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Band Saw Decision: HF/PC/Rigid

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Forum topic by AndyMcKenzie posted 993 days ago 3209 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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AndyMcKenzie

17 posts in 994 days


993 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question bandsaw

So I’m looking at getting a 14” band saw. I’ve spent most of the last month tracking Craigs List options, and I’ve come to the conclusion that—unless I want to drive at least two hours each way—there’s nothing worth my time here. The best I found was a Rockwell 14” for $250, that was missing both the table and the motor. 30 year old tilt-head Craftsman saws in the 10” size go for $250 around here.

I want to do some resawing and some curve cutting. None of the three include a good fence for resawing, unfortunately, but I can cobble something together until I can afford to buy (or build) a better one later. I plan to buy two TimberWolf blades, since those seem to come fairly highly recommended: a 3TPI blade as wide as the saw will take for resawing, and probably a 10TPI 1/4” blade for curves.

There are three saws I’ve found in my price range, all of which come out to within about a $3 range of each other after coupons and such. All are about $320. Yeah, I’d like to spend more. But it’s not really practical to think it will happen, and certainly not in the next six months. So here are the options I’ve found:

1) Harbor Freight 14” 4-speed saw. On the Pro side, it’s 4 speed (meaning I could realistically use it for cutting metal as well as wood), it’s easily adaptable, and the reviews are universally not bad. On the Con side, it’s got the weakest motor of the three, requires the longest drive, and has the highest odds of my having to go back to the store to get it replaced for being defective. The price includes a new drive belt, since that seems to be more or less mandatory.

2) The Rigid BS1400 from Home Depot. On the Pro side, it’s an induction motor, HD is the closest of any of the stores to me, and it’s got a good warranty. On the Con side, the reviews are mostly not better than average, and some are downright terrible, and it’s the only one of the three that’s single-speed. Motor power is in the middle, and the price I worked out includes a new drive belt.

3) The Porter-Cable PCB330BS. On the Pro side, it’s an induction motor, it’s got the best reviews as far as vibration go, I’ve been able to handle one and I liked the height and layout, it’s got the biggest table of the three, the reviews have universally been cautiously optimistic, and it claims to have the strongest motor. The storage cabinet is a nice bonus, and every review I’ve found has talked about how vibration-free and quiet it is. On the Con side, it can’t take a 3/4” width blade, which the other two can, and there doesn’t seem to be a riser kit available for it anywhere yet.

At the moment I’m inclined to go with either the HF saw or the PC saw, but I’m really on the fence. Since the costs wind up the same, it really seems to boil down to “which will be most reliable?” This will be my first band saw, so I have to admit that the PC is extremely tempting; knowing that all the parts are likely to be in the box, and that the instructions will be decent, is weighing pretty heavily. But on the other hand, it claim to be unable to take a 3/4” blade, which seems like a substantial restriction on a tool I hope to use for resawing.

So… does anyone have advice on picking between these three?

Thanks in advance!


29 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3344 posts in 2560 days


#1 posted 993 days ago

You’ll find that the fit/finish on the HF is pretty rough, and tuning the saw will be a chore. PC is not what it used to be, but would be a better initial investment though it will probably need tuning as well.
I don’t use a 3/4” blade. A 1/2” Woodslicer from Highland Woodworking will do what ya want without “over-working” your saw. I use the blade on my 11” Magna (which is for sale by the way) which has a 1/2HP motor.
Spend some time reading up on tuning the bandsaw. They ALL need it at first.
Does the PC come with a fence and miter gauge? Pretty important items for what ya want.
Original blades will be pretty crappy. Invest in good blades before you begin tune up or any cutting. Timberwolf has some good blades too. I like the Woodslicer’s 3/4 TPI configuration for resawing.
Where are ya located?
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Alongiron's profile

Alongiron

401 posts in 1292 days


#2 posted 993 days ago

I understand that we all have a budget but for another $100 you can get a Grizzly G0555. They call it the Ultimate bandsaw cause thats what it is along with a 1/2” Woodslicer blade you can’t go wrong. I had used a HF saw and I sold that on craigslist as fast as I could. Maybe thats not what you want to hear but for the extra money I think Grizzly is the best!

