Customer Reviews: DELTA BS100 Shopmaster 9-Inch Bench Top Band Saw
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on December 13, 2005
I have had my BS100 Shopmaster for 5 years now, and I am a very satisfied user. I feel I have enough experience with the saw to see its shortcomings and virtues. It IS a great saw when you know and accept its limitations which are: (some can be overcome...)

1) Saw is designed and made for small scale woodworking. Period.
2) Low "power" for resawing or cutting thick hardwood stock (not designed for this, see 1).)
3) Blade wander can be a problem if saw used right out of the box with original guides and original blade (and in general, especially when using 1/4" blade).
4) This saw requires high quality blades to perform its best (not found in ordinary hardware stores). The original Delta blades are thin, which makes them unsuitable for precision work - they flex too much.
5) Its small table is not sturdy enough for large, heavy workpieces, but will do for smaller pieces. (I have however used my saw for ripping 6'long 1 1/2" birch into smaller, straight strips, using a roller stand).
6) The saw is not ready to go out of the box - will require tuning for best performance.

I believe most of the problems people encounter with this saw are due to lack of experience with bandsaws because the 9" Delta is often their first saw. Problems are related to:

1) how to use the saw in general (use the saw for what it was intended for; some jobs are better done on other machines; some jobs are TOO BIG for this saw etc etc)
2) proper selection of blade for the job at hand as well as proper tensioning the blade.
3) set-up and tuning of the saw including wheel alignment, guide set up etc.
4) not knowing that there are different quality blades out there. Some are cheap, some are expensive - some are good, some are bad. You probably wouldn't want to buy the cheapest brand tires for your Porsche, then go back to the seller and complain about the car driving poorly, right?
5) No gauge or guide can be used with any powertool without setting it up and checking, resetting and rechecking. So it goes with this bandsaw. The miter gauge and fence will have to be corrected for blade drift as for any other bandsaw on the market.

This review is rather long, but I think the saw deserves a thorough review to address some of the issues typical to many bandsaws, not only this 9" Delta. A bandsaw is more of a delicate "cutting instrument" than a cutting machine and requires tuning for top performance... Some experience is required to master the band saw to get the most out of it as with any instrument.

I don't have space for a large bandsaw, and I don't need the power of one either. If I were to buy another band saw, it would only be because I would be scaling up my woodworking to large pieces or heavy resawing, or to get another machine and set it up for a specialized task for one blade only... I would still keep my 9" Delta. It is too good of a saw to give away (read: sell used for cheap).

The saw will work pretty much out of the box, but if you don't take the time to tune it properly, you will most likely be disappointed. Realize that this is not a saw made for heavy resawing (though resawing of stock can be done using a proper blade). It is a small, quiet benchtop saw suited for small scale woodworking and this it can do very well. And its worklight is very handy.

Many of the "shortcomings" of a small saw like this can be overcome by tuning the wheels and setting the saw up properly e.g. like suggested in the Bandsaw Handbook by Mark Duginske or The Bandsaw Book by Lonnie Bird. Both are highly recommended. Before you buy any bandsaw, go through either of these two books and learn how to set up a band saw properly, including using the mitre gauge and setting the saw up for perfect mitre cuts and how to rip and resaw. This will also help you realize that straight cuts, resawing etc does require certain techniques whether you have a 9" Delta or a 36" RotoMatic industrial band saw with 2" blade. Both books will show you how to make an adjustable rip fence and other jigs helping you getting the most out of any bandsaw.

How to maximize its performance (or the performance of ANY bandsaw for that matter):

1) Throw away the blade that came with the saw, and buy a high quality blade e.g. Timberwolf from Suffolk Machinery. The original Delta blades are very thin, flexes easily causing problematic drift - and they wear out fast. For resawing (yes - it can be done!) I use a 1/2" Woodslicer for resawing or ripping stock for boxmaking: Koa, oak, rosewood, maple etc. Works great, but feed slowly and the saw will not stall! The blade is rather expensive, but worth any penny if you need to resaw or do long rip cuts using this bandsaw. It also has a thin kerf so you won't overtension the saw. This blade will also make it easy to cut straight. Using the original blade or Delta's own blade or any other "regular" blades found in ordinary hardware stores WILL be a disappointment on this saw. I have never found Delta's own blades to be satisfying, but for somebody else, they might do. They do best on softwood like pine, but still not very good in my opinion.

