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Laguna Tools LT 14 SUV Bandsaw Review - So very close!

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Review by Tim Dorcas posted 12-18-2009 05:23 PM 25031 views 2 times favorited 42 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Laguna Tools LT 14 SUV Bandsaw Review - So very close! Laguna Tools LT 14 SUV Bandsaw Review - So very close! No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

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.




View Tim Dorcas's profile

Tim Dorcas

188 posts in 2606 days



42 comments so far

View rustfever's profile

rustfever

639 posts in 2058 days


#1 posted 12-18-2009 06:08 PM

When I recieved my Laguna LT16, I got everything, including all paper work. Set up and running went quickly, with only minor amount of time doing fine tuning. Purchased the Driftmaster fence a few months later. I, too, was put off by the instructions to drill new holes. I found different bolts and promptly got that tuned and running. I found, however, that I must move the Driftmaster Fence all the way to the left, to be able to open the lower door for saw changes. The latching proceedure for the Driftmaster Fence is a bit clumbersome, however.

I have never found it necessary to ‘re-tune’ the saw. After 2 years, still runs great and accurate. And I do use it most every week, if not every day.

Now the Re-Saw King blade is a different story. I purchase it and the first three or four cuts were beautiful. But the blade dulled rather quickley. Did I do something wrong? I don’t think I did. I returned it for sharpening, and the same thing happened. I seem to get 100’s and 100’s of feet of cutting from a plain blade with set. But litterely only 20’ or 30’ with the Resaw King. A lot of money, wasted, in my opinion.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View Tim Dorcas's profile

Tim Dorcas

188 posts in 2606 days


#2 posted 12-18-2009 06:42 PM

I hope that’s not the case with the Resaw King blade. I have ordered three of them.

-- www.craftedbytim.com - A Woodworking & Renovation Blog & www.craftedbytim.com - I make. You buy.

View reggiek's profile

reggiek

2240 posts in 2018 days


#3 posted 12-18-2009 07:09 PM

Great review and info. I was wondering if Laguna has fixed their horrible customer service? There has been multiple postings of horror stories regarding this. I have considered them a no buy due to this and will continue to avoid them until their service is up to par and shows that it will continue to be. Keep us posted as to any contact with them and the results.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View WhittleMeThis's profile

WhittleMeThis

125 posts in 2121 days


#4 posted 12-18-2009 08:48 PM

I was looking at buying a slot mortise machine from Laguna and passed based on the customer service reviews. I just don’t have the time to waste dealing with unresponsive customer service. Band saws have been Laguna’s bread and butter for years its good to hear their saws still perform well.

View rustfever's profile

rustfever

639 posts in 2058 days


#5 posted 12-18-2009 11:14 PM

Tom,
I wondered if the wood I was cutting was gummy or full of pitch. It seemed to not be. But those carbide teeth dulled out very fast. Way to fast. I checked my guides and wheel position, and it was dead on. Both times the blade dulled bad,fast. So I am no longer using that blade. It is wrapped up and in a box on the shelf, with a tag that says ‘Dull Do Not Use’.
Everything else I love about the Laguna. And as many will recall, I have a very bad experience with a Grizley 18”. The Luguna is just the oposite, it is great. of course, the old [ca 1960] Delta 10” just keeps running and running.

I have had two occasions to call consumer support. Both time, needs were handled promptly. Absolutely no complaint there.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View bigike's profile

bigike

4035 posts in 2036 days


#6 posted 12-19-2009 12:33 AM

wow i posted a question on this saw and got alot of bad news this changes alot.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://www.icombadaniels@yahoo.com

View Andrew's profile

Andrew

709 posts in 1946 days


#7 posted 12-19-2009 04:35 PM

Great review, very thorough. It is appreciated.
Thanks

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13347 posts in 2421 days


#8 posted 12-19-2009 07:22 PM

Congrats on your new bandsaw!

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View NBeener's profile

NBeener

4806 posts in 1922 days


#9 posted 12-20-2009 06:36 PM

My limited view on this is: Laguna seems to have a great reputation for the products they make, but a not-so-great rep for the service behind them.

Maybe Grizzly should buy them. Grizzly seems to do a really nice job of handling customer issues…..

Hope you get ‘er all dialed in. Looks like quite a tool!

-- -- Neil

View araldite's profile

araldite

187 posts in 2152 days


#10 posted 12-21-2009 05:00 AM

I bought a Laguna 14L, Driftmaster and Resaw King blade (plus other blades) about a year ago. It came with instructions and I had no trouble setting it up. The Driftmaster attached fine to the existing holes without drilling and taping and I had no problem getting it aligned and set up. I had the same problem as you with opening the door to change blades. It can be done, but it’s a struggle. I complained to them, and I think they are well aware of it because they never responded. That, to me, is the biggest drawback.

Their resaw blade works great for me. I rip green red oak and cherry limbs regularly and cut 1/16” veneer from all sorts of straight grain and burl with no problem. I’ve cut 1/32” veneer off exotic burl with amazing accuracy.

The drift master has not only allowed me to cancel out drift, but also tune in exact repeatable cuts at 1/16’ with no ruler.

It’s a super accurate band saw once you get it tuned in. But, granted, blade changing is a pain with the Driftmaster attached.

-- Failure is the road to success if you learn to learn from your mistakes - Vince, Greenville, SC

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

712 posts in 2366 days


#11 posted 12-21-2009 07:37 PM

All that trouble and still 4 stars? Makes me glad I bought a Grizzly.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View PixelPaul's profile

PixelPaul

3 posts in 2006 days


#12 posted 12-21-2009 08:59 PM

Thanks for the in-depth review. Please report back as you get a chance to use it some more. I recently had a good look at this bandsaw, and came away very impressed. I hope it have it in my shop someday soon. It is in a completely different league than any Grizzly offering – at least those I saw in their showroom.

View Tim Dorcas's profile

Tim Dorcas

188 posts in 2606 days


#13 posted 12-22-2009 12:24 AM

Keep in mind the bandsaw itself is well made. My troubles were mostly around the fact that I did not get any instructions. Relative to other bandsaws in its class I still think it’s one of the better bandsaws. The fence that came with it is better than some of aftermarket fences I have used and still allows you to fairly easily adjust for drift. The 14” resaw capacity is better than some 18” saws. And how many 14” bandsaws come with a 3 hp motor? While the tone of the review is one of frustration (and rightly so), now that I have it setup it has been fairly enjoyable to use.

-- www.craftedbytim.com - A Woodworking & Renovation Blog & www.craftedbytim.com - I make. You buy.

View buffalosean's profile

buffalosean

174 posts in 2135 days


#14 posted 12-24-2009 01:32 AM

I hear a rumor that their customer service was terrible. Glad it worked out in the end.

BY the way. I would have been pretty pissed about drilling holes into a brand new machine. You shouldn’t have to rework anyhting on a brand new machine. Especailly a high quaility machine that cost as much as yours.

good luck with the saw!

-- There are many ways to skin a cat...... but, the butter knife is not recommended

View charlton's profile

charlton

78 posts in 2157 days


#15 posted 01-02-2010 04:53 AM

This is pretty unfortunate and rather alarming. I’m about to pull the trigger on the LT16 3000 which I gather is essentially the same saw as your LT14 3000 but just a bit bigger. Now I’m starting to wonder if I should defer or forget the purchase. :( The problem is that Grizzly isn’t here in Canada and getting them in is a fair drive for me. :(

Thanks for the review. Sad to see such horrible service from Laguna. Did you buy from them directly or through a store? I would hold the store responsible for support.

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