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Equipment Recommendations: Bandsaw, Tablesaw, Jointer, etc.

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Feb 24, 2020 - 7:43:54 AM
98 posts since 3/19/2018

I have the basics for my workshop, but am looking at some upgrades -- willing to spend a $1,000 to $2,000.

I have a WEN bandsaw (10", 3.5 amp) that does the job but isn't good for resawing hardwoods, which is tough because i make my own rims. I end up resawing wood strips on my table saw, which doesn't feel all that safe to do. I have an old used 6" jointer i got off craigs list that is janky but does okay. A little wonky. WEN planer works okay. Decent desktop drill press. Crappy Ryobi router table with a plunge router -- don't use the table much. WEN oscillating spindle sander doesn't have much power but does the job. Some other stuff. 12" dual bevel shop saw does just fine. My table saw is a 10" Ryobi with a stand. Meant for job sites mostly. My lathe works great.

What piece of equipment do all find most important in your banjo-building endeavors? Everyone has a different process but I was curious about getting others' opinions.

Feb 24, 2020 - 8:11:40 AM
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Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14988 posts since 3/27/2004

Hi Lindsay,

You hit the proverbial nail on the head about each builder having tool preferences based on work habits, shop budget, and tool availability.

For a good overview of my preferences you might want to look through my "Tools" photo folder on my BHO home page.  A lot of it is self-explanatory, or has enough text in the captions to serve as explanation.  I'm happy to add details here, but it's way too much information to post all the stuff that I consider "favorites".

Rudy's favorite tools...

I have a DeWalt portable table saw that I use for some general woodworking, but a table saw isn't necessary for banjo work IMHO.

I really dislike inexpensive planers, and the pro planers aren't my tool of choice, either.  Here I'm referring to jointer-planers; the power thicknessing planer would be a far better choice for utilitarian use, although I don't own one.  For the past 40 years ALL my planing (and a bunch of general surfacing work in instrument construction) are done with a commercial drill press and a Wagner Safe-T-Planer, but I'm pretty unique in my choice of tools...  wink

My #1 suggestion is to move to a larger, and better, band saw.  I use a 12" Delta with a 3" riser (to do re-saws on 8" wide stock for the occasional guitar or bass) and equipped with a 3 tpi 1/2" skip tooth blade (that part is IMPORTANT).  I settled on the 12" because it does everything I need it to do and I can still move it around easily.

Most people opt for a 14" saw, the Grizzly GO555 is a very popular "home shop" saw:

Grizzly 14" band saw

Hope that gives you something to chew on.  smiley

Edited by - rudy on 02/24/2020 08:25:04

Feb 24, 2020 - 8:27:58 AM

98 posts since 3/19/2018

Awesome, Rudy -- really appreciate it. Use the StewMac safe-T-planer and it works great though sometimes there is chip out when I'm planing the tops of my three-ply rims. Still getting used to it. Thank you!

Feb 24, 2020 - 8:35:51 AM
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rudy

USA

14988 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by QuailCreekBanjos

Awesome, Rudy -- really appreciate it. Use the StewMac safe-T-planer and it works great though sometimes there is chip out when I'm planing the tops of my three-ply rims. Still getting used to it. Thank you!


Yes, the STP has a learning curve and it's important to work with the wood's grain structure.  I'm working on a topic post here to go through the complete building of a traditional open back, complete with CAD plan.  In that topic I also will  cover rim planing technique to eliminate chip out when using the STP.

Feb 24, 2020 - 8:57:29 AM

2799 posts since 2/18/2009

Most of my shop tools were bought used, either at auctions or from Craigslist. I have an older DeWalt 733 planer, for instance, that I bought for $150 about 8 or 10 years ago, and it has done very well for what I need. My first planer was a Jet that was almost as good, I got it for $50 with one of the cutterhead bearings gone bad, and spent a few hours and about $10 to replace the bearing. I spent years wishing I had a bigger bandsaw but not wanting to spend the money to buy one, and finally in 2014 I got an 18" Jet for $320.

More recently I've bought some tools new, mainly ones that are just not available used locally. I find that for instrument work I use a drum sander much more than a planer, I've had mine for nearly 2 years and it has made my life a lot easier, and saved a lot of thin wood that would have been chewed up by the planer where there was grain runout. There are a lot of choices to be made, and my inclination is to think about what I'm doing when I work and which operations could be most benefitted by a tool upgrade, and prioritize based on that, or on what you can find cheaply locally at the moment. For instance I happened on a 6" Craftsman jointer which is nothing great but it's good enough for flattening necks and it was advertised for $50 and only 5 miles from home.