2) Replace the guideblocks with Coolblocks (Woodcraft, Rockler etc). If you can't find the right size, buy oversize and file/grind it to fit (that is what I did). These will support and help clean and lubricate the blade. You could also make your own hardwood guides, but I found the Coolblocks to be the best. These guideblocks will also help support the blade for cutting curves.

3) Tune the saw when you have a high quality blade and coolblocks for your saw. Saw will run smoother, quieter and have more of its power available for sawing after the tuning. Tuning will also help stabilize the blade and avoid drift to the left or right. With proper setup, this saw IS capable of cutting straight! And vibration can mostly be eliminated by balancing and truing wheels! The saw is in itself very light and won't "absorb" or dampen the vibration as well as a large, cast iron machine. Mounting it to a heavy base is also advised.

4) Use slow feedrates and be gentle - it is a delicate machine - don't force-feed it.

5) Use the correct blade for the job. Don't use an 1/8" or 1/4" 14 TPI blade for resawing/ripping, and don't use the 3 TPI blade for cutting intricate patterns 1/8" thick stock....

6) Correct tensioning of the saw blade as well as proper wheel alignment/adjustment will avoid blade coming off the wheel by itself. A rough cutting technique can also cause the blade to come off.

7) Proper maintenance will keep the saw in top shape....

I would also suggest replacing the throatplate with one you make yourself (discussed in the books mentioned earlier).

The saw can very well handle a high quality 1/8" blade, but only after coolblocks and tuning. Don't even bother with 1/8" blade on a stock 9". (Others might disagree here.) Be aware that setting up the saw with an 1/8" blade is a little tricky until you learn how to prepare the saw for it.

I will rate this saw 5 stars. One star could have been taken away because if the saw had been equipped with a high quality blade and guide blocks, many problems would have been gone!!!! But then again, most bandsaws on the market are delivered with inferior blades and guides anyway. Recommended upgrades (Coolblocks, good blade) is about $35, and will greatly improve the performance. If you decide to buy this saw, buy one or the other of the recommended books mentioned as well. They will become your best manual and guide whether it is for tuning and setup, choosing the right blade or ideas for small projects!

If you want a more fancy, professional looking saw, check out the Rikon 10" bandsaw. But also expect to pay a lot more.
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on March 16, 2003
I bought my bandsaw a little over two years ago and only used it sparingly and primarily for small shapes from thin plywood. After about a year I needed to use it for 3/4" stock while making curved moldings for a grandfather clock and found it difficult to follow the line because the blade kept turning to the inside. I tried using the fence to cut a straight line and had the same problem. The wood pulled away from the fence because of the blade turning in. I also found it impossible to cut a straight line freehand. I quit using the saw for a year and then decided to either adjust it properly or get rid of it. I spent two hours playing with the adjustments and finally gave up when I ended up dropping one of the guide blocks into an old air conditioning unit sitting on the floor below my workbench. I took the saw to a Delta factory service center in Dallas. They had to shim the bottom wheel as it was a full 1/4" behind the plane of the top wheel. They also replaced the guide blocks and did a complete adjustment. Even though it was two months out of warranty, they did the work for free. It now cuts a PERFECT line in 3/4" oak like a hot knife through butter. I'll have to use it more to decide if it rates 5 stars but I give it a solid 4 stars for now.

UPDATE: It is now 2 1/2 years since I wrote the review above and the band saw still works perfectly. I recently completed a wine rack and cut a curve in 4 x 4 pine for the legs and couldn't have asked for a better or easier cut. I'm going to leave the rating at four stars just because of the limitations on the size of stock you can cut, and the fact that it takes up some bench space, but I'm very happy with my purchase.
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on July 28, 2004
I can't believe the people who can complain about a bandsaw they purchased for under $100. I paid $87 for mine at the local Bigname Hardware Store -- Wow!

