$2K+ Bandsaw Comparison
#11
  
A year and a half ago I needed a 14” bandsaw and shared my notes here. Jet and Laguna did well, Rikon stole the show but I personally ended up choosing a used Delta because the price was a fourth the cost and it did 80% of what even the Rikon did. Used large woodworking tools are frequently the best solution. 


I’ve loved my 14” bandsaw but it’s time to add a larger bandsaw to my workflow. I’ll keep the 14” as a dedicated curve saw and upgrade it with a Carter Stabilizer. The new bandsaw will be dedicated for straight cuts. 

Here’s my notes from my research. I list the top contenders in order from least impressive to most impressive [to me personally—as always, folks will come to different conclusions].

5) Used 18” bandsaw, $1000-ish

PROS
Used big machines is my usual strategy. Who can argue with prices that are typically half or a third [or less] and 100% functionality? Things tend to be made better decades ago as well. For bandsaws, quality blades make the biggest difference of any feature so there is an elegant wisdom in going used. You can always sell a used tool for what you paid and you never have to worry about the first scratch. For the overwhelming majority of everyone reading this, buying used is the best solution. In most reasonable sized cities, good deals only require a reasonable amount of time searching. For people who like paying more for SLIGHTLY better than keep reading. Paying more money is really about fit-n-finish and secondary features like dust collection.

CONS
If you care about dust collection (increasingly I care a lot), note that newer bandsaws have really improved their DC in the last 2-5 years. The newer machines are SO MUCH BETTER in this area. This is the main reason I didn’t go with a used solution this time for this machine. 

4) Tied: Grizzly 19” G0514X2B $1900/21” G0531B, $2095 and Shopfox W1825, $2019

PROS
Grizzly is usually well positioned in the best-bang-for-the-buck large tool category. For most woodworkers—and in particular folks on a budget who like new—a Grizzly option makes a lot of sense. Add to this SO MANY fans here on this forum which only underlines this. I’m particularly impressed by the shafted table angle control—I angle the table all the time and would love to have this feature. They also have brakes which the Jets below don’t have.

Also consider these are 19" and 21" machines which are considerably larger than everything else on this page. This is significant. 

CONS
The list of merits on these saws are impressive. The basics are covered well, although details in the fit-n-finish is a noticeable step down from the saws below. Grizzly hasn’t yet updated their rear thrust bearings to the MUCH BETTER side-facing orientation [my guess is this is a unfortunate patent limitation] and their dust collection is a couple years behind their competition.

3) Tied: Laguna 18BX, $2000, Jet 18” 3HP, $2400 

Feel free to roll your eyes that I’m lumping these very different saws together. They are VERY different from each other, however, in my research I find them to be about the same value, a noticeable step up from the saws above and a noticeable step down from the saws below. 

Laguna PROS
The 18BX is stunningly beautiful. It’s got a brake that the Jets don’t have. It’s got a much stronger trunnion than the Jets, when it’s actually true [see below]. It also has an exceptional DC which easily ranks it higher than the saws above. The Laguna also enjoys a very loud fan base (see this forum and others). 

Laguna CONS
The Laguna 18BX is a conversation. This saw is surrounded by lovers and haters depending on which crowds you rub elbows with. Owners on forums in general rave about it but the pros I talk to often have had mixed experiences. To the eye, the fit-n-finish looks stunning in pictures, although in reality under close inspection many details are less quality than you’d expect (cheap plastic guide knobs and a less quality fence than competition). 

In general, prosumers rave about the ceramic guides but the pros I’ve talked to don't like them. It seems that with prosumer-level use they are fine, but daily use is where the problems show. For starters, ceramics can create sparks which is a fire hazard with DC. Several pros I’ve talked to have gotten rid of their ceramic guide bandsaws for this reason. They don’t spark often, but this is a real threat. 

The rear thrust guide exasperates this problem. Having a ceramic thrust pad which by design generates heat [even if ceramics handle heat efficiently, they still create heat] every time you push wood into the saw increases the risk of sparks. On top of this,  the Laguna manual recommends rotating both thrust pads after every 8 hours of use to avoid wearing a groove in—which is a lot of required maintenance to stay on top of. If you’re not on top of your maintenance then you’ll end up with a groove that encourages friction sparks even more.

As I write this I’m braced for the hate I’m about to face from owners but this is what it is [owners: please have mercy. Your saw is still a strong tool. Nothing is perfect].  

Add to all of this Laguna’s widely reported abysmal customer service reputation and a track record of material imperfections that require owners to depend on their poor customer service [see most review videos—it’s surprisingly common]. Their mere 1 year warranty further erodes confidence. 

Jet PROS
Great DC, solid fence, guides and core functionality. Good customer service reputation and a 5 year warranty.