-- Measure twice and cut once.....

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1110 posts in 1659 days


#3 posted 993 days ago

Forget Ridgid, it is known to have vibration issues.

Harbor ftreight and porter cable are fine, you will need to tune it up real good.

If you can for another $200, Grizzly Go555P bandsaw is agreat bandsaw.

-- shdesign3.com

View Mike's profile

Mike

289 posts in 1286 days


#4 posted 993 days ago

I have the G0555P and I love the thing. With the riser block I have done a fair bit of re-sawing. Junk the blade that comes with it and after tuning it square and tensioning a new blade it rocks and rocks hard, like you know hair band hard. Not like rock ballad, but like head smashing, devil horns in the air rock….

what to much?

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - http://www.termitecrafts.com

View AndyMcKenzie's profile

AndyMcKenzie

17 posts in 994 days


#5 posted 993 days ago

Thanks for the input. The Grizzly is tempting, but the price difference is a killer right now. The cheapest I’ve found the Grizzly 555 was just shy of $500 after shipping. That’s around $180 more than I’m expecting to spend on any of the three I listed, plus no way of getting one this weekend.

None of the three come with a fence, from what I’ve seen, but the PC does come with a miter gauge.

Mike—“hair band hard”? Are we talking Blue Oyster Cult, Van Halen, or Kiss here? (Yeah, maybe too much…)

If the half-inch blade should be fine, I think I’m going to end up with the PC. My expectation is that in a few years I’ll want something with more capacity, but until then the base setup (with better blades) should be fine. At that point I’ll buy something high-end, but for now, I really can’t afford to go much higher.

Bill—I’m near Amherst, MA. I’ve seen a lot of ads for 12” saws, and a couple for 14” saws, but all the actual saws I’ve seen have been either in really rough shape (ranging from heavy rust to missing wheels and tables) or not what they were advertised to be. Like that 14” Jet… with no name tag, and only about 6.5” between the blade and pillar… and a maximum height capacity of around 3”.

View GaryW's profile

GaryW

123 posts in 1062 days


#6 posted 993 days ago

How thick of a piece of wood will they cut, mine is ity-bity 4 inch, and thats tight.
So cutting up the trees in my yard to make planks won’t happen. Bandsaw boxes and puzzels are
it, just as long as they are less then 4 inches. I got a scroll saw that will cut to five inch, make your choice on what work you want to do, wood anyone will do, metal- not 4 iches thich thats for sure, whats a two hour drive got to do with a lifetime of cutting…...

-- GaryW, Edgefield SC, Too old to start over, can't remember why...

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1831 days


#7 posted 993 days ago

As an owner of the prior model of the HF 14” 4 speed band saw, I will say this. I did vote already with my dollars. Now the PC model you are talking about wasn’t out yet, but the Ridgid just isn’t up to snuff… It is prettier than the HF sure, but even the demo model I looked at in store had a flimsy stand.

The current HF has some advantages over the old one, specifically the swing out wheel guards instead of the ones that simply bolt on… Either arrangement works, the swing out is just a more elegant solution… The longer tension knob is a must have, and the new model has that…

I have no power issues at all with mine, and have been working fairly extensively with it for about 4 years now… so far so good…

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

View AndyMcKenzie's profile

AndyMcKenzie

17 posts in 994 days


#8 posted 993 days ago

Gary—All three claim a 6” cutting capacity. I imagine that whether they can really manage a six inch thick piece of wood will depend on the blade and the wood in question. If I were convinced on any of the two hour drive ones that it would actually work, I’d go for it. But four hours in the car on a work night to find out that the “14 inch delta—mint!” is actually an 8” craftsman with no table (yeah… I saw that recently)? Not excited about that.

dbhost—That’s good to know. I think I’m going to pull the Rigid from my list. It turns out the local HD doesn’t carry them in stock anyway, though the one a little further away might.