Several reviewers complained about the saw not cutting a straight line, and this is due to the defective/damaged blade sold with this feisty little woodeater. The teeth on one side of the blade stick out a little farther than they do on the other side, so naturally the blade is going to pull that direction.

One of the reviewers complained that there isn't much of a selection of blades, but I didn't find this to be the case. If you Google for (''59 1/2'' bandsaw blade) with the ''59 1/2'' in quotes, you'll find a half dozen manufacturers. Also, Google for ''59 1/4'', since it's basically the same thing, but will pull up a couple alternatives.

Notably, Craftsman, Black & Decker, Olsen, and Ryobi make blades that will work perfectly. I just picked up one of the Vermont American blades alongside the Delta bandsaw over at the hardware store, and it cut plenty straight.

And use the right blade for the task at hand. If you wanna cut a 3/4-inch radius, use the 1/4-inch blade. If you wanna cut a straight line, use the 3/8-inch blade. Simple as that. Oh, and somebody out there makes a 1/2-inch blade that will probably work, so if you're still having trouble with straight lines, try that.

Take the time to adjust the guides, per the instruction manual, but don't agonize over it. The guides only come into play if you're really torquing the blade, otherwise they should have absolutely no bearing on the blade, and they certainly won't help you if you're bent on using the original defective/damaged blade.

Anywho ... It's a great saw, and it works like a champ. I was really impressed by the belt-drive -- a nice touch, well beyond my expectations. If you want a $500 saw, get out your checkbook. If you want a saw for cheap that will do almost everything you want it to do, I highly recommend this little Delta BS100.
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on October 27, 2002
Light weight and easy to set up. It comes with the 1/4 inch blade but get the 1/8" and 3/8" blades too. You will need the smaller blade for tight corners and the bigger blade is a must for resawing. I was able to resaw 1 1/2 x 1 inch oak into several near perfect 3/16 slices using the 3/8" blade. I used the rip fence for that job and highly recommend it for resawing. Just use the big blade with proper tension.
Changing DELTA blades is a snap, the welds are ground smooth and pass through the guides without any fuss.
This is a great 9" bandsaw and I would recommend it to anyone with only one caution. Mount it on a plywood base for better stability.
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on March 23, 2005
I was in the markey for a scroll saw originally, but when I saw the $97 price tag and availablility of 1/8" wide blades I couldn't resist.

I read all the reviews here and believe that improper setup and ignorance are to blame for many of the problems.

For me I have had little problems. I set the saw up, adjusted it and went to town. My first victim was a 4x4 peice of Redwood (3+1/2x3+1/2 actually). I clamped a small peice of oak for a fence and shoved the redwood thru. I was trimming a 1/4" peice off of the edge. Went right thru like butter, and stright too. Also the noise didn't change much when cutting, something that I had expected to happen. Not the cleanest cut in the world but a little hand planing and sandpaper can make quick work of that.

Here is what an old-timer at the BORG iI got the saw from told me about adjusting band saws:

All blades usually track a little. And too much tension on the blade will make it worse. Follow the direction and only tighten that knob 3 turns for the 1/4" blade! I know it seems loose but I have never had it come off.

Second about the tracking there is a easy way to deal with that. First get a peice of fairly soft wood, Pine will do, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Start a cut freehand right down the middle. If your blade is tracking it will want to twist the wood a little, let it twist. After going about 5-6 inches into the wood turn the saw off, but dont move the wood. Take a pencil and mark the table from the egde of the wood. That line will be at a slight angle to your blade, depending on how much trackning your blade has.

Now when you setup a fence just align it with that mark, super straight cut everytime.

Of course of you change blades or reset the tension you will have to make a new alignment mark on the table, thats why you use a pencil :).

