So I finally made an excuse to buy a new tool – a bandsaw to be precise. The problem is that I can not foresee a need for a heavy-duty model, nor can I justify its expense at this time. For that money, I could simply ask my wood supplier to resaw it for me for a few bucks.
I went to my local BORG and could only find mid-priced models, $400-800. This was more than I was willing to spend. Then I went to Canadian Tire, since there is currently a 1/3 off sale (thanks MsDebbieP for pointing this out). But I could find no information on the MasterCraft bandsaw they offered, other than what was found on their site. No independant reviews, no one else selling it, and I could not even find out who was the original manufacturer (they re-brand, a very common tool practice). So I eventually found a different tool supplier (RONA, a Canadian BORG, but they have not assimilated their way across the country yet). From them, I found a $130 Delta SM400.
There were only 2 reviews online, one positive, and one negative, but I had experience with cheap tools before, and I knew it was usually a matter of proper calibration. Besides, if I didn’t like it, I would just bring it back. So I bought it, then proceeded to look for an agressive blade… but all I could find were 6 or 8tpi blades, and I wanted a 4tpi for the woods I intended to saw. Three stores later, I found a Viking 3/8” blade, with 3tpi! Perfect!
So I brought it home, assembled it in about 30 minutes, and then I took a further 30 minutes adjusting all the guides and stops, then spinning the blade, and re-adjusting the thing until I knew it couldn’t be tweaked any more. I plugged it in, and after adding a bit more tension, declared it good to go.
I played around with a piece of 2×4, using a maple baseball blank for a fence since it was the perfect height and it was nice and square! You can see the results here, with two evenly spaced cuts leaving a thin sliver of wood between.
Now for $130, this bandsaw has done pretty much everything I have asked of it. It gives clean cuts, and as long as I don’t feed too fast it chugs along without any dip in power. I’m never in a rush in my shop, so this is perfect.
Overall, I’m pleased. The first project I used this for is a pair of boxes, for which I needed to split a 3/4” lacewood board, and it worked beautifully. Because of internal stresses within the wood, the board pinched the blade and stopped it 3/4 way through the board, but that is acceptale for me, and the solution was simply to extract the wood, flip it around, and cut in from the other end. A higher-powered bandsaw would have never hesitated, but I’m willing to live with that. The reviewers also complained of noise/shake, but if you RTFM, it tells you to bolt the thing down! So I just clamped it to my router table, which is the most stable table I have, due to its density, and it never vibrated at all.
So there you have it. A bandsaw for the little people!