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2163 posts in 2146 days


#9 posted 993 days ago

I don’t have a band saw, but in the past had a craftsman band saw and then a hitatchi band saw. Both of those were the worst experience. I once worked in a friend’s shop who had the Ridgid bandsaw and hated that band saw. I would think going with anything less then the Grizzly might become a waste of time and money.

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View RibsBrisket4me's profile

RibsBrisket4me

1376 posts in 1105 days


#10 posted 993 days ago

Andy I have a Ridgid saw. I have tuned it up and it runs really nice. Even passes the nickel test. It was horrible at first though.

Vibration is the issue. If you see the pics on my link below.
1. Bought a link belt
2. Mounted saw on a solid base
3. Timberwolf Blade
4. Balanced wheels.
5. Cool Blocks
6. Took my time and tuned the guides.
7. Polyuerathane tires

All this adds $$$/time invested in the saw. Because the saw was a return to HD, I got it for @ $289 many yrs ago. Now, I really like my saw. It resaws 6 inch oak, maple like butter.

-- http://www.PictureTrail.com/gid6255915

View AndyMcKenzie's profile

AndyMcKenzie

17 posts in 994 days


#11 posted 993 days ago

Todd, thanks for the input! I’d been counting the cost of a new belt as part of the Rigid, and I read somewhere that the rubber motor mounts it comes with are useless, so I’d planned to beef that up. I’d been expecting to build a new base for it sooner or later if I wound up with one.

As you say, it adds a lot of money and time. I’m trying to decide whether it’s worth it for either that or the HF model…

View RibsBrisket4me's profile

RibsBrisket4me

1376 posts in 1105 days


#12 posted 993 days ago

Andy, please see my pics on my link. It will let you see what you can do in slow cost effective steps. Honestly, even before I did all the upgrades the saw performed well enough for my needs.

-- http://www.PictureTrail.com/gid6255915

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

3272 posts in 1794 days


#13 posted 993 days ago

I know you didn’t mention this saw, but I’d like to throw my vote into the hat…..Delta 14”...I’ve had mine for about 15 years, and never a minutes problem. I don’t do a lot of re-sawing, and 6” of re-sawing is all I have needed…so far…...:) But you can get a 6” riser block as an add-on if you need it. May be out of your price range, but just thought I’d give fodd for thought…....

-- " I started with nothing, and I've still got most of it left".......

View syenefarmer's profile

syenefarmer

387 posts in 1680 days


#14 posted 993 days ago

I think you are mistaken if you’re under the impression that your initial purchase price is all that you’ll have to invest in any of those 3 saws. You will have to spend additional money on them in order for them to be a dependable and accurate BS. You probably won’t reach the price level of the Grizzly but before you make your purchase check out the prices of such things as link belts, roller bearings, and a fence.

You should take a step back and take a second look at your needs. For a hobbyist, one of the worst things you can do is make an impulse buy on a tool that you’ll be using for years to come. Thinking you need to buy something this weekend is not a good idea.

View AndyMcKenzie's profile

AndyMcKenzie

17 posts in 994 days


#15 posted 993 days ago

Todd—I did look, and I’m impressed! The possibility of fixing it up is why it’s on the list, but, well… if my options are “Could be fixed up” or “Works out of the box,” and the prices are the same? That said, a new belt and mount sounds like it’ll fix most of the vibration issues, and leave it in the same price range as everything else. I may see if I can find one I can go look at assembled tomorrow. If I wind up liking the way it feels more than the PC or HF models, it’s still a good choice.

Rick—I can’t find anyone locally who sells the Delta, and anyway they run the same price or higher than the Grizzly. Nice tools, but out of my range unless one turns up used before I buy.

showing 1 through 15 of 29 replies

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