Why didn't I get one first?

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Blog entry by DannyBoy posted 08-14-2008 07:12 PM 1269 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I distinctly remember a little over a year ago thinking to myself “If only I had a table saw, I could do anything I needed to do!” How naive I was. After picking up a cheap saw and struggling for a year with it, I am just now getting to where I can make some really great cuts with it. This was after, though, building a huge sled twice the size of the saw’s table and making other small adjustments as I went and countless other one time use jigs for certain cuts. All of this and I need a new blade seeing as I almost set fire to a piece of purple heart a few weeks ago. Crazy, I know.

Now, in retrospect, there isn’t woodworker alive who didn’t by a tool he didn’t need or before he was ready for it. In the rush of declaring yourself as a hobbyist or professional, we all get into that buy cheap and buy now mentality that is very understandable at first. Honestly, we all remember the rationality of it when it happened even if we shake our heads about it now and poke fun. Still, this is one of those lessons that comes with the territory. Something you have to learn by mistake since none of us listen to the advice of our peers and mentors on this one.

This brings me to my actual thought for this post. Last weekend while cruising the area garage sales, I came across a descent deal on a Craftsman 12in Band Saw-Sander. A crazy weekend and week day schedule kept me from doing hardly anything with it except for two nights ago. At about 8:30, I had the saw in the shop and was systematically unscrewing and unbolting everything I could from the old frame to brush out and wide down with WD-40. At ten, I had just enough time to put the new blade I bought on the way home from work on and fire it up.

Let me say this: I’m astonished at what this (a relatively low end band saw) has the potential of doing. My scrap box has already been ground down into a fine coating for the floor. Most of it was pine of various shapes and thicknesses, but there were a few pieces of rock maple in amongst other things. Easiest cuts I ever made.

So, now I’m wondering why it is that I didn’t spend the money for the table saw on a band saw? For the last couple days I have pondered this a bit and I starting to wonder more about other parts of this. Is the band saw not usually seen as an easy to use cutting machine? Are there really that many cuts that a new woodworker can’t do on a band saw but could on a table saw? Is there a hidden danger in a band saw that isn’t present in the table saw (likely the opposite there)? Do non-woodworkers not really know enough about woodworking to see the advantages of the band saw over a table saw?

More likely, I’m guessing it is the last piece. I know that I knew what a band saw was when I first started, but its possible that I assumed it was only for curved or scrolled cuts. Sort of a granddaddy of a scroll saw. Had I paid more attention to some of books I have read and internet articles and blogs too, maybe I would have made a different decision.

Well, for now, I have one of both and the versatility that comes with that. I’ve already planned out how to make a few cuts on the band saw that I would have used the table for. On top of that, I’m probably going to go broke on extra materials over the next little while building attachments and jigs to make those cuts. Christmas season will definately be a learning experience.

-- He said wood...

10 comments so far

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3414 days

#1 posted 08-14-2008 07:29 PM

Good luck cutting a sheet of plywood, doing dados, and crosscuts bigger than 12” on your bandsaw… :)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View danriffle's profile


72 posts in 2996 days

#2 posted 08-14-2008 08:19 PM

More or less, a bandsaw was my first “large” tool purchase—i.e. something I bought new and paid more than $200 for. But I did already have a cheap Craftsman 9” tablesaw that I picked up at a yard sale for $40. There are a lot of cuts I’ll go to the bandsaw first—now, like you, that I’ve learned its versatility. Long rips, tapers, of course re-sawing.

There are ton’s of resources around—I’d recommend hunting down R.J. DeChristoforo’s “Jigs & Fixtures Bible”. There’s a fantastic DIY bandsaw table & fence system in there—along with a ton of other great jigs. That guy was a genius for getting more out of your power tools than you ever thought possible.

View Big_Bob's profile


173 posts in 3132 days

#3 posted 08-14-2008 08:35 PM

Danny Boy:

I looked at your projects page. As I see it you will use both the table saw and the band saw. When I got started I used a radial arm saw. I have moved on now and gave that saw to my brother. As you get one tool you will notice something you would like to build but you do not have the right tool. Then you pick up another one then another one. It never stops! I just bought a hawk scroll saw this weekend. My wife asked me if I was in a tool collecting contest. Then she told me that she hopes “that she dies first so she will not need to get rid of all that stuff”. The only limit is the money of course and the size of the shop. That is why the mobile base is God’s gift to the woodworker.

-- Bob Clark, Tool Collector and Sawdust Maker

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5839 posts in 3008 days

#4 posted 08-14-2008 09:14 PM

A Table saw and a good one at that is a must I feel every serious woodworker cabinet maker needs a good saw then a bandsaw etc etc etc.Good Luck Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Dominic Vanacora's profile

Dominic Vanacora

508 posts in 3292 days

#5 posted 08-14-2008 09:31 PM

The next big tool you purchase will out shine the rest. I think this is the way of the Gods. If you got a new wife the old one would be at the yard sale.(PS don’t tell my wife I said that) Its the way nature does things. Newer is better and I don’t think that will ever change. Before I got may tablesaw (jet supersaw) I didn’t need it for the first 18 months. Now that I have it I could not live without it. By the way Never, Never buy a tablesaw you will out grow. You out grew yours. If you had the money or the need you would have purchased a big tablesaw. (by the way I purchased mine on the net, when a new model year came out and it was about 1/2 price plus shipping)
I need a band saw but only because it will make some jobs easier not because I must have it to do things.

-- Dominic, Trinity, Florida...Lets be safe out there.

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 3194 days

#6 posted 08-14-2008 10:57 PM

Ever try assembling something on a bandsaw table???

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View king's profile


71 posts in 3370 days

#7 posted 08-15-2008 01:55 AM

nice post it is fun to refurbish atool and see what you can do with it.


View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3096 days

#8 posted 08-16-2008 05:29 AM

The bandsaw is a good, versitle tool and with some practice you can do good rips and cross cuts on wood. You can do good Tenons on them too.

It can’t do rabbets and dados, it has limited width capacity, etc. Tablesaws offer larger tables on average (unless you’re in the 36” range maybe) for stability.

Great tool, but not king of the shop.

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 3288 days

#9 posted 08-16-2008 07:06 PM

Yeah… Table saws are great for the plywood cuts and dados/rabbits. Personally, I prefer cutting plywood down to rough size with a circular saw first then trimming down to specific. I don’t have dado blade so I use a router for the dados and rabbits. A lot of cuts like that are just easier to take the tool to the work rather than the other way around.

Each cut is different even if it is the same type (dado for example). The real point is to do the best and safest work with the best and safest tool you have available.


-- He said wood...

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3823 days

#10 posted 08-16-2008 07:29 PM

My Craftsman 12” band saw like the one you got worked 20 Hrs or more a week for about 10 years. It’s still running, I used it this week for the first time in a year. I have a 1/8” blade on it and a 1” blade on the big bandsaw. I don’t know how many toys it cut out or how many blades i went through.

I was welding up my own blades 1/16” blade and I’d get about 1 hr life before they flew apart. the 1/8” blades lasted longer. But I must have went through over 1000’ of blade over the years.

Enjoy the saw, they were made great and parts easy to get. I buy replacement bearings on E-bay 10 bearings for around $10.00 It will last you a lifetime.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

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