Ball Bearing

To balance a bandsaw wheel, drill shallow holes inside the rim at the heavy points on the wheel.
Kity 613 Bandsaw Motor

Grizzly G1073

Inca 205 Bandsaw
Kity 613

Generai 49C-1

Generai 49C-1

Other Factors

It's worth noting two other factors about handsaws. First, most handsaw tables tilt 45° to the outboard side, but not all tilt toward the column. If you want to jig up to cut dovetails on your bandsaw, make sure the table will tilt at least 8° to the left so you can cut the pins. (See chart.)

Second, don't trust blade-tension gauges. On most of the test saws that had them, the gauges were inaccurate and useful only as a rough guide. During our evaluation of the larger saws, we tensioned %-in. blades to the u% in." reading on the scales and then measured the tension using a Lennox blade-tension gauge. Blade manufacturers say a in. blade should be tensioned between 10,000 to 15,000 pounds per square in. (psi) for cutting wood, but at the "% in." setting, blade tension varied from a low of 7,000 psi on the Scars 12-in. to a high of 19,000 psi on the Bridgewood. Most saws fell in a range of 8,000 to 10,000 psi.

Special Features

We found a few other features worth mentioning. The Bridgewood and Laguna saws have foot brakes to stop the blade from freewheeling after you turn off the motor—a handy safety feature. A large "panic button" on the Laguna lets you turn off the saw without groping for a switch. The Inca and Kity saws are equipped with magnetic switches that prevent their motors from turning on unexpectedly if you leave the switch in the "on" position after a temporary power outage. On the other hand, we found the manual switches on the General, the Enlon and the Delta 14-in. open stand were mounted too low for easy accessibility.

Our Choices

Because the size and capacities of these bandsaws vary widely, we can't offer you a single recommendation. Instead, we've identified several categories of use and picked winners in each area. Keep in mind that there arc many good saws worth considering that didn't make it into our test.

If you plan to use a bandsaw only for light-duty cutting and scroll work, a bench-top saw is good enough, and we liked the Drcmcl best for its height capacity and power. This saw is quite similar to the Skil and performed the same, but the Dremel's two speeds gave it the edge in our opinion.

If you're buying a bandsaw for all-around curve-cutting, ripping and some resawing, your best bet is a medium-size saw in the

12-in. to 15-in. range with x/i to lji HP. The Kity 12-in. got our vote as best small saw because it scored higher than any other saw we tested, ran smooth as silk, had plenty of power and was very easy to adjust. Among the larger saws, the 15-in. General was a clear winner. It has a rigid, all-cast-iron frame, it ran very smoothly, and it was easy to adjust. The Delta 14-in. and the Jet also performed well, and cost considerably less.

Heavy-duty resawing or continuous production use requires heavier-duty 16-in. and 18-in. saws: Their larger frames and motors can power wider blades. The Bridgewood was our top choice in this group due to its construction quality, excellent guides, relentless power and vibration-free cutting.

If you need large throat capacity for light-duty work such as scrollsawing, your best option is a three-wheel bandsaw, and the Inca 710 was tops in this test The fit and finish was very good, and the saw had a 20-in. throat capacity. Keep in mind, though, that it can be tricky to track a blade on a three-wheeler. Also, blade life may be shorter since the blade has to make sharper bends around smaller-diameter wheels.

Our choices for "best buy" were the most difficult, because we considered price and performance together. One of our picks, the Delta 12-in. machine, was a lighter-duty saw. It was well-made and had good power for its size. The Grizzly 16-in. saw got our vote as the best buy among heavier-duty machines, but with a caveat. This saw ran well only after we replaced the motor and the guide-post cover and installed a missing bushing to keep the upper wheel from shifting side-to-side. Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find a heavy-duty saw as good at this low price.

Our evaluations showed that, as you'd expect, the more expensive saws are manufactured to higher standards. You can figure on doing more tuning and tweaking to get optimum performance from a lower-priced saw. But if you're handy and have more time than money to spend, consider buying a cheaper saw and fixing it up yourself. (See sidebar, page 43.) A Thanks to The Olson Saw Co., (800) 634-4047, for supplying tbe blades, and to American Saw and Manufacturing Co.,

(413) 525-3961, for supplying tbe blade-ten-sion gauge used in our testing.

DAVE SELLERS is assistant editor of AW.

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