From “day one” I’ve been disappointed with my Band Saw. As my birthday approached I thought long and hard about what new tool I wanted. My wife and I aren’t “gift” people so for our birthdays we get to buy whatever we want (we have a set limit). After much internal debate I decided a band saw would add the most versatility to my small shop. Next came the research. It was not in my budget to spend $400+ on a 14″ band saw, so I started looking at bench-top models.
The most common size is 9″ I read reviews on Harbor Freight, Ryobi, and Craftsman. I then saw that Craftsman offered a 1/3 hp 3.5 amp 10″ Band Saw for not much more. It not only had a larger cut capacity but a more powerful motor.
I make no secret that I’m a fan of Craftsman Tools. The majority of my tools are Craftsman, with a few Ryobi, and some Harbor Freight if I just need something once (although I do like my HF Sawzall for $20). I find it funny that the majority of my tools are Craftsman and Ryobi, since many of them are one and the same. My biscuit jointer is Craftsman but looks identical the the Ryobi at Home Depot. My Orbital Sander is Ryobi but is the same as the one at Sears. I’m not sure that Craftsman and Ryobi are the best, but they definitely are a great tool for the money. I’ll put my Craftsman 19.2 volt C3 tools up against anyone. I’ll say the same for my Craftsman Professional 10″ Jobsite Table Saw. Great Tools. [Craftsman people please sponsor me] [PS, if Ridgid, Dewalt, or anyone else is willing to sponsor me, then everything else is garbage]
Back to the the main story. I learned that the Craftsman 10″ Band Saw I wanted is a clone of a Rikon saw (the 9″ band saw is Craftsman/Ryobi). All the reviews on both the more expensive Rikon (by $100) and the Craftsman were good, so after seeing it in the store I bought it.
As a side note always check the Sears prices online when you go into the store. I saved $15 on my saw buy showing the salesman that it was cheaper online. They’ll honor it. If you get a jerk about it (I never have). Tell the manager that your going to order it online and pick it up free in store. I actually want them to say “sorry we don’t match online prices.” Just so I can say “that’s OK I’ll just order it online and pick it up in a few minutes…” But as I said I’ve never had any problems.
The saw came with a 3/8-inch 6tpi “general purpose blade.” And therein lay my problem. Turns out this blade is absolute crap. I couldn’t cut through a 2×4. The blade would grind to a halt with any lumber thicker than 3/4 of an inch. Curves were the size of a truck tire. I thought the binding was a motor problem. 1/3hp isn’t much but I thought surely it should do at least what the reviews are saying. I decided that I needed to order a new blade.
I started doing my research. I wanted to buy the very best blade available. Turns out the best blade depends greatly on the job you are trying to do. I was watching an episode of the Weekly Woodworking Wrap-up Review from the Drunken Woodworker and he explained the band-saw blades he used and why. He makes a lot of band-saw boxes and had settled on two different blades a 1/4″ 4tpi Skip Tooth and a 1/2 inch Blade. Since I’m doing mainly shapes I found an Olsen 1/4″ blade on Woodcraft. I’m thrilled with it. It eats through 2×4 material like nothing. Something I doubted my saw could do.
I also realized my belt was loose and was slipping. The way to adjust belt tension is very simple and intuitive on this saw. No more slowing down.
So throw away your crappy blades and get a quality blade. It makes all the difference in the world. In fact I saw a 9″ Ryobi Band-saw on Craigslist for $50 just the other day, If I had room in my shop I’d by it, put an expensive 1/8″ blade on it, and go to town. Changing blades on a band-saw is a pain. I think it would be cool to have 2 or three set up for different jobs all the time.
If only I had more space and more money…[did I mention I’m looking for sponsors :-)]
Peace be with you,