What would you look for in a used bandsaw and why?

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Forum topic by chafemasterj posted 01-12-2015 03:41 AM 1155 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1235 days

01-12-2015 03:41 AM

Topic tags/keywords: bandsaw used

I’ve been looking around on various internet sites for about 6 months now shopping for a decent used bandsaw. My intended uses for it would be everything from helping my kids Cub Scout Pack parents cut out Pinewood Derby cars to cutting smaller rough lumber pieces.
230 volt is already there and I need to have it semi portable for moving around as I am limited in space.

My question is: When looking at a saw what should I be looking for? What features have you found really useful and what should I try to avoid? I’ve seen the saws with the tilting head and I think I can see the pros and cons but what about in real applications?

Thanks in advance for any helpful advice and direction.

5 replies so far

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18173 posts in 1854 days

#1 posted 01-12-2015 03:59 AM

Well I just upgraded from my original used saw. Last year I bought an old buffalo 14” saw. It worked but it was a bit rough. It vibrates, which may be a tire issue. It has a 3/4 horse DC motor with a speed controller, which is good for cutting metal which I don’t. What I bought is a craftsman professional that is only 4 years old and is basically the Rikon 10-321 made for craftsman. It has a 1 horse motor. I’ve never tilted the table and probably never will. I make cutting boards and yes pinewood derby cars. Resaw capacity is a big issue for some. My saw will do 8” which I think is plenty for me. Unless you’re only making really small things I would go with a 14” saw or bigger. Older saws will have guide blocks where most new saws will have guide bearings. I’m pretty new to bandsaws as well. I doubt you will need 230v.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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2751 posts in 2022 days

#2 posted 01-12-2015 04:17 AM

The only tilting head saw I know of is the Craftsman from a few years back. It’s an appealing principle, very poorly executed by Sears (clunky aluminum castings, poor fit, etc.). Sears didn’t invent that idea, in fact it goes back to wooden ship building, where truly huge bandsaws (36” or so) were used to cut bevels on planking. Obviously, a tilting head was virtually a requirement for such duty.

I wouldn’t get anything less than 14”, not only because of lesser capacity, but also because the tighter radiuses the blade has to negotiate flex and fatigue the band more than larger saws do. But 12” would be okay if you don’t plan to resaw, and do need to make curved cuts in relatively small material.

Once in a while you see a good deal on a larger saw, 17” or 18”. I suggest you check out the Seattle CL tool section. There’s an outfit south of Seattle (in Auburn) that is an outlet store for Powermatic and Jet. They often sell “scratch and dent” tools at a significant discount. Can’t tell you the name, because they don’t include it in any of their ads. I got a Jet JJP 12-HH jointer planer combo for not much more than half of retail, and it appeared pristine in every respect. But they don’t ship, and you would have to arrange that yourself (for me, it was a 1 1/2 to 2 hour drive).

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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172 posts in 1899 days

#3 posted 01-12-2015 06:30 AM

I just purchased my 3rd used band saw this week, this newest one is a big 20” that i didn’t even have the opportunity to run & it was around the same price as a grizzly 14” but I wanted a older industrial machine. So I looked for any cracks on the wheels, tensioner, trunnions & more, I did an extensive amount of research on the particular saw i was interested in. It was imo such a good deal after seeing it in person, inspecting it I found a few flaws & was able to negotiate him down on the price 20%. Just be sure its a quality machine to begin with, go check it out if the price is with in your budget & make sure its all in working order. 14” or bigger is a good one, closed cabinet below is also good, rolling base is a huge pluss & also a resaw fence is useful . Look for well kept garages & a kept clean saw. Price is everything. 110v is the best voltage if you plan on moving it around & 3/4 hp minimum.
Brands to look for: Delta, rockwell, older harbor freight (central machinery ) “can” be good, rikon, grizzly, shop fox, jet….. Powermatic is expensive but hi quality.

Can I ask what your budget is?


-- -Mike, Southern California, YouTube User ( Give & Take )

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2327 posts in 2425 days

#4 posted 01-12-2015 07:01 AM

Look for machinery that has been bought, but hardly used, my Grizzly drew the comment from a passing employee watching me negotiate the price ‘I have worked here for 16 years and I have never seen it run’ . This comment was gold for me. I got them to kick 7 spare unused blades into the deal and I happily paid $50.00 more than the CL price asked. Back at my shop I found the lower bearing had been installed upside down, this mistake on their part caused the blade to jam and every body to say the machine was a P*S,,, their loss my gain.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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445 posts in 2625 days

#5 posted 01-12-2015 07:01 AM

A big factor is if the saw can fit newer parts and accessories. I ran into that problem with my vintage craftsman saw since it uses non-standard parts. Deltas pretty much have the same fittings now that they did 80 years ago. So if you want a modern feature you can likely add it to an older saw. I have a tilt table on my bandsaw but i never use it. One thing you need to do is use the saw when you see it. do not just run the saw but cut with it and see how it behaves. I did not do that with my saw and as a result i didnt notice it had a huge vibration problem caused by a cracked drive pulley. a cheap fix but one that stopped me from using the saw until i could find a replacement. Most saws can be put on casters to make them mobile even some of the 18” saws can be manageable depending on how big your space is. Having access to 230 volts is a plus but most 1hp 120 volt motors can handle anything you throw at the saw if it has the right blade on it so dnt let that limit you especially because you can pull the motor off and replace it with a bigger one if need be.

As an aside I have used a tilting head bandsaw but that was for steel I have not really seen any reason to want such a thing for wood because anything short of an industrial saw will not have a decent tilt mechanism

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

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