Are bandsaws only for forest dwelling artists?

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Forum topic by Big_T posted 07-31-2016 06:31 AM 2959 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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119 posts in 1559 days

07-31-2016 06:31 AM

Woodworking is all new to me but I am reaching the final stages of setting up my 20×20 garage hobby workshop. The one tool that intrigues but repels me is the bandsaw because it seems to be meant for a creative/artistic person.

For me just looking at the curvy bandsaw boxes makes me uncomfortable as they seem so warped and complicated. Second, I live in a big sprawling county with 2.5M residents that does not have any quality trees that can be re-sawed into veneers. Third, my future home projects include built-ins, cat trees, foyer tables, vanities, kitchen cabinets and wood deck – how would the BS help me in a way that my TS, sliding MS, jigsaw and router cannot?

Can someone nudge me one way or another?

Because of the 5 year warranties, I have my eye on the Powermatic 14CS $1199 on the high end and JET 14CS $749 on the low end if it won’t see much use.

Thanks in advance

29 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3914 days

#1 posted 07-31-2016 06:39 AM

I am neither artistic or a forest dweller but think the bandsaw is one of my favourite power tools. An example of what I use it for is on the project I am currently working on (a craft table for my daughter) I will use the BS to cut a bit of a curve into the front legs to lighten the appearance of the leg and make it more appealing for a 13 year old who is artistic:-)

A few years ago I used the BS to cut the curve into the bottom of the side panel of the small boat I made. A BS is a tremendously versatile tool beyond resawing. I’ve yet to try a bandsaw box:-)

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2687 posts in 3124 days

#2 posted 07-31-2016 11:16 AM

I have recently started making and selling band saw boxes. I bought my band saw in 2008 to use to re-saw cedar and maple. I make small crafty items including a 24” long trunk made of cedar. In order to keep the weight of these trunks down I opted to make it of 1/2” cedar. I bought my band saw to re-saw the 1” rough cedar I get down to 1/2”. I also use 3/8” cedar and maple and walnut to do inlay work. I have cut up very few logs with this band saw. Mine is a grizzly GO555.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11065 posts in 3630 days

#3 posted 07-31-2016 12:00 PM

A Bandsaw is a very versatile tool. No shop should be without one.
Eventually, you WILL need it’s capabilities.
Like you, my native tree selection is limited. I buy hardwood of varying thicknesses and resaw to the project’s requirements.
I’m no artist either but, I often find a need for curved pieces. And, bandsawing a box is enjoyable and not all that difficult.
And, you may find you’ll need a small cut in a piece that a bandsaw could make far quicker and safer than on the table saw.
In my shop, a bandsaw is as essential as a router or table saw.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View RandyinFlorida's profile


257 posts in 2269 days

#4 posted 07-31-2016 12:23 PM

buy it

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

View OSU55's profile


1970 posts in 2191 days

#5 posted 07-31-2016 01:20 PM

I didn’t have a need to resaw, but I kept running into situations where a bandsaw would have helped. I got the 10” Craftsman, thinking for a couple hundred I could see how things worked out without a major investment. It’s worked out well. With the proper blade it works great. It has enough power to “resaw” 4-1/2” hardwood, and has no problem with smaller cuts. The circle jig I made has come in handy on quite a few occasions, and lots of thin material, wood, plastic, etc gets cut with it vs the TS or jigsaw. If I ever do need a bigger saw for resaw, the 10” will stay for everything that can be done with it. Here’s my review.

View Aj2's profile


1879 posts in 2000 days

#6 posted 07-31-2016 02:05 PM

If you see yourself working with solid wood.Then a bandsaw is a must Esp rough sawn.
If you see mostly plywood then no to the bandsaw.


-- Aj

View jbay's profile


2882 posts in 1101 days

#7 posted 07-31-2016 02:26 PM

If you had one you will find lots of things you can use it for.
It’s not an everyday tool but does serve many purposes.
I cut a lot of plywood with mine! (sleepers for bottom of cabinets for one.) corbels, ...

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2312 days

#8 posted 07-31-2016 02:36 PM

It all depends what you’re doing.

Fine furniture and really good cabinetry often looks best when grain and figure is oriented to best fit the part. For example, I like straight grain on stiles and rails, so I’ll often cut a diagonal line down a board to create a new edge to work from parallel to the grain. I’ll often do the same with thicker stock, at a bevel angle, to create perfectly rift sawn legs with similar figure on all four faces. This is easiest and safest with a band saw.

Look carefully at the nicest stuff, and you’ll see what I mean. If you want your work to look like it came from a big box store, by all means maximize your yield and work from a mill edge. If you want to build things that harmonize your available material with the design, and truly look created vs. manufactured, you’re going to have to do more. Most people don’t notice this until you show them, but once you do, you’ve ruined them forever. ;^)

Also, resawing isn’t limited to veneer… It’s far faster and more efficient to get thinner stock for drawer sides, dividers, case backs, and dust shelves to resaw than to turn a bunch of material into planer shavings. I use lots of 1/2” drawer sides, and 1/8”, 3/8” and 1/4” materials for other parts. Selecting 5, 6, or 8/4 stock lets me do this quickly and efficiently.

