Tools #1: Cheapo Skil band saw - works good

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Blog entry by Lisa Chan posted 03-08-2010 08:43 PM 6731 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have limited amount of space at the moment, and I’m also poaching some real estate in the shared garage with my landlord for the wood working toys. It’s sort of damp, cramped, and a bit of a nightmare. I couldn’t realistically expect that things wouldn’t get stolen out of there either.

That meant that it didn’t make a lot of sense to save up a ton of money and invest in the nicest largest tools that I would never want to part with. I would like to someday have a climate controlled shop with all the bells and whistles, and I don’t want to start collecting serious quality power tools until I can give them the nice secure home they deserve.

So, I need to make some decisions when I realized that I wanted to be able to make small blanks for turning without having to bother my other wood working buddies.

At first I thought I would benefit from a portable table saw. But after some LJ forum discussions, and even after discussions with fellow turners who make similar spindles to my own, I decided that a band saw would be a better option.

Everyone recommended Delta band saws, but at $500… well, that would be something I would miss if it walked away unexpectedly or if I had to pack up my shop in quick order. So, with trepidation, I bought a $100 Skil band saw from Lowes.

This thing could not to be a powerhouse production saw by any means. The fence is ridiculous. I can see that even though I have NEVER USED a band saw before today. However, the saw cut easily through 2” tall and 12 inches deep Jatoba and sliced like butter through 1 inch of Purpleheart. Jatoba is HARD wood. HARD! And it didn’t even burp or make unhappy noises or anything.

I think that’s a good sign. I might only have about 5 inches of clearance with the saw… but it will do what I want it to do, and I don’t have any more strenuous demands than the Jatoba blanks.

I guess I am happy with the money spent. And I won’t miss it at all when I have the money and the nice place to store more durable tools.

Cheap isn’t always CRAP. Even if it is made of plastic and it would probably crash to pieces if I knocked it too hard. I’ll just be gentle on it. It’ll do.

-- Lisa Chan, custom cafts and yarn accessories,

9 comments so far

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5772 posts in 3710 days

#1 posted 03-08-2010 08:49 PM

Glad you are happy with it!

I’ve been considering a benchtop band saw to augment the 14” HF I have, and have been on the fence between the Skil and the Ryobi. My experience with Skil has been as hit or miss as many people say theirs with HF is… Glad to see a positive review for sure!

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View Brooklynwoods's profile


73 posts in 3484 days

#2 posted 03-08-2010 08:55 PM

As a good friend said, even if you only have a few crumbs to start , with enough they still make the cake. We can’t always get the best that we want , but God does give us what we need, and we work with it just fine. I’m glad you like your new tool and I know you’ll work it well beyond your expectations. Enjoy yourself.

-- J. E. Ekholdt, Wrightwood,

View peanutga11ery1's profile


9 posts in 3621 days

#3 posted 03-08-2010 09:07 PM

Thanks for sharing this Lisa, my dad is a big proponent of buying the best tools, but I’ve often felt like you do—a cheap not perfect one is better than none at all.

I’m hoping for a drill press for my birthday, and may treat myself to a band saw as well—didn’t know the ones at Lowes were so affordable. I really need a compound miter saw as well, so I’ll have to pick and choose.

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51 posts in 3491 days

#4 posted 03-08-2010 10:10 PM

Lisa, I have been considering a band saw too. At the moment I don’t have the room for a full size saw and have been looking, like Dave, so I’m interested in how your saw is performing. This sounds positive to me.


-- Wow, that was easy. Just follow the directions and use some common sense.

View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 3586 days

#5 posted 03-08-2010 10:50 PM

I started out with a lot of Skil tools (in the process of upgrading) and I found that they were all pretty respectable quality for the price. Skil tools are usually marketed specifically for hobbyists and as long as you don’t expect industrial-level performance you most likely won’t be dissappointed. I have the router with multiple bases, table saw, circular saw, drill, and a bunch of other small stuff, and all of them have performed very well. You can occasionally get a good deap on factory reconditioned Skil stuff at CPO, I got the Router, fixed & plunge bases, and 1/2” and 1/4” collets for $88 shipped.

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

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12785 posts in 3635 days

#6 posted 03-08-2010 11:09 PM

Hey Lisa,
The most useful tool in the shop is always YOU… the rest just assist you in getting your vision sculpted to the piece of wood… Even the most expensive tools have flaws and your concern of someone wanting it more than you and “borrowing” it from you (long term) is justfiable… Even in my shop, I worry that someone might try and take my tools – this is the reason I buy BIG HEAVY TOOLS that take a few big burly guys to move… lol
Hope you get tons of life out of your new bandsaw… Looking forward to seeing more of your spindles…
Keep turning my friend,

-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

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3256 posts in 4074 days

#7 posted 03-09-2010 05:45 AM

I am happy with mine.

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View hart's profile


4 posts in 3513 days

#8 posted 03-14-2010 07:54 AM

harbour freight band saw is ok

-- woodworking machinery is one of life

View jolin's profile


1 post in 2965 days

#9 posted 08-05-2011 09:07 AM

Happy with the time with reading this,Lisa.Thanks for you sharing.i’am minoterie

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