Guide to the Ratings
5=Excellent; 4= Very Good; 3= Good; 2=F,iir; 1-Poor can actually cover the full width of the blade with the blocks without damaging the teeth.
You can also substitute graphite-impregnated Cool Blocks (available from major mail-order catalogs) for your saw's stock blocks. T hey work like plastic blocks, but last much longer.
The Delta's lower guides scored high because the outer block is angled at 45" to the blade. T his angle allows the guide to be located a mere -V^ in. under the table—an advantage for resawing control—without interfering with table tilt.
Ball-bearing guides and Euro-style guides provide their side support with ball bearings instead of blocks. Since the bearings spin when the blade rubs against them, they generate less heat than metal blocks. Still, in repetitive heavy resawing, even the heavy-duty Euro-style guides became quite hot.
The Powermatic Artisan was the only saw in our test equipped with ballbearing guides, and we found them difficult to adjust. The bearings on the upper and lower guides required different-size wrenches to adjust, and they moved out of position every time we tried to tighten them. We also found that, under average resawing pressure, both thrust bearings worked loose because their tiny locking thumbscrews wouldn't hold with only hand-tightening.
In contrast, the I-aguna and Huroshop saws had identical Euro-style guides that
POWER—Wo tested the relative speed of cutting through 6-in.thk k stock without l>ogging down, and the ability to cut sttxk up to full resaw capacity of the saw.
FIT AND FINISH—General surface and machining quality, smooth mechanisms, lack of vibration.
BLADE GUIDES—Precision, ease of adjustment, rigidity, adequate support for blade.
we judged easiest to adjust of all the guides we tested. We did find, however, that we needed to tighten the locking rings very securely to prevent the side bearings from backing oft during heavy resawi ng.
The upper guide post of a handsaw is as important as the guides for cutting accuracy. A flimsy or wobbly guide post can cause the blade to drift or chatter while cutting. And if the guide post doesn't stay parallel to the blade as it moves up and down, the angle of the blade to the table changes with each new height setting.
We didn't rate the guide posts separately, because they were all either parallel or adjustable to parallel. They all locked rigidly into position, though the
BLADE CHANGING—Speed and ease of removing one blade and installing another.
EASE OF USE—Summary "hands-on" rating, including switches, table tilting, adjustability of blade guides and guide post.
lock knob on the Grizzly G1019Z needed extra tightening to hold its setting. We particularly liked the one-handed convenience of the rack-and-pinion mechanisms on the Kuroshop and I.aguna saws for raising and lowering their heavy guide posts.
Blade changing. Bandsaw blades need to be changed frequently; and when they do, you want the job to go as quickly and easily as possible. When we evaluated each saw's blade-changing routine, we gave our highest ratings to the l.agun.i and F.uroshop because they offered the straightest path for the blade through the slot in the front of the table and had hinged blade guard covers that could be opened for easy access to the blade path.
AMERICAN WOODWORKER A DECEMBER l'»98 4 9
Power to spare. Resawing is the ultimate test of a handsaw's power. Laguna and Euroshop earned top ratings in our power tests.
The other saws had side-slotted tables that require you to twist the blade in contorted ways to get it into the slot and around the blade guard. On these saws, we found the easiest way wras to remove the blade guards, although the instructions didn't say so.
Blade-tensioning scales, standard on all the saws except the Grizzly G1073, are supposed to indicate proper tensioning for each common blade width. But when we tested actual blade tension using an accurate tension meter, we found the readings varied a great deal; in fact, the owner's manuals themselves recommend using the tension scales only as an approximation. We prefer to gauge tension the old-fashioned way—increase tension until the blade deflects sideways only about V4 in. under moderate hand pressure with the guide post about 6 in. above the table.
Power. How much power you need depends on the kind of cutting you normally do. All of our test saws had more than enough power, and all were able to get through the thickest stock that would fit under their blade guides. But we found that the Laguna and Euroshop saws were a breed apart when it came to fast, efficient, high-capacity resawing. If you intend to cut heavy stock frequent ly, it's worth considering one of these more expensive, heavier-duty machines.
