|Review by LucasinBC||posted 09-13-2011 05:00 AM||7318 views||0 times favorited||8 comments|
Here’s a little review for any of you fellow Canucks out there who are looking for information on Craftex machines. For most US citizens this review will mean virtually nothing because as far as I can tell Craftex is a brand that is pretty much exclusively marketed and sold in Canada through the Busy Bee Tools franchises. I have heard that there is some relationship between Busy Bee and Grizzly but I don’t believe the conspiracy theories.
I purchased this bandsaw in the spring of 2010 so I have owned it for approximately 1.5 years. I have wanted to write a review for a long time but I figured that I would give it an experienced review rather than my initial thoughts. After all any tool can look and work great right out of the box, it’s the long-term success or failure that matters most to me.
I bought this saw as a beginner. I had very little power tools at the time, and I was just starting my venture into woodworking. As a beginner I believed that having a capable bandsaw was in my best interests. My reasoning was that bandsaws are very versatile, they are simple and relatively safe to use for beginners and they require very little in terms of setup compared to other types of machines (jointers, etc.) I won’t lie, as a beginner I had a healthy respect/fear of owning a table saw, so I went for a bandsaw. Don’t get me wrong, I like my table saw now, I just felt it was a bit more prudent to get a bandsaw first and get used to that before I moved onto the table saw.
Since I use my bandsaw for most of my rough cutting, curved cutting, tenoning and resawing, I wanted a 2HP saw that could get my work done without any strain on the motor. This proved to be a silly mistake. I have learned that 2HP is quite unnecessary for a home workshop person. 2HP is pretty much only needed if you are a serious woodworker an you are doing major re-sawing all the time. So the Craftex CT082 (which is no longer available, mind you) seemed attractive at about $750.
So without further delay – on to the review. Quick breakdown (on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being great)
The frame is not solid; it is made of what I believe is pressed sheet steel. The motor, which is nice and powerful at 2HP, vibrates a lot a the foot of the machine. I don’t know why but it seems that the frame cannot take the vibration and it causes the hole machine to vibrate. This thing is not passing the so called “nickel test.”
That being said, once I had the right blade on the machine, it made pretty good cuts. Re-sawing was no problem, and once I had the adjustable fence adjusted for drift, there were no problems with making straight cuts.
The trunion for the table appears to be cast aluminum, as are the wheels I believe. The wheels are well aligned, and I have no problems with coplanarity or tracking. Actually, there is a self-tracing tire on the bottom wheel and it makes fitting a new blade very easy.
The dust collection is not great – there is a 4” port at the back and bottom of the machine. It’s ok, but most bandsaws seem to have the ports near to the table where the dust is actually created. Having the dust at the bottom of the machine simply makes more dust accumulate inside the frame.
I should mention that the stock Craftex blades are absolute garbage. Don’t use them. I went ahead and ordred some Lenox Flex-back carbon steel blades from bandsawbladesdirect.com and I have to say that they were 1000 times better. Use those an this thing can cut pretty decently.
Fit and Finish: 2.5
While the motor appears to be quality, many of the parts seem flimsy and cheap. A lot of the parts simply don’t align properly. This is pretty obvious when considering the guides. These are euro style disc guides. They do the trick, but it is very difficult to align them properly, this is made even more difficult due to the vibration as I mentioned earlier.
I’ve had parts break on me in the short time that I have owned it, and I have to stress that I am a weekend woodworker, and this machine gets maybe 2 hours of total use each month MAYBE. Also, it is in a well heated garage, no moisture, and no abuse. I would hate to see what would happen to this thing under heavy usage!
Endurance / Longevity: 2
About 1 year into owning this machine the tensioning knob cracked. I’m not sure why this happened, but the handle which is made of plastic just cracked and I had to replace it. Well I ordered a new one, only to find out that when I got the machine in the first place the handle had actually been expoxied to the tensioning rod. Because of that I could not remove the broken handle from the rod. So I took out my hacksaw and cut it off. Then I tried to epoxy the new handle onto the rod. For some reason I found that it did not work for me – I tried two different kinds of epoxy and it still kept coming unglued when I tried to apply pressure in tightening the handle.
Now there is a set-screw hole in the handle, which to me would make sense in tightening the handle to the rod. However, my machine never came with one originally and Craftex parts don’t have one in stock. Better yet, the set screw is a crazy odd shape so that no standard or metric bolts or screws that I can find fit. So right now I am in a holding pattern in trying to find a way to attach the handle to the rod. This by far has been the worst experience for with this saw.
As well, a few months ago I started noticing crack lines on the face of the cast iron table. I believe these are stress lines which have formed as a result of the large table being insufficiently supported by the trunions. The table weights a freaking ton because it is huge. I remember mounting it thinking “wow, I wonder how this table is going to get supported because there seems to be nothing but that tiny trunion.” Well, now I know. It ISN’T well supported. The table already shows signs of defection; it’s only a matter of time before it is completely out of square.
Customer Service: 3
Well, whenever I have called for help there is always someone on the phone ready to help. I give them points for that. Even better, when I leave a message they actually call me back. The only problem, as mentioned above is that they simply don’t have the right part that I need. Specifically, the set screw that holds my tension handle. That killed it for me.
I almost forgot this. The manual that comes with this machine is not very helpful. I’ll even overlook the poor English as this seems to be par for the course with many machines coming from China. Pure content-wise, this is not a very good manual. There are many incomplete sections, such as how to properly tension the blade, and setting up the table. Again, the bare necessities are there, but nothing more.
Would I buy this machine again? Sadly no. I would definitely not. In fact, I am currently saving up some cash so that I can sell this thing at a major loss and buy myself a decent General 14” bandsaw like I should have done in the first place. I think Craftex is trying to improve its image, they even have some “CX” series which I suppose are supposed to be their flagship type machines on the market now. But for me, this was the first an last Craftex machine that I will ever own. I simply cannot call this a positive experience. Oh well. Live and learn. And if you live in BC and want a bandsaw for cheap give me a shout!
Questions and feedback gladly appreciated.
-- Making mistakes is essential in learning woodworking.