Well a month ago I received my Craftsman 10 inch woodworking bench top bandsaw and I have to say that I like it. In my other shop I had in Connecticut I had a Jet 14″ bandsaw and boy that got a lot of use… great machine. Being in an apartment now I don’t have the room for a 14″ and as I’m on the third floor of a building it would be extremely difficult to get a machine like that up three flights of stairs to begin with. Anyway a bandsaw is a versatile machine for cutting wood and I simply had to have a bench top model for the kind of woodworking I do.
Looking around I soon found there wasn’t many choices for a benchtop woodworking band saw. The Craftsman machine is identical to the 10″ Rikon bandsaw but is more than $100 less so I took a chance and bought the Craftsman. They both come with a generic 70-1/2″ 1/4″ blade, fence and ball bearing guides, upper and lower. Another nice feature is it’s all metal, meaning no plastic wheel covers as some cheaper models have and a full welded metal base and frame. It was nice to find that the table was cast iron ground flat and once attached to the trunnion I found to work okay changing the angle of cut. The knobs are plastic all around but seem to be of a good quality dense plastic, I don’t see that they will ever need replacement if not mistreated. And that is another thing… the adjustments are positive and don’t need a “heavy handed” pressure to make the adjustment secure. A blade guard that’s installed on the machine works on a rack and pinion to raise and lower it and is superb, wish the same feature was on my 14″ Jet, that one you pushed up or down to adjust, not so elegant. The supplied fence is adequate for a machine this size and quickly secured with a metal lever. Overall the fit and finish is nicely done. Some things with the machine I felt needed some help and below I discuss what I feel that if done to the machine will make it even better.
This is my bandsaw set up as it is right now. I have it placed on an inexpensive Harbor Freight tool stand and find the bandsaw to work so smoothly and without vibration that I didn’t feel a need to bolt it down. As you can see I added a maple board to the miter gauge, making it more accurate. Now for the miter gauge, it’s all plastic except for an extruded aluminum runner. It’s basic and you won’t find yourself, at least you shouldn’t, relying on the accuracy of the protracted angles you set. Use more accurate methods of setting cutting angles. The fence is factory set, meaning it is not laterally adjustable. It’s not as important an adjustment on a bandsaw as it is on a table saw but it would be nice to have the option to adjust the fence angle. As you can see it looks exactly like the Rikon machine except for cosmetic differences and actually I like Craftsman color scheme much better.
Below I will go further on my minor tweaks I did to the machine.
As you can see the machine is of a clean design and very sturdy for it’s size. The wheels are balanced and nicely cast. The band tension is adequate for the size of the machine and I have not had any problems cutting even difficult hard woods.
Now I have to mention about the dust pickup for this machine. It has a 2-1/2″ connection for a shop vac and out of the box, it’s just okay. But I figured it could be improved.
First of all, I noticed that air being blown by the wheels turning blew dust through cracks where the doors met with the frame, ie: there were gaps along the where the doors and frame were supposed to meet. What I did was add 1/8″ weather stripping along where the door edges would meet the frame to seal the gap as you can see above.
This pic shows where the motor shaft and it’s pulley enters the inside of the saw. Originally the oval brownish shape is cut out to allow for the motor’s belt tension adjustment. When the saw is operating wood dust is thrown out of that open cut out. What I did was to cut a piece of leather with slits for adjustments and glued it around the edge of the saw housing with yellow wood glue. Did it work? Well the combination of the weather stripping and this oval hole closure made a HUGE difference in the saws dust collection. I can cut wood for quite some time with my vacuum running and not notice any dust anywhere except a bit of dust on the table near the blade.
Here is a same size illustration of the leather cover for the oval hole for the motor shaft/pulley inlet. You can use this template to cut out your own cover. Right click the image and “Save image as” to your computer for print out.
Okay, here’s where I had a pet peeve with the saw. You might think it’s minor but it’s not. The table circular insert was a good ways set below the level of the table and smaller pieces of stock run through the blade would catch on the back end of the recess. More than annoying because you had a tendency to force the stock through the blade past that “catch”. So what I did was to pop the insert out and shimmed and sanded flat the insert to make it level until I was satisfied it wasn’t a problem anymore.
A small minor upgrade was to add a magnet to the side of the machine which I attach the supplied Allen wrenches used to adjust the bearings and such. Very convenient. Where did I get the magnet? From an old non-working hard drive (that’s why I take apart EVERYTHING that has useful stuff inside).
The dust port connection on the backside of the saw is shown here. The best position for dust port is directly under where the blade exits the top of the saw table. Alas, on a small saw like this it’s not possible so they position where it’s assumed most dust falls which is just outside of the blade’s downward chip flow and that’s okay if all other gaps are sealed as I mention above. If you seal all of the gaps you’ll be pleased with the machine’s dust collection ability.
Something else I must mention about this saw. There have been complaints from owners of this machine that they find it impossible to correctly track a narrow blade on the wheels. They complain as soon as the machine is turned on the blade slips off the wheels. Nonsense. All adjustments are available to the owner to track even a 1/8″ blade.
On my machine, out of the box, the 1/4″ supplied blade tracked perfectly. Then I installed a 3/16″ blade and it quickly slid off the wheels. Okay. Let’s figure this out. The blade seemed to slide forward off the lower wheel, so the lower wheel may be out of plane with the upper wheel. I worked with the vertical bolts (upper and lower) on the back of the saw and made test runs until the blade ran perfectly. Piece of cake. A quick run of the machine will show a blade slipping either horizontally or vertically and to correct the problem is to adjust the bolt array in conjunction with the upper wheel vertical plane adjustment on the back of the machine.
This pic shows further adjustments to the machine. The left paddle knob loosens/tightens the blade guard, middle knob adjusts the height of the guard, right knob adjusts the top vertical wheel alignment.
I hope you realize that on the current market this is the best 10″ bench top woodworking band saw there is for the money. I expect to have many years of enjoyable service using this band saw. If you have any questions regarding the Craftsman 10″ band saw please leave a comment.