|Review by NH_bigben||posted 06-13-2013 07:01 AM||4024 views||0 times favorited||14 comments|
I’m new to LumberJocks but recently won the Baileigh sponsored contest at woodworkingtalk. I’ve read many reviews on this site and thought I would contribute my thoughts on the Baileigh WBS-14 that I selected as the grand prize. I made a video review to go along with this written review.
Packaging: The band saw was well packed and arrived without damage. The crating is sturdy and there’s plenty of filler foam to keep the saw from moving in the crate. The WBS-14 includes: Fence, miter gauge, nuts/bolts/tools for assembly, and a ¾” 4 TPI blade.
Assembly & Set-up: Assembling the saw was straight forward, and the manual is well written and easy to follow. Before I installed the table I made sure the blade was centered on the wheels, adjusted tension and set the guides. It’s much easier to do these things, especially adjusting the lower guides, without the table on the saw.
The door to the upper cabinet basically splits it down the middle, and when open it allows a complete view of the upper wheel when you’re adjusting blade alignment. This is a really nice design element, other saws have the wheel set back in the cabinet and a little window to check and adjust alignment – the wide open view of the upper wheel the WBS 14 is a welcome improvement over other band saws I’ve used.
The large guide bearings are mounted on a cam that held in place by a set screw, the cam is adjusted with a flat screwdriver – this makes for very fast and precise adjustment of the guides – very nice.
From there the table is quick to install. The bolt that holds zero for the table needed some adjustment, but it’s readily accessible and easy to adjust. The fence is easy to install and calibrate, squaring it to the table is based on a ball bearing mounted to a cam, loosen a set screw and adjust the cam to square up the fence – again very easy.
The most difficult part of the assembly was taking the protective film off the switch plate, no joke, I had just cut my finger nails and that was a pain, I gave up and returned to it later as you can see it half removed in the picture…
Between assembly and set-up/calibration it was up and running in a about an hour
Fit and Finish: The fit and finish on the WBS-14 is excellent. The paint job is very good, I’ve had new tool from other makers that arrived with suspect paint jobs that were rushed – not the case with the WBS-14 – excellent attention to detail.
Every piece of the band saw is heavy duty construction. The doors are heavy plate steel. A friend has a comparable 14” 1.5HP band saw (from a well-respected maker that will remain unnamed) and the doors feel like tin cans compared to the WBS-14. Even the Baileigh logo plate is milled from aluminum and bolted to the upper door – no stickers here! The column is massive, adding significant beam strength to the saw – I would have no reservations cranking up the tension on a carbide blade. Even the power switch comes straight from an industrial shop – including a power light – which is a nice touch.
I’m a ‘home hobbiest’ woodworker but this saw was clearly built for, and would hold its own, in a production shop.
Size: The saw footprint is roughly 2’x3’. The table surface is 36.5” inches off the floor. This falls within the range of standard heights for band saw tables, but I will likely build a stand to get it up to about 42”. Just a matter of personal preference, I’m 6’3” so I like a higher table. Baileigh’s website lists the overall height of the saw at 60”, which sounded short on reading. It’s actually 66” to the top of the cabinet and another 6” for the blade tension lever with tension released. The saw may look smallish in the video, but bear in mind I’m 6’3” and many many pounds – a lot of things look small next to me. It’s formidable in person.
The saw is powered by a 1.5 HP Kai Shen motor that is prewired to 110V, but can be rewired to 220V. The motor is quiet and powerful – there isn’t any noticeable spool-up when you switch on the saw – hit the button and it’s running full speed, again quite a contrast to similar 14” saws I’ve used which have a noticeable acceleration time between startup and full running speed (the saw I’m referring to has a 1.5 HP motor as well). The WBS-14 is very quiet, topping out at about 75 dB in my shop, which is quiet enough to carry on normal conversation, obviously this noise increases when you actually start cutting material.
The motor drives the 14” cast iron wheels via a belt that can be configured to run 2 different speeds: 588 rpm (2300 lin fpm blade speed) and 840 rpm (3250 lin fpm). The changeover between different wheel speeds is quick, easy and doesn’t require tools.
Two 14” cast iron flywheels are mounted to the frame on large sealed bearings. The wheels have rubber tires. The adjustment of the upper wheel alignment is handled via 2 knobs on the rear of the saw. The stock blade was positioned perfectly from the factory with the bottom of the blade gullet centered on the upper wheel. The single lever on top of the saw handles blade tensioning and tension release – I like having both of these tasks handled at the same point, a lot of saws have separate tensioning and tensioning release mechanisms but the WBS-14 keeps it simple and works effectively, most importantly it’s accessible from the operator’s position at the front of the saw. There is a tension gauge behind the upper wheel, these are fine for ball-park but tension is highly blade dependent and there are other effective ways to gauge tension – but I won’t get into that here.
The position of the upper guides is adjusted with a substantial rack and pinion gearing which is smooth and fast to operate. The guide bearings are large and, as mentioned previously, very easy to adjust. The upper guide has 2 bearings on each side and the thrust bearing. The lower guide has single bearings on the sides along with the thrust bearing.
The fence on the WBS-14 is really excellent. I feel that on a lot of band saws, even on the higher end brands/models, the fence almost seems to be an afterthought – not the case here. The fence is a substantial piece of extruded aluminum with track on 3 sides to easily mount auxiliary items, such as taller fences for resawing. The fence is supported on both sides of the table with substantial rails that are easy to adjust if you need to compensate for blade drift. The front of the fence is heavy steel and rides on two large bearings. This results in extremely smooth and effortless adjustment. In fact this fence is probably the smoothest I’ve ever used including the excellent Beismeyer style fence I have on my table saw. The saw also includes a hook on the back of the column to hang the fence out of the way when it’s not being used – a great idea to keep the workspace clutter free.
Dust collection is excellent, there are two 4” ports in the lower cabinet, one directly behind the blade before dust hits the wheel and the other in the bottom right corner. The lower cabinet is fairly well sealed and I was able to get good airflow with my 1300 cfm collector hooked up. A brush mounted to the lower door keeps sawdust off the wheel.
The WBS14 comes equipped with a foot brake, a nice safety feature. The brake stops the blade quickly and a micro-switch disables power to the saw immediately upon depressing the break. This is especially useful if you aren’t operating the saw from the front and need to kill power and stop the saw.
Performance: In the short time I’ve had the saw I’ve been able to test out the performance and I’m really pleased with how the saw cuts. There is ample power for resawing , and with proper adjustment the blade tracks straight as an arrow. The stock blade handled resawing of shorter stock (up to about 6” depth of cut) fine, but taller boards benefited from a blade with fewer teeth, something in the 2-3 TPI range. I installed a ¾” woodslicer blade (which has variable 2-3 TPI) and had excellent results resawing 10-12” hard maple. Cross cutting and ripping was handled no problem. The stock ¾ blade yielded straight cuts and a narrower 3/8” blade ate up the curves.
In use the saw just feels industrial. Not only is it extremely heavy construction, there’s a high level of precision as well. Thus far I haven’t managed to bog it down. Cuts are smooth and effortless. The saw is truly a pleasure to operate.
I’m sure I’ll enjoy this saw for a lifetime!