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Laguna Driftmaster: 5 Stars for performance, 3 Stars for fit and finish

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Review by Rockne posted 10-30-2014 04:05 PM 5902 views 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Laguna Driftmaster:  5 Stars for performance, 3 Stars for fit and finish No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve pretty well summed up my feelings about Laguna’s terrible customer service, or lack thereof (search for my review of the LT14 SUV). When they failed to deliver the saw, I sent all of the accessories/blades back to Laguna . . . except the Driftmaster. Had anyone out there produced something like it, I would have opted for the alternative, but since Laguna is the only game in town, I held onto it.

When I opened the pacakge, I was a little disappointed. The clear plastic/cardboard container that contained (or used to) contain all of the bolts/nuts/washers had literally melted and the pieces were loose. There weren’t that many to account for, though, so I proceeded once I confirmed they were all there. The chrome bar had some mild marring (still deciding whether this is worth a request for replacement), but otherwise everything was intact. The unit comes assembled, and covered (and I mean covered) in cosmoline. Better too much than too little.

I installed the driftmaster on my MM16 using a combination of their “how to video” and the instructions from the step by step I found here (with a few changes, noted below): http://myplace.frontier.com/~unix888/lagunadriftmasterfenceinstallonminimaxmm20bandsawreplacingtheoriginalfence/

I don’t think I would have been able to do it without the above link, so if you are the one who provided this guide, thank you!!! (and Laguna should thank you, too). The key (only) differences between my installation and the one in the link above stem from the fac that the drilled out holes (easy, by the way) are at a different spacing. As a result my universal brackets needed to “go to” the left as opposed to the right. They couldn’t go to the right or they would have blocked the blade and table pin. It doesn’t change the performance or functionality in the slightest, but for those of you looking to install on a MM16, it can easily be done using the above guide with this singular change. For reference, my holes were drilled 7.75 cm from the left table edge and 7.75 cm from the blade channel. That will give you centered holes on the left “half” of the table.

The installation is a little frustrating. The provided “small brackets” that are provided to attach to the underside of the table (and used in the above-referenced guide) I found to be less than useful. I noticed in the “how to” video on youtube, he uses lock/nylon nuts. After getting it fully installeand and being less-than satisfied with the mechanis’m’s ability to “stay put”, I replaced those little brackets with the nylon nuts (and washers), and found that to be much better. It still is less than perfectly stable, but it at least takes some force to knock it out of position now (which you don’t want to have happen once you get it set). I’m not an engineer, but I’m pretty sure that I could come up with a better mounting option than what is provided.

The fit an finish leave something, but not everything, to be desired. I personally like the fact that it comes covered in cosmoline, so that isn’t a complaint. The machine allows fine adjustments, but it in no way feels like a precision tool. To me, other the aluminum extrusion fence, the unit has the fit and finish of a $4.99 carpenter’s square. Does it need more than that to perform? No (more on that below), but it would be nice if it looked and felt like it performed. The fence is solid and robust. Mine came with a nick on the top (that will probably result in a request for replacement, because it will affect the performance when I to to “low fence” mode. The thing is, the fence may be too robust. I say “may be” because it probably won’t matter for me, but may matter for others. It is so wide that you end up sacrificing table space. I probably won’t ever miss that 3 inches, but keep it in mind.

A quick note about the wheel placement. Changing the wheel from the left side to the right (to permit door clearance) can be done after installation, and in about 2 minutes. Very, very easy to do. I ended up on the right hand side to allow for door clearance, but also because it is better protected the way I have to organize my garage. Note that you still have to push the fence up toward the blade to get the door open for blade changes (I had a brief moment of terror when I tried to open my doors and the Driftmaster mechanism blocked it. I just pushed it to the right, though, and everything was great.

Performance is where this thing really shines. I should start out by saying that I have virtually zero experience with a bandsaw, and a corresponding amount of skill. I followed the method that the how-to video describes (part III), and I was set after one adjustment. I’m not kidding. I think I had it set in about 90 seconds (again, without knowing what I was doing) and most of that time was spent repositioning my work light to see the back side of the cut. I pulled out a piece of birch about 8 inches wide, and attempted a veneer cut at about 3/32 in width. You all should be laughing right now. This was about my tenth cut in my life on a band saw (and the first 4 were 23 years ago in my shop class making a lucite picture frame in shop (“Industrial Technology”) class. And yet, I’m trying to slice veneer on a bandsaw I’ve never used (and with a dull blade) nonetheless. Well, notwithstanding my lack of skill and the dullness of the blade, the cut went off beautifully. I did another one just for fun, and, though I botched the end of the cut (soley user error), the rest came out amazing.

Bottom line is that Laguna (or a competitor, cough, cough) could very easily and without addiitonal expense improve the fit and finish of the Driftmaster. But, if you’re a proof-is-in-the-pudding type of person, the Driftmaster would be highly recommended.




View Rockne's profile

Rockne

46 posts in 2638 days



2 comments so far

View Fettler's profile

Fettler

200 posts in 1992 days


#1 posted 10-30-2014 10:20 PM

My LT18 3000 series is a hunk of crap. I really wish i had a MM16. =\

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View Fishinbo's profile

Fishinbo

11362 posts in 2170 days


#2 posted 11-12-2014 09:47 PM

This is great. I’ve been wanting to buy one

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