You know one of my favorite things about hand tools? When they arrive they are pretty much ready to work, other than a bit of sharpening. And of course they don’t take up a lot of space.
But being a card-carrying member of Toolaholics Anonymous (“Hi, my name is Joe and I’m powerless over tools”) I’ve been wanting to get a bandsaw for my wood shop for a while. Mostly I wanted it to do accurate resawing, both for making thin slices to be used for inlay or veneer and for situations where I can get two pieces out of a board instead of one. For example, making ship lapped backs on a case, it would be nice if I could re-saw 4/4 accurately enough to get two pieces for the back instead of running it through the planer to get to the ~1/2″ thickness I want.
So the Fedex freight truck left a pallet in my driveway on Friday, and I managed to drag it inside, stand it up and assemble the saw. The first order of business was to hook up an outlet — it needs a 220v 20 amp circuit. So it was the usual drill of feeding a wire through the wall, over the ceiling joists and putting in a new outlet. And the requisite trips to the hardware store for supplies.
Nothing magic about that, just work. It was in the mid 80s here yesterday (temperature wise, no “Pet Shop Boys” or “A Flock of Seagulls” were played to the best of my knowledge), so it was a bit hot to be working for my tastes. Before next summer I’m going to run one more outlet for a combination AC/Heater to keep things more comfortable in the shop.
As soon as I had the saw assembled and wired I installed the blade that came with it and made some test cuts. I had the guide bearings a little tight at first, but that was a simple adjustment. Sawdust went everywhere. I guess I’d better hook it up to the dust collector. Connecting the tubing to the saw was simple of course, but I had some head scratching about how best to tie it into the existing ducting I installed last year for the dust collector.
I ended up cutting a standard 6 x 6 x 6 wye fitting to make a saddle, traced the opening onto the overhead pipe and cut it out. I screwed the saddle onto the surface of the existing pipe, and sealed it up with duct tape. no leaks, and the pickup on the saw seems pretty efficient.
I’ve only made a couple of test cuts so far, and only using the stock blade that came with it (a 3/4″ fine tooth blade). Crosscuts, rips and scrolling in 3/4″ material is simple with this blade, but it doesn’t clear the sawdust effectively enough for resawing. I did resaw a scrap of Zebrawood and a piece of an Olive tree root that had been drying in my attic for 20 years. The cut side is pretty rough, but the slices are a consistent thickness and will give me something to play with.
I also bought a resaw blade from Grizzly, and honestly I’m afraid to put it into the saw. This a 1.3 TPI x 1.25″ wide resaw blade. I’m used to the Woodslicer blades I get from Highland Woodworking. Those have a 3-4 TPI variable bitch blade, this has less than half pot the TPI. I’ll fit it to the saw today and see how it works. Right hatter making some serious push blocks, I don’t want my fingers anywhere near this thing.
I haven’t used the saw enough to have a solid opinion about it yet, but my gut feel is that it’s a pretty nice tool. It’s quiet, the blade tensioning, tracking and guide adjustments are all simple enough. I really like the rack-and-pinion adjustment on the table tilt, and without a lot of fussing around with blade drift it seems to cur very accurately.
Today I need to clean up the shop, including dragging the “worlds worst workbench” out. I’ve been using it for stained glass stuff, but it’s not really right for that (too narrow). I probably need to finally design and build a proper workbench for my stained glass stuff too.
So I’ll repeat my previous offer: If you’re a beginning woodworker and want a bench to get started with, you can have this one for free. Just come pick it up, today if possible. Otherwise I’m going to do unspeakable things with it.