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Great bang for the buck!

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Review by dbhost posted 08-25-2009 11:50 PM 7312 views 4 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Great bang for the buck! No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

NOTE This review is NOT dealing with a stock saw, the saw in question has been fitted with the following updates.

#1. Central Machinery Riser Block Kit. #2. Craftsman Professional Universal Band Saw Fence. #3. Suffolk Machinery Timberwolf 1/2” 3 TPI blade. #4. Iturra tension spring. #5. Accu-Link link belts. (Harbor Freight).

The Central Machinery Model 32208 4 speed 14” band saw, and its single speed sibling the 32206 (only difference appears to be the pulley setup), can be an amazing band saw bargain. I have recently seen this saw marked down from $329.00 to $259.00, if a buyer combines this with the in store 20% off any 1 item coupon the saw comes in right at right around $207.00. The riser block kit was a phone order parts department item only and ran around $50.00 + S&H.

The overall fit and finish of the saw ABOVE the stand appear to be on par with the Ridgid BS1400, and lower model Delta 14” saws. The main difference that I can see is features (2” instead of 4” DC chute, 1HP instead of 3/4HP motor, etc…). The BIG difference is where / how the motor mounts. (The CM mounts UNDER the stand, the Ridgid for example mounts behind the saw frame on the stand).

Assembly of this saw is NOT an easy task, as the documentation is written initially by somebody that does not speak English as their native tongue, many of the illustrations are simply wrong, and to make things worse, they simply leave out LARGE sections of the assembly instructions. Plain and simple have good mechanical skill going in, ask a lot of questions, and if need be, use the Harbor Freight tech support number…. DO NOT RELY ON THE INSTRUCTION SHEET!

The motor bracket is shown mounted BACKWARDS in the instruction sheet. Both the printed one, and the one online. There are minimal instructions for setting up any of the safety guards, and you can only sort of hit and miss guess at where they are supposed to go… And the blade guides are a quirky design…

As far as I know, even Powermatic band saws need some tweaking from the factory to work their best, and the Central Machinery saw is no different. It needs a much improved blade like almost every other saw on the market, as well as a decent fence, rise block kit if you are going to do any serious resawing, and at a minimum the OE blade should be upgraded and blade guide blocks should be replaced with Olson Cool Blocks as soon as possible. Preferrably before you try cutting anything with this saw and decide it’s junk.

The tension adjuster is a simple knob, as is the tracking adjuster. In like manner to other low $$ 14” band saws, the tension adjsuter knob is on a short rod, behind the upper wheel guard, and is hard to operate. This is typical for this type of saw, and only gets corrected on higher dollar versions such as the Grizzly GO555 models.

After the headaches and a few unneccesary cuts from the poorly finished metal edges, which if you are like me you dress with a file quickly, (typical of Chinese construction) the saw is together.

Setting the tension per Suffolk’s instructions and running 10” oak through the blade on a home build resawing sled, the blade tracks straight, and there is plenty of power, but you willl NOT win any speed contests with this rig. It took me 5 minutes to slab off a 10” thick x 48” long piece of oak. I am pretty sure the guys with the big 3 and 5 HP 19” and up models are laughing at this, but it works, and gets the job done. I am pleased with it… There have been some issues with the stock belts slipping, those have since been replaced with the link belts and this saw behaves like a MUCH more powerful saw now…

As a test I cut some curve shapes out of a 3” Oak Plywood glue up / waste that was in the workshop. The saw was on the highest speed setting, and did not bat an eyelash at going through this material. Feed rate wasn’t measured or anything, but it was certainly as fast as I was comfortable moving…

I expect many years of good service out of this saw. It is much smoother than I expected out of an HF saw, and it operates quietly.

