Quantcast

£1000 Bandsaws (Again!) Axi vs SIP vs Sabre 350

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Eric The Viking

Established Member
Joined
19 Jan 2010
Messages
6,577
Reaction score
46
Location
Bristle, CUBA (the County that Used to Be Avon)
For what it's worth (one small machine, so not much), I've just changed quite a few bearings on my little 12" SIP machine, getting rid of the last few originals. It's now all SKF, and has a British-made drive belt. The guides are all standard 608 bearings (rubber sealed, 8x22x7mm). the rear bearings are edge-on to the back of the blade - it runs on the circumference (doesn't make a chord with it).

The original bearings were all Chinese and knackered. It is now quiet and smooth and a lot more like it was when I first got it (I am the third owner). Neither of the two thrust bearings had a worn groove, although both were obviously knackered by use, with play and roughness you could feel. I set the machine up so that when it's not cutting, the bearings do not touch the blade.

I can't believe that scraping the back of the blade across the side of a bearing doesn't set up vibrations. It's just like a violin bow (or more loke a hurdy-gurdy). With the "hot block" design, you damp those vibrations right next to where they are excited, but they are still there, unnecessarily.

The burr on someone's thrust bearings is proof there is scuffing going on, which must be causing vibrations, too.

On which machine: my SIP has a few common features with the 14" one, but the bigger one looks a bit better made (as you might hope). In the case of mine, the frame bends too much, and the trunnion for the table isn't very strong. The table "halves" can twist out of alignment, too, leaving an annoying ridge. The blade tensioner is weakly made, with design mistakes that means I'll have an awkward rebuild problem fairly soon. The dust extraction is poor ("They're all like that, Sir."). The finish in various areas is poor (there is a lot of non-ferrous filler in the table, for example, and the paint is thin and rust is breaking through in a lot of places). But the motor is willing and works fine. Fitting an aftermarket fence has been really awkward, and I still haven't finished the job properly.

I very much doubt the Record ones or others from the same Chinese factories will be much better. They hobbyist brands copy each other, or use the same third-party (OEM) parts with the same issues, such as guide systems, handles, fences and tensioners.

That said, I think it's the most versatile and useful machine I have, by far, but when I fit-out a new workshop, I'll replace it with something a lot better made, and definitely something that's secondhand. You get a lot more for the money.

E.

PS: the wheels use 6203 bearings - also very common and inexpensive.
 

CaptainBarnacles

Established Member
Joined
18 Aug 2013
Messages
202
Reaction score
4
Location
Forest of Dean
Ttrees":bvxdzv35 said:
I definitely would go for the Isacon/askpower VFD's again as it has the same auto shutoff cooling fan tech as Jack Forsbergs line of inverters, unlike the huanyang that have the fan running constantly all the time when plugged in.
These are about a hundred quid on the bay.
Ideally you wouldn't choose the VFD/inverter before knowing what machine its to go with, because
the motor might not be a dual voltage one ...dual voltage meaning the 3 phase is at 240 volts (delta configuration low voltage)or 400 volts (star configured high voltage)
If this is the case and the motor is a fixed star wound you either need to dig out the wiring or
buy a VFD/inverter that is 380 volts out which is an extra 50 quid.
Plenty of threads about this to see how its done if you find a bargain.

Tom
Thanks for the reccomendation and the additional info Tom, I'll have a look into VFDs as I am also looking to buy a table saw, planer thicknesser, lathe, extractor and possibly a spindle moulder.

Eric The Viking":bvxdzv35 said:
For what it's worth (one small machine, so not much), I've just changed quite a few bearings on my little 12" SIP machine, getting rid of the last few originals. It's now all SKF, and has a British-made drive belt. The guides are all standard 608 bearings (rubber sealed, 8x22x7mm). the rear bearings are edge-on to the back of the blade - it runs on the circumference (doesn't make a chord with it).

The original bearings were all Chinese and knackered. It is now quiet and smooth and a lot more like it was when I first got it (I am the third owner). Neither of the two thrust bearings had a worn groove, although both were obviously knackered by use, with play and roughness you could feel. I set the machine up so that when it's not cutting, the bearings do not touch the blade.

