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Good bandsaw but pricey

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Review by Manitario posted 04-17-2012 06:27 AM 4796 views 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Good bandsaw but pricey No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve had this bandsaw for about 8 months now, so I thought that it was about time to review it. I started looking at bandsaws about a year ago, mainly because I wanted something that I could cut curves with. I didn’t really think much about re-sawing during the decision process, thought it might be something I would do someday, but the real reason for buying a bandsaw would be to cut curves easily. I have several other General International tools, mostly because they are the main brand that the local woodworking store sells. I have read a lot of good things about the Grizzly bandsaws, but there is something nice about having a store that you can go to and look at what you are going to buy (and real people to talk with if something goes wrong). Gen Int. had just come out with the 90-170 for the 2011 year and it seemed like a good machine: 1 1/2hp motor; 12” resaw capacity (which I figured may come in useful at some point in the future) 2×4” dust ports and a nice looking Excalibur fence. As well, I liked that it had cast iron wheels and a quick release blade tensioner. Overall, after 6 months, I have used it very little for cutting curves (!) but have found it extremely useful for all sorts of other cuts that I used to do awkwardly on the TS. Recently I put a 3/4” Woodslicer blade on it and cut some nice 1/16” walnut veneer without any appreciable drift. It’s difficult to give a good review of the bandsaw though as it is my first bandsaw and I don’t really have anything to compare it with. However, it is accurate, easy to adjust and use and the fit and finish is flawless. It works as I expected it to! Generally though, I have a couple observations about bandsaws that seem to be common with most different manufacturers.
1) The table is small. For a machine that works so well at rip cuts (and even for resawing) it is strange that most bandsaws have small tables.
2) The throat insert is crap. I realize that this isn’t the most important part of the machine (and easily replaced) but it is even worse that the most basic of TS throat plates.
3) Would be nice to have an easy way of adjusting the bearings that doesn’t involve using allen wrenches in small, cramped spaces. Am I happy with the bandsaw: yes, and I would probably buy it again. That said, for slightly less $$$ I could have got a 17” Grizzly….

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil




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Manitario

2351 posts in 1548 days



9 comments so far

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HillbillyShooter

4642 posts in 958 days


#1 posted 04-17-2012 02:59 PM

Thank you for the review; and, I’m sure you are much better off with the General 90-170 than a Grizzly. I live in a town that has a Grizzly Distribution Center, and IMHO General is a superior brand—you really do get what you pay for. The cast iron wheels are a real bonus. I have a Delta 14” BB that I bought back in the late 80s (think it may have been made in Canada), and which has served me well but it has what looks like a “pot” metal cast wheel. How is the 3/4” resaw blade working out for you? I’ve seen some discussion that the 14” wheel was too small in diameter for the 3/4” blade and resulted in excess stress that may cause breakage.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

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PRGDesigns

207 posts in 979 days


#2 posted 04-18-2012 03:48 AM

HillbillyShooter you also have Ballew Saw and Tool in your neighborhood, which used to be one of my all time favorite tool stores, so you are not stuck with only looking at Grizzly. I wish Ballew was open on Saturdays so I could visit more often. I also toured the Grizzly outlet in your burb and saw everything they had to offer. I agree with you on the happiness factor with the General over the Grizzly. We used to live in Nixa and Springfield from 1986 until 1992. Is OP Hardwoods still in business in Springfield? I know they were under a lot of DNR scrutiny at their mill near Lake of The Ozarks several years ago.

Manitaro – check out the Carter Products bandsaw accessories – they have an extension table that fits most bandsaws. I saw it in person at one of the Woodworking shows and liked the concept. I also upgraded my guides to the Carter Products for my bandsaw and am happy with the results.

-- They call me Mr. Silly

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HillbillyShooter

4642 posts in 958 days


#3 posted 04-18-2012 07:36 PM

PRGDesigns: Please note I did not say I only shopped at Grizzly, just that we had a distribution center here. In fact the Ballew boys (Steve & Jack) and I are only too well acquainted as I’ve had the honor and privilege of representing them for twenty years. That may be the connection with my shop being stocked with Powermatic (made in USA during 1990s), Delta, Festool, etc. I agree they are the best local (and national) tool store around and really great guys to do business with, including all their employees. And, yes OP Hardwoods is still in business but has changed hands at least once since you were here. OP is a real jewel for selection on various species of wood, but no longer handles tools like they used to do. As for Grizzly, a final note that the few things I have purchased there (because Ballew doesn’t have, handle or can’t get) I’ve usually ended up returning as being a disappointment when I try to use them.

Manitaro—fully concur on Carter Products, also Iturra. I particularly like the Carter blade guide bearings.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

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PRGDesigns

207 posts in 979 days


#4 posted 04-18-2012 08:05 PM

John C – Jack and Steve were a pair. Best sharpening guys I ever used. Does Steve’s wife still work there? I used to run into them at the KC Woodworking Show after I moved out of Springfield. The only POS I bought from them was a PowerMatic “Artisan” Drill Press. I don’t blame Ballew, but it was a big disappointment. I still buy from them online.

-- They call me Mr. Silly

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Dustmite97

430 posts in 1886 days


#5 posted 04-20-2012 09:39 PM

Great review! I’m a big fan of General International machines.

View Rich's profile

Rich

2 posts in 423 days


#6 posted 08-04-2013 01:00 PM

I noticed you were also from Sault Ste Marie and mentioned there was a local woodworking store that sells General International machines. Could you let me know which store you bought your General International machinery from? I have been eyeing up new machinery, but according to General’s website there are no distributers around here. I realize this post if fairly old, and you may have moved here after buying them, but I thought I would ask and maybe your source is closer then the ones I have been looking at buying from.

Thanks, and great reviews!

-- ~Rich

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CessnaPilotBarry

892 posts in 776 days


#7 posted 08-04-2013 04:40 PM

Just a small data point to consider…

General and General International are two different brands of machine.

General is (was) a long-lived line of machinery built entirely in Quebec. General International is a line of machinery sold by General, but sourced overseas.

Older General is great stuff. Older General International can be hit and miss, just like a lot of imported tools, but many of the newer tools are excellent, again, just like a lot of other imported tools.

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2351 posts in 1548 days


#8 posted 08-04-2013 07:12 PM

Hey Rich, I bought the BS when I lived in Thunder Bay…they have/had Toolswood where I bought the machine from. No dealers in SSM, in fact no tools stores at all in SSM. I’ve bought several machines while living here from Canadian Woodworker; of course it has to be shipped which is $$ but their prices are good and they are easy to deal with.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Rich's profile

Rich

2 posts in 423 days


#9 posted 08-04-2013 07:30 PM

Thanks Rob. I was pretty sure there wasn’t, but I thought I would make sure so I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars on shipping for nothing.

-- ~Rich

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