Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A True Cut

So, I mentioned yesterday that my little bandsaw couldn't make a true cut to save my life.

Well, I didn't buy a bandsaw just for the hell of it; I bought it because I needed it. I've been disappointed in this little 9" Ryobi (actually I have model just previous to this one, which is even a bit cheesier):

I hate it, because it's light weight, flimsy, and doesn't cut true... but for $90 I don't know how much I can complain. I needed a bandsaw right then, it worked for the three days I needed it, and ever since I've been using it to trim dowels and open clamshell packaging.

What I didn't mention yesterday, is that I've been doing something about that whole 'needing a decent bandsaw but not having much spare cash right now" thing.

A couple weeks ago, I ended up going onto the clearance pages; and there was something I couldn't resist. This bandsaw, which was retailing for $159 was on sale for $100; and Craftsman club members (of which I am one), get free shipping:

Now, I'm not saying it's a Laguna, Delta, Powermatic, Rikon, or even a JET (I'd like this one thanks it'll do everything I want) but it's INFINITELY better than the little Ryobi. For one thing, the saw table alone on the Crafstman weighs more than the entire Ryobi saw, and no, I'm not kidding. The craftsman is 100% welded steel, cast iron, and cast aluminum; and it weighs 80lbs. The Ryobi is mostly plastic and weighs 30lbs.

The new saw has a 3.5 amp 1/3 hp motor, and is belt driven. The Ryobi has a 2amp 1/6th hp motor, and is direct driven. The motor tension, and both wheels are adjustable, and the motor is easily replaceable. The Ryobi... well basically if it breaks, throw it away.

Although the Craftsman is made in China, it has the look, feel, fit, and finish of a much better, and more expensive saw. The truing mechanism and blade guides are both finer in adjustment, and have a broader adjustment range. Most importantly they are all bearing (3 bearings each, top and bottom), whereas the Ryobi uses very small nitrided guide blocks.

The only things I would wish for on this 10" are more solid and stable adjustments on the saw table (it's secured by one bolt); and that it had a work light (I can always add one). Oh and one more thing, the blades on the new saw aren't a standard consumer size (70-1/2"). They're readily available from saw blade suppliers, but not at home centers and hardware stores.

Anyway, I've set up the new saw, tested it, trued it; and I'm very happy. Now I just need to wait for the temperatures to fall enough for me to actually work in my shop (I haven't done anything in the shop since mid June because it's over 115 and humid every day right now).

I'm not going to throw the old saw away though; it's going to become an indoor craft saw; and now that we're getting into larger bulk meat buying, and freezing, I'm seriously considering disinfecting the whole thing and picking up a meat blade for it (they're only about $10).