|Review by PurpLev||posted 04-21-2009 04:34 PM||6259 views||3 times favorited||30 comments|
I received some appletree logs from someone on craigslist, and was contemplating how I can get them into project lumber. I had looked around for small mills, but it wasn’t really worth it since I only have a few smaller logs… then it got me to think, maybe I can do it myself… hence started the interest in bandsaws.
the more I researched about it, the more I was fascinated by the capabilities of a bandsaw and all the things it can do. I have a fairly limited budget, and so I began looking for older 12” saws on craigslist and similar places while at the same time reading reviews and doing more research on each machine I saw.
it came down to it, that none of what I found would be worth it in the long run, since it will not be able to resaw my logs (size capacity, and power) and eventually I’d be upgrading it anyways, so I figured, i’d rather get one that will work NOW, not later… then I read some good feedback on the Rikon deluxe.
it is a bit over what I had expected to pay, but I figured it’s still reasonable for what it is, and will probably be my last bandsaw – I was right about that one (for the foreseen future..lol).
The saw comes pretty much assembled for most parts. it is HEAVY! BUT! a 1 person CAN do the job, with proper planning and careful fabrications of assisting devices (to take it out of the box, place it in the right place..etc). I’m not advocating to do it on your own, but personally I was able to do it (don’t have anyone around that could have come for help)
I recommend getting a mobile base for it, and start assembly right on that base… that way, each piece is slightly lighter than the whole saw, and once put in place, will not have to be moved again – ever! (it’ heavy)
make sure that all the nuts in the cabinet space are tight (ratchet works best) so eliminate as much vibration as possible (don’t worry, when the saw is operating there is almost zero vibration going on – this thing is solid and steady but when you crank the wheels etc, there is a tendency to rock the machine ever so slightly).
Tuning of this machine is super east, there are really nice large wheels for everything – I mean everything. I’m not going over how to tune a bandsaw in this review – there are plenty of those tutorials online, all I can say is that the controls on this saw are convenient, properly placed, and work very well. smooth to operate, and stay locked in place when needed.
the only exception I found was the blade tension wheel which is on top of the saw – I think positioning it under the frame would be more convenient to use – BUT it would lower the maximum resaw capacity of this saw. you only tension the blade when putting a new one on, so it’s not that big of a deal – I’d rather keep the 13” resaw capacity… just a note to mind.
There is only 1 4” chute at the lower wheel area which is partially covered with a metal plate on the inside to prevent people from sticking their fingers in there and getting hurt from the spinning wheel. I’ve read that some people had problems with that plate (it would block air flow and hinder dust collection) but I’ve yet to experience anything of that sort. at the end of operation there is almost 0 dust in the lower frame assembly, and absolutely 0 chips/cutoff pieces. I do run this with a Jet DC1100 connected to it .
there is no dust chute that is positioned at the lower guide assembly like other saws have (even the Rikon regular 14” saw) and there is dust that gathers around that area that doesn’t get into the lower frame to be pulled in by the DC. a quick blow with compressed air takes care of that.
very easy to use. switches from low profile to normal profile in less than 2 seconds. (2 thumb screws, and a T slot) so far the fence and the saw are very accurate and easy to use.
it also comes with a built in resaw round bar that attaches to the middle of the fence and can be taken off… I haven’t used that one yet, but if I’ll need it – it’s there.
Edit:The Fence rail only accommodates the fence traveling on the left side of the blade, while some fences are capable of traveling on both sides of the blade.
Table is rather large, has 2 T-slot miter slots on each side of the blade. good for most operations, and for those that require a REALLY large surface – a sled can be used (usually those projects requires a sled anyways, so it’s not really the table’s limitation)
Table tilt mechanism is rack-n-pinion which is excellent! for some reason, many saws on the market don’t have that., but this one does. the table tilts 45 to the right, but for some reason only 5 degrees to the left, and not the regular 10 degrees that is found on most other saws. you can see both the tilting mechanism, and also the ramp in the lower frame construction which hinders the table from tilting more than ~5 degrees to the left (there is a bold that helps bring the table to 0, but can be swiveled to the side the allow the table to tilt until it comes in contact with the frame which gives about 5 degrees angle.
This is something that I didn’t really understand, nor payed much attention to when I was researching for a bandsaw. I guess you can’t realize everything until you start gaining experience with it (just like everything else in woodworking and in life in general).
not too biggy (but it’s there), I can make a fixture to get a 10 to the left… with the 13” resaw capacity, I’m not limited by height of fixtures.
FWW claimed that it takes too long to replace the blade on this saw. it doesn’t. but I can see what they meant. both doors on the saw (upper and lower) have to be open a full 180 to the back, to be able to slide the blade out, and theres also the connecting frame between them the the blade has to slide in and out of. Also to get the blade out of the table you have to disconnect (bolt) a metal bar that holds the fence in place… and reconnect it later…
time to change a blade ~20 seconds… I wouldn’t consider this a deal breaker … really.
see tuning… very easy, and with a window you can see the blade on the wheel it’s very intuitive.
see tuning – very easy, and with a window you can see the blade tensioning dial, it’s very intuitive (yeah, almost a copy paste of the tracking part)
however, the tensioning dial did get bent over when I was tracking the blade and shifted the wheel outwards… apparently this is a known issue which might render the dial inoperable and useless, but I check the tension using my finger in the front of the blade, and haven’t really tried using the dial anyways.
EDIT: The Rikon Deluxe saw comes with a built in quick blade detentioner. some people claim this is a marketing design set back in the days, some people stand by it, either way – this one comes with one as a standard control – I like that. you can always choose whether to use it or not. but it’s there if you chose to use it.
These are ball bearing guides both under and over the table. easy to setup – lockable with allen screw that mounts and stays on the saw’s frame. adjustments are done using oversized thumbscrews, I have used the factory original guides on both 3/4”, 1/2” and 3/32” blades with no problems what so ever. they are adjustable front to back, and can accommodate each of those blades properly.
The saw runs amazingly smooth, 0 vibration (at least nothing noticeable) and very quiet… if you’ll step a few feet away, you might forget that this thing is on!
with a good blade (I got the 1/2” woodslicer for it) this saw cuts super smooth and precise! out of the box (so to speak) blade cover is using rack-n-pinion mechanism ,and lock in place solid. on-off buttons are large, and easy to access. I’m running this saw on a 15amp breaker, and it has never cause any problems (unlike my DC)
This bandsaw was well worth the money and time I had waited until I could get it (yes, I had to hold off when originally wanted to purchase a lower grade saw, and save a little more) it does what it needs to do, and it does it VERY WELL! doesnt complain, and always asks for more.
low maintenance, easy setup, easy controls, great performer! highly recommended.
With recent questionable CS issues that have floated around, I thought this is worth mentioning – Rikon CS is superb! they are responsive, responsible, don’t BS, and (seems like) they want to see their machine working as it should in the hands of it’s owner – hands down! any question or concern I came up with I was answered promptly with a very positive attitude from really cool people. Thank you Rikon! I almost forget that good CS still exists.
-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.