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Planning to buy bandsaw grizzly vs harbor freight

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  • Planning to buy bandsaw grizzly vs harbor freight

    I’m in the market for a bandsaw and I am vacillating between harbor freight and grizzly as well as 9” vs 14”

    HF has a 9” for $159 and a 14” for $429. Price would be main factor but you often get what you pay for

    Grizzly has
    9” for $275 in catalog but online price is now $291 resaw 3 5/8”
    a) classic 14” G0555 for $650 catalog but online now $795 resaw 6”. About $100 for 6” block kit to get 1l2” resaw
    b) delux 14”. G0555LX for $695 catalog but online now is $825. Resaw 6”. About $100 for 6” block kit to get 1l2” resaw
    c) extreme 14” G0555XH $1150 catalog, online now $1475 resaw 12”. Out of stock

    as I’ve never had a bandsaw I wonder if buying at the low end, 9” at HF for $259 OT grizzly 9” for $275 would be prudent - like renting!

    Floor space was an issue in my mind but even buying a bench top model would be on a rolling stand as my existing bench space is limited and is too high to use for mounting a bandsaw.

    any suggestions will be appreciated whether about the above or another brand.


  • #2
    What do you hope to do with the bandsaw? And do you already have a good scroll saw?
    A bandsaw with limited resaw capacity (less than 5 inches) is basically a scroll saw that cannot do interior cuts... in my opinion.

    I have the Craftsman 10 inch model 21400 that looks similar to the Rikon 10 inch bandsaw. I've had it for quite some time now; I don't know how much has changed since I got mine. It works very well, even the stock blade was quite good. The resaw capacity, stock, is just below 6 inches. I made an alternate table that sat on the lower wheelhouse and could not tip at all, plus a replacement upper bearing guide assembly to increase the resaw capacity to roughly 7 inches. I used it to make "bandsaw boxes" between 6 and 7 inches deep and it worked quite well for that. I bolted my Craftsman 10 inch bandsaw to a plywood plate that was larger than the stock footprint, making the bandsaw more stable sitting on (not bolted to) a bench top or portable work stand. It was heavy enough that I didn't like to move it but it could be moved when/if necessary. Now it sits bolted to a roll-around cabinet like most of my "bench top" tools so it is easily portable and is at the perfect working height.

    I later was given the Rikon 14 inch 10-325 model which I've since upgraded with the new guide bearing design from the 10-326 (Rikon sells an upgrade kit) and the DVR motor. So it now is similar to Rikon's 10-326DVR model other than the fence. Even in its original 10-325 configuration it was a very nice bandsaw with huge resaw capacity. The new bearings make blade changes quicker and easier; the DVR motor allows it to cut all sorts of materials as it is a continuously variable speed motor. I can slow the saw waaaay down to cut plastics, metal, etc. And the DVR upgrade includes a "blade brake" function, slowing the blade within seconds of turning the saw OFF rather than having it slowly coast to a stop. Very nice. The 10-326DVR is more expensive than the options you presented so it might be too much of a first step. But the 10-326 itself is similar in price to the higher-priced Grizzly saws, $1300 if I remember correctly. Rikon has a less fancy model - the 10-324 - with a smaller motor and other differences that is around $1000 but I have no experience with that one. Rikon tools have a 5 year warranty compared to the 1-2 years common on most other brands. I've had good luck with Rikon's support on a different tool.

    Things to consider on bandsaws:
    1. Blade length. Are blades readily available in whatever length the tool uses? A 1/4 inch 6 TPI blade is somewhat "universal" for most woodworking... but, like table saw blades, it really is better to have a few different blades for specific types of work. Cutting thin materials needs a blade with higher TPI counts. Ideally you have 3 to 6 teeth "in" the material. Several online sites will make blades to whatever length you need but then you have to wait for shipping and whatnot; woodworking stores typically stock the common blade lengths.

    2. Dust collection. Bandsaws can make a mess. Many have a shop-vac port in the lower wheelhouse; better ones will have a port just below the worktable as well. That's one place where the Rikon 10 and 14 inch bandsaws could be improved: they do not have the under-table dust collection. So fine dust builds up (quickly!) on the lower guide bearings which can jam them if not cleaned frequently. I put a "Y" fitting on the lower wheelhouse dust port, plus a blast gate, and a 2 1/2 inch hose zip-tied to the underside of the table close to the bearings. Made a big difference! The blast gate lets me throttle how much of the dust collection goes to the lower wheelhouse vs. the 2 1/2 hose; I find I need most of the vacuuming at the 2 1/2 hose.

