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Take a chance and prepare to do some work

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Review by PurpLev posted 08-27-2012 03:33 PM 2581 views 0 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Take a chance and prepare to do some work No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Other than wood, I’ve been cutting other materials with a hacksaw for quite some time. Never minded the labor, but it just takes a long time to cut a 2” round steel bar :/ so I’ve always kept my eye open for a small bandsaw deal. After missing out on a few on CL, and noticing HF opened a store not far, with a grand opening, and tax free weekend I figured It’s probably as good as it gets for a new saw so I went and got one.

It seems several mfg are selling what seems to be the same saw (HF,grizzly,grainger, jet, and probably a few more in different colors) and most are in the 400-500 range while HF is in the 200 range (and can be had sub 200 as well). I checked all the specs, and manuals, and made sure these are all the same saw, and decided to go with HF because it is literally less than half price of the alternatives.

The saw is a horizontal/vertical saw with a 4×6 capacity. not quite a resaw type, but for cross cutting long stock to size it is THE right-tool. it has a stop block that can set a preset length of cross cut for short/medium lengths and you can then run your stock through it for a batch cut of parts. the saw will lower itself over the part and will automatically cut through the material (wood/plastics/metal) in the horizontal mode so you can do other things in the mean time.

In the Vertical mode it has a smallish table that can be mounted and used similar to any other woodworking bandsaw minus the fences, mostly for free (curve) cuts.

Why pay more for other mfg you ask? because HF Quality Control seems non existent, so you are gambling whether you will get a good unit or not. To be fair, you might get a lemon from other mfg as well, but the probability seems lower.

I got my (first) saw and brought it home. its quite heavy, and requires 2 people to assemble as you need to build the base for it, and have a 2nd person help you lift the actual saw and mount it on the base. you can probably figure out how to do it solo (which I did) but a helper really simplifies the process.

I assembled and cleaned up the saw, and then attempted to make a test cut when I discovered that the saw guide system was seriously damaged in what seems to be poor mfg. and an attempt to “make it fit” in the factory:

looks like something wasn’t cast/made right as the guide is very offset from center in the casting:

I was a bit bummed for a new product to looks like this, and contacted HF support. to this I must say support was very helpful and communication was GOOD. I got replies to both my email, and phone call saying that the part is no longer stocked, and that I’d have to replace the entire saw. good communication, but not a very good outcome (for me).

ended up having to repack the almost 200lbs saw and take it back to the store where it was replaced with minimal effort (good customer service as I stated before). I then went ahead and opened the saw in the parking lot before loading it in the car and made sure all the parts seemed OK as far as I could. then got the 2nd saw home (again) and with a dolly (you can see the straps holding the box closed) brought it to the basement (again):

build the base (again), mounted the saw on the base (again), cleaned it up (again), and this time all seemed a bit better albeit , this saw seems a bit less stable for some reason – I guess each with it’s own issues.

One thing that I’ve read online and made sure I do, is open the gear box, empty the existing gear oil, and clean the gear box as much as possible, as it seems to have some of the casting sand in the oil which can wreak havoc on the gears long term. After cleaning (with wd-40, rags and brushes) I reapplied new oil and closed it up:

This time, setting up was smooth, and a test cut on a 2×4 6061 aluminum yielded a really nice smooth and true cut even with the stock blade (more so than I expected):

the cut above took about 2 minutes as far as I can remember, something that would otherwise could take me 15-20 min with a hacksaw, so definitely an improvement.

I did get a few bimetal blades (not from HF) for it, but will wait until the stock blade fails before swapping anything.

There are other known issues with this saw, but will address them as they appear (if they do), for now this one seems to work well.

Conclusion:

I see some people refer to this saw as a “kit” and I guess that’s a good way to look at it. you are basically buying a project kit and plan to “make the saw yourself” with the parts in the box. I did buy it knowing that I would have to sacrifice time and effort to make it work or I would have been very disappointed otherwise. I would not recommend this saw for any business that relies on this for income, if you need a saw to generate day-in-day-out work, get a better quality machine, but if you are a hobbyist and need a saw for minimal expenses – this is a good alternative. just understand that you may need to put more effort into making this work as other options out there.

All in all, I’m happy with the cutting capabilities I now have, but this is for hobby use so I do not expect much of it, and I am also capable of fixing it if anything goes wrong. may not be everyones flavor.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.




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PurpLev

8476 posts in 2333 days



24 comments so far

View Fallon's profile

Fallon

80 posts in 1813 days


#1 posted 08-27-2012 04:01 PM

Some factory in China is definitely pumping out these saws for all the name brand vendors. Over the years there have been some changes (worm gear box being separate or part of the casting, guide wheel arm mounting method). The various manufacturers do get some tweaks & the HF one has the weakest motor of the lot (an ancient Jet one with a 1/2hp motor I had was much more power than the 3/4hp HF one).

My original Jet did pretty well considering I got it from an estate sale in need of rewiring & with no legs. It ended up getting knocked over & breaking. I swapped the motor onto the used HF replacement one I got (it was way underpowered & in need of some TLC). I probably paid $150 for the both of em.

