Tools I use: my band saw

This was one of those purchases I made because I ‘thought’ I should have one.  It turns out that while I don’t use it for every project, it has become an essential tool for several of them.

My Delta Band SawThis is a Delta model 28-276 14″ band saw I bought at Lowe’s about four years ago.  Oh, sure, I looked at some of those fancy smaller models (the guys at Home Depot really wanted to sell me the 12″ Ryobi band saw), but I decided on this model because 14″ is a common size for most home machines. That way, it  would accept the most common upgrades.  Boy, am I happy I considered that.

I set it up in my shop exactly as described in the manual, turned it on and – boy – was I disappointed by the performance.  Unlike my Ridgid table saw I had set up a few years earlier, I discovered that band saws take some fiddling to get them to work properly.

Yes, this is a warning to all of you prospective band saw owners – don’t be disappointed if you don’t get perfect cuts right off the bat. It take some time.

Some things I like about the saw include the blade tension release control, which means I don’t have to change the tension setting after a day at the saw.  I can just flip the tension off and take the pressure off the blade.  I also added a rolling tool stand to the purchase, so I can move the saw around the shop as necessary.

Once I got the saw tuned up – it took a day or so – things started to improve dramatically.  The saw began to track more easily.  The cuts were a little smoother.  Things were definitely looking up.

I would strongly recommend that when you buy a band saw, you get a good band saw book to go along with it.  My choice was Cutting Edge Band Saw Tips and Tricks.  A book like this will give you far more information than the manual ever could.

The monumental step in my bandsaw experiece was when I started to upgrade some items on the saw.  First up, I ditched the original blade that came with the saw and bought some replacement Viking/Timberwolf blades.  These are made of a Swedish silicon steel and cut very true.  The product manual says you can run these blades at a lower tension, but I have noticed some tracking issues if I lower the tension to the recommended levels.

I also recently added the Kreg bandsaw fence.  As with the saw, I am still in the stages of fiddling with the fence to get the best fence performance.  It is a solid and easy to use fence, so I’m sure once I get it tuned up, I’ll be in the butter zone.

I have used the saw to cut curves and resaw, and the 3/4 hp motor will sometimes struggle with harder woods.  If I slow my feed rate, I can get good performance.

Some upgrades I would like to make to the saw include adding a task light to the bottom of the top case.  Where I have the saw right now, it’s not in the best lighting situation, so that will have to be addressed.  Also, one day, I would like to add the riser block.  Sure, I’ll gain an additional 6″ of cutting capacity, but I’ll have to buy new blades.  Also, I’d like to upgrade the original steel guide block with some type of bearing system to control the blade,  but that’s something to consider in the future.

All in all, the saw has been a decent performer and has served me well.  However, if I had to do it again, I would spend the extra cash to get a more capable model which would include a more powerful motor, a larger resaw capacity, a better guide roller system, a quality stock fence and a mobile base as part of the standard package.  Probably would have cost less than the saw’s original price and the upgrade money I have spent so far.

Live and learn!

8 thoughts on “Tools I use: my band saw”

  1. Tom — thanks for the thoughts, very cool to hear. I’m still working on purchasing a Jointer (maybe today!) but a bandsaw is on the list for the future, and I’m always gathering good info. You continue to share very useful, everyday knowledge – thanks!

  2. Morton –

    Thanks, Man. I’ve been working with the saw for a while now and, believe me, a band saw is where it’s at. I’m gonna get it there one day… one day….

  3. Tom – I purchased that same model (brand new) about 6 months ago on Craigs List for a good price.
    I added the retracting casters from Woodcraft and they work very good. My saw came with the Cool Blocks and was fairly easy to set up.
    One excellent source of information for the bandsaw is Iturra Design (866-883-8064). They have a free 252 page catalog chock full of info and accessories. I am going to put the Kreg fence on my want list and I would be interested in knowing what you end up with for the task light.

  4. Nice write-up. In addition to what you have done, throw in some cool blocks and a quality v-belt and that is all I have had to do to my Ridgid. Those little saws are toys. Even the 14in has a fairly small work surface. I also thought of the BS as a should-have tool in the shop. It has become one of my favorite tools. Much safer than the TS for a lot of operations and it is fast to setup and cut.

  5. :::get v-belt and cool blocks::

    Sorry, I was writing some notes to myself! 😀

    The saw is a pretty robust performer for me. I might build a larger table for it, but then I’d lose the utility of the new fence. Oh, why couldn’t I just get a big 20″ Minimax to start with and be done with it…

  6. Tom,
    Good post. I actually just bought the same saw a couple of weeks ago. Upgraded from a smaller bandsaw. The posts on the web showed some really poor reviews early on with this model but & assumend that since the last negative I saw posted on it was several years old that Delta had corrected the issues. I was correct. I took my time in the initial setup and double checked the tolerances before even turning it on. It runs great and is well worth the sale price I paid for it. Many negative issues with bandsaws are in the steup not the saw. Check out any articles you can find on bandsaws from “Michael Fortune” Fine Woodworking among others. I had the opportunity to work with him last year and he is a master of this tool.

  7. I had the Jet bandsaw 14″ cabinet style, which I up graded blade guides with the Carter roller
    guides. Used it for several years with a Woodslicer 1/2″ blade, for resawing, and also had
    1/8″ blade (and Carter guide for it) and a 1/4″ blade also. Did a good job, but limited on
    resaw capacity and power.
    I won the Laguna 14 x 14 SUV in a contest, received it last November 2011. Wow! What a
    difference! I put a 3/4″ Woodslicer blade on for resawing, and this saw can cut through
    hardwood like cutting plain white wood.
    You will definitely enjoy your new Laguna bandsaw.

  8. I rebuilt a 14 inch 1963 Delta Milwaukee band saw & have used it makeing rocking horses, Cabinets and what ever else came in mind. It woks great. I added a aquarium airator pump to it (wired it in to the on/off then ran tubing to a copper fitting at the cutting point to blow the saw dust on the woods cutting lines). Works great. Now I got a Deal on a 2 year old 14 inch Delta only used a couple of hours for practically nothing so My oldest son is about to inherit my 1963 bandsaw well before my demise. Hope he loves it as much as I did.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.