Jet CONS
Really lackluster for the price and it doesn’t have a brake. Also, I work with the new 14” Jet at my workplace [which has many of the same features] and the fit-n-finish isn’t as good as the saws below. Jet doesn’t have as high highs as the Laguna but it doesn’t have the low lows either.


2) Used Laguna LT18 $2000-ish (new is $4295)

Ever notice that these two saws look exactly the same:

This is the Laguna LT18 ($4295)
This is the Rikon 10-347 ($2600)

Same frame. Same brake. Same dust shield. Same doors. There are differences--door colors, fence, guides and wheels--but they are VERY similar, bordering on exactly the same. 

Which one came first? Is Rikon a cheap copycat?

I was curious. So I called someone in the know [who I'll keep anonymous to protect them just in case this is sensitive]. Turns out the truth is even more interesting. Laguna worked with Rikon to develop this saw, they are in fact twins. So you can spend $4295 on the new LT18 or you can spend $2600 and get something much closer than most folks realize. And since older LT18’s go for only $600 less than a new Rikon and have MUCH WORSE DC (only one port at the very bottom), there’s no reason to consider a used Laguna LT18 (unless you’re paying MUCH less).

1) New Rikon 10-347 $2600 

PROS
This is a twin of the more expensive professional Laguna. The main difference is the guides— the pro Laguna has [ahem, problematic] ceramic and Rikon has the best bearing guides on the market with an innovative spring adjustment system that allows very precise adjustment to be made surprisingly quickly. The pro Laguna has a better tension gauge [whatever] but anyone who buys this $4295 Laguna hasn’t done their homework. 

Fit and finish on the Rikon matches or bests all saws on this list. Rikon enjoys a great customer service reputation. There’s lots of small things to delight you: 1) innovative fence adjusts for drift (which makes it a snap to adjust to the fence ruler), 2) this saw is decked with sensors that stop the saw if it is detensioned (no other saw on this list has this) or if a door is open (ditto), 3) table angle is geared (which is better than most but not executed as well as Grizzly’s system), and there is an adorable mobility kit accessory that is easily the best wheels available on any of these saws (second place goes to Laguna—but it’s a distant second). 

The dust ports are worth a paragraph. Before really thinking about it I was annoyed that Rikon’s (and the pro Laguna’s and Grizzly) top dc port was oriented to the side, over the brake and kinda in the way. I really liked the Laguna 18BX and the Jet’s rear facing dc since it was out of the way. However, when you think about it, the dc port really needs to be over the brake on the side since the angled collection shoots all dust in this direction. Rear ports are out of the way but do not leverage how the dust is naturally encouraged to fall. I’ll yield to both solutions being acceptable: rear is better for ergonomics and side is better for getting dust. It’s a draw.

Also consider this saw has an impressive resaw height that's more than most saws above and a 4HP motor, which is greater than most saws above too. You get a lot for the money.  

CONS

No tool is perfect. The Rikon’s table is too low. It would be perfect for folks sawing through large logs but for normal flat stock it’s several inches too low (and I’m short!).

This problem compounds when you try to use the brake. The brake is kinda high and the table is way low. And consider the dust port being in this location too. There just isn’t enough room to naturally get your leg in to a position to press on the brake. My knee hits the table. This is a small thing but Rikon, if you’re reading this, you gotta fix this in the next version. 

Also I’m gonna throw some smack at the very hard to read ruler on the fence rail. Rikon: you can do better.


_______________


In Summary

1) The best deal—particularly if you care less about dc—is going used.
2) Grizzly has great bang for the buck if you don't mind some outdated details--and these saws are 1"-3" larger which is significant. 
3) Laguna has a definite edge over the Grizzly and the Jet but this is brought down by poor customer service and low standards in quality assurance.
4) Jet is solid but too vanilla. 
5) Don’t buy a used Pro Laguna. It's about the same price as the Rikon with massively inferior dc.
6) Rikon is the clear leader if you’ve got some extra money.

This time after doing the research exhaustively over 3 months I bought the Rikon 10-347. It’s now in my shop, was delivered in an impressive wood crate and all components were straight and true.

Disclaimer
I don’t work for any tool companies and I'm not paid to write this. I’m just a tool nerd who loves this community [which has helped me a lot]
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#12
  Re: $2K+ Bandsaw Comparison by Murray M ([size=medium][color=...)
(08-02-2020, 01:57 AM)Murray M Wrote: ...
I’ve loved my 14” bandsaw but it’s time to add a larger bandsaw to my workflow. I’ll keep the 14” as a dedicated curve saw and upgrade it with a Carter Stabilizer. The new bandsaw will be dedicated for straight cuts. 
...
No tool is perfect. The Rikon’s table is too low. It would be perfect for folks sawing through large logs but for normal flat stock it’s several inches too low (and I’m short!).

...
This time after doing the research exhaustively over 3 months I bought a Rikon. It’s now in my shop, was delivered in an impressive wood crate and all components were straight and true.

