Choosing a Band Saw- One Woman’s Opinion
Donna Menke (The Ultimate Band Saw Box Book)
Your choice of band saw box depends on what you are going to use it for. Here are my
saws and some experiences with some others:
I have 10", 12", and 14" band saws in my shop, and I like each of them for
different reasons. The 10" does a fine job on small things, if it is not
pushed too hard. It is lightweight so I take it to shows where I
teach and have the students cut out their own small blanks as part of the
class. It is very limited, with a very small motor and a 3" cutting height
capacity. Some brands of 10" and smaller machines are truly terrible and
will be nothing but frustrating. The 8" Delta is particularly bad- last I looked.
My 12" Sears machine has been my friend for over 30 years. It has always
done everything I've asked of it. I use it to cut through 6" of hard maple when I need to
cut a tight radius for a band saw box hinge, but I have a 1/8" Timberwolf blade on it and
I go very slowly.
I've heard that the newer Sears are worthless, but that may have changed.
Look around for an old Sears 12" band saw. You may be able to find one <$100- if so,
buy it. Mine isn't just a fluke- I have heard the same from a dozen people. It was just a
great machine. It also resaws up to 6", but you have to go slowly because the motor
isn't that powerful. Look for them at garage sales, estate sales, etc, these were very
popular machines for a very long time. One indicator that you have the right one will be
that there are 4 screw-on knobs on the front of the machine to hold the cover on, and it
has a built in light. I use this saw 85% of the time I’m making band saw boxes.
The 14" Jet is my powerhouse. With a 3/4" Timberwolf 3 or 4 TPI blade I
can cut through 5 1/2" of hardwood easily, and cut veneers too. I has just
a 1 HP motor, but I'm never in a hurry, so I give it time to do the job
I often recommend the Jet 12" band saw for carvers. It is quite similar to
the 14" except it has just a 1/2HP motor. Cutting capacity is the same 6",
and it is a good quality tool. It cost $379 last I looked.
Now if you have really deep pockets get the Powermatic 14"- my dream
machine. Love the little blower to keep the cutting lines clear and the built in light so you
can see where you are going. It also sports a quick tension release lever. Cost a lot=
worth a lot.
Hope this helps-