I can't believe that scraping the back of the blade across the side of a bearing doesn't set up vibrations. It's just like a violin bow (or more loke a hurdy-gurdy). With the "hot block" design, you damp those vibrations right next to where they are excited, but they are still there, unnecessarily.

The burr on someone's thrust bearings is proof there is scuffing going on, which must be causing vibrations, too.

On which machine: my SIP has a few common features with the 14" one, but the bigger one looks a bit better made (as you might hope). In the case of mine, the frame bends too much, and the trunnion for the table isn't very strong. The table "halves" can twist out of alignment, too, leaving an annoying ridge. The blade tensioner is weakly made, with design mistakes that means I'll have an awkward rebuild problem fairly soon. The dust extraction is poor ("They're all like that, Sir."). The finish in various areas is poor (there is a lot of non-ferrous filler in the table, for example, and the paint is thin and rust is breaking through in a lot of places). But the motor is willing and works fine. Fitting an aftermarket fence has been really awkward, and I still haven't finished the job properly.

I very much doubt the Record ones or others from the same Chinese factories will be much better. They hobbyist brands copy each other, or use the same third-party (OEM) parts with the same issues, such as guide systems, handles, fences and tensioners.

That said, I think it's the most versatile and useful machine I have, by far, but when I fit-out a new workshop, I'll replace it with something a lot better made, and definitely something that's secondhand. You get a lot more for the money.

E.

PS: the wheels use 6203 bearings - also very common and inexpensive.
Sounds like the SIP isn't way to go with the bandsaw. I don't really want to spend lots of time having to rebuild a poorly built machine. I don't mind rebuilding a quality machine knowing that it'll be a solid beast when finished, in fact I think I'd rather do that and know that everything is as good as it can be. That's something I'll perhaps be looking to do with my other machinery purchases over the coming weeks.

Rightly or wrongly I took a punt on a 240v Startrite 351 on the bay. I just stumbled across it last night and when the bidding was a bit slow I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring. I got it for £476, it looks to be in pretty decent condition and knowing the "legendary" reputation that they have hopefully I can't have gone too far wrong. If it turns out to be too small I guess I'll make my money back on something like that but for now it'll get me started.
 

Trevanion

Greatest Of All Time
Joined
29 Jul 2018
Messages
3,599
Reaction score
413
Location
Pembrokeshire
CaptainBarnacles":2jrqe0kz said:
Rightly or wrongly I took a punt on a 240v Startrite 351 on the bay. I just stumbled across it last night and when the bidding was a bit slow I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring. I got it for £476, it looks to be in pretty decent condition and knowing the "legendary" reputation that they have hopefully I can't have gone too far wrong. If it turns out to be too small I guess I'll make my money back on something like that but for now it'll get me started.
I was going to say the price you paid was a little rich for a 351 but after looking at the machine you've bought it does seem to be a mint machine, all it looks like it needs doing is a little scotchbrite on the table to get rid of the minor rust and you've got a really nice machine. I wouldn't bother changing out the thrust rod and guide blocks for something more fancy (and expensive) they serve their purpose just fine and should do for the whole life of the machine.

Shame you couldn't get the single phase Sedgwick PT or the Tablesaw off the guy as well, lovely machines.
 

Ttrees

Iroko loco!
Joined
18 Nov 2012
Messages
2,206
Reaction score
39
Location
In me workshop
Sounds like you'll not regret your purchase if you plan on acquiring more machinery.
This one will be very handy for curves if you get a bigger saw in future.
I suggest you get some of Ian's blades over at Tuffsaws as they are a thinner gauge
which will tension better.
Good luck with your new machine
Tom
 

CaptainBarnacles

Established Member
Joined
18 Aug 2013
Messages
202
Reaction score
4
Location
Forest of Dean
Trevanion":3md6ppqp said:
I was going to say the price you paid was a little rich for a 351 but after looking at the machine you've bought it does seem to be a mint machine, all it looks like it needs doing is a little scotchbrite on the table to get rid of the minor rust and you've got a really nice machine. I wouldn't bother changing out the thrust rod and guide blocks for something more fancy (and expensive) they serve their purpose just fine and should do for the whole life of the machine.

