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Benchtop Bandsaw Effectiveness

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  • Benchtop Bandsaw Effectiveness

    I just recently upgraded my jigsaw from a Skil to a Bosch and was amazed by the performance, particularly with PT pine 2x materials when it even plows through knots.

    What had my thinking however, is how does the performance of a high-end jig saw compare to benchtop bandsaws rated at either 1/3 or 1/2 HP, especially with 2x PT materials? Will they bog down or do they also easily slice through these.

    I realize floor models definitely have the ability but aren't an option in my case at this point. However, when jigsawing small pieces, I felt it would have been safer and easier to handle small pieces around a blade rather than handling the blade around the piece. Also, where do these BT machines reach their limit (I believe there maximum depth is around 3") of clean slicing?

    Thanks in advance for your help. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Patrick<br /><br />

  • #2
    I had a benchtop bandsaw, and couldn't understand why anyone liked having a bandsaw. I even had a pro adjust mine to see if that was the problem, and took a bandsaw class to see what I was doing wrong. This little unit was excellent at cutting curves (but only when I wanted to go straight). It was also great at holding a straight line when I was trying to cut a curve. I had to revert to my cheap jigsaw for better results on most cuts.

    Despite the bad experience with the benchtop bandsaw, I recently got a good 14 inch bandsaw, and now understand why people like them. The larger bandsaws are a very useful tool.

    If you were in Austin, Texas I could make you a heck of a deal on a benchtop bandsaw.


    • #3
      Patrick---think you already made the best score---upgraded jig saw. Personally, I think benchtop bandsaws are a waste----was also reading through Lonnie Byrd's bandsaw book where he states that due to the angle of the blade off the wheel---benchtops tend to break blades more frequently.

      For similar money, at least to start out, you're much better off with a scroll saw. 1) If you take your time, you can do nice curves on thick wood. 2) You can do more intricate curves than with a bandsaw. 3) You can make cut-outs in the center of stock, by drilling holes and disconnecting the scroll blade. 4) You might get hooked on scroll work and open a whole new area of interest.


      • #4
        Appreciate the help guys, I'll look into the scroll saw idea as an alternative, Dave.
        Patrick<br /><br />


        • #5
          Charlie, mind sharing which 14" band saw you got?


          • #6
            I just got rid of my benchtop bandsaw in favour of a new Ridgid floor model. I couldn't get the benchtop one to work for me. I had used floor models before so I new what a "real" bandsaw should be able to do. I just couldn't get the benchtop one to cut properly. I tried different blades/setups but no matter what, I couldn't get it to cut properly.


            • #7
              No matter if you go with the benchtop, a floor model or a scroll saw, the blade will make the difference. Make sure you are using a blade designed for the purpose. For PT lumber, I would use the fewest TPI with a big hook angle.



              • #8
                I had a 9" Ryobi that I recently sold after getting a 14" Jet about a year ago. The Ryobi was okay at curves but could not be tensioned enough to cut straight very effectively. I had to spend a pretty fair amount of time setting it up and, as mentioned above, blade selection is a key factor. I got acceptable results cutting curves on small, thin stock, and not expecting it to do much beyond that.


                • #9
                  You can get a 14 inch unit for about $250 on sale. add a great blade for about 15$ and you will be ready to go. It is a bear to assemble but is pretty well built.It weighs over 150#. It is solid. They use a lot of cast iron.Pretty good for Harbor Freight.


                  • #10
                    One Smith to Another

                    I guess I'm going to be the ODD man here. I've always wanted a bandsaw, and recently purchased the new Ryobi BS-902. Before doing so, I read all the reviews and books I could find and certainly considered all of the opinions on a number of boards. Almost unanimously was the opinion that a small bench top was a waste and that one should by at least a 14-inch floor model. While that sounded good, the fact that I really didn't have the place for that at the moment and more importantly, I wasn't sure if I wanted to drop $300 or more on a bandsaw, before I really knew what I was doing or what it was that I really should be looking for. So, a $99 purchase to find out seemed like a logical step... hence the Ryobi BS902 (after a lot of comparing with Delta, Tradesman, Craftsman, etc.)

                    So, I think a benchtop easily outperforms a hand held jig saw for what I want it to do. If you are going to cut large stock, plywood etc. go with the jig saw. If however you are looking to cut smaller projects like toys, trinket boxes, craft items, furniture trim, etc. the bandsaw can't be beat. Even a 9", by its very design, will be better than a jig saw. The jig saw reciprocates and has a very limited stroke using maybe 3/4 inch or so of its blade. By comparisen, the 9" bandsaw will move approximately 60 inches of blade in a single direction at 3,000 sfpm (surface feet per minute). That's a heck of a lot more cutting teeth passing through the wood!

                    While a jig saw offers portablility and therefore is good at working on large stock like plywood, you can't cut anything really small with it. The vibration of the recip action also makes it a challenge if using thin stock. On stock that is 2 or 3 inches thick most jig saws are really taxed. My little benchtop BS902 will slice through a 3-inch thick piece of pine like it was balsa. And, it will cut a 1/2 inch radius with a minimum kerf. Try slicing a 1/8-inch thin piece of stock off of a 2x4 with a jig saw, it is a simple task with the band saw... and with little to no vibration, you cut take you hands off of it half way through the cut, and it won't move!

                    Now, I'm NO expert and in actuality, just starting to play with the bandsaw. But I've had no problem with tensioning, cutting straight lines or curves. Of course I'm not cutting anything longer that 3 to 4 ft lengths of stock and the throat only allows 9" between the blade and the riser, so you should keep that in mind. I have two jig saws, two circular saws, and a 10-inch Radial Arm saw and a new 17-inch scroll saw. Each has its place and all have their advantages over the others for certain tasks. But if you are going to make small objects like boxes, toys, kitchen accessories, and similar items, a good bench-top bandsaw isn't a bad place to start. Not only will it give you some good experience, but it won't steal your wallet. Just be aware, that if you really like the bandsaw, you are probably going to justify moving up to a 14-inch or larger as you skill and needs increase.