Glad you like your new saw (you did get the 10-347, or another of their 18" saws?).  Think we're going to need to see a picture, and a followup post after you've got some time with it.

What blade are you using with the saw?

As I mentioned in your search thread, something like zambus casters will raise your table height and allow you to move the saw as needed.
The low heights are common on bandsaws with more resaw capacity, but not as ideal for other work.
(I've got my saw up on blocks right now so that the outfeed clears my tablesaw)


For the 14":  is the carter stabilizer for scroll cuts or for general-purpose curves?  I'd think a general-purpose combination like 1/4" blade with cool block guides would complement the larger saw.


Matt
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#13
  Re: RE: $2K+ Bandsaw Comparison by mdhills ([quote='Murray M' pi...)
(08-02-2020, 10:46 AM)mdhills Wrote: Glad you like your new saw (you did get the 10-347, or another of their 18" saws?).  Think we're going to need to see a picture, and a followup post after you've got some time with it.

What blade are you using with the saw?

As I mentioned in your search thread, something like zambus casters will raise your table height and allow you to move the saw as needed.
The low heights are common on bandsaws with more resaw capacity, but not as ideal for other work.
(I've got my saw up on blocks right now so that the outfeed clears my tablesaw)


For the 14":  is the carter stabilizer for scroll cuts or for general-purpose curves?  I'd think a general-purpose combination like 1/4" blade with cool block guides would complement the larger saw.


Matt

Thanks Matt
Yep: 10-347
I'm not up to speed on the best blade yet. Probably 3/4" or 1" from these guys
Roger that about blocks. Makes sense. 
Carter Stabilizer for both scroll and general purpose curves. It's just a better system for all curves. More here. I'm running a 1/4" because that's what I have but my next will be a 3/16".
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#14
  Re: $2K+ Bandsaw Comparison by Murray M ([size=medium][color=...)
Why change gears,keep with your theme. I also feel the same way as older is better and to me has more value. I am speaking from experience since I have a Crescent 20" BS which is a Rockwell and I also have a PM87 20" but its for metal. I never could have afford new no matter what brand it is,so the BS Gods have smiled on me.
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#15
  Re: $2K+ Bandsaw Comparison by Murray M ([size=medium][color=...)
Looks like you made a good choice, IMO. I have the same setup; kinda of did it backwards. Had a Griz 14 incher I bought new many, many years ago. Sold it when Rikon introduced its 18" model. Bought it on a special at Woodcraft for >$1,000 (at the time) delivered to the store. Very nice saw that I now use for heavy duty tasks including resawing using a Lenox carbide blade; has two port dust collection that works well.

Having an affinity for classic woodworking tools, I picked up a Walker Turner 16" bandsaw that the PO had already begun restoring. Finished the restoration, designed and fabricated a dust collection system and now use it mostly for curves and specialty tasks.

Doug
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#16
  Re: $2K+ Bandsaw Comparison by Murray M ([size=medium][color=...)
I agree that the 3/16' blade with the Carter guides is a good combo. That's what I use on my 10" Rikon. A 1/2' lenox trimaster carbide blade will tension nicely on your 18" Rikon BS. It's the best resaw blade I've ever used and will last almost forever. I've had one on my MM16 for years and it refuses to wear out.
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#17
  Re: $2K+ Bandsaw Comparison by Murray M ([size=medium][color=...)
Quote:Same frame. Same brake. Same dust shield. Same doors. There are differences--door colors, fence, guides and wheels--but they are VERY similar, bordering on exactly the same.

Not really Murray.   They are similar to be sure.  But unless ACM Italy is making that saw for Rikon, they are NOT THE SAME.   Upper doors are different size too.

And I don't believe Laguna specified or designed the base build on those ACM saws either. 


Quote:Laguna worked with Rikon to develop this saw, they are in fact twins.

While the first part of this may be factual (I'll take you at your word) the second part just doesn't appear to be so.    And why would Laguna help Rikon design a saw?   Did Rikon buy out Torben & Co.?  Does Rikon not have competent engineers on staff that designed their other saws ?  Any designer worth their salt could buy a $5000 LT18 and reverse engineer it in less than a week.   Rikon's Asian partners have certainly done this sorta thing once or twice already with other products, so why hire Laguna for this service ?

I certainly agree that the Laguna model isn't worth a 2grand premium over the Rikon.
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#18
  Re: $2K+ Bandsaw Comparison by Murray M ([size=medium][color=...)
I have two bandsaws.

A 14" Craftsman (Rikon clone) and a 17" shopfox.

For a 14" saw, that is a general use saw...I prefer welded tube frame machines vs the old delta style. I just like a more ridgid frame that doesnt flex. Something with at least a 1/2hp motor and cast iron wheels. 

