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Thread: band saw size requirement

  1. #1
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default band saw size requirement

    In reading earlier threads regarding bandsaw size required for mandolin building, it seems that 14" is the minumum size required. Is this because of resawing? I would want one primarily for scroll work and headstock shape cutting. If I eliminated the need to resaw, could I achieve what I want with a 12" saw? Is a riser kit needed to get the proper cut for a headstock (using a jig)?
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    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    I'd not recommend any smaller than 14".

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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    The numbers are a little deceptive. The throat clearance on a standard 14" saw (e.g. Jet, Delta, etc.) is actually right at 5.5". In my experience, that's as small as you'd want to go for cutting headstocks on a (Siminoff-style) jig, for example. An extra hundred bucks will get you a riser block that adds 6" to the throat capacity.

    There are a lot of older, name-brand 14" bandsaws available out there for $250 or less.
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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    Jonathan,
    That's the info I needed, thank you!
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries, Black Slaney

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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    I've worked with a craftsman 12in for 15 years now and it does 90% of everything I need.. I've had my eye on a 16in for a long time, but can't justify spending $2000 when what I've got does okay.. with the right blade, I have no problem resawing ribs and fretboards and peghead vieners .. but o'man would a 16in be sweet..........
    kterry

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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    There is no required bandsaw size required, I'm sure they have been successfully built using all available sizes, and surely without one at all. I have built 3 using a cheap 10 inch Sears model, which lacks power and stiffness for fast/and/or precise resawing but I have roughed out necks from 3.5 inch thick hard maple with it. That said, I really wish I had a bigger, cast iron wheeled, and more powerful 14 incher.
    -Newtonamic

  9. #7

    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    One of the things about having a bigger bandsaw is that it makes it possible to do things like furniture projects and guitar or bass projects which you may want to do in the future.
    I'd say the best size per buck is 17". The usual 17" saws from Grizzly, Laguna, etc. are very nice these days and can be had for very reasonable prices. A $1000 bandsaw is 20x more useful to a luthier than a $1000 table saw.
    James Condino will be here in 5 minutes to show off his Yates snowflake monster... wait for it...
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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    I have been building for 53 years. Always had a 14".
    I spent 20 of those years also building furniture, never required anything larger than a 14".

    Thought I needed an 18" so I bought a new Jet 5 years ago. Lots of HP and capacity. I have used it less than 30 minutes.

    I would recommend the best 14" you can buy that can be fitted with a riser block and an after market high quality fence specifically for re-saw. Get a variety of blades from 1/4 inch up to blades capable for re-saw. . I have a Powermatic. It takes a bit of set up to get one right (factory doesn't seem to be able to do this) but when you do, they work great.

    I have been offered, at no charge, a beautiful 36" monster. I am not in the milling business.

  12. #9

    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    I'm happy with my 14" + riser block, too. But I have a dedicated resaw since I do a lot of bent laminations, so that takes care of most of the extreme requirements. If I were buying again, though, I'd get a 17" since it's not much more and the one I have at another shop really is a nice size.
    martinjacobson.com - Jacobson mandolins

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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    Marty, well James has not weighed in yet but...

    I've spent most of my furniture and instrument building time with 14" saws. Riser block is preferred. Then about 5 years ago I got a chance to get this. 20" Snowflake.
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    A nice thing about the larger wheels is that the throat clearance sideways can be a big deal when cutting certain shapes.

  14. #11
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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    I have a 14" Porter-Cable from Lowe's. Have used it for three years or so. I called Porter-Cable for the riser block, and the nice lady took my order over the phone. It showed up with clear instructions within a couple weeks. Pain to install if you don't have very large sockets, but otherwise I have been very pleased with it over the last few years. I use a Wood Slicer blade from Highland Woodworking, and it will slice through 8" of hard maple, walnut, cherry, mahogany, etc.

    I read a few books and watched a lot of videos on setting it up and using it safely - very glad I did, I think it's saved me some hassles.
    Kirby Francis

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  15. #12

    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    I've had a 14" Delta with a riser block for 40 years. Can't go wrong. Your needs may change as you learn more ways to use the tool and better fixtures to assist you.
    Play it like you mean it.

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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    I have had a Rockwell/Delta for 25+ years, it has the riser block but after about 15 years I took it out. I like the saw better without it and I can put it back in for resawing, which I do very little of these days.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  17. #14

    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    "James Condino will be here in 5 minutes to show off his Yates snowflake monster... wait for it..."

    There are lots of big bandsaw dorks around here, not just Dale and I. Where is John showing off his old American? Spruce has a cool old one too.

    A giant bandsaw, a kick a$$ titanium mountain bike, and an old Toyota pickup; anything else I can make myself...

    A 14" bandsaw will likely meet all of your mandolin needs. I'd recommend the Delta for the simple reason that eventually you will need parts and they made basically the same saw from about 1939 to the 1990s, so it is a proven unit with endless parts. Remember that no matter how much you add on or how many accessories you buy, all saws work best at half the wheel diameter of less. I have a big old 3500lb cast iron beast out of the old WACO biplane factory because I also build upright basses and need 15" minimum resaw capacity, and I also like old American machinery, specifically between WW1 and WW2. 'Merican 'Arn.

    If you have the space and the desire, I always suggest that bigger is better with bandsaws. While I primarily use my 16" Walker Turner for 95% of my needs, my old Yates Y30 with the snowflake covers generates about $200-500 per hour cutting up wood for resale and for others needs, when it matters and there is no margin of error. I spent 33 years having other people with good equipment destroying 1000s of dollars worth of precious tonewoods because they simple lacked patience, so I decided to step up and become "the dude" with the resaw, but I also accept that could buy one heck of a nice instrument for what I have into the saw. The first photo is not my saw, but the same model in a different shop, the second with the F5 is mine giving you an idea of size. Stop by for a visit and everything will become perfectly clear...

    I'd rather have the Y30 than a Loar!

    j.
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  18. #15

    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    In mill shops 36” is pretty standard, along with smaller saws for smaller jobs. Seen a lot of lignum vitae cut on them for ship bearings.

    If you can move it, have high ceilings and 220 3 phase power, more power to you.
    Play it like you mean it.

  19. #16

    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    Moving a big saw is a serious and potentially dangerous task!

    Three phase power is no longer a concern or limiting factor. With a modern variable frequency drive you can run almost any three phase specific machine using single phase residential power. I intentionally buy most of my machines as three phase and use a VFD to convert power because they also offer almost unlimited control of all the electrical parameters- speed and directional control, soft start and wind down, et cetera.

    If I had 11" taller ceilings, I'd have a 36" Yates. They are much more common and would have cost half the price of a Y30. I only have 8' ceilings in the shop and spent three years trying to convince Mrs. C that everything would be fine if I sawed a big hole in the ceiling and put a false floor in the bathroom...unsuccessfully....! Also, the Y30 has the mass of the Y36 but a much lower center of gravity. Most bandsaw nerds consider the snowflake Y30 to be probably the finest bandsaw ever made; it has 1000 lbs more steel than the Tannewitz 30". They made many less Y30s than Loar signed F5s and they are coveted by more people than the Loar.

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  21. #17
    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    I've seen James' Y30. It's mighty sweet.

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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    I live in timber/lumber country (what's left after the spotted owl BS) and there is an abundance of large band saws sitting idle.

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    Default Re: band saw size requirement

    I clearly need to revise my earlier answer to Jim's question. The answer is, you can never have a big enough bandsaw.
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