To compare power, we resawed some 6-in.-widc ash planks—the smaller saws' maximum capacity. We used identical l.enox V^-in.-wide, 3-tpi (teeth per in.) hook-tooth blades, supplied by American Saw and Manufacturing, on all the saws. (Read more about resawing blades on the opposite page.)
Although their stated motor horsepower and amp ratings differed considerably, most of the 14-in. and 15-in. saws resawed the test planks at about the same rate. The Powermatic Artisan 44 took a little longer than average, and the Grizzly G1019Z took about twice as long as the others to hog through the same amount of wood. Their motors bogged down unless we lessened the feed pressure.
In the 16-in.-and-over category, the Grizzly G1073 saw was disappointing in the power department, performing about the same as saws with lower horsepower ratings and lesser capacities. Predictably, the Laguna and Euroshop models, with their larger motors, ripped through the 6-in.-wide stock almost twice as fast as the other saws, with no tendency to bog down.
When we tested the larger-capacity saws with their maximum-width stock, the Laguna (12-in. capacity) and Euroshop (97/g-in. capacity) had no trouble at all, while the Grizzly G1073 (73/^-in. capacity) and the Powermatic Artisan 44 (87/8-in. capacity) required slower feed rates to complete the cuts.
Dust collection. Though all the saws had ports for hooking up a shop vacuum or dust collector, we found that none of them did a very good job of' removing airborne dust from the vicinity of the cutting action. The Laguna and Euroshop, with their larger ports, fared slightly better than the others, but we'd recommend using a dust mask with any of these machines.
Safety. A handsaw is an inherently-dangerous machine—and it's downright unforgiving if your fingers or hands should wander into the blade. All of our test saws had adequate metal blade guards attached to the upper-guide posts, and several had lower-guards as well.
We liked the large, panic-button-type switches and foot brakes on the Laguna and Euroshop. A freewheeling blade can do as much damage as one under4 power. We particularly liked the: Euroshop's foot pedal, which stops the wheels and switches off the motor at the same time.
If you're looking for a midsize bandsaw that will handle all the routine jobs you regularly face, including resawing, a machine in the under-16-in. category should fit the bill. In this category, we awarded Editors' Choice honors— best performance regardless of price—to the Delta 28-280, which was an outstanding performer.
Not far behind in our ratings were the General 490-1 and the Jet JWBS-14CS. At less than half the price of the* General, the Jet earns our Best Buy award—best performance for the price—in the under-16-in. category.
At the upper end of the power spectrum, if heavy production or high-capacity resawing is on your agenda, you can't do better than the Laguna LT16HD—our Editors' Choice winner in the 16-in.-and-over category.
If price is your main concern, both Grizzly saws are worth a look. Though they vibrate a lot and are underpowered for heavy-duty resawing, these saws get the job done for less money than other saws in their respective categories. A
Blades for Resawing
The ability to cut cleanly through heavy stock is one of the best reasons to own a bandsaw. You can saw bookmatched panels or get more from fancy lumber by resawing it into matched veneers. But resawing can be difficult without the right blade. A blade that's too narrow or has too many teeth will cut slowly and overheat, shortening blade life and burning the workpiece.
The best resawing blades have hook-style teeth with a pitch (tooth spacing) of 1 '/j to 4 teeth per inch (tpi). The best-selling size is the V^-in., 3-tpi blade.
Widely-spaced hook teeth cut aggressively without overheating or clogging with sawdust. But there are alternative blades that cut smoother or faster—or last longer—than regular carbon-steel blades.
Three of the blades we tested—two from American Saw and one from Laguna— had super-hard carbide or Stcllitc tips brazed to a carbon-steel band. They cut aggressively but required more feed pressure and left an unusually smooth surface. Though these blades can cost 10
times as much as carbon-steel alloy blades, they pay for themselves if you do a lot of resawing, especially in very hard woods. Manufacturers claim the tips stay sharp up to 40 times longer than steel; they're also resharpenable.
Variable-pitch teeth arc another nice feature on two of our test blades—the Wood Sliccr* and the Ixrnox Pro Master HI'". The unequal tooth spacing prevents blades from resonating at different feed speeds, resulting in smoother cuts.
Here are the specifications and the results of our tests on six resaw blades.
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