I havn'e tried curved cuts yet, but I did get a 1/8" blade for just such an occasion. At 5 bucks that blade was pretty cheap.

So for the price and quality of the Delta BS100 I give it 5 stars.
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on June 15, 2004
I bought my Delta band saw because Delta has a good name and I did not have lot of money to spend. $99.00 was just up my alley. Then I read the reviews on this sight and almost passed out in despair. So I really put this saw to the test and check out EVERY problem people complained about. Mind you I have never used a band saw before, so I had no idea what I was doing. After carefully following the instructions to align it up properly(something I learned must be done with any band saw), I started cutting everything in every way.
To sum it up in one phrase: The saw works great! And for those of you ney-sayers that think I was a light on my saw, I even cut half inch strips from an oak log that just cleared the height of the blade with a little jig I made. I do admit that when I feed the stock too quickly the saw crawls to the left of my line, but when I feed it slow enough I have never had a problem. For those of you who said the saw has insufficient power, I really have no idea what you are talking about. My only complaint is that I find the table and miter gauge a little flimsey, and the blue throat plate is not flush with the table and some stock gets stuck there and hickups as I push it along.
But for $99.00 this is a great saw. Especially for a beginning weekend wood worker like me. Obviously this saw is not first class, but try finding any kind of power saw for $99.00 that has really high quality. You do get what you pay for. And for this price I got alot.
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on January 8, 2003
I owned a Skil 9" band saw before, let me tell ya'll why I liked this Delta BS100. I do owned an larger 14" Delta band saw, so let me tell you guys something here. There's ain't much different!!
One; It is super quiet, because that Skil model has gears like circlar saws, and noisey as heck...
Two; Those three wheelers jobbers, they break blade unexpectly
Three; If you followed the instructions carefully, you shouldn't have any problems from it..I didn't have any problems with mine, I have enjoyed it nonstop.
Four; It is a great machine for first timers, starting out on a budget, beside that, why spend a big cash on a big ones, when this little bugger can do its jobs just like big ones, except cutting thicker materials greater than 3 3/4". But, it'll do smaller project just fine.
Five; This is a secondary machine to my Delta scroll saw, I make clocks for living...........So, pardon my pun
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on May 29, 2008
I was concerned after reading existing reviews of the Delta Shopmaster BS100, but needing a light-weight, compact band saw for luthier work, I deceided to buy one anyway. I was very pleased with the performance of this little saw as received from Amazon. I did have one self inflicted problem that affected tracking and resawing when I first set up the saw. This being my first bandsaw, I had to learn the proper way to set the blade guides. Not knowing that the guide blocks in the Delta Shopmaster were made of ceramic, I applied too much pressure when tighening the screws that lock the blade guides and cracked one of the ceramic guides. I replaced the ceramic guide blocks with Cool Blocks ($12.95 for a set of four). Cool Blocks are made of a graphite impregnated phenolic material and I have found these to be very durable. Now the rip cuts are straight and I had no trouble re-sawing 3" oak boards. I am very pleased with the performance of this saw and probably would not have had any problems had I not cracked the original guide block.
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on November 4, 2006
As a long time (over 55 years of woodworking) I have a lot of experience with bandsaws. This unit surprised me, it is very well made for light work. It is easy to adjust and tracks well when adjusted correctly. I can find no fault. I only use it for small work as I have 2 bigger bandsaws for large work. I mainly use it in building wooden boats.

I usually do not cut wood thicker than 3/4 inch but im sure it would if you take your time.
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on January 14, 2004
I bought this saw 4 months ago and am just tooling up. I've already used it to make 2 tables, some aluminum bracketry for my motorcycle, and with a blade swap slice up some 1 1/2" tubing. I'm really happy with the way it's worked, and it's left better cuts than my hand tools, so I am not complaining.
It's very light and easy to setup on stand to use and take it down out of the way when you need the table space. I do make sure everything is setup perfect before I use it, but it's pretty easy to check quickly.
For a newbie or if you don't have a lot of room it's perfect!
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