Looking to buy my first bandsaw! Which one should I get?

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Forum topic by Micah posted 04-11-2021 12:09 PM 660 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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46 posts in 319 days

04-11-2021 12:09 PM

I’m a passionate amateur/hobbyist woodworker and I would like to add my first bandsaw to my arsenal. Need suggestions for a solid all-around bandsaw that is ideally suited as an entry level machine for an amateur/hobbyist such as myself.

The most common question I anticipate everyone asking is, “What kind of projects do I intend to use it for?” I wish I had some specific concrete examples to provide to give you an idea, but I don’t really. I expect to use it on many many projects over the coming years. I guess I’m looking for something that can handle pretty much anything an amateur/hobbyist woodworker might throw at it.

Not really looking to break the bank on a professional level machine that will take up a huge chunk of space in my garage workshop. But at the same time, I don’t want to invest a few hundred dollars in a machine that I’ll need to upgrade in a few years once my projects become more complex and demanding.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

15 replies so far

View EarlS's profile


4452 posts in 3432 days

#1 posted 04-11-2021 12:19 PM

I just bought a Harvey C-14 bandsaw. I have a single car garage shop. Sure, it looks like it is way to big for a hobbyist’s shop but I’ve been through the small bandsaws that never quite had enough power or sturdiness for the kinds of work that come along in projects. Spending a little more on a larger, better quality machine will be more cost effective long term.

Consider Rikon. They have a good line-up. Then, as you narrow the search ask for opinions on LJ. Plenty of folks will chime in.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6987 posts in 3577 days

#2 posted 04-11-2021 12:47 PM

Consider buying a 14” steel frame bandsaw. I haven’t read any reviews of the Harvey, but it would certainly be worth considering. I’d look closely at the HP rating of any model you purchase and try to get at 2 HP. Otherwise it boils down to features (like a blade brake, some insist they are necessary…others; not so much) and budget. The Grizzly line is certainly popular and worth a look as well.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View LittleShaver's profile


752 posts in 1704 days

#3 posted 04-11-2021 02:19 PM

I have a 14” Grizzly that I picked up used. Been running great for 10 years. I too m a hobbyist woodworker. As I’m getting ready to relocate, I’d sell it to you if you were closer.

-- Sawdust Maker

View tvrgeek's profile


1869 posts in 2733 days

#4 posted 04-11-2021 03:11 PM

Still very happy with my Harvey C-14 ( 3 HP) . Go read the review in the LJ reviews forum.
Harvey, Rikon, Laguna. All great machines. Differences in guides and how easy to adjust.
Griz and Jet are a step down IMHO. Rikon and Laguna get much pricier when you jump to the 3 HP

View therealSteveN's profile


7694 posts in 1658 days

#5 posted 04-11-2021 03:30 PM

Easiest to get are the 14” Delta’s or one of the many clones made just like them, but it’s generally from this group of owners you hear the most from, saying they can’t resaw, or drift, this and that.

I’ll echo what Fred said, and just go for a 14” and maybe bigger steel frame saw, of which there are now many makers. I’d also say look at 2HP and above, and then resaw is an easy reality. Any of the saws, even the smallish 3 wheelers can do your curved cuts, and if you are just doing curves HP won’t be as important either.

The easiest way to determine is if the saw has smooth curves, that is what I would expect it to excel at. Note the rounded shape? It’s a similar look all the way through the clones too. Exactly why they are referred to as the clones.

The steel frame saws will be the ones that look hard, with squared off edges, no smooth roundy humps here. These frames are much more rigid, and will allow you to tighten the blade, without flexing the frame.

It’s that ability to tighten them up, that allows for the easy resaw. This is not to say that the rounded Delta style cast frame bandsaws cannot resaw, there are those here that do, but the learning curve is much steeper, and filled with detours. IOW you just don’t hear folks with steel framed bandsaws saying they can’t resaw, or their drift is too great. Both of those are a symptom of the Delta form bandsaw. Plus resaw needs power, and the smaller motors on the Delta frames either aren’t strong enough, or you need the patience of Jobe to saw slow enough for the blade to do it’s work.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Bob Gnann's profile

Bob Gnann

73 posts in 757 days

#6 posted 04-11-2021 08:07 PM

Not sure what you mean by hobbyist so I’ll throw in my two cents. I started with a Craftsman bench top model because I didn’t have much space and I didn’t anticipate cutting say more than 1/2” stock for puzzles. Actually better suited for 1/4” material. After I retired and got my full sized shop I acquired a used 1 HP saw and this more than meets my needs. (Lots of choices in that range, new and used). Now the funny thing is I still use the bench top saw a lot, especially for small parts and such. Much safer than trying delicate work on a full size saw.
Lastly, this smaller saw is great way to learn the intracasies of using a bandsaw, like cutting a radius without binding a blade. (hint: learn to make relief cuts)
Honestly I like to have both in my shop.

-- Bob Gnann

View bigJohninvegas's profile


1001 posts in 2546 days

#7 posted 04-11-2021 10:18 PM

I started out with the 14” harbor freight saw that I picked up for $100.
And I wish i had kept in now just to keep a 1/4’ blade handy.
But I upgraded several years ago to a Grizzly GO513×2, 17” saw.

And as therealSteveN pointed out about older 14” clones. The work very well.
Where in New York are you located? Here is an add for the very Delta saw mentioned above.

-- John

View tvrgeek's profile


1869 posts in 2733 days

#8 posted 04-11-2021 11:58 PM

Seems the Delta’s and many clones have a reoccurring issue with the upper wheel block failing. Aftermarket fixes though if the price is right.

