Pros and cons of vintage bandsaw

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Forum topic by Lynton posted 03-06-2018 04:28 PM 2430 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 888 days

03-06-2018 04:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bandsaw antique vintage

I want to add a bandsaw to my shop. I don’t have much room so I am thinking a 14” floorstanding one would be good. I am normally attracted to older machines so my instincts are to look for an older Delta or something like that. However, when I look at modern bandsaws like the more expensive Grizzly models, the motors are much higher hp and they are set up with nice fences and roller bearing guides from the factory. Yet, older bandsaw seem really revered by some people. So my question is, what are the advantages and disadvantages of old vs ne bandsaws.

35 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4454 days

#1 posted 03-06-2018 05:03 PM

More saw for less money.

The larger cast iron saws hardly vibrate
at all when they run. I doubt it has much
effect on cut quality but the smoothness
makes them pleasant to use.

View BoardButcherer's profile


144 posts in 900 days

#2 posted 03-06-2018 05:21 PM

Some of the old bandsaws are just great machines, and you can get them at a decent price.

I’ve been thinking about grabbing a Tannewitz 36” for a while. The things are so reliable they still get used in commercial production shops 60 years later and they’ve got so much table space you can just pull up a chair and go to town doing whatever you want.

They sell for 1000-1500 all the time. I should have one by now in all honesty…

Still trying to figure out if my floor will hold a 3000lb machine though…..

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 2767 days

#3 posted 03-06-2018 05:39 PM

HP figures on new motors are inflated. And for the most part the older ones that are revered are the big ones with lots of cast iron for mass. That doesn’t sound like what you are looking for in your smaller footprint.

View Steve's profile


2109 posts in 1388 days

#4 posted 03-06-2018 05:40 PM

Depending on how old of a machine it is, one con would be finding parts. Either for restoration or for fixing something that broke down the line.

View LesB's profile


2575 posts in 4249 days

#5 posted 03-06-2018 05:56 PM

For this tool you need to know what you expect to be doing with it. Smaller saws work fine for cutting curves, circles, quick cut off, and some re-sawing. If you think you will be doing some heavy or thick re-sawing you will want a larger machine. The horse power has primarily to do with the speed and thickness of the cuts you make. A critical element of the bandsaw is the set up and I recommend you watch this video: Second is your choice of blades; width and number and type of teeth.
There are various opinions on guides but they all work and don’t have a big affect on the cutting results.
The size of the saw is based on the depth of the throat from the blade to the back of the saw. For some reason the height of the cut is not included in the size listing. My 17” saw is actually 16 1/4’ deep and 12” in height.

So new saws are great and many have some nice features like a brake to stop the blade quickly, better dust collection, larger tilt tables, quick blade tension release (a complaint I had about a 14” saw I had), better motors and so on. In the long run if the saw is not a heavily used tool in your shop an older one is fine and saves you money.

-- Les B, Oregon

View MrUnix's profile


8160 posts in 3005 days

#6 posted 03-06-2018 07:06 PM

The Delta 14” cast iron frame bandsaw is what the imported cast iron machines are copies of – some better copies than others. I don’t see any reason to pay out the nose for a cheap imported copy when I can get the original for under $100. And most of the ‘extras’ on the newer ones are just marketing gimmicks as well IMO.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View hairy's profile


3084 posts in 4338 days

#7 posted 03-06-2018 07:23 PM

For me, the biggest down side to a vintage machine is dust collection. You can do a lot of modification, but dust collection was a broom and dust pan when the old ones were new.

I have a 1946 Delta 14” without a riser, and a recent vintage Jet 14” with a riser. I much prefer the Delta.

-- Genghis Khan and his brother Don, couldn't keep on keeping on...

View Runner's profile


86 posts in 1579 days

#8 posted 03-07-2018 11:08 PM

I have a 1960s Powermatic 141 bandsaw. The saw was used/abused in a school for over 50 years. When I got it last year, I replaced the bearings and cleaned it up a little. Now it runs like new. So for about $300, I got rock-solid bandsaw that will hopefully run another 50 years.

-- Kjell - Eau Claire WI

View Lazyman's profile


5660 posts in 2193 days

#9 posted 03-07-2018 11:13 PM

For me, the biggest down side to a vintage machine is dust collection. You can do a lot of modification, but dust collection was a broom and dust pan when the old ones were new.

- hairy

Dust collection on many modern ones isn’t that great either. Rob Cosman had a good idea on adding dust collection that appears to work pretty well, especially if you rarely tilt your table.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1622 days

#10 posted 03-08-2018 12:46 AM

My observation in my local market has been that good and fairly priced used equipment is usually just not available. Another thing about buying old used equipment is that you need to know something about machinery in general to refurbish it. Skilled people who have already gone through the refurbishment process generally don’t want to part with their “baby”. If they do, they want a lot of money for it. For these reasons, buying old iron is not for everyone.

As far as quality goes, I must have used a dozen different Delta 1 – 1.75 horsepower 14 inch cast iron band saws over the last 4 decades. Many were in first class condition. None of them came close to the performance and precision of my nearly new 14 inch Laguna. They were not even in the same league.

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

299 posts in 1581 days

#11 posted 03-08-2018 01:16 AM

Also are your able and prepared to fix and repair a older machine.

View Lynton's profile


3 posts in 888 days

#12 posted 03-08-2018 02:44 AM

Thanks everyone for your well thought-out responses and sharing your wisdom and experience with me. My motivation is to make my shop more efficient and reliable. I am a fairly good mechanic and do enjoy maintenance and refurbishing/repairing machinery. However, I am feeling the need to get some woodworking done. I also feel that we are in a golden age of machinery and mechanical engineering. When I started driving it was impressive to get over 100k miles on a car before pulling the head off. Now a car with 100k miles is barely broken in ( a little exaggeration but you know what I mean). So far it seems like opinions are split between favoring old vs new machines with more responses favoring older machines. Thanks again and please share any further thoughts you have.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2292 days

#13 posted 03-08-2018 05:38 AM

If you have bearings on hand you can clean and refurbish a machine in a day and it’ll last your lifetime.

The only thing I like about my newer grizzly is the quick release for detensioning. Even with a 4” port the DC is still just ok.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View MrUnix's profile


8160 posts in 3005 days

#14 posted 03-08-2018 06:32 AM

A 1950 Delta bandsaw with a 3/4hp motor cost about $210 back then. In todays dollars, that represents over $2,200 after adjusting for inflation. Given that you can find them for sub-$100, even if you have to spend a few bucks for new bearings and maybe new tires, that is still a substantial value for a fraction of the cost.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1622 days

#15 posted 03-08-2018 02:21 PM

I fail to see how the original purchase price of an old piece of equipment has any bearing on its current worth. Technology moves forward. The old Delta and Powermatic cast iron 14 inch saws (and their modern counterparts) are good machines but they are nowhere in the same league as today’s 14 inch welded steel frame saws in terms of rigidity, blade tensioning ability and overall performance.

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