    3. Blade guide types. Bandsaws support the blade at 6 points of contact: above the table on the left, right, and backside of the blade, and below the table on the left, right, and backside of the blade again. Most bandsaws use a bearing for the backside support, called a thrust bearing. Many saws position the bearing so the blade's back edge rides across the flat of the bearing which looks odd but has worked for decades; others have the blade running against the outer surface of the bearing which is how most folks think a bearing should be used. Either method works well. These bearings keep the blade on the bandsaw wheels as you push the workpiece into the blade. To keep the blade from twisting during a curving cut, bandsaws support the left and right sides of the blade. These supports can be blocks of wood, metal, composite material, ceramic, etc. or can be bearings. Bearings "look more logical" to most folks as they would have minimal friction; blocks however have been used for decades with good results. Both blocks or bearings require maintenance. Bearings can be jammed by fine sawdust though. My bandsaws use bearings and, as long as I keep them clean, they work well and are easy to adjust during blade changes.

    4. Bandsaw books put a lot of emphasis on blade tension. A blade that isn't sufficiently tensioned will bow outwards or backwards when making cuts in thicker materials especially if you try to cut too quickly. The books will make you think you need to tension a blade to as much as it can stand. Many books also dismiss the tension gauges on "consumer" level bandsaws as inaccurate and suggest you tension a blade to a reading 1 higher than what the gauge specifies... i.e. if you are installing a 1/4 inch blade, tension it until the bandsaw's tensioning gauge reads for the next largest blade size = 3/8ths of an inch. This is a good way to damage a bandsaw or bust blades. The tension only needs to be high enough to keep the blade from bowing during a cut. Set the upper blade guide assembly to about 6 inches above the table, then push sideways on the exposed blade with moderate finger pressure... if the deflection is 1/4 inch or less the blade is likely tensioned enough. Make gentle curve cuts in some thick material and if the cut quality is good, adjust your bandsaw's tension pointer to match the blade size you are using - i.e. calibrate it.

    5. Like any tool that tensions blades (bandsaws, scroll saws, hand-held coping saws, hand-held hacksaws, etc.) it is advisable to de-tension the blade at the end of the day. This saves stress on the saw body but especially on the rubber tires. If they get a flat-spot in them they have to be replaced; you'll never get a different blade to "track" properly once the tires are deformed. Bandsaws use a handle wheel on the upper wheelhouse to adjust tension; fancier models have an additional "quick release" lever of some sort that makes blade changes or end-of-the-day de-tensioning much quicker.

    Back to your original questions: small 9-10 inch bandsaw or 14 inch as the first step? I would skip past the small bandsaws and go for a decent 14 inch model. Unless you only want to make toy size stuff. My Craftsman 10 inch bandsaw got me hooked on bandsaws but it was somewhat limiting which is why I made my own table and upper guide assembly, trying to eek out every last bit of capacity. Most 9 to 10 inch bandsaws are "built to a price" as well - aluminum wheels for example instead of heavier materials - so they may not run as smooth.



    • #3
      I have a 12" bandsaw (Delta) very similar to the 14" but smaller - I wish many times I would have gotten the 14" one.
      Loring in Katy, TX USA
      If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
      BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions


      • #4
        If you have a lathe and like to turn bowls, you will need the 14". If you want to resaw, you will need the 14". If you do modeling only and small projects, the 10" will do fine. But once you decide to do regular wood working projects, you will need the 14.

        I had a 12" when I was overseas for 25+ years, got a 14 shortly after I came back 11 years ago and now wish I had a 17". I "bought" a HF 14" on New Years day on 2011 with their 25% iff that they would offer on special occasions. They charged me and then went to get it, and then said they were out and would not give me a rain check. And it would take them 3 days to re-imburse my card. I ordered a Grizzly shortly afterwards. My time around a HF in store vs the Grizzly convinced me that the Grizzly was the way to go. (MY daughter lives about 10 miles from the Springfield MO Grizzly, so I go there often.)

        The Grizzly is a better machine but I agree that it would be worth it to get the better guides.
        Last edited by leehljp; 05-24-2021, 07:26 PM.
        Hank Lee

        Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!


        • #5
          You can spend a pile of money trying to make the HF 14" better, and it still won't be a Grizzly G0555something out of the box. Go with the Grizzly and don't regret it.

          I got lucky and found an open box Carter guide set for 20% off at my local Rockler. I put that on my G0555 and it made a big difference.


          • #6
            Pass on the 10”, buy your last saw first! I’m on my 4th bandsaw, a 14” Rikon. I really like the saw.... But I wish I had thrown a little extra cash at it and got an 18” model. I’ve fiddled away enough money on small bandsaws to buy a really nice one. Note, don’t let some of their “toolless “ features lure you one way or the other because they are definitely not that much of an improvement. Matter of fact, my tool less feature for blade guide adjustment is a bigger PIA than actually having to use tools because I still have to build a tool to loosen the finger tightness.

            I use the band saw a lot more than the table saw.

