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Driftmaster Fence on Grizzly 17" Bandsaw

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Review by bill4123 posted 1053 days ago 5036 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Driftmaster Fence on Grizzly 17" Bandsaw Driftmaster Fence on Grizzly 17" Bandsaw Driftmaster Fence on Grizzly 17" Bandsaw Click the pictures to enlarge them

I just finished installing my Laguna Tools Driftmaster Fence on my Grizzly 17” Extreme Series bandsaw. I have only used it briefly to test it but I felt compelled to let everyone know about my negative feedback up to this point.

I had a smooth transaction from Rockler and the shipping was prompt. The fence itself though was shipped as it came from the manufacturer and it is very much in-line with Laguna’s reputation…it arrived damaged. It was not damaged enough to effect how it works but it had scratches all over the back side of the extrusion from where parts were banging into it from inside the box. It beat itself up from within the box due to very poor packaging. They could have spent an extra $0.50 on the packaging and it would arrive in immaculate condition. I decided to not test my luck by making a claim and hoping to see a undamaged replacement piece…this was based on everyone else’s reviews of Laguna customer service.

I decided to use the existing mounting holes on the Grizzly iron table. I used a series of drill bits to increase the original holes to just under 1/2”. I didn’t hurt the table but I nearly hurt myself by using dull wood bits instead of metal cutting drill bits. As with any project, you must use the right tool for the job for a safe project. I now know these holes are about the only place you can place holes for mounting this fence but I also know the universal brackets aren’t quite universal enough. When I have the chrome rod all the way to the left I still would like to shift it another couple inches. I had to flip the chrome rod the other way because of the spacing of the holes on the rod and now have the rod almost exactly where it needs to be. I would like to shift it 1”-2” further left to maximize the amount of available table space but I didn’t lose too much table space with this conversion.

I really don’t like these mounting brackets because you will have to spend quite a while re-tightening things and tapping things back into alignment. I’ve aligned it twice just because it moved out of alignment from normal use. The adjustment sliding thingy that holds the fence and moves when you turn the crank…it kinda flops around until you put the extrusion on it and it gets weighed down…that’s right, the adjustment thingy is held in alignment by gravity and not nicely machined brackets and bolts :/ .

I have included a picture of the gap between the fence and the saw frame illustrating the need to shift the chrome rod 1”-2” to the left. There is also a picture of the whole thing assembled.

The problems I have from using it are in this paragraph. The extrusion needs to rub the iron top to hold the fence in alignment and this leaves you with metal to metal rubbing, not smooth gliding as you would expect on any major manufacturer’s tool. The threaded rod is not very straight and the little lever underneath isn’t very easy to use. The problem with the rod not being straight is the threaded part of that cam bolted to the lever doesn’t always hit the rod so when you use the crank it doesn’t always move the fence. When it does move the fence it sort of wobbles the extrusion in such a way that it makes unwanted adjustments to my drift (I thought this was supposed to be the drift MASTER!).

All in all, I am pleased with how easy it is to adjust for drift (extremely easy) but I am not confident it will perform well at all. I guess I’m just spoiled by the fit and finish of Powermatic, Jet, Incra, and all of the other big players. I think the idea behind this fence is great but I do not recommend buying this fence. There are three good things with this fence: the extrusion (it’s long and very solid), the ease of drift adjustment, and the chrome rod. Everything else with this kit is junk.

Update for 8/23/11:
I have included one final picture of this fence. It is the moment I finished boxing it up for return to Rockler. Customer service at Rockler was great and I was issued a full refund. I have reverted back to my stock fence. I do miss the Laguna extrusion because of how stiff it was but everything else I am glad to be rid of. I know Laguna sells an extrusion seperate from the fence so maybe I’ll give it a try. If I do I will write a seperate review for the extrusion. The saw takes up less space now, is easier to keep tuned-up, and still performs rather well.




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bill4123

24 posts in 1088 days



16 comments so far

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12942 posts in 1193 days


#1 posted 1053 days ago

I’ve had my own run-ins with Laguna, and I won’t bore you with the tragedy. Suffice it to say that you sprung for a monster saw and I’m sad that you’re unhappy with your fence. I’ve aborted this fence “in cart” several times, and having read this, I think I’m aborted for good. Thank you for this;

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View bill4123's profile

bill4123

24 posts in 1088 days


#2 posted 1053 days ago

I am revising my review and glad you decided to not purchase this fence. I have used it a little more and although I’m happy with how sturdy it is when the movements are locked…I am unhappy with everything else on this fence. The only good pieces are the chrome rod, the extrusion, and the drift adjustments.

View AttainableApex's profile

AttainableApex

338 posts in 1333 days


#3 posted 1053 days ago

sad to hear.
i have been saving up for that bandsaw for a almost a year and i contacted laguna and almost bought he fence before the saw because they drooped like 200 off the fence.
well im still saving up for the saw.

-- Ben L

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bill4123

24 posts in 1088 days


#4 posted 1052 days ago

@ deke: I got this fence for a few reasons. I liked the idea of having the indexed crank for when I cut veneer. If it worked it sure would beat tapping the fence every time I cut another thin slice from the same chunk of wood. Second, it takes about 2 seconds to adjust for drift angle. With frequent blade changes this just seemed much easier. I’m still very happy with the size and stiffness of the extrusion (much larger than the Grizzly fence) so I’m going to continue using it. 3rd, I had enough spare change to not be content with a “good enough” fence so I decided to try the new one. I have a welder so reverting back to the old Grizzly fence is as simple as filling the 1/2” holes and redrilling.