Zach

Feb 24, 2020 - 9:24 AM
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12723 posts since 6/29/2005

I think a 14" bandsaw is very important. Having said that, I rip the slats for rim laminations with the tablesaw with a thin kerf ripping blade, 2 passes, halfway through each pass, which is neater than the bandsaw, no bandsaw marks on the wood,  and doesn't drift. You need to use a featherboard.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 02/24/2020 09:25:16

Feb 24, 2020 - 4:01:33 PM

7569 posts since 1/7/2005

I,like Ken do a lot of fine resawing on my table saw. I have a 4" jointer, but it's one of my most unused tools. I use my table saw for dimensioning wood, for cutting a slot for neck reinforcement, and for prepping wood to be run through my planer. I am often faced with shaving a long strip of wood down by an eight of an inch, or even a 16th of an inch. With a proper push stick, and feather board, I can do this with greater accuracy and smoother finish than I can on a band saw.

My jointer can give me one smooth and flat surface, but it can tend to lift up the grain and cause wedging that I don't get with my planer. The planer gives me more control of the cut, and provides perfectly parallel sides. I do have a saf-T planer, but i only use it for small jobs. I built a book case where I had to flatten and thickness eight 1"x8"x6' oak planks on both sides. I would not enjoy doing that job with a hand plane or a Saf-T-Planer. But with my 12-1/2" DeWalt planer, it took me all of 1/2 hour and the results were flawless.

And that's one of the reasons my table saw and planer are two of my most indispensable power tools. I may not use them as often as I do other tools, but they make short work of the most difficult, tedious and boring jobs, and does it better than I can do it by hand--and in a fraction of the time.

I have a 14" Jet bandsaw, which is indispensable, not only for re-sawing wider boards, and cutting curves, but for countless small trimming operations.

Another must have tool for me is a combination disc sander and 1" belt sander. Too many uses to mention, but it's worth it's weight for small stuff.

Of course, there are lots of other tools that aren't used often but are must have's. For instance, if you happen to want to do any inlay work, try to do it without a Dremel tool. Or try to bind a guitar without a router. It was done by hand in the old days, but I'm not quite that nostalgic. It all depends on how much you value your time, and what you want to do with it.

DD

Edited by - Dan Drabek on 02/24/2020 16:04:44

Feb 24, 2020 - 4:26:10 PM

28 posts since 2/25/2017

I use a table saw to cut down the boards, and a DeWalt compound saw to cut blocks for a block rim. I also use a 6" jointer planer to flatten neck blanks. I also got a little 5 "Dremel disc sander that is a nice thing to have.

Feb 24, 2020 - 7:54:58 PM
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304 posts since 5/29/2015

The new helical blades/heads found in jounters and planers are superior in cut and make much less noise. They can almost double the price of a planer, but are well worth it.

The new model (not the old one) JET 10 inch drum sander is potentially useful.

Feb 25, 2020 - 2:24:54 PM
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98 posts since 3/19/2018

Well I bought a Grizzly G0555XH 14" 1-3/4 HP Extreme Series Resaw Bandsaw. Several times more powerful than my 10" WEN, and should be pretty good for resawing veneers. Pretty pumped! Thanks for the help everyone.

Feb 25, 2020 - 2:54:20 PM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14988 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by QuailCreekBanjos

Well I bought a Grizzly G0555XH 14" 1-3/4 HP Extreme Series Resaw Bandsaw. Several times more powerful than my 10" WEN, and should be pretty good for resawing veneers. Pretty pumped! Thanks for the help everyone.


You don't fool around, do you?  wink

It's a bit too big for me, as I would not be able to bench press it.  wink  All joking aside, it will be a fantastic addition to your shop.  I use my band saw for so many tasks that I couldn't imagine what I'd do without it.  Table saw?  I could live without it, but not the band saw.

I highly  recommend a 1/2" 3 tpi skip tooth blade.  Bi-metal or hard back is even better.  I use the same blade for everything and don't swap out for other blades.  I purchase my blade stock in bulk  (usually Starrett or Lenox) and have my own welder, so a blade change is around $8 at present.

Edited by - rudy on 02/25/2020 15:01:16

Feb 25, 2020 - 4:44:57 PM

304 posts since 5/29/2015

A very useful addition to your new bandsaw will be a second dust collector port that is attached under the table right at the opening where the blade comes out. There are several youtube videos on how to constuct these. I have found that splitting my dust collector to collect saw dust at the supplied port and at the added port reduces external dust considerably when resawing.

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