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  • BS1400 Band Saw

    Note: while this review is of the BS1400 model, the owner's manual calls it the BS14002. I do not know if the addition of the number 2 signifies an upgrade or is just the full number not listed correctly in the catalog. The earlier "gray" version might have been the plain, old BS1400. In any case, the one being reviewed here is the orange version seen easily at any Home Depot store, usually selling for about $350.

    OK, this is a pretty basic band saw in the old style. It came with the standard metal guide blocks and the usual, right-angle positioned bearing behind the blade. The frame is cast iron, as is the work table. The wheels appear to be cast (not machined) iron, but they seem decently round, and the offset, 3/4-HP induction motor is attached to the lower wheel by means of an automotive type V-belt, shielded by a metal housing. The blade guard and upper guide assembly can be raised or lowered for a maximum cut of 6 inches by means of a single release knob. Ridgid offers a 6-inch extender for those who want the saw to resaw really large boards.

    The saw can be wired for either 120- or 240-volt operation. It came configured for the former, and that is where I left things. The manual offers rewireing instructions for a 240-volt hookup. The manual itself is better written than some of the other tool manuals I have seen.

    The saw comes with a stand that is decently stiff, with an additional metal sheet under the top surface to stiffen it up a bit. The motor is rubber mounted. Assembling the stand and saw was a relative snap.

    I do most of my woodworking out on a deck adjacent to my small shop (I am in north Florida, where this is possible 9 months of the year, with the summer months being just too hot), so I built a wooden platform under the stand, bolted them together, and installed 3-inch pivoting wheels on the bottom. This allows me to move the 200 pound assembly easily onto the deck.

    OK, now let's get down to the details.

    First, the saw vibrated too much out of the box. I discovered that the main offenders were the V-belt and the cast wheels. The belt was, well, junk, with a twist to it and too damned much stiffness. I went to an automotive parts shop and had the clerk (you need a clerk with a good attitude) go into the back and locate a flexible, segmented belt the same length. That solved much of the saw's vibration problem. I have the belt's stock/size number written down somewhere if anybody wants it.

    I also installed little clip-on weights to each wheel. To do this accurately you need to remove the blade and V-belt and let gravity swing the wheels down to where the heavy sections are at the bottom. (This operation also allowed one to assess the condition of the wheel bearings.) You then clip the weight on at the top and check again to see if gravity pulls the wheels in any direction after releasing them at different positions. If they do not move they are balanced enough. If things are still off you need larger weights, a second weight, or a smaller weight. I was lucky, and I hit the mark on the first try. This modification solved nearly all of the remaining vibration problem.

    I topped off the anti-vibration mods by solidly mounting the motor. Yep, I removed the rubber mounts (which looked like afterthought jokes) and replaced them with a small sheet of properly drilled out 3/4-inch MDF. I also added additional stiffness to the stand's mounting plate by installing an additional and larger sheet of drilled-oout 3/4-inch MDF under the metal surface. Doing this mandated longer mounting screws and large washers below, needless to say. This series of modifications allowed the saw to be butter smooth in its operation. The rubber belts already installed on the wheels were no problem, although I did purchase two spares for future use.

    I also replaced the metal guide blocks with some fiber-material "cool blocks" that Ridgid was offering for sale at the time via their phone-order service. In addition, I removed the lower blade guard from the unit, because it appeared to not be needed at all and mainly functioned as a barrier to easily adjusting the lower guide blocks and bearing.

    While side-mounted rubbing blocks seem outdated compared to newer-design saws that use bearings in those locations, I believe that the blocks might have one advantage over bearings: they scrape the blade clean as it runs. Bearings might just compress built-up sludge on the blade surface as it runs and gradually pinch it too hard. This is just a theory, of course, with some woods possibly causing more problems than others.

    The upper and lower sections of the saw's cast-iron frame are held together by a large nut and bolt, plus large washers. There was space at that junction point for an additional smaller nut and bolt (and rectangular washers that I cut myself), and I installed them to make damned sure that the two sections locked together with little chance of the cast iron being overstressed.