            Concerning re-saw, it requires a larger, more robust blade. Ive found several types of wood that 14” Rikon model10-326 absolutely will not re-saw, regardless to the blade I use, tension or feed rate.


            • #7
              Originally posted by capncarl View Post
              Ive found several types of wood that 14"; Rikon model10-326 absolutely will not re-saw, regardless to the blade I use, tension or feed rate.
              I haven't tried too many different wood species in mine; I mostly work in oaks and maples. I've had good luck resawing hard maple about 10 inches tall in my 10-325 using both the stock motor and after the DVR motor change. I mostly use Olson blades and recently started using Starrett blades. What wood types have not worked on your saw - and what was the issue - motor horsepower, blade drift/wander, etc? What blades have you tried - tooth count, skip/hook/etc.? Really curious. I tried Timber Wolf blades on my saw and didn't like them. During a magazine review of 18 inch bandsaws, the magazine folks had issues with a Rikon 18 inch model - it bogged down too easily. Rikon tech support helped them diagnose the issue and they found the motor wiring was incorrect; moving a few wires took care of the problem. I remember a different bandsaw review of 14 inch models and they were impressed at how little the Rikon bogged down making big resaw cuts which earned it an "Editor's Choice" - and why I looked at Rikon bandsaws in the first place. And why I hinted the 10-325 was the one I wanted long ago...

              I did go through a long alignment process getting the wheels coplanar. It's not difficult, just time consuming as you really need to tension the blade, adjust the tracking until the blade stops wandering on the wheels, see where it finally tracks on both the upper and lower wheels, then remove the tension. Once the tension is released, the pitch and yaw angles of the lower wheel are adjusted using the 4 screws + jam nuts on the outside of the lower wheelhouse plus adding shim washers to either wheel's axle. My saw, as it came from the factory, tracked the blade close to the front edge of the lower wheel. It took a bit of adjustment, using those 4 screws but fortunately no add-on shims, to get it centered on the top wheel and close to center on the lower wheel. But once adjusted, the cut quality improved considerably. So I did the same job on the Craftsman. I use the "track the blade centered on the wheel crown" method that some book writers suggest; others say to "adjust the wheels and tracking so the blade gullets always end up on the same spot of the upper wheel"; the theory being you don't need to move the blade guides fore/aft when changing blades, all you adjust is the fore/aft position of the thrust bearing. With the blade centered on the wheel crown, I have no "drift" to speak of in most cuts assuming the blade isn't damaged/worn out. I know some bandsaw book authors claim "all bandsaws will drift during cuts" which is why they use a point-contact fence for ripping and resawing. I've never used my Rikon's resaw fence post; I use the stock fence. Pocket-holes-everywhere Scott Phillips sets his bandsaws to track centered on the wheels, as I do, and claims that will "eliminate drift." I'm not sure that technique guarantees zero drift but it certainly minimizes it based on my experience. Bandsaws can resaw with virtually no drift; after all WoodMizer style saws and the big bandsaws used at lumber mills use automatic feeders for the workpiece so nobody is manually steering the logs to compensate for drift.

              Last edited by mpc; 05-25-2021, 01:21 AM.


              • #8
                I got the Grizzly 9" in March of 2018. The first one was welded crooked. It was exchanged for a second that was fine. I generally like the saw for my limited use.


                • #9
                  Bandsaw talk. I had a Sears/Craftsman 12" when in Japan - my dad had it here in the States and gave it to me because it was too small and to underpowered for what he needed.

                  This follows what some call a "ships saw" in which the table stays flat and the blade housing tilts. I loved that saw but left it to a friend in Japan. I have been looking for one within a 6 hour drive from me for years. (Ship's Saw - for cutting the bevel on a long beam/keel, it was important to keep the keel beam on a level surface and tilt the bandsaw blade. It made cutting keels much much easier.)

                  The point - The one thing I do not like about bandsaws is the tilting table. It is so hard to make bevel cuts with large or long boards on a table with a slope. There were so many things I could do with that sears saw than I cannot do easily with a large band saw. A level table and tilting blade increases usability tremendously. BUT if one has never used a bandsaw like that, they don't know how much they have missed.

                  I am really surprised that a major tool company or two have not addressed that issue and increased the usability of the bandsaw.
                  Last edited by leehljp; 05-25-2021, 11:31 AM.
                  Hank Lee

                  Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!


                • #10
                  I will also recommend a 14" as probably the best bet, UNLESS you are only doing small work. I have a Ryobi 9-inch that I purchased more than a decade ago, and I use it on occasion and it has held up very well. Great little bandsaw and I've learned a lot from it, but somewhere in the future I'd like to get a 14-inch, possibly a Rikon. But to answer your question about Grizzly or Harbor Freight, I think I'd go with the Grizzly, but not the basic model. The HF would require some refitting I think, but I'd have to have my hands on it. I don't know of any specifics, but things like blade guides might be an issue compared to higher grade brands.

