how many assembly lines are they that make BS's in Taiwan? Are the Steel City bandsaws a duplicate copy of the Jet? Not sure yesterday, but today's answer is Absolutely NO!

    Armed with tape measure, straight edge and micrometer, I covered almost every inch on three different sizes (16"..18"..20") over 3 hours and many thanks to Stacy Davis from Steel City and Greg Hughes who has been assembling and installing machines at Redmond for years for the assist.

    Jet had the glossier powder coat pearl paint job as SC had power-coat light grey for those that are impressed with paint jobs. :>) That said..

    Jet gets the kudo for having a larger guide bar.. not necessarily sturdier in operational value. As long as the guide bar operates smoothly without play on a rack and pinion, thicker is not a major issue. Adjustment of.. below in text.

    Jet gets the cud for having a metal tension and guide bar elevation handle. SC has a hard impact plastic-nylon impregnated one.

    And the kudo's stop there.........

    Both have re-enforced double trunnions under the table and single dust port. Tires and wheels comparable. All have the same length blades per model. The Jet has a tapered back box back-beam. The SC has a straight even dimension box back-beam. The fences on both are not at all bad and have the quickly re-movable round steel point fence up front for those of us that are point advocates (excludes the Pointer Sisters). The lower guides on both are fairly close to the bottom of the table as they should be for better support. You get a mitre gauge ( :>) )with the Jet and you get a work light with the CS.

    ***All three (16-18-20) SC's have TWO identical size tension springs mounted side by side on the vertical carrier and that carrier that supports them is cast and much heavier on the SC. Only the 20" Jet has a double spring and the Jet 18"'s single spring is the same basic diameter and basic length as a single of the SC twins!

    The SC 18" carries a 2 HP.... The Jet 18" a 1 3/4 HP.... SC 1 3/4 HP on the 16" and Jet 1 1/2 HP... SC 20" 3 HP and Jet 2 HP (go figure when Jet has a 3 HP available for about $350 more on their smaller 18" but not so on the 20") ??.

    The SC 18" and 20" have tension release levers. None on any Jet..

    The SC has a foot brake on the 18" & 20". Only the Jet 20" has one.

    The SC has the same large size roller bearing guides on all 3 models. The Jet has steel guides on the 16", medium size roller bearing on the 18" and larger guides on the 20". Both models adjust basically the same with no tools required.

    The SC has a larger table on the 16"s. The SC 18" and SC 20" is (20 x 20). larger than the Jet 18". The Jet slightly larger on the 20" at 21 x 21.

    The SC's upper beam over the table (base of top wheel compartment) is heavier than the Jet.

    The SC has full adjustment for the guide bar to allow it to be positioned so that raising and lowering the guide bar does not result in having to re-adjust the guides when doing so.

    The SC has larger and heavier bearing hubs that are held by 4 bolts and fully adjustable. The Jet has 3 bolts as most band saws I've seen.

    The SC weights in at about 30 more pounds on all 3 models as the Jet.

    And with all band-saws I've ever seen (including the high dollar Euro's), I would take a hack-saw to the blade guide just below the guide rollers to eliminate that nuisance so I can see the adjustments and where the gullet is positioned on the blade without pulling the safety guide-plate off.

    Those are the only differences in the saws that I caught in 3 hours even though they probably came down the same assembly line at the same manufacturer in Taiwan. If you don't look farther than the price tag, the Jet is about $100 cheaper at current prices. $100 saved is $100 saved, right?Or maybe it would be wise to look beyond them?

    I don't know that I would make a lot of changes on the SC band-saws(exception of the choice of material in the crank handles) as I have waited for Jet.. Delta.. etc. to make several of those exact changes before I would even consider a purchase from them on a BS. And sorry I can't provide any run-outs. I have a feeling that someone will come along and get them for you latter. :>)

    I dunno.... maybe someone was listening, took a large gamble and re-located to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Imagine that..

    Let's hope so!

    SARGE.. "
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

  14. #14
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    Better keep a close eye on that "Sarge" fella Scott. as rumor has it he hails from an ex "moon-shine" family down in Georgia. The last word through the grapevine found him cutting tenons for a new bed on that Steel City 18" BS he prizes early this morning.

    Gotta run.. a little template work with my band-saw is on the menu for the evening. Come to think of it.. those BS's do come in handy!

    Sarge..

  15. #15
    I just purchased the 1 3/4 horsepower 18" jet today. I went to a saw shop just to look and I got an offer I couldn't resist - better than anything I've seen on the web, plus free delivery.

    Whether the top on the new X version is weak, I can't really comment because this is my first bandsaw.

    The wheels are cast iron now, though, and unless I don't know what I'm talking about, the trunnions are cast, too. I guess the saw got ripped pretty hard for those two things, and it's nice to see that they did something to react to the criticism.

    Internally, it looks identical to the Steel City picture shown in another post (except the brake is missing) - even the shape and style of the wheels. Something going on there? Who copied who, or is that an old delta design or something? The tensioning device also looks identical.

    I would've liked to have done more searching, but for the 5 times a year I'll probably use it, I couldn't resist, and it came with a 5-year warranty (also copied from steel city?).

    As a newbie to bandsaws, any review from me is pretty worthless, but if I have any trouble, I'll let everyone know.

    I was going to get the 19-inch grizzly 3 hp saw, but after taking into account shipping, taxes and the cost to set up a 220 pigtail out of the panel (i know that's not the approved method) and get the materials to make a cord long enough to get there, I'm saving at least $500, and unfortunately, money is an object.
    Last edited by David Weaver; 11-11-2007 at 8:46 AM.

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