The 4×6 bandsaws are very generic & popular, lots of sites out there dedicated to tweaking them for better performance.
http://www.tinyisland.com/4x6bsFAQ.html
http://www.mini-lathe.com/Bandsaw/Bandsaw.htm

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1378 days


#2 posted 08-27-2012 04:13 PM

Thanks for the review, Purp. I’ve been looking around for a metal lathe. HF has a Central Machinery one for less than $800 on sale right now. I’ve also looked at the Grizzlys. I’m just going to play around, so I just can’t pull the trigger. Maybe I’ll take the gamble, like you did.

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

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Craftsman on the lake

2394 posts in 2123 days


#3 posted 08-27-2012 04:25 PM

Nice review Sharon. I have a reciprocating hack saw that I’ve had for years. it works well. I’ve seen large chop saws for metal with bayflex wheels in them. I’ll bet those work well. I might have one some day. For cuts that don’t require a lot of precision a hand grinder is a nice tool too. I do a lot of welding and cut a fair amount of metal at times. have you put a chunk of metal in, say like a piece of angle iron?

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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Karson

34884 posts in 3085 days


#4 posted 08-27-2012 04:25 PM

I bought a Sears metal bandsaw about 30 years ago and I’ve put it to great use. (I hate a hand hacksaw).

Looks like a great buy. Mine sits for over a year without use, even more so, now that I’m not suppose to use the electric welder.

Good luck.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4341 posts in 1733 days


#5 posted 08-27-2012 04:35 PM

I have this saw for about 2 years ( I paid $169.00 for it, I believe).
I did review on it.
I do not use very often but when I do I am very happy with it.
I am going to use quite a bit to cut 3/4” black pine this weekend to install a new gas line in the kitchen.
The one thing I do not like with this saw is how top heavy it is, even just moving it, it is dangerous as it tips over extremely easily.

-- Bert

View Jon3's profile

Jon3

494 posts in 2790 days


#6 posted 08-27-2012 04:47 PM

Hard to beat $299 with a 25% off coupon.

Once I clear some more shop space, one of these is on my todo list..

View Kirk's profile

Kirk

110 posts in 2739 days


#7 posted 08-27-2012 05:02 PM

I bought the same one. Had major problems with it’s ability to shut off, and cut just past it’s table top. In the vertical position, forget it. Also, I had to cut off the corners of the clamp when making 45 degree cuts.

I broke blades for a while until it worked it’s self in.

Over all it is a piece of junk, but if you keep messing with it, it will start working good enough.

Good luck.

-- W. Kirk Crawford - Tularosa, New Mexico

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2333 days


#8 posted 08-27-2012 05:57 PM

Thanks for the comments. I’ve actually looked at a used Dayton with a 1/2hp motor which is supposedly stronger than the HF 1Hp motor, but it was in really bad shape, and figured I didn’t want to invest too much time rebuilding it. also the blade guides and other parts weren’t as nice as the HF one (shocking I know), but it did have nice wheel handles… can always make those (probably invest my time in better things though)

I would not say it’s a piece of junk… that’s a bit harsh. but there are definitely units with issues with them. if you get one “good” one, it’s mostly a good saw for the home shop. especially considering it’s sub 200 price range. if you get a ‘bad’ one- at least HF is good to take it back/replacement which is what I would recommend doing (and done so myself). for a production shop – yeah – get a bigger/better quality machine.

It’s a great bang for the buck – but like said – will require payment in the form of time/effort.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Fallon's profile

Fallon

80 posts in 1813 days


#9 posted 08-27-2012 06:24 PM

Bertha… The 7x & 9x lathes are the exact same deal, all come out of the same factory. Check out that link to http://www.mini-lathe.com, all the info you need is there.

HF probably has a weaker motor & fewer accessories, but the chassis is going to be the same.

View littlecope's profile (online now)

littlecope

2924 posts in 2187 days


#10 posted 08-27-2012 07:29 PM

Good Review Sharon…
I’ll bet you won’t be going back to the hack saw, “for old-times sake”, much… :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View ellen35's profile

ellen35

2576 posts in 2117 days


#11 posted 08-27-2012 10:47 PM

Interesting review, Sharon. HF is hit or miss but the hits are pretty good. I think anything from there requires some tinkering.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

1466 posts in 1199 days


#12 posted 08-27-2012 11:36 PM

Sounds like another HF “labor vs. price” deal. If you have the time, it’s a great deal. If you need to assemble and go, buy something else.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1281 posts in 1683 days


#13 posted 08-28-2012 03:34 AM

Bertha,

If you go for the 7x, get something a bit longer. I am waiting on my new bed to come in. The 7×10 gets awfully cramped when using drill bits in the tailstock. I went for the 14in bed.

I have a 7×16 micromark at work. It is a really nice little lathe. If it is in the budget, this is probably best of breed.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1281 posts in 1683 days


#14 posted 08-28-2012 03:37 AM

Purplev:

I really like that one but I cheaped out (on space) and got the portable bandsaw. Someday soon will be the project to make a stand for it. It is awfully hard to go wrong when they are only $80 minus whatever you come up with for coupons.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

501 posts in 2002 days


#15 posted 08-28-2012 11:51 AM

David Kirtley, Allan Little made a 2-part video series on the stand he made for his portable bandsaw. It can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNr-yQnpOGk&list=PLE0E1CBD7270B1F7E&feature=plcp

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

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