View reggiek's profile

reggiek

2240 posts in 1770 days


#5 posted 1052 days ago

I wouldn’t buy anything from Laguna until they get their house in order. I’ve read and heard too many horror stories…..One or two stories occassionaly about problems with a manufacturer…that is reasonable….there are always some customers you just can’t satisfy…..but Laguna is rife with horror stories…I have seen several customers who had to go so far as to file a claim against Laguna in superior court to get a refund their purchase after months of problems….so I would say this is not just a fluke. What is the benefit of a low price…if the tool is junk….and you waste alot of valuable shop time trying to make it right?

You don’t have to blow your budget on every machine you purchase….All manufactures even the high end ones have a lemon or two….and the good ones fix their problems with customer and tech support – I’ve seen if from Jet, Powermatic (although they seem to be falling short these days?), Grizzly, Bosch, Dewalt…and so on. Most of these are a bit more pricey then Laguna….but they are worlds away as far as customer support.

I’ve seen way too many lemons coming out of Laguna….I hate to say it…but if you order from them…better have a good lemon juicer….you may be settling for lemonade.

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

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

5146 posts in 1876 days


#6 posted 1052 days ago

Thanks for the review Bill. It amazes me the number of seemingly deserved negative comments that Laguna gets…especially when you consider the volume of complaints vs their volume of sales. They’re not exactly selling large volumes of stuff like Craftsman, Grizzly, Ridgid, or Delta, plus they’re selling almost exclusively to a well seasoned market who tend to know their way around tools. The complaints have been going on for a good long time now (maybe years)... I’ll occasionally read that Laguna has taken steps to turn things around, then I’ll read several more complaints from disappointed customers. Stuff happens to equipment from every tool supplier, but there’s got to be something wrong for Laguna to have earned such a notoriously poor reputation. It’s disappointing, but I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time to document your findings.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View ChuckV's profile

ChuckV

2260 posts in 2027 days


#7 posted 1052 days ago

knotscott -

I do not want to “drift” the conversation from the topic, but your tag line almost made me spew my coffee on my keyboard.

-- “A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.” ― Mark Twain

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12942 posts in 1193 days


#8 posted 1052 days ago

^Thanks for pointing me toward Knott’s sig line! :) It’s a sad day when you have to tap a table from the same manufacturer (lol). The crank was the selling point for me, too. 10 years ago when I got very interested in woodworking, nothing bad was EVER said about Laguna. Either we’ve become more critical, or they’ve become more criticize-able. I worked for a brewery once that was circling the drain; we hired a new PR guy and shot up in sales almost 1000%; the management was too difficult to work with, and he quit; we started circling the drain again and I quit. I guess these things can be cyclical.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View vicrider's profile

vicrider

175 posts in 1399 days


#9 posted 1051 days ago

I have the Grizzly 17” Band saw and use it to re-saw veneers. I have found that drift is minimal when using a WoodMizer blade, a tall and accurate fence, and, like Deke above, carefully adjusting the blade tracking and guides.

I resaw expensive hardwoods and (as an actual old timer [not like Deke ;) ]) can’t afford to throw much wood away.

Thanks for the review tho, as I am a true Grizzly fan; wouldn’t buy Laguna, too much bad press.

Vic

-- vicrider

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vicrider

175 posts in 1399 days


#10 posted 1050 days ago

Sorry, I meant a Wood Slicer blade…...

mea culpa

Vic

-- vicrider

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3591 posts in 1665 days


#11 posted 1049 days ago

Vic
I am interested in getting a larger Grizzly bandsaw, although it would dwarf the rest of my tools. Every once in awhile I see a Grizzly sob story, but overwhelmingly, the service seems good. Being up here in Alaska, I am concerned about shipping and service, although I do have a vacation house down in northern Washington. Apparently they have a showroom in Everett, Washington, and guess I will stop there on the way from the airport on one of my trips. Have to talk to you about your saw…...........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View bill4123's profile

bill4123

24 posts in 1088 days


#12 posted 1049 days ago

I see everyone is paying very close attention to my comments ;) . The 2 seconds was more relative than exact. The knob right at the front is very conveniently located and making a 1” test cut doesn’t take long. Getting everything dialed in was pretty quick.

View Dan Katz's profile

Dan Katz

42 posts in 1139 days


#13 posted 1048 days ago

It is very disapointing to hear stories like this. When some one spends good money and a lot of time only to end up frustrated in the end. Has anyone tried the Carter magnetic fences. They look and hold extremley well with allmost no moving parts and can be adjusted with the tap of a mallet.

-- VillageCarver,Chattanooga

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12942 posts in 1193 days


#14 posted 1048 days ago

Dan, it’s hard to find something negative about Carter. You’ll have to look pretty hard. I got such a deal on my bandsaw that I’m giving it the full Carter treatment. Carter everything and tons of cash, of course. I also replaced my tires with some uppity crowned ones. With a 3/4” Lenox in my stock 20” Rockwell, drift is zero. Zero. I can push 1/16 blindly through it. You’ll find the equipment that makes you happy, my friend. Whether is makes your significant other equally as happy, that’s an entirely different story. If you go Carter, go to Iturra Designs. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View rawdawgs50's profile

rawdawgs50

81 posts in 1518 days


#15 posted 1033 days ago

I have the same bandsaw and I use the stock Grizzly fence…which I have found to be very good. I have never even considered buying another fence to replace it.

The best and easiest solution is another bandsaw. Yes thats right …two. It does not have to be as big, but it needs to be a quality bandsaw with quality blades. Use this one for cutting curves and the Grizzly mostly for resawing or stright line rips. If you bandsaw a lot it will be the smartest move you can make.

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