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Thread: How do you choose a bandsaw? (Laguna vs General)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    London, Ontario

    How do you choose a bandsaw? (Laguna vs General)

    My local tool store has sprung a big February sale on us, and it's got me pondering bandsaws. I've got a basic import 14" bandsaw which is not the greatest. I've been thinking about replacing it, primarily because I want to be able to resaw taller stock. This saw only can cut to a max depth of 5-1/2". The guides are also not the greatest (ie: upper guide is loose).
    I have a basement shop, so a huge monster of a saw is not an option, so my focus would be a taller good quality 14" saw.

    Right now the main contenders for me at this sale are either the General International 90-170B, or the Laguna LT14 SUV.

    So I'm turning to you folks for advice. What sorts of things do you look for when checking out a bandsaw? What guided your decision when you were shopping for yours?

    I compared the specs on the two, trying to come up with a pro/con list and I've got this so far:

    These features seem to be a wash between the two:
    - Laguna has customer service complaints / setup complaints. I've got a good local store for support here, so no worries.
    - Either purchase will support the local store, and the store will support me.
    - Either one is probably a giant step up from my current Trademaster 14" with 5.5" resaw capacity
    - Both Offer: Foot Brake, Magnetic Switch, Quick release on blade tension, Rack + Pinion upper guide and Table size roughly 16x20

    Laguna LT14 SUV
    - Free Resaw King Blade ($250 value) Supposed to be a very good blade
    - 3HP 220v/1phase motor (requires some rewiring in the shop)
    - 14" Resaw
    - Rack + Pinion Table Tilt
    - unclear if fence is included or not.
    - ceramic blocks for blade guides

    General International 90-170B

    - Significantly cheaper than the Laguna
    - New as of fall 2010, so no real in-depth reviews out there that I have found (some reviews for the non-B model)
    - lighter-weight wheels than the Laguna
    - 1-1/2hp motor, pre-wired 110 (no rewiring needed in my shop)
    - table height 36-1/2"
    - includes Excalibur rip fence + curbed resaw guide block
    - 12" resaw
    - Ball Bearing blade guides

    Any pointers appreciated.
    There's usually more than one way to do it... ........

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia

    I want to hear this.....
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    art have yu checked out a hammer saw? myself i would stay away from laguna..just dont like the stories but there 16 hd was a go to saw for some time.. i have the rikon 18" and like it and the tech support is excellent..the blade isnt a selling factor the cheaper blades are just as good say ellis mfg. companys are.. the hp is a big selling point.when yu resaw yu want power on a 12" plus cut..i went for the cost vrs hp when i got mine. a used one is stil an option but DONT let your 14" go.. yu will regret it.. in my use so far the big saw gets resaw work only.. the littel saw does the real curvy stuff.. and i also like general brand tooling and there international stuff is just a different paint on a similar saw from elsewhere..but dollar for dollar not problem.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Inside the Beltway

    First things first. A bandsaw blade that's worth $250? It better be diamond encrusted. And trimmed with gold!

    That Laguna has a three horsepower motor. There's something to be said for that.

    I think that would sway me, on the assumption that I could never, ever buy another bandsaw, and I'd hate to miss the power at some point. On the other hand, are these the only choices? For that kind of money, you *could* sneak across the border and smuggle back one of these:



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Have seen too many negative comments about Laguna, especially with customer service.
    Don't make a telephone inquiry to Laguna asking about product details. They will call back many-many times and hound you worse than a bill collector. Ask me how I know......

    BTW, if you are not happy with "import" tools, or the idea of imports, be aware, both Laguna and General come out of the same factory in Taiwan.
    Last edited by Frank Fusco; 02-06-2011 at 07:08 PM. Reason: forgot stuff
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    London, Ontario
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Lantry View Post
    First things first. A bandsaw blade that's worth $250? It better be diamond encrusted. And trimmed with gold!

    , you *could* sneak across the border and smuggle back one of these:
    Bill, It's carbide tipped, virtually no set, and supposed to resaw like a dream. I'll tell you more when I see a demo of it at the store early in the week.

    But that Grizzly saw... Did you miss the bit where I said I have a basement shop!? That behemoth would NOT make the corner beside the fridge to go down the basement steps... 460 lbs!