    Finally, I expanded the size of the table by adding a wooden frame made out of 2x4 sections around its back edge, right-side, and front edge. The left-side edge got a narrower piece of wood so that the table could still tilt a few degrees in that direction. This wooden frame around the cast-iron table is screwed together and is held in place by additional screws running into the pre-drilled holes in the front and back of the table. The wooden section is kept in cosmetic shape by regular applications of lemon oil. The notch for blade removal in the cast-iron table is continued through the wooden extension section on the right side, with the groove in the wooden pieces held together with a stiff, quick-release crosspiece below. The overall table is now 20 x 18 inches in size, with lines scribed into the wooden extensions to help keep things aligned when doing freehand or fence cuts.

    Another review I read about the saw said that the optional fence Ridgid offers is not all that good. This is one reason I was not afraid to do the wooden extension modification, since doing it would make it impossible to use the Ridgid fence. I made a fence of my own out of lumber, and if I need a fence I simply hold it in place with clamps, making sure that it is parallel to the lines scribed into the wooden extension sections. Most of my cutting is done freehand, however.

    The wooden table expansion does two things. First, it offers a larger work surface. Second, it keeps the edge of the cast-iron table from marring any work pieces.

    I removed the 3/8 inch blade that came with the saw and replaced it with a 1/2 incher for better straight-line cutting. For curved cuts that do not involve workpieces that are too large I use a small Ryobi 9-inch model with a 1/4-inch blade. Some of the mods I did on the larger Ridgid model were also done on the smaller Ryobi unit: wood-edged table enlarging and wheel balancing. The little Ryobi is a good saw for craftsman type jobs.

    Overall, I think the 14-inch, Ridigid BS14002 model is a good saw, particularly for the $350 that I paid. Yes, I had to work on it a bit to get it up to snuff, but the result is an item that I can use for decently precise work.

    Howard Ferstler
    Last edited by Howard Ferstler; 12-15-2008, 05:47 PM.

  • #2
    Re: BS1400 Band Saw

    Howard, thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed review.
    You have some great ideas, particularly adding the weights, most people suggest drilling out material from the heavy point to balance the wheels. I always thought that was a bit drastic, adding weight makes far more sense to me.

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    • #3
      Re: BS1400 Band Saw

      I like that Howard's review tells about the POC quality belts that come on most if not all Chinese made machinery. I've helped replace (2) V-belts on a $1500+ drill press not long ago where the ones that came with it were POC. The new Goodyear notched belts run very nice. It's wild how a machine with a weak part or two seems like it's a pile of junk, but a little fixing up makes a huge difference.

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      • #4
        Re: BS1400 Band Saw

        I've got BS1400 vibration problems and I've tried many of the fixes. I afraid that I may have a bad wheel bearing. How freely should the lower wheel spin with no blade and no belt? And, how quiet should it be? Thanks in advance.

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        • #5
          Re: BS1400 Band Saw

          Originally posted by bsherman View Post
          I've got BS1400 vibration problems and I've tried many of the fixes. I afraid that I may have a bad wheel bearing. How freely should the lower wheel spin with no blade and no belt? And, how quiet should it be? Thanks in advance.
          A properly tuned bandsaw should be virtually silent when turning the wheels by hand. Of course totally silent would be out of the question but you should hear very little noise when turning the wheels by hand even with a blade mounted on the saw.
          I decided to change calling the bathroom the "John" and renamed it the "Jim". I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.

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          • #6
            Re: BS1400 Band Saw

            Thanks BadgerDave. That's what got me suspicious of the bearing. With the motor turning only the lower wheel, I can hear some random clicking. And the lower wheel doesn't turn nearly as free as the upper (with no belt.)

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: BS1400 Band Saw

              I've owned the BS1400 for three years now and am pretty happy with it. I paid $250 for it at HD as a closeout. It has worked fine up to now. I decided to do a little maintenance on it and found several problems that need to be addressed.
              • The lower blade guide assembly has spread so that the side blocks don't contact the blade. It seems that small slivers of wood fall down and get wedged between the guide and the blade. Eventually, the wedge passes through and bends the guide outward. I have bent it back, but being a cast metal, it may not last and will have to be replaced. BTW, I replaced the metal blocks with band rollers which may be the problem
              • On my saw, the lower housing cover won't swing back far enough so I can remove the blade guard for blade replacement. The guard hits the motor. I have to remove the cover in order to remove the blade guard.
              • The tires that are supplied with the saw are rubber and are cracked and need replacement. I will replace them with urethane tires.
              • The sliding block that has the tension control, is a loose fit in it's housing? How tight a sliding fit should it be?
              • The upper wheel is way out of balance (vibration). I will be going through the entire saw, balancing the wheels, pulleys and belt change.
              • I'm thinking about relocating the motor to the underside of the stand to further lower the CG and have the two wheels and pulleys in a straight vertical line. I think that will further serve to lower the vibration.
              I have been doing a lot of resawing using the 6" riser and a 3 tooth blade. Overall the saw has performed well, but it needs some maintenance. The price was right after all.
              Wood magazine did a review on bandsaws and said vibration was the worst on the BS1400, but also the blade drift was the least and blade tension was higher than the rest of the saws. It was the least expensive saw tested.
              Last edited by ronseto; 10-25-2008, 11:24 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: BS1400 Band Saw

