Top positive review
215 people found this helpful
A great little saw - after tuning!
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.