For a larger saw cast iron wheels, a 2 hp motor (for resawing) again the frame that doesnt flex.

I think guys get caught up in tools like cars and the features.....the purpose of a bandsaw is simple....tension a blade accurately so tracks properly and to have enough power to keep the blade moving through the cut. There are a lot of saws that achieve that.

Id never consider $4k for a bandaw, or even $2k. But then again I would never consider spending $75K on a BMW when I can get from point A to B in a $20k ford.....but to each his own.

Once Favre hangs it up though, it years of cellar dwelling for the Pack. (Geoff 12-18-07)  



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#19
  Re: RE: $2K+ Bandsaw Comparison by Cabinet Monkey ([quote] [size=small...)
(08-04-2020, 10:09 PM)Cabinet Monkey Wrote: Not really Murray.   They are similar to be sure.  But unless ACM Italy is making that saw for Rikon, they are NOT THE SAME.   Upper doors are different size too.

And I don't believe Laguna specified or designed the base build on those ACM saws either. 



While the first part of this may be factual (I'll take you at your word) the second part just doesn't appear to be so.    And why would Laguna help Rikon design a saw?   Did Rikon buy out Torben & Co.?  Does Rikon not have competent engineers on staff that designed their other saws ?  Any designer worth their salt could buy a $5000 LT18 and reverse engineer it in less than a week.   Rikon's Asian partners have certainly done this sorta thing once or twice already with other products, so why hire Laguna for this service ?

I certainly agree that the Laguna model isn't worth a 2grand premium over the Rikon.

If I revealed my source, you'd change your mind. Sure: anyone could reverse engineer a design but then they'd get sued faster than you can say "that's a awfully big and silly risk for a large company to take". This btw is why I suspect Grizzly is still using lame thrust bearings facing the wrong way: all the big companies will loose more if they don't respect patents. I really wonder what percentage of nice tools is paying for patents.

It also doesn't matter if you believe my source. I agree with you completely: "the Laguna model isn't worth a 2grand premium over the Rikon".
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#20
  Re: RE: $2K+ Bandsaw Comparison by Murray M ([quote='Cabinet Monk...)
(08-07-2020, 09:22 PM)Murray M Wrote: If I revealed my source, you'd change your mind. Sure: anyone could reverse engineer a design but then they'd get sued faster than you can say "that's a awfully big and silly risk for a large company to take". This btw is why I suspect Grizzly is still using lame thrust bearings facing the wrong way: all the big companies will loose more if they don't respect patents. I really wonder what percentage of nice tools is paying for patents.
Perhaps.  

But Riddle me this:  why would Rikon need someone like Laguna to help with design in the first place ?  You think they couldn't figure out how to mount a motor ?  Use microswitches ? Specify and mount wheels?  Spec a switch ? Maybe they needed help with the sliding guard or color selection ? Did laguna design the patented tool less guides Rikon waxes on about ?   Or their version of the fence that's easy to set for drift ?   Or their table tilt/lock mechanism ?  

Laguna did not design the italian LT18.  Specified a build for import, sure.   It's an ACM  "Construzzioni Meccaniche" saw made for and imported by Laguna. It's also sold around the world as a plain ol ACM 450mm bandsaw.   Early Laguna versions had bone stock 'euro guides" with that infamous GL 456 bearing that you love.    And guess what.   Wilke had exactly the same ACM saw with their Bridgewood name one it in a green color minus the Laguna Ceramic guides for sale at the same time for many years.   Your source gonna tell us Laguna help design that one too ?     How about the version that Felder sold for a while, way back when.   Before Torben went to ACM, he was peddling Meber bandsaws as the ne plus ultra Laguna bandsaws.  

There'd be really nothing to sue over either.  And who would sue ?  Laguna ?   Get real.   There's nothing on a basic bandsaw design that remotely resembles any copyrighted, trademarked, or other intellectual or design property that Laguna might own.   Sizing of a wheel or frame thickness or door panel on a saw aren't going to lose you a lawsuit even if you copied the dimensions exactly.

Certainly you don't think the footbrake is a laguna exclusive ?  Grizzly has them, rikon has has them, and felder has them. In yellow too !  Same with a sliding dust / guard door.  And I don't recall seeing any suits filed over use of these things.

Again, I'll take you at you and your buddy's word ( though I am skeptical) that design help was given. Even so , they are still not exact copies or twins as you suggest.   If they are; where are the inspection windows,  the easy drift compensation fence, 2nd dust port,  and the quick tension release on the Laguna ?   Or the little lifting dingus on the lower blade guard ?   None of which are on any LT saw.

How come the Rikon doesn't have the tension gauge on the throat like all LT's?   Or the xtra sets of holes on the base for leveling studs and securing  bolts?  And how come the blade lengths are different ? And the miter slots ?

Sorry, they simply aren't twins or clones.
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