                  Think it Through Before You Do!


                  • #11
                    Thanks guys,

                    I think my options now are 14”, grizzly, rikon or other? Smaller and harbor freight out the window. My upper threshold keeps going up but soon I need to get steady.

                    In answer to some of the questions raised:’
                    1) near term projects, small such as knife handle scales. I have a couple of blades plus several old knives and an ancient cleaver to Re-handle. Small boxes and flag cases as I intend to use one for my father-in- law’s flag and WWII medals including distinguished flying medal plus my wife’s infant footprint that he carried on several missions behind 50 caliber machine guns. Also I plan to make several more flag cases and donate them to veterans or family members. The cutting can be done with bt3000, saber saw or scroll saw.

                    2) long term, re-sawing to get thinner boards than available. Two 14” inch grizzly saws have 6” resaw that can be increased to 12” resaw but I am shying away from adding another connection point to the equation I assume that if I got one of the 6” resaw grizzly saws I would want the extension block when buying the saw so that it could be installed on original setup rather than trying later and disassemble and reassemble and then have a bunch of blades that are too short. That puts me into considering the grizzly 14” Extreme as well as the rikon saws which resaw 13” out of the box with no added extension needed.

                    3) I have a shop smith that I have used as a lathe and as mentioned in one of the comments if I turn bowls I most likely would need higher resaw capabilities.

                    4) types of wood: probably nothing exotic - fruitwood pruning pieces, large chunks etc to cut into usable project pieces. I do, however, have some teak @nd ipe pieces scavenged from a boat repair shop and a deck project in the neighborhood.

                    5) warranty: 5 years for rikon, ——-grizzly ? One year?

                    Other factors: as the grizzly Bellingam Washington store is only an hour away north it is easy to get there to see the saw and to pick it up, avoiding the deliver cost. The rikon is available at rockler in Seattle ( about 90+ minutes South) and after 20+ plus years in a less densely populated area I avoid Seattle whenever I can but I would want to see the saw before buying it.


                    • #12
                      Increasing threshold? Considered Laguna? Just a little more.

                      Click image for larger version  Name:	55642-01-1000.jpg Views:	0 Size:	12.9 KB ID:	844264
                      Like the Ferrari of Bandsaws, Italian in origin.


                      Last edited by LCHIEN; 05-25-2021, 05:37 PM.
                      Loring in Katy, TX USA
                      If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
                      BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions


                      • #13
                        The wood I had the trouble re-sawing was Asian Elm. It’s super heavy, very dense and stringy wood. I can’t remember seeing any of this wood on my firewood rack even splitting. But it is beautiful wood. The blade I am using is a Laguna Resaw King 3/4” carbide tipped band. One of its features that I thought would reduce drift is the difference in the carbide teeth and the band thickness. The thicker carbide should carve out enough wood that the band doesn’t experience friction rubbing on the cut.
                        I didn’t notice any bogging down on the 1.75 hp motor. Blade tracking was perfect, and I do run the tracking on the top wheel like Alex Snodgrass demonstrates, even though this wide band has its back hanging off the wheel a bit. For the time being in I’m blaming this re-saw problem on the Asian Elm wood.

                        It is curious that when I carve tiny trees out of Asian Elm on the band saw using a 3/8-8 blade I don’t very notice much drift. Usually the wood thickness is 4-5” vrs the 10-12” thickness I had trouble re-sawing.


                        • #14

                          I think my options now are 14”, grizzly, rikon or other? Smaller and harbor freight out the window. My upper threshold keeps going up but soon I need to get steady.
                          Honestly, if the Rikon had been available when I got my Grizzly, I would have probably gone with it. The Grizzly is a good bit better than the HF although the HF could be, with third party purchased upgrades, probably get close to equal with the Grizzly. BUT the Rikon, from the reviews and comments from owners is equally an upgrade from the Grizzly. There are several model Grizzly BS's, I would not consider the bottom end one. I bought the Deluxe and still upgraded the fence to a Kreg. When I bought mine, it did not have the quick release lever and I had to add it on.

                          Still, I think the Rikon is a better buy.
                          Hank Lee

                          Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!


                          • #15
                            What the pros and cons of so called cast Iron BS (Delta, Grizz 0555, HF) vs European Sheet metal saws. (Rikon, Laguna etc)?

                            I know the cast iron ones can have their height extended by 6" with a riser block whereas Euro style saws are fixed cutting height (but usually start a little larger vertical capacity ) out of the box.

                            Cast iron:
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                            Last edited by LCHIEN; 05-26-2021, 12:54 PM.
                            Loring in Katy, TX USA
                            If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
                            BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions