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Thread: Harbor Freight bandsaw

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    New Jersey

    Question Harbor Freight bandsaw

    Anyone have an opinion of the Harbor Freight bandsaw (the one for about $300)
    Dennis (a hobbiest woodworker)

  2. #2
    I looked into one and decided that HD carries a Ridgid within the same price range and it is a much better tool. I bought the Ridgid and have never regretted doing so.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Grove City, Ohio
    Lowe's has the Asian made Delta 14 inch for about $50 to $100 more. I bought one and after it was set up it has lived up to my demands. Just one more option for you to consider.
    Last edited by Tom Williams; 07-06-2008 at 02:00 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    WNY, Buffalo Area

    Sorry I don't have a recomendation on the HF bandsaw, but I do have this suggestion:

    If you watch the sales you can usually get the Craftsman Professional 14in band saw (22401) for a good deal. Right now, not on sale it is running at $549 on their website, but if you time the sales right you could get one for under $500. This is the one that I have and I have been happy with it. With sales, I picked mine up for under $400, but they increased the price since then.

    Rikon makes this model for Sears. It has a huge cast iron table, a 1hp motor, 2 speeds, belt tensioning crank on the front of the saw, 8in resaw (2 more inches than most 14in saws), 2 dust collection ports (1 for a shop vac and one for a DC), cast iron wheels, a light, a fence, rack & pinion blade guard adjustment, window for viewing blade tracking, 2 standard (3/8 by 3/4in) miter slots, and all ball bearing guides. An added design feature is that the upper and lower thrust bearings are perpendicular to the way they are on most saws. This allows the blade to contact the outer edge (more efficient) instead of the face of the bearing. High end saws typically have this configuration. In addition it has been rated as a best value in the 14in bandsaws field by at least one WW magazine.

    A possible negative is that it uses a 99in blade that you either need to have custom made or bought from Sears. Another possible negative is that you can't add a riser block to it. It is a steel frame european design, which fixes the resaw height at the 8in that it comes with. The fence isn't the greatest, but it is passible. Also the bearings on the guides (not on the wheels themselves) are kind of cheap, and need to be replaced with better quality bearings. It doesn't have a quick tension release, but it is very easy to tension and de-tension the blade.

    If you look at the two 14in models that Rikon makes, this one is a mix of features between both of them.

    The cast iron wheels and over all design absorb much of the vibration, and it will pass the famous "nickel test".
    Last edited by Sean Wright; 07-06-2008 at 03:09 PM.
    We create with our hands in wood what our mind sees in thought.
    Disclosure: Formerly was a part-time sales person & instructor at WoodCraft in Buffalo, NY.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Lakeport NY and/or the nearest hotel
    I own a HF bandsaw, though I've not turned it on yet. I have Used a HF bandsaw and for general shop usage, it will work just fine. My saw was modified by a prior owner and has a Grizzly riser block on it. I'm not planning on a huge amount of resaw, it isnt' a big euro style machine after all. For the price I paid, however it was too good a deal to pass up.

    Before I lucked into my saw, I was looking at the Rikon 14" and the classic G0555 from Grizzly, which I was planning on slapping a riser block on. It all depends on what you're going to do with it and how you use the tool.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    There are many reasons why the Grizzly G0555 is the (claimed) best selling bandsaw in the world.

    BTW, if you buy Harbor Freight, understand what you are getting.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Shorewood, WI
    I have had the Harbor Freight bandsaw for about 5 years, and it works fine. I agree that others are probably better, and unlike most of the HF stuff, the bandsaw is not often found on sale any more. I think mine cost about $220 new, and at the time nothing else was below $350. I'm not sure the differential is so large any more.

    It has separate covers over the wheels rather than doors. Most of the guides are designed to adjust with wrenches rather than knobs. The assembly instructions are wrong: put it together as you expect, not as is shown in the manual. Replace the guide blocks with cool blocks, rollers, or hardwood. I do have a link belt on mine, which seemed to have significantly diminished vibration, but I think the adjustment of the feet to make sure each carried the same load was actually more important than the belt.

    I'm sure another bandsaw could be a little easier to tune and use, and more power might be nice. But I keep mine well tuned and it works extremely well. It has less vibration and cuts more smoothly than most more expensive ones as they are used. I'm sure if they were tuned as carefully as mine is they would cut at least as well as mine, but most are not.

    I do have a riser on mine. It's a discontinued Grizzly version that was closed out very cheaply. It takes some patience, but I've resawn 11" of maple without problems. If you contemplate that with a saw with this power level, a very thin kerf blade like the highland woodslicer (or Iturra bladerunner) makes a big difference.

    When I got the saw, I was not sure if I wanted to invest much in woodworking. Now I am hooked, and most of my tools are higher quality. But this saw has not failed me yet.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central NY State
    I had one for several years, it may have been an earlier model than is current, but it was a single speed 14". It was a POS. I followed Mark Duginske's book carefully, and tuned it as well as I could. The OEM motor burned out resawing some 3" maple. At best, it could cut curves nicely. At worst, it was an endless frustration that I was very glad to get rid of. I'd recommend staying away from it, and saving for better.

    Just my $.02.

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

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