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Bandsaw advice


Urban Luthier
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Finally going to invest in a good bandsaw. I'm aiming to pick up a used General 490 (15 in - Canadian made). I can't go with anything larger as won't fit down the stairs to my workshop.

Quick question, how much horse power is needed to re-saw cello ribs? Will 1 hp do it? This is likely the most difficult job I'd try in my home shop

any advice guidance would be appreciated

Thanks

Chris

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My experience from having had several band saws is that the horse power alone is not a great indicator of how well the machine will cope with tough jobs, I had in the past a 1.1 horse power 14 inch SIP band saw that really struggled with even opening a viola back, I now have a 1940’s 14 inch delta with a ¼ horsepower motor that can cope with jobs the SIP was hopeless at.

My delta has solid cast iron wheels and a rock solid frame which I assume are factors that contribute to it’s good performance and also the quality and type of blade you use will make an enormous difference to how well any band saw works.

neil

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1 HP will do the job. You could do it faster with more power, but I doubt that's a concern.

I have never had more than a 1 HP motor on a bandsaw, and have resawn a large slab of maple into half a dozen sets of backs with it. I even retrofit my 24" monster with a 1 HP motor, because I don't have 3-phase power to run the original 5 HP motor. Resawing is not a full-time task, so if it takes 5 times as long, so what? I can get the job done, and it is not offensively slow.

The key element is a good blade. For occasional cello ribs, I'd think a 1/2 or 3/4" Woodslicer or Timberwolf would be best. You really don't want to try cutting too quickly anyway, as it would have more tendency to push the blade offline.

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The General is an excellent saw, easily the equal of the Delta... good saws do make an enormous difference.

As Niel points out, motor ratings are all over the place, with some "1 horsepower" motors putting out far more power than others at the same claimed rating. The General will impress you.

E

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your bandsaw sounds adequate, although motor hp ratings are kinda like loudspeaker power ratings, often way overrated, by all means get a bi metal blade, they cost about $40 locally and last about 40 times longer than a standard steel blade, a regular steel blade will start getting dull about half way through its first cut on something that thick.

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I see that the General bandsaw that you listed is in the area of $3500, tax excluded, which is quite a lot for a 15" saw.

Have you checked out the Laguna site?

Laguna Bandsaws

They are a lot less expensive, and they are always topping the field in tests.

The Woodslicer Bandsaw blade for resawing would be my choice, and The Timberwolf for scroll cutting.

I have a Delta 14" with a 2 H.P. motor and riser block, and the challenge was to reduce the vibration.

So slow and steady wins the race, if you are not doing huge volumes of work.

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I see that the General bandsaw that you listed is in the area of $3500, tax excluded, which is quite a lot for a 15" saw.

Have you checked out the Laguna site?

Laguna Bandsaws

They are a lot less expensive, and they are always topping the field in tests.

The Woodslicer Bandsaw blade for resawing would be my choice, and The Timberwolf for scroll cutting.

I have a Delta 14" with a 2 H.P. motor and riser block, and the challenge was to reduce the vibration.

So slow and steady wins the race, if you are not doing huge volumes of work.

I'd love a Laguna but they are out of my league. I'm looking at a second hand General unit. Since the General's are Canadian-made, they show up frequently at good prices on the used market in my area.

Thanks for the advice on the blades!

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I am a big fan of vintage machinery. I find that the quality is often much better than anything new in a non-industrial price range. The old repulsion-induction motors are roughly equal to a modern motor with double the hp, companies stopped making them because they are too expensive. In my shop I have two old Delta bandsaws. One is from 1936 set up with a 1/4 inch blade and a 1/2 hp motor for cutting curves. The other is from 1946, with a 6'' riser block and a 3/4 hp motor for resawing, I got that one with cello backs and ribs in mind. I would put either up against any new 14'' saw made today.

In addition to being made really well I enjoy the look of these old machines. They are often are available at rock bottom prices, I paid $250 for the '46 (because it had a fancy cast iron base/stand, and I paid $75 for the '36) With a new set of bearings these tools will be just as good for our grandchildren.

So before you buy a newer bandsaw, check out some of the ones pictured on www.vintagemachinery.org and look on craigslist and see if there are any available in your area. I would stay away from any delta made after 1970. Walker-Turner made some really great small saws as well.

Be careful, old machines can be habit forming. Just ask my wife. :)

Regards,

Michael Doran

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Those Canadian made generals are nice saws. The General Internationals are not all that bad either, but are made in far away lands with a mix of Canadian and asian parts. Just check the bearings and replace them if there's _any_ noise like grinding or ticking. It'd be a shame to spin a bearing and reck the bearing race. Even if a band-saw has not seen much use, after many years the grease can dry up. And don't trust the fact that a wheel "spins forever" as a good indicator of healthy bearings. Dry bearings will spin forever. Well forever in a few short bursts before catastrophe hits.

