Central Machinery - 96980 9" Benchtop Bandsaw (Rating: 2)

Let me just start off by saying that this is my first review here on LumberJocks, as well as my first experience with owning a bandsaw. I have to admit, the only other experience i have with bandsaws is operating the industrial-sized Powermatics at my highschool, so my expectations may be high from that, or low from lack of personal experience.

I bought this about a year ago because it was relatively well built compared to the other 9-10" bandsaws on the market. When it first arrived, everything went together pretty quickly without hassle. I took note of the small-but useful-features it included: quick-release blade tension, window for blade tracking, and wheel brush. One thing it doesn't have is a fence, and that is sorely missed by me. After I wrestled the blade on (first time doing this) I fired it up and cut through countless plywood and 2×4 scraps, making many curved cuts. I soon found out that the stock blade and blade guides were pretty much junk, so I ordered up a 1/2" and 1/8" Timberwolf blade, as well as some Cool Blocks. Here lies my first problem. The manual states that the maximum blade width is 1/2". This is not true. When the blade is on, it has to ride very far forward on the wheel, with the teeth almost sticking off of it. This is because the top thrust bearing won't go back far enough to accommodate a 1/2" blade. O.K., good to go from there, right? Wrong. The metal blade guard on the left of the saw is also positioned wrong. Unless you bend it forward like I did eventually, the blade will creep forward enough while sawing enough to hit the guard and make a huge screech, scaring me enough to jump back away from the cut. Oh well… lesson learned, buy a 3/8" or less blade next time. As for the actual cut, the 1/3 horsepower motor does a surprisingly well job of resawing (granted that it was only 3" material, despite the 4" max).

My most recent problem occurred to me when I was cutting a 2×4 into a 3-D reindeer, plunging the blade through the full width of the stock. I was focused enough at the beginning of the cut not to notice, but in the middle of it I realized that the saw has terrible vibration issues, so much that I can barely make out the template lines I had. To finish the cut, I just put a clamp from the table to the miter saw stand I have the saw on. I'm not yet 100% sure what the issue is, but i suspect imbalanced wheels and/or poor tires.

Overall, I think this is a good starter saw if you can modify and replace some things on it, but I hope to soon have a 14" saw in the shop so I can reserve this one for small or very curvy work. I rated it as 2 stars, but it's a very strong 2 stars and would be 2 1/2 if the system were fraction-friendly.