Lesson I leaned, bigger and heavier! Iron wheels. Vibration is no fun. Even a top of the line is not a lot of money in the big plan, so buy a good tool once. I bought a smaller Delta, spent a lot of time and money making it work as well as it could, to realize it just would not do the jobs I threw at it. Now I have a “real” saw, I find I use it a lot. A lot of small simple stuff I might have used the table saw of a hand saw for, go right to the BS. In many ways, it is the best safety feature for my TS. I run a 3/8 blade most of the time. It actually resews surprisingly well. I do have a selection of blades. I can’t imagine going less then 3 HP again. I bet those with 20’s are laughing at my “baby” 14, and with good reason. I would have gone 20 but just don’t have the space.

Guides are a preference. I had ceramics in my Delta and the seemed fine. Rollers on my Harvey, and again seem fine. The guides I don’t like is ones with tools. Ones where you just position and lock, as they never were quite right, or rear guides on their side. I like the Harvey guides over Laguna or Rikon, but if I were designing a saw, they would be fine thread adjustments, not eccentric. Think of that as great to fantastic. Again, if I were designing a saw, I would make swapping from a flat rear to the Carter groove really easy.

FWIW, as I got my saw tuned up and new blade, I find I don’t need to set my guides as tight and still can slice off less than 1/8 from a slab as long as the wood does not have too much internal stress. I learned that when a local member did some half length slices in some 2×2 poplar. Just could not use the fence for drift. Pinched the blade. I thought it was my setup, so spent a day fiddling. Nope, it was the wood as everything else I cut stayed dead true.

I have a foot break. It is nice, but not a reason to buy one machine or the other.
Some machines have a low speed, but it is too fast for metal work, so I don’t know what good it is. Maybe someone can chime in here.
Look at the trunnions. Some are far more beefier than the others.
Look at how the table tilts. Some are pretty sloppy stamped steel gears.
Look at dust collection. Mine has 2-ports, but I am going to look at the idea of a flexible bit of hose right under the table. If any tool could be dust free, it should be the BS.
The bigger the table the better. No surprise there.

In truth, a band saw is a very simple machine and they are all basically the same. Differences are slight. Mostly in guide adjustment. I do tend to over analyze.

View ibewjon's profile


2419 posts in 3877 days

#9 posted 04-12-2021 01:10 PM

More money, yes, but I am very happy with my laguna 14 SUV. Larger motor and 14” resaw. I have not resawn 14” yet, but I can. I also didn’t have room for a larger saw. Buy the biggest saw with the most hp you can afford. You won’t be sorry.

View Axis39's profile


482 posts in 681 days

#10 posted 04-12-2021 01:55 PM

I don’t have a lot of experience with larger machines, but I fumbled along with a too small (bench top) for way too many years. I regret not buying a bigger machine sooner.

I picked up a Rikon 10-326 a little over a year and a half ago and have loved it from the get-go. I like that it runs on 110, didn’t need any special circuit needs. It has enough power to get through everything I’ve tried so far. Has good capacity for resawing, has a good table that can be adjusted for any drift, has good bearing blade guides, probably a bunch of other features I can’t think of without some more coffee in me. I bought it when Woodcraft had their big Rikon monthly sale.

There are other brands and machines that are just as good, if not better. But, this is the one I have experience with.

I struggled for years with a way undersized 10” benchtop Craftsman. It did fine for little tiny stuff, but anything thicker or harder than a pine 1x was a struggle.

I would always suggest to buy the biggest machine you can afford, or that you think you might need in the future, and go for it.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View controlfreak's profile (online now)


2131 posts in 686 days

#11 posted 04-12-2021 02:26 PM

I picked up a rusty Rockwell (Pre Delta) 14” for $200. Cleaned up the cast table with WD40 and pad sander. Got a new set of tires, some cool blocks, new blade and I am loving it. After loading it on my truck I found out it had a brand new Delta motor on it as a bonus.

View splintergroup's profile


5133 posts in 2306 days

#12 posted 04-12-2021 03:19 PM

I started out with a 16”, 3.5 HP Italian BS (MM16) since I wanted to do resawing with 1”+ blades. No regrets there, but I did eventually buy a more conventional vintage Powermatic 14” for general purpose work where I needed a narrow blade.

Two saws set up differently is a huge time saver.

View BurlyBob's profile


8859 posts in 3350 days

#13 posted 04-12-2021 04:04 PM

I’m very happy with my Powermatic 14”. I’m in a 2 car garage so everything is on mobile bases so the wife can park her car on one side. When she’s gone I can spread out work.

View rustfever's profile


800 posts in 4394 days

#14 posted 04-13-2021 02:09 AM

First bandsaw?
What ever you can find. You will not know what features/size in important until you work with one.
I started with a 10”. Graduated to an 18”. then got a 14 ” and then a 36”. Each one has its place in the shop. I know longer have the 10”. But I now regret parting with it. The 14” and 18”are daily users. The 36” has not seen service for 4 year.
But I would never have know what to get, if I had not experienced each separate size tool.
10” = Homecraft
14” = Delta
18” = Laguna
36” = Yates/American

-- Rustfever, Central California

View MrUnix's profile


8563 posts in 3283 days

#15 posted 04-13-2021 02:45 AM

I picked up a rusty Rockwell (Pre Delta) 14” for $200.
- controlfreak

LOL – Just a note here – Rockwell came after Delta, not before :)

Delta formed in 1919 as the Delta Specialty Company, and changed their name to the Delta Manufacturing Company in 1924. Rockwell bought them in 1945 and kept producing Delta machinery until they sold to Pentair in 1984.

As for which BS to buy, it all depends on which one shows up first on CL!


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

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