1 HP is plenty. I ran my 26" saw with a 1 hp. for years and it was fine. I just had to give the wheels a spin by hand before hitting the switch.

Your saw will probably be fine and changing the bearings is pretty easy if needed. If for some reason you do decide it's needed and want some help - or moral support, drop me a line. This offer is extended to anyone on here that might need help with a bandsaw or any other piece of equipment. I have a great deal of experience with them and would be happy to help out however I can.

For fun, here are a few pics of bandsaws I own now or have owned in the past:

My 26" Crescent and one of my 14" Delta's. The 26" in need of quite a bit but of work including a new pour of table trunions. Now it makes me smile whenever I turn it on.

My link

Someone said they like Crescent 20's. Here's a pic of one that I sold a while back along side the 26 in the pic above before it got moved into the basement and my 32" that's in my garage.

The 20 is from 1918 or earlier. All three were basket cases before I rebuilt them.

32-20-26...mmmm those are some fine measurements :)

My link

Here's a beautiful 14" Heston Anderson. Nice to look at but not much of a workhorse:

My link

--Joe

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I have an older delta saw (but not from the 40's, more like the 80's) and it works great. and yes get a good blade. when you get your saw, setting it up might take a little work. one lumberjack said to my the guides should be just touching the blade. the phrase he used was kissing the blade. for scrolls you might want a 1/4" blade and for ribs and straight go to the 1/2". just for me i find the 1/2" to wide for cutting out plates and scrolls. now I am no band saw expert but I think I use 1/4 scale tight blade and that seems to work for my saw.

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This of no use or relevance to our North American cousins, but is about old bandsaws. I had (actually still do) a small GMC bandsaw - I only make violins - but recently bought a Woodcraft Junior bandsaw. The GMC was cheap - and with new stuff you get what you pay for. The woodcraft was made in South Australia in the 1960s (the days when Oz had a manufacturing industry)with a 1425 rpm GE motor (made in Canada) cost me the grand total of $50. With a good bi-metal blade it is terrific.

As they say in the classics, there's no tool like an old tool.

Tim

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The one you mention should be fine for cello ribs, if well set up. When bought they often arent too great in terms of set up. I use meat and fish blades for ribs and cutting blocks in half. Very narrow kerf and leave a good finish.I can even cut 1mm veneer with them without a problem. One word of advice though, keep the blades you use for straight cutting seperate than the ones you use for cutting curves as they very rarely work as well if you cut a curve with a blade used for straight cutting .

The meat and fish blades i found on ebay for £3.00 each made by Hakansson ,luckily in the right size for my saw.

Ive used 1" and 1 1/2 " bi-metal blades but prefer the 1/2" meat and fish.

I agree with Neil that solid cast iron older saws are the best you can get if you have room to fit one in as most are large.

I have a Jet 18" model now that i bought cheap from a college workshop. Although its big ,it took a bit of tuning to get it working right and they are not as rigid as the cast iron framed ones.

Although the manual says it can accept 1 1/2" blades ,they put too much stress on the frames which are welded sheet metal.

I used to have a smaller Jet 14" Delta copy with the cast iron frame.It was great for its size and certainly better at cutting curves than the bigger Jet which has those euroguides which dont lend themselves to curve cutting very well.

If the saw you choose is tuned well and with the right blade it should handle most thing you throw at it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally found a good deal on a General 490. It has a 1HP Doerr (I need to convert the wiring from 220 to 110)

This thing is built like a tank -- cast iron frame, cast iron wheels -- with the base it is over 300 pounds. As with many deals -- the saw is in need of a good tune up.

I just reviewed the advice above on blades -- i'm looking at the viking / timberwolf blades (A and D from lee valley-- one for cutting curves the other for re-sawing ribs and opening backs)

Are these good blades?

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I have a Delta 14" from the early 60's, all cast iron, aluminum wheels, 1/2 HP motor. I've resawn 6" maple with a 3/4" skip tooth blade, 3 TPI, and it cuts like butter. If you have a good sharp blade, it doesn't take much power to keep it moving.

My only wish is to have the optional cast iron fence, but my home made one suffices for now.

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I have a 14" Toolex 1HP bandsaw that I have adapted to re-saw close to 9" by removing the guide and by cutting a corner from the upper cover. I use a blade called the "little ripper" that costs around $25 and I replace it about every 2 years depending on the amount of use or how well it cuts. It also helps to replace the standard belts with link belts to reduce the vibration.

post-24376-0-57926100-1326904116_thumb.jpg

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i'm looking at the viking / timberwolf blades (A and D from lee valley-- one for cutting curves the other for re-sawing ribs and opening backs)

Are these good blades?

I've had good luck with the Timberwolf blades. I didn't at first when trying to use their low tension or "flutter" method of tensioning the blades. As soon as I just tensioned them as with any other blade, they worked very well. Not sure if the Viking re-branding still recommends the flutter method or not, but just thought I'd let you know my experience.

--Joe

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