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    Have seen too many negative comments about Laguna, especially with customer service.
    Don't make a telephone inquiry to Laguna asking about product details.
    Frank, My local tool store is very good. I wouldn't call Laguna, I'd call them. THEY would be the ones to deal with Laguna. (IMHO that's how it should work.)
    There's usually more than one way to do it... ........

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    1. I have the Laguna 16" saw, and also the ReSaw King blade.

    The saw is wonderfully solid, and I've had no complaints at all with it. I can't comment on Laguna's customer service - mainly because I've never had to avail myself of it. (Perhaps that says a lot in and of itself.?)

    The ReSaw King blade is very good - but actually, I prefer the Highland Hardware WoodSlicer®. The WoodSlicer® cuts a thinner kerf, and gives an almost sandpaper ready cut. It also only costs about 1/6 of the Laguna blade's price.

    I have no experience with General, so you're on your own there...

    2. Advice! Whichever saw you end up with DON"t get rid of your TaiChi 14" saw! Keep it for non resaw cuts in thinner stock. I keep a resaw blade on my Laguna most of the time, and a 1/8" or 3/16" blade on my TaiChi 14" saw. Both saws see a lot of use - and there's seldom a hassle with needing a blade change to get something done.

    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Art, I think either one will work fine for you, but if you could afford it, go with the Laguna and get that extra resaw capacity and extra HP.

    Too big for you, but one that I have my eye one is the Grizzly G0636XB 17". In fact I was in Grizzly during lunch on Friday picking up a Timberwolf 1/2" resaw blade for my Jet 14" and checked it out again while I was there. I like it better than the 19" that Frank likes.
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    In my basement shop, i've got a 20" Crescent saw from the 1930's and a 17" Bradley saw from the turn of the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. Not to ssuggest you get either one, but the larger saws fit just fine under my 6'-10" bottom of joist dimension.

    I also mention it because, if you're handy at all with a wrench and a screw driver, i recommend taking a look at what you might find used in your area. Tech support on a 100+ year old saw is non existent, but it hasn't been an issue. Rebuilding these old machines is kind of fun also.

    For resawing, i'd recommend a stronger motor. My 20" saw has a 1hp that does bog down when chewing through 12" of wood. I'll be upgrading to a 2hp motor pretty soon here.

    I'd recommend you broaden your list to include the 18" Rikon and the 17" General International. I've looked that Rikon over quite a few times - if i were in the market, i'd look hard again at that saw. That said, i've been using a General International table saw for the past 7 or 8 years and am really impressed with the craftsmanship and abilities of the machine. They have a good reputation.

    One other option would be to upgrade your existing saw. It's a pretty standard design. Your saw came off of the same assembly line as several other brands. It just happened to get whatever sticker it happens to have. You'd need a riser block, new blades, and a longer upper guide post. Then, you'd need a beefier motor. If you don't like your guides, you might want to upgrade those as well, though my guess is yours could work better with some attention. New surplus motors can be had for less than a hundred bucks on line. A riser block could be something cast iron made just for your saw, or something as simple as a 6" thick block of hard wood cut and drilled to fit. If you're not generally impressed with the overall quality of your current saw, it's probably not worth all the effort. Keep it for light duty work or find a new home for it after you get your new one.

    As for adding 240 volt service in your shop, i just did this in my basement shop yesterday. I'm no electrical guru, but it was a very easy little job - took about 4 hours start to finish (including adding the breaker, running the line, mounting the conduit and boxes, and installing the outlets). I added it to run the table saw i'm rebuilding. Now that i've got it, i'll wire my jointer / planer and band saw to run 220 as well. (lower amps - runs cooler).


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    London, Ontario
    Rikon is available in Western Canada. There is no dealer in Ontario.

    As for the 17" GI, which one? The 90-240, or the 90-230 ?? Or something else? The cheapest is $500 more than the 14"...

    I had a close look at the 14" GI today and I was pretty impressed. Lots of nice features. Unfortunately I did NOT see the Laguna demonstrated, but I did learn that the Laguna does not include a fence, so the $800 price difference suddenly became even larger.

    Also, on the other forum I've heard from a fellow who has the GI and he has successfully resawed 10" stock. Slow and easy on the feed rate and no big troubles. Sure the motor might be a bit of an issue, but otherwise it seems pretty good.
    There's usually more than one way to do it... ........

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