This saw has been in my shop now for a little over a year, aside from some minor annoyances with the tension knob, and me wanting to perform some badly needed dust collection improvements, this has been a good saw, and the hit on the budget was minor… All told, this is a good machine, and I recommend this to anyone looking for a new 14” band saw but is on a budget…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com




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dbhost

5385 posts in 1888 days



24 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112096 posts in 2233 days


#1 posted 08-26-2009 12:01 AM

Good review
Not all of HF tools are good but I’ve found some that work really well.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Abbott's profile

Abbott

2570 posts in 1959 days


#2 posted 08-26-2009 12:27 AM

Thanks for the review. There was another review of the same saw here on this site about 3 months or so back. The author of that review also liked the saws performance. I am tempted to purchase one myself.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View davidroberts's profile

davidroberts

1002 posts in 2142 days


#3 posted 08-26-2009 02:46 AM

the one thing missing from my shop is a BS. I have been lusting after the grizzly 14”, which suites my budget, but each time I go to HF I look their BS over. I don’t see a lot of structural difference in it and the low end delta 14”, the cost difference is around $200. But here’s my question, with all of the upgrades you made, could you have bought the grizzly G0555 The Ultimate 14” Bandsaw $469 shipped for about the same price. TIA

-- God is great, wood is good. Let us thank Him for wood......and old hand tools.

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dbhost

5385 posts in 1888 days


#4 posted 08-26-2009 05:12 AM

I thought about that. My modifications for the most part are things I would have done to the GO555 as well. Riser block, Iturra spring, and upgraded blades. The Grizzly riser block costs more to boot! The only thing different is the cool blocks as the Grizzly uses roller guides. I have both for mine, roller guides and cool blocks. The roller guides don’t work so well on skinny blades.

I would NOT pay full price for this saw for sure. And to make matters worse, about a month after I got mine, a GO555X with riser block and Iturra spring came up on Craigslist for $350.00, but by then it was too late for my shop and budget…

Do I regret buying my saw? No. But I do suggest patience, wait for the saw to hit sale prices. Preferably under $279.00, and use the 20% off coupon to get it.

Woodcraft has a Steel City 14” with riser block, and TW blades already loaded on it which would be about equal to the cost of the Grizzly GO555 with those additions. The only advantage I can see there is it saves you the labor of installing it yourself, and you have a local source to go to instead of the Truck freight from Grizzly (which has kept me from doing much business with them).

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

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Craftsman on the lake

2386 posts in 2093 days


#5 posted 08-26-2009 05:18 AM

I’ve got this saw from about 25 years ago. it cuts fine and is well made. One word of caution, that is if it’s still made the same. Don’t try to wrestle it around by grabbing the table. The trunions that hold it on are thin cast. They’ll break right off. i’ve done that and managed to devise a metal machanism to permanently bolt it back on.

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

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davidroberts

1002 posts in 2142 days


#6 posted 08-26-2009 05:37 AM

thanks db. i got some decisions to make. i’m the worst to miss a good CL deal. however, most of my shop is equipped with CL items. i’ve been lucky in that respect. i’ve actually seen a lot of nice 14” BS’s on CL lately. i just haven’t pulled the trigger yet. congrats on your purchase and i’ll bet it serves you well.

-- God is great, wood is good. Let us thank Him for wood......and old hand tools.

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5385 posts in 1888 days


#7 posted 08-26-2009 06:02 AM

The trunions on mine appear identical to the current Ridgid BS1400 I have seen at Home Depot. I wouldn’t think any of these saws should be wrestled about by the table… I have mine on a mobile base, and tend to roll it by the frame…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 2541 days


#8 posted 08-27-2009 05:36 PM

I picked up the single speed model for 100 bucks at a garage sale and added a new blade or 2, Cool Blocks, it had new tires when I bought it, an Incra Fence, a 4” dust collector in the lower cover, I’m currently making a quick blade release from a plan in a magazine, moved the switch to a more convenient spot, and would like to add a riser. It’s not a bad saw and it even looks better when I look at what it would cost to upgrade.

Thanks for the tip about ordering the riser block thru parts at HF.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5385 posts in 1888 days


#9 posted 08-28-2009 04:58 PM

No problem, you want to order item #24536-0ZZA Riser Block Kit. This is NOT available through the catalog, or online, parts department item ONLY… They are prone to having it, and not having it, they were out of stock for a long time, and when I ordered mine they had just gotten them back in… I have had mine on now since 8/21/08.

