|Review by Tim Dorcas||posted 12-18-2009 05:23 PM||26941 views||2 times favorited||42 comments|
I first saw a Laguna Bandsaw in 2006 at the Calgary Woodworking Show. Man was it impressive! It just oozed quality. And when they cut a burl veneer slice, it looked like it barely needed sanding. What can I say – I was hooked (I still have that veneer slice). However at the time I didn’t have the money for it and went on to purchase something else. I always kept that demo in mind.
After trying for three years to get my bandsaw to accurately cut wood and spending a mini fortune to do so, I decided to stop messing around and finally get my dream bandsaw – a Laguna. I was actually thinking about the Laguna LT 16 3000 series but was told that the new LT14 had a larger resaw capacity. I was sold. I have to say that in addition to the LT 14 SUV, I also purchased the Laguna Driftmaster fence, the mobility kit and the Resaw King for good measure. Approximately three weeks later everything showed up.
When I finally got it home and start to open everything up, there were no instructions. Not for the bandsaw. Not for the Driftmaster. No problem there. I’ll go to the website and download them. I can’t seem find them. Not searching the website, not using Google, not using anything. It’s now 8:30PM at night and too late to call customer support. I proceed to download pictures of what it’s suppose to look like when it’s complete. Based on this, I start putting everything together. Most things make sense so it’s not too bad.
A couple of things stand out immediately once I get everything unpacked. It’s a lot smaller than I would have thought. From a height perspective, it’s shorter than my other 14” with a riser. I also notice that the table is much, much lower. At first glance this bothers me but in actual practice it has made my life a little easier. While I’m not a hundred percent sure what I’m doing, I do manage to get the major parts of the saw together and go to bed.
When I call customer service the next day, they say they do indeed have instructions they can send me via e-mail and that they will send me a copy of the setup dvd. Cool. Except nothing ever comes. Not that day. Not the next. Not ever. It then occurs to me that they never did take my home address. I guess all of the things I read about Laguna Customer Service are true. How hard is it to at least e-mail instruction or just tell me where they are on the website? I’m not overly impressed. Next up is the install of the Driftmaster fence.
I will do a write up of the fence itself later but more things stand out. The prebuilt holes in the table don’t accept the 1/2” bolts that come with Driftmaster kit. On the website they talk about enlarging the holes to accept the bolts. Do they really expect me to drill into my brand new (second most expensive item in my shop besides my lathe)? Nah. That can’t be. The holes are almost big enough. Could they not have just done this when they were manufacturing the table. This makes no sense. In the end, I went to your favorite home D PO and bought some hardware to make it work without drilling in my saw.
In my mind this is the common theme. The Driftmaster is a great fence but what a pain in the butt to get it going. I watched the web videos more times than I can count in anticipation of getting everything setup but in actual practice it wasn’t that easy. Once setup it took no time to get everything aligned.
Okay, now I need to get my 1/2” blade off and put on the Resaw King. Wait. The Driftmaster won’t let me open the door all of the way. I move to both ends of the fence support. The stupid door refuses to open enough to let me change the blade. Clearly nothing is going to be easy. With a lot of careful bending and flexing of both blades, I do manage to get the old blade off and the new blade installed but I can say it’s going to be a rare occurrence for me to change blades. That’s a bummer as I really would like to change blades for different applications. I didn’t just spend over $2k so I could do resawing. But if I can’t figure out something easier…..
After wiring up the shop for my new piece of equipment and adjusting the fence for drift (very, very easy to do now) I am finally able to start cutting wood. I grab a scrap piece of fir and start cutting veneers. It actually becomes a game of how thin I can consistently go. Finally something goes as planned. Who knew making veneer could be so much fun. It kind of reminds of a nice hand plane. How think can you make a shaving and still keep it in one piece?
The Laguna LT 14 SUV is a well made bandsaw. Just to make life easier I am listing the specifications directly from the Laguna Website:
- Motor: 3Hp Leeson
- Rack and pinion upper guide: Yes
- Foot brake: yes
- Micro switch on foot brake:yes
- Rack & pinon table tilt: yes
- Quick release blade: Yes
- Mob kit optional: yes
- Resaw height: 14”
- Cast iron table: yes
- Weight: 380 Lbs
- Ship weight 420 Lbs
- 220 volt 1 phase:
- Amp breaker: 30A
- Maximum blade width: 1”
- Table size: 15” x 15”
- Table height: 35.5”
- Throat clearance: 13.25”
- Blade Length: 125”
- Laguna Guides: Yes
- Total height: 70”
It has all of the features you would like to have in a bandsaw including a quick release lever, windows that allow you see bandsaw tension and blade centering on the tire. The rack and pinion upper guide works reasonably well but you still have to watch that the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down. Personally I like the ceramic blade guides and while they are not completely toolless found them easy to setup. I have already mentioned the lower height of the table but I do find myself wishing it were a bit bigger. The rack and pinion table tilt is suppose to make tilting the table easier. I have not found that to be the case (I think this is a setup issue). Tilting the table is actually a bit of a pain.
So was it worth the money? I’m still not sure. For all of the frustration, it does cut veneers accurately and so far the 3 hp motor will take anything I throw at it as fast as I can push the wood without bogging down even a little. However it’s the little things that bother me. Installing the Driftmaster should have been easier. Instructions should come with your equipment. I did manage to find the instructions later. (Note to Laguna: You should be able to find support documentation with each piece of equipment on the website. OR create a tab on your website called SUPPORT. If I’m a reasonably web savvy guy and if I had trouble finding the install docs, I can only imagine what some other people are going through). Support is what you read elsewhere. Calling customer service got me no where but when I talked to Tim (a Laguna rep on the Sawmill Creek Forum), he was great. To me however, customer support should be consistent organizationally wide.
I know lots of people are buying this saw or the LT 14 3000 which is the same with a 2 hp motor. I would be interested to know if mine was a singular experience.
4 Stars – A great saw that is brought down by a few issues. So close! So very, very close!
-- www.craftedbytim.com - A Woodworking & Renovation Blog & www.craftedbytim.com - I make. You buy.