Jet 12" Bandsaw

The bandsaw is absolutely essential to woodturning. I tried getting along with just using my radial arm saw, my table saw, a saber saw and a reciprocating saw, but nothing cuts out blanks for turning like a bandsaw.

Nevertheless, the bandsaw presents several problems. First, it is expensive. The cheapest saw I've seen, from Harbor Freight, was $129, table-top mount and cut only a 3"-thick blank assuming it had enough power. Adequate for making little projects (maybe), it just won't make much of a bowl. On the other hand, a bandsaw that cuts anything thicker than 6" will usually cost at least $600.

Tools from traditional vendors like Sears, which sells reliable tools for most applications, can be lower-quality and over-priced which is the case for their bandsaws. So don't rely only on long-standing reputation for this particular purchase. I have always found that you have to be careful with Sears: their commonly used tools are often very good because people buy them and use them. More specialized tools like the bandsaws and lathes are bought by people who don't know better and who probably don't use them often enough to care how bad they are.

Second, bandsaws take up room, less room perhaps than other tools like table saws, but given you need clearance around a wide radius, it is still significant. In my shop, which is about 15' x 7' with a huge chunk taken up for storage of house remodeling tools (I have lots) and supplies plus an 8' workbench and a portable stand of mechanics tools, I just don't have the room. I finally gave away my radial arm saw just to have some breathing room.

Third, bandsaws are really dangerous and not as easy to use as they appear. There is no practical way to shield a bandsaw blade along the exposed extent without also making it useless. I don't use blade guards on table and other saws because I grew up without them and am careful in how I cut (and I am still frightened by them). The bandsaw is easy to control on stable stock, but if stock can't be cut such that the blade cannot pull it down and change the angle of the cut, the result is often a frightening mix of scary sounds, a bent or broken blade and possible injury. Never having used a bandsaw before, I succeeded in bending my first blade the very day I got it even though I was paying attention.

Another inadvertently dangerous situation I noticed cropped up when I cut some stock into a bowl blank, rounded (bark) side down. In this orientation, the blade may be come exposed outside the wood and if you are holding the piece near its bottom when it comes out . . . Ouch! This didn't happen to me probably because I have a pretty healthy fear of large metal things spinning, running and turning and so I keep my hands superstitiously away until I feel more comfortable with the machine (feeling comfortable around power tools is a sure sign you are going to get into trouble), but it was a surprise when I detected the possibility and now I wonder if I can remember this potential danger.

I settled on the Jet 12" bandsaw which cuts up to 6"-thick stock. I really like the professional on/off switch on it, the height of the table, the light color (most saws are grey), but the best part is the cast-iron body. Moreover, it has a ball-bearing cutting support. Cheap saws at Harbor Freight often don't have this. Before buying this saw, I spent a month looking at and pricing saws in stores and on the Internet. I went to all the hardware stores in town plus Sears. Timberline Woodworker's Supply had the largest selection in sizes and brands of assembled saws. Their staff is friendly and fairly knowledgeable.

	Jet Equipment & Tools, Inc. JWBS-12" Bandsaw
	1/2hp, 115V motor
	6" cutting capacity
	Blade widths 1/8" to 1/2"
	Blade length 82"
	Blade speed 2750FPM
	Table size 12" x 12"
	Table slot size 3/8"D x 3/4"W
	Table height from floor 405/8"
	Overall dimensions (roughly) 70"H x 20"W x 16"D
	132 pounds

	cost $309

	Timberline Woodworker's Supply
	1402 West Center Street
	Orem, Utah 84057
	(801) 224-2260