The phone number is 1-800-444-3353.

I read the posting rules and I don’t seen anything prohibiting this, so I hope I don’t run afoul of the rules that I may have missed somewhere, but… I did a write up on BT3Central when I first installed the riser block kit. You can read it if you’d like…

I think I mentioned the Grizzly tension release modification that a lot of users are putting on their saws. There is a good photo essay on the subject online as well. There is a thread on BT3Central regarding this subject, if you are interested, pay particular attention to post #14 in the thread as it lists the needed part #s from Grizzly.

I hope I have helped everyone that needed the help out…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View 36il's profile

36il

2 posts in 1821 days


#10 posted 09-25-2009 10:21 PM

I have the bandsaw, riser block , and the fence from Harbor Freight . The fence is not the best but for the money it did the job for right now in was around $30. I’m going to replase it later. The saw and block work good . the blade that come with it no good for resawing. I got a 105” by 3/4 3t blade and that work very good.you can get the block online and the fence. For you people that would like to get a riser block for other saw make sure the guide rod is the same tyte. 9-25-09

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dbhost

5385 posts in 1888 days


#11 posted 09-26-2009 05:35 AM

Yeah, the folks at Suffolk suggested a 3/4” blade on mine. I am leery of a blade that wide on a 14” band saw though…

As far as the fence goes. While not part of the stock saw, I must admit my curiosity about the HF fence is piqued…. It HAS to be better than the Craftsman fence I have on mine…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4330 posts in 1704 days


#12 posted 02-15-2010 01:53 AM

Today I bought one , used , but never being used (Do I make any sense) for $100.00!
Which kind of blade to use on it? How wide and how many teeth?
Should I replace the wooden blade guides with roller ones?
If yes where to finds the roller ones?
Thank you.

-- Bert

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 2541 days


#13 posted 02-15-2010 05:40 AM

b2rtch, I have this saw and like it, see my post above. I added cool blocks for blade guides and they work great I do not think you need to spend the money for roller bearings. Saw blade/blades all depend what you want the saw to do. For resawing I have a Wood Slicer 1/2” Resaw Bandsaw Blade and I LOVE IT (http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/woodslicer12resawbandsawblades705to137.aspx) from Highland Wood Working.
I would also recommend this book it will show you how to correctly set up your saw The Bandsaw Book by Lonnie Bird. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=bandsaw&x=15&y=24
It is so much trouble to reset (set the saw up after changing blades) the saw after you change blades that I leave the Wood Slicer in the Central Machinery saw all the time. I purchased a 10” older Craftsman saw that I keep a narrow blade in for cutting circles and curves.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

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dbhost

5385 posts in 1888 days


#14 posted 02-15-2010 05:56 AM

Call the folks at Suffolk Machinery for advice on the blades… There are a LOT of variables in blade choice, TPI, hook set, thickness, etc… and it all depends on what you are going to cut and how…

As far as the blade guides, the OEM ones should be an ultra cheesy plastic just like the Ridgid and Delta bandsaws… Lose them and put in a set of Cool Blocks… I tried rollers, not worth the effort. They worked well, but were a real pain to keep adjusted…

I haven’t found resetting the saw to be that hard… I guess I just got fast at it…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3663 posts in 1820 days


#15 posted 02-15-2010 06:12 AM

Reading all this, and watching dbHost upgrade this thing, one thing is looking more likely. I will keep my toy bandsaw for the quick and dirty circles and scrolls that you don’t need a scroll saw for. I will just put it on wheels or hang it from the wall. It is a little Delta 10” band saw, but it is trouble free and works well. It is not for resawing of course.

After I get the main shop into its reorganization, a band saw will be the next thing, I believe. Don’t know which way I will go….....upgrade a bargain, or buy something in the mid range. Since I am using a 1990 Delta Contractor’s saw, and a 1971 Craftsman RAS, both bought new, you know it will be a dilemma…......(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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