View johnstoneb's profile


3060 posts in 2375 days

#9 posted 07-31-2016 03:02 PM

A bandsaw is a very versatile tool. I started with a 12” Craftsman because that is what I could afford at the time. Cut a lot of curves much easier to control than a handheld jig saw as skills improved began to resaw lumber rather than turn into planer shavings was limited by capacity. I now have a 14” jet with riser block and the 12” Craftsman. I have never made a bandsaw box. I might try one in the future.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 1655 days

#10 posted 07-31-2016 04:20 PM

We make a lot of pipes. The cutting and stem shaping can only be done on a band saw.


-- Madmark -

View Kelly's profile


2131 posts in 3146 days

#11 posted 07-31-2016 04:58 PM

I have a Unisaw. It only cuts around three inches into a 3-1/2” 2x. My band saw has no problem cutting six inch stock and about twelve inches with the riser I installed.

For quick, rough cuts, my band saw is, as often as not, the go to machine. All I need is a line on the wood, touch the on switch [of the saw and the dust collector] and go. You couldn’t claim to be intelligent and try to free hand a two inch wide piece through my cabinet saw.

Then there is the “I didn’t know it would open so many doors” thing. I have many tools in my shop that I got by without, but, after getting them, I found all sorts of projects I could do that, before, I could not or had to work much harder to accomplish.

I have the Powermatic you are looking at. Mine is about six or seven years old and an indispensable part of my shop. I sold or gave away three Craftsman saws that were little more than inefficient horizontal surfaces, before I got the PM. As soon as I got it, it was a night and day thing. Instead of a horizontal surface, the saw is a regularly used pieces of shop equipment, right up there with my Unisaw.

To qualify the foregoing, and their limitations (e.g., motor size, re-saw capacity) aside, none of my Craftsman ever got to run a quality blade. They were all equipped with crapsman blades. If they had ran good blades and if I’d known then what I do now about setting up a saw, I might have kept one. I don’t know.

A friend has a Grizzly and you couldn’t pry it from his cold, dead fingers. Or maybe that was something else. Regardless, he seems to like it – a lot.

I have my roller guides for re-sawing. You will kill bearings, so, to avoid paying twenty bucks a pop, look for some backups for about five bucks for eight on line, through bearing suppliers.

For day to day stuff, I run a quarter inch, 3TPI blade on a Carter Stabilizer guide. I love it, but see the bearing thing in the previous paragraph. It is a less common problem with the Stabilizer though.

I moved the light on mine and, now, rarely have to move it for blade changes, and it pinpoints cuts better. I did a post on it somewhere on these pages.

I swapped the tension crank and love the after market ones.

One of my favorite things is, the mobile base (heck, they’ve become my passion for everything, even though my shop is 30×60. It makes furniture rearranging so much easier in the dog house.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30059 posts in 2540 days

#12 posted 07-31-2016 05:37 PM

It’s one of the most important tools in my shop.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2209 days

#13 posted 07-31-2016 05:55 PM

I cant give you any specific reasons for getting one. But I CAN tell you that for years I thought I didn’t NEED one. Then I received an old Delta 14” and ever since I cant seem to imagine how I ever got along without one.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View NoSpace's profile


140 posts in 1442 days

#14 posted 07-31-2016 06:27 PM

Big T,

Even if you live in a forest, it’s not guaranteed you’d be chopping down your own trees to cut for veneers considering the time it takes to dry out wood so it’s suitable. And then there’s variety. Once you visit a hardwood store and try different kinds of woods for projects it gets addicting—and the primary tool for cutting all those woods is a bandsaw.

Instead of viewing a bandsaw as artistic, look at it as a more efficient way to breakdown and dimension wood due to the flexibility of the blade. Huge tree processors are bandsaws. Have you ever tried to cut through an inch and a half of maple on your TS? The amount of energy is incredible and then likely burnt wood and possibly unsafe. But it will glide through a tiny 10” BS.

Now, if you’re assuming you will do all your projects (as I did) with sanded plywood and trim from Home Depot, with an occasional cut of surfaced, dimensioned hardwood (dimensioned by a bandsaw) then you can can do a lot of stuff still, but it’s more like finish carpentry rather than “wood working” per se.

View Oldtool's profile


2736 posts in 2392 days

#15 posted 07-31-2016 09:58 PM

I am a hobbiest woodworker, so take my advise with a grain of salt, and here goes:
I started my amateur woodworking aggressively when I chanced upon a contractor table saw on major clearance markdown at one of the big box stores. Since then I’ve added an “on sale” bandsaw (also big box), a Harbor Freight – on sale – lathe, a Craftsman also on sale table top drill press, and a full price Shop Vac.
The majority of my projects have been of the large variety as requested by family, so I think they are fairly similar to what you mention being interested in making.
Since I obtained my bandsaw, I seldom use the tablesaw. I use the bandsaw for quick cross cuts and rips, for smaller components in cabinetry, like for drawer components, cutting small stock to turn knobs – pegs – etc., bracket feet, and for the legs of my son’s trestle table – cut from 8 X 8 stock, and my wife’s spare bedroom headboard from 4 X 4 stock.
Mostly, I use the bandsaw for resawing lumber from 4 or 5 quarter down to thinner stock ( half inch ) for drawer sides & bottoms. I’ve installed a 3 tpi resaw blade in the bandsaw and have only swapped it out once for something, can’t remember what.
So that’s my 2 cents, hope it helps with your decision.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

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