                I had many of the same issues listed above but got suprised by a part that really PO'ed when I got the new one read it here and check out the pics.

                http://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9290

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: BS1400 Band Saw

                  Originally posted by ronseto View Post
                  I've owned the BS1400 for three years now and am pretty happy with it. I paid $250 for it at HD as a closeout. It has worked fine up to now. I decided to do a little maintenance on it and found several problems that need to be addressed.
                  • The lower blade guide assembly has spread so that the side blocks don't contact the blade. It seems that small slivers of wood fall down and get wedged between the guide and the blade. Eventually, the wedge passes through and bends the guide outward. I have bent it back, but being a cast metal, it may not last and will have to be replaced. BTW, I replaced the metal blocks with band rollers which may be the problem
                  • On my saw, the lower housing cover won't swing back far enough so I can remove the blade guard for blade replacement. The guard hits the motor. I have to remove the cover in order to remove the blade guard.
                  • The tires that are supplied with the saw are rubber and are cracked and need replacement. I will replace them with urethane tires.
                  • The sliding block that has the tension control, is a loose fit in it's housing? How tight a sliding fit should it be?
                  • The upper wheel is way out of balance (vibration). I will be going through the entire saw, balancing the wheels, pulleys and belt change.
                  • I'm thinking about relocating the motor to the underside of the stand to further lower the CG and have the two wheels and pulleys in a straight vertical line. I think that will further serve to lower the vibration.
                  I have been doing a lot of resawing using the 6" riser and a 3 tooth blade. Overall the saw has performed well, but it needs some maintenance. The price was right after all.
                  Wood magazine did a review on bandsaws and said vibration was the worst on the BS1400, but also the blade drift was the least and blade tension was higher than the rest of the saws. It was the least expensive saw tested.
                  I have never had trouble with the lower guide assembly, but some time back I removed both the small upper guard and the larger lower guard around the section. It is easy to remove the upper one, but you have to remove and reinstall the entire lower guide assembly to remove the lower one. (Note that I am not taking about the upper guard for the upper guide assembly; you would be crazy to remove that guard.) I think this frees things up down there and makes it less likely for stuff to pile up. The vacuum attachment may also scavenge dust better. My take on this is that the roller guides you installed are the problem, because standard guides at least scrape the blade as it runs past the blocks, whereas roller guides do not do this and maybe let things build up here and there.

                  Re: the motor getting in the way, my lower housing cover did kind of the same thing, although by using a slightly longer belt I have the motor far enough out to not make the problem too big. However, I did cut away a small piece of the housing cover to allow it to clear the motor even better.

                  Re: tires, I did order spare standard tires and have them in storage. I hope they hold up in that way. So far, the ones on the wheels seem fine.

                  Re: the slider block, I don't think the loose fit with the tension slider is a problem as long as you can crank in the tension and the thing does not shift around. There seems to be a debate of sorts as to whether it is needed to continually loosen and tighten the tension screw between work sessions. I losened mine for a while, but now I decided to let it stay tight and then make a point of manually rotating the wheels a tad every day that I am not using the saw. That prevents the bearings and tires from taking a "set," I hope.

                  Re: balancing. It really pays to balance the wheels, and it is easy to do. With the upper wheel all you need to do is remove the band and then see how the wheel settles down if it rotates to a lopsided state by itself. Then, install weights. (I used home-built jobs, but cut down automotive wheel weights probably would be more workable.) To similarly balance the lower wheel you need to also remove the drive belt as well as the band.

                  Regarding a motor move, give the weight trick a try first. You may not need to move that motor.

                  I read that review you mentioned, and they pretty much zeroed in on the features and limitations. The nice thing about the saw is that for the price you can at least diddle with it to get it operating decently.

                  Howard Ferstler

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