One of the most versitle benchtop woodworking tool you can have in your shop is a bandsaw. As I have previously posted before, I own the Craftsman 10 inch bandsaw which is identical to the Ricon 10 inch bandsaw but is quite a bit cheaper. I find that I am using the bandsaw almost on a daily basis, especially since I don’t presently have a table saw and have become fond of it’s ability to cut wood. I don’t plan on building large sized objects so a bandsaw this size is just fine for me. Before purchasing the saw I read through the reviews and noticed some were having difficulties with using the saw so I thought I would go through some of the myths and truths about the saw.
There were some complaints about the size of the motor stating the saw was underpowered. I must admit that the motor at 1/3 hp seems shy in the power area but so far I haven’t had any problems cutting any of the hardwoods I’ve cut. In fact I installed a 1/2 inch 3 tpi Laguna resawing blade on it and it cut through a 5 inch diameter log no problem, as you can see in the photo below. The log was given to me by my brother-in-law and we weren’t sure what wood specie it was but it was heavy and dense, possibly ash.
The Laguna 1/2″ 3 tpi re-sawing blade works marvelously with this machine considering it’s size. Only took about 5 minutes to install the blade on the wheels and getting it to track perfectly.
Now on to a few add ons that I feel a definite need when using this saw.
I am not sure what you call it but it’s a helpful guide when manually re-sawing taller stock. Basically it’s a “U” shaped jig that is attached to the fence enabling the stock to be guided left/right as it is passed by the blade. It is made of a wood block that is the same thickness of the fence with narrow plates glued to both sides of the block. A pivoting triangle piece is attached on blade facing side plate. The one I made fits tightly onto the fence and I find I didn’t need to further add any other means of attachment. If you build one and it is loose you could add a tapped 1/4″ x 20 hole on the side to accept a knob with a 1/4″ threaded rod to secure the jig. The jig should be positioned just a bit forward of the blade teeth for the best pivoting control. When resawing manually this way takes a some practice but when you have it down it works extremely well. The photo below shows the jig attached to the fence.
Next up is a kind of a “feather board” that I find is invaluable when cutting stock length wise. I call it a hold in board and acts like a feather board in that it will push the stock up against the fence while pushing stock through the blade. One of the advantages of a featherboard is that it helps prevent kickback but the cutting action of a bandsaw doesn’t have the problem of kickback and this jig works great and takes up less space on the table to boot. Below is a couple of photos showing it’s construction.
The jig is made up of a main “bar” with hold down clamps and a piece attached that has a 1/8″ thick strip glued to ends that are tapered. The force applied against the stock being cut depends how thick the curved strip is and the amount of “bow” it has. Thinner stips produce a lighter force against the stock. Also how much initial pressure the stock receives at the beginning will affect the overall pressure the stock receives during the cut. I found that if I slightly rotate the jig counter clock wise the stock doesn’t jump away from the fence when exiting the blade. This is one jig for the saw I won’t be without.
The clamps on the ends of the bar are of different depths allowing the one on the left to allow for the extra depth of the fence locking guide.
Another view of the jig. The main bar is poplar. All other pieces are hard maple. I found that adding leather to the clamps increased the holding effectiveness of the clamps immensely. They will not slide away from the pressure applied to the stock at all.
This one is a simple addition to the adjustable square that is supplied with the saw. It is utterly basic in construction, plastic with an aluminium guide. People complain that the squares are cheaply made, and they are, but on a woodworking bandsaw they aren’t all accurate to begin with, in other words, accuracy like an Incra square would be overkill on a bandsaw in my estimation. BUT, you can get pretty close with using one. What I did is add a length of stock to the square, including a strip of 220 grit sandpaper to the face so stock wouldn’t slide while cutting. The idea is to get the square as dead on square to the guide slot as possible and go from there. I don’t cut on a line crosscutting but leave a bit over and clean up the ends on a shooting board with hand planes… it’s incredibly accurate in the long run, accuracy you cannot achieve even with the best table saw using the latest cutting guide technologies. Here is a photo of what my simple add on looks like:
Just a few other things that will help you be more productive using the Craftsman bandsaw or any bandsaw for that matter. The photo below shows an added task light, a pencil holder and a magnetic hold for band saw tools. Ah, the pencil holder… such a simple idea but once you add this you’ll thank the idea. How many times have you needed a pencil to draw a line before cutting stock? Adding these mini holders to your tools or even everywhere you find you need a mechanical pencil will put on a smile for sure. I simply attach them with carpet tape wherever they’re needed.
Adding a task light that you can zero down needed light where you need it is most welcome. For under $20 you can add them to any of your benchtop woodworking tools easily. This one on my band saw was purchased from ebay, then a base made with magnets mortised underneath to attach it to the metal saw frame.
As time permits I will add more tips using the Craftsman bandsaw but for now I must say I am pleased with this saw and feel I will get many years of use from it. If you have any questions or comments please leave them, I would be more than interested in your thoughts.