I've been planning on a nice Grizzly 17" bandsaw for a long time now but I am beginning to questions whether I really am just going overboard. I understand 14" is probably more than sufficient for most banjo building and I've even read that in some instances the 14" may be better if doing tight curves (i.e. peghead). That being said...if you had the choice..and only have one saw....would you prefer a 17"?
If you have the room go for the 17” bandsaw. I currently use a 20” model but I started with a 14” delta. All you need is 1/4” blade and you can set the guides on any of these models to use the 1/4” blade. Where the larger bandsaw will shine is the bigger table size. When we used the 14” sometimes the vise would hang off the table when cutting the peghead. Just my 2 cents.
Originally posted by esullivan
. . . I started with a 14” delta. All you need is 1/4” blade and you can set the guides on any of these models to use the 1/4” blade.
Eric: Can you cut a peghead shape with a 1/4" blade? Or is a smaller blade better for that? I assume you only do a rough outside-the-line cut and finish up with a spindle sander or hand tools.
And is a 1/4" blade adequate for cutting the blank out of the billet? Or does that call for a bigger blade?
I think I can answer my own question: It sounds you're recommending 1/4" as all-purpose.
Pretty sure my Delta saw is 14 inches.
I personally prefer a saw that is easy to move around my shop and small enough to handle by myself if I want to move it somewhere.
I bought a 12" Delta and fitted it with a 3" riser to re-saw guitar backs and sides occasionally. I have a 1/2" 3 tpi skip tooth blade on it and use it for all cutting operations including 3/8" thick aluminum bar and brass stock. I do instruments and general woodworking and very seldom wish for anything bigger. I've had my 12" for something like 20 years and it's certainly never stopped me from building banjos or other musical instruments.
Almost all the home shop folks I know opt for a 14" band saw, some fitted with re-saw risers.
Part of using a band saw successfully is keeping a good blade on it. I buy good quality blade stock in bulk rolls and peel off enough for a new blade at a cost of about $6.
Edited by - rudy on 09/15/2019 17:12:07
I started out with a 14" Rockwell from the days of yore which was fine for banjos, but 5 years ago I got an 18" Jet at an auction which enables me to resaw wood for guitar backs and tops, and other wider jobs. I had thought about getting a riser block for the 14" but it wasn't very powerful anyway. I keep a 1/2" 3 TPI blade in the Jet, and last year I got a little Rikon 10-305 which I now keep a 1/4" blade in all the time. This way I can make the straight or large radius cuts on the big saw and shut it off and walk over to the little one and make the tight cuts, which saves a lot of time over either changing blades all the time or trying to make a blade do what it doesn't want to do. If two bandsaws is not convenient for you then I think either a 14 or a 17" would be fine for banjos, there's nothing very thick to cut for them. Power is another question and is sometimes correlated to size but sometimes not, my little 10" saw only has a 1/3 HP motor as I recall and I have to feed a lot slower than with the 1-1/2 HP motor on the big saw.
Yes I use 1/4” blades for just about everything and I do finish the peghead first spindle sander then by hand. I occasionally use 1/2” blades for resawing thick pieces and for rough cutting lumber.
I have found that the 1/4” blades cut 2” stock with ease and you can easily make a curved cut about the radius of a quarter. If you have the room go bigger. I have never complained that my band saw table was just too big.
I also seem to get longer blade life out of the larger saw. My blades do not work harden as quickly since they are being bent around a 20” wheel vs the 14”.
Zach also makes a good point about power. The larger saws usually com with a larger motor. One thing to look at though is how good are the guides. The first I did was throw the original guides away on my 20” Rockwell and installed be Carter ball bearing guides. Whole new world.
One last thing to keep in mind is what kind of dust collection do the saws have. Kind of important. And stay away from saws with plastic parts.
If buying a 14 inch bandsaw get the more powerful motor. If you think you might get into building upright basses later on, a 14 inch will be too small.
Dust collecting on bandsaws is often poor, immediately look at youtube for self-made collectors that fit underneath the table.
If you start thinking 17-19 inch bandsaws spend some time thinking about rigging. Getting off the shipping pallet, getting it into the shop, moving it into position, lifting it to install leveling pads, casters. I owned one of the nicer 19 inch Grizzlys, cast iron wheels, big honker of a cast iron table. It was a beast to move around and forever in the wrong position for one job to the next.
IMPORTANT: Grizzly has umpteen models of near everything. There is always a sweet spot in their line of a given type of machine. Download all the detailed specs and user manuals and stud them. What you will find is that sweet spot machine in the model line up. The model below it typically you lose some important features you want, and the model above it cost more for really no real benefit.
Lastly, there's a special type of caster that is a caster and built in leveling pad all in one. One of the irksome things you will find trying to design or buy a stand that has both casters and pads is trying to fit 4 of each in a given footprint. These combo caster/leveling pad in one type solves this. But they are absurdly expensive.
I my band saw.
'Setups' 3 hrs
'St. Anne’s Reel (TOTW)' 5 hrs