Buying a used band saw

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Forum topic by dschlic1 posted 08-20-2014 12:17 PM 1767 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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516 posts in 3306 days

08-20-2014 12:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question bandsaw

I have an up coming project that would be easier done on a band saw. So I am in the process of looking for a used band saw. I have found a 12” Craftsman tilting head unit on Craigslist. I would like to know what I should check for when inspecting the unit. I know that many people do not like Craftsman machinery, but I don’t want to discuss the merits of any particular unit, but rather things that would make or break the sale. For example I have head that the wheels should be checked for vertical alignment using a long straight edge.

5 replies so far

View StumpyNubs's profile


7854 posts in 4137 days

#1 posted 08-20-2014 12:35 PM

If you are just cutting curves and not resawing wide boards, pretty much any bandsaw that can keep a blade on the wheels will work. 12” is a little small, but those Craftsmans are all over and less expensive that 14” saws. If your budget won’t allow for a 14”, then go with the 12” and you can resell it later if you choose to upgrade.

Check the tires on each wheel for cracks. Some fine ones on the edges might be ok, but you should expect to have to change the tires in the near future, which will cost you about $60. Bad tires will make the blade difficult to keep tracking properly. Turn the saw on and let it run for a bit. Watch to see if the blade stays on the center of the wheels. Try adjusting the tilt of the upper wheel until the blade is tracking in the center of the tire, and see if it stays there.

Make sure the table locks tightly in position. Sometimes the tilt mechanism is worn and the table will move while you are using it. NEVER lift a band saw by its table!

Check the blade guides. Older band saws may have cracks in the metal that holds those little guide blocks. Any cracks will indicate that you will have to replace the whole guide, and that’s not worth it.

Don’t spend more than $100 tops for that Craftsman. They are too common and you can find them for that price pretty often. A 14” no name saw, or a Central Machinery (Harbor Freight) is worth about $150 used, in my opinion. A Delta or Jet is worth more, depending on the model.

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3190 posts in 3509 days

#2 posted 08-20-2014 12:52 PM

X1 What Stumpy said. While its nice if the wheels are coplanar It’s not totally necessary. That’s part of the reason for the tracking adjustment. As long as the blade will track on the center of the upper wheel you are good. I just recently replaced a 12” C-man wiith a 14” Jet. Primarily because I always wanted a 14” saw and I have gotten into resawing a lot more and the 12” had a little less capacity and was a little light on power. It resawed but you had to slow down the feed.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View dschlic1's profile


516 posts in 3306 days

#3 posted 08-20-2014 06:41 PM

There are some 14” “locally” however they are 1 1/2 hr drive from where I live. the 12” is less than 1/2 hr drive so I will check it out first. I not sure how much resawing I will be doing. Up till now I have been using my table saw for resawing. The project I mention involves cutting out thirty pieces with curved sides. Can do it on the router table with a template, but that is a lot more work.

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3389 posts in 3510 days

#4 posted 08-20-2014 09:00 PM

Check the guides, adjustment knobs and missing parts.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View runswithscissors's profile


3134 posts in 3361 days

#5 posted 08-23-2014 06:50 AM

The tilting head C-man bandsaw derived from the old ship saws, in sizes up to 36”, which were used for cutting constantly changing bevels on plank edges (so the planks would butt on the inside, but leave a V on the outside for driving in caulking cotton or oakum.) Took 2 people to cut a plank—one to steer the plank, the other to change the bevel via the tilting head. A really nice set up if you do a lot of beveling, since you don’t have gravity working against you as on a tilted table.

I checked out one at Sears a few years ago, and was not impressed. As usual with some of their tools at that time, the aluminum castings were poorly done and the fits were sloppy. Their bench top table saws and router tables had sagging extensions, for example. I don’t think the bean counters at Sears had any idea what table extensions were even for, except as a “feature” that might entice a buyer.

Also, the smaller the wheel diameter, the more likely you are to break blades, as they are flexed over a smaller radius and flex more frequently as they make their way around the wheels. Use only thin blades with a small diameter bandsaw.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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