Shame you couldn't get the single phase Sedgwick PT or the Tablesaw off the guy as well, lovely machines.
Yeah, I wasn't really sure if the 351s are worth that sort of money. I have seen 352s go for as much as a grand but to be honest I don't know yet what the difference is between the two machines. It does look to be in good order and if those blades are any good that'll be a nice bonus.

I would have loved to have got my hands on the PT too! I don't know how I didn't spot it as I've been keeping an eye on listings for a couple of weeks now. I think the table saw didn't sell so If he's still got it when I go to collect the bandsaw I may make on offer for it.

Ttrees":3md6ppqp said:
Sounds like you'll not regret your purchase if you plan on acquiring more machinery.
This one will be very handy for curves if you get a bigger saw in future.
I suggest you get some of Ian's blades over at Tuffsaws as they are a thinner gauge
which will tension better.
Good luck with your new machine
Tom
Cheers, thanks Tom. Mmmm, a two bandsaw set-up - I like that idea 8) SWMBO may take some convincing though :roll:
I've had some of the Tuffsaws blades in the past and frankly, I wouldn't buy a blade from anyone else - they are the dogs doo-dahs! :D

Just wondering now if I can get the 351 in the car with the seats folded down (Freelander) or if I'll need a mate with a van. I assume that the table comes off easy enough but does anyone know if it's straightforward to remove the top section from the base? From the photos it looks like 4 bolts, could it be that easy?
 

CaptainBarnacles

Established Member
Joined
18 Aug 2013
Messages
202
Reaction score
4
Location
Forest of Dean
A quick update:

I bought the Startrite 351, it fitted easily in the car as the cabinet base is removed by simply undoing 4 bolts. I used it for a few weeks but I never really bonded with it. The lack of a cast table irked me but overall I just felt like the quality was very average and with that I sold the machine on. Lesson learned; do your homework before pressing the "Bid" button. That said, I made a few quid on it when I sold it and the new owner is delighted with it so the tale had a happy ending.

So back to square one and gripped by analysis paralysis again!

Well, sort of. I am now a bit older and certainly more clued up about what's on the market, I've also upped my budget a bit as well. Ideally this will be my last bandsaw purchase for a very long time - possibly ever!

I haven't ruled out buying another used saw but I am leaning towards a new one. I was all set to buy a new Startrite 403 but it turns out that Record Power are dropping the Startrite brand and nowhere has stock of the 403. There's also the question of buying a new, obsolete saw. Then I spoke to Scott and Sargeant and found out that their iTech BS400 saw is essentially the 403... but they wont have stock until mid September.

I still have the Sabre 350 on my list as it gets great reviews and seems to be universally liked. I like that it has a small footprint and can easily be moved around my ever-more cluttered workshop. Also in the mix are the Laguna 14/12 and 14BX but for what they are they do seem expensive when you add in the wheel kit. I also watched a video review of the 14/12 and the guy said he had to replace the ceramic guides within a year of use at a cost of $100 so that swayed me slightly away from the Lagunas though I am aware that he may have had a bad one or just being using it wrongly. Elsewhere I heard others sing the praises of ceramic guides.

I am also considering the Sabre 450 but I can't find any useful reviews of it (or it's Rikon stablemate) which considering it has been out for some time now seems odd. I've looked at the Axi AT2552B and it seems to be much loved by it's owners but an 8" cutting height is just too restrictive and the Axi AT3327B then jumps up to the same sort of price as the iTech BS400 and the Sabre 450 both of which seem to be beefier saws for the money (fully cast table, better fence and rail, heavier wheels). The RP BS400 seems like a good saw for the money but I read that some people feel the need to upgrade the fence and guides and at that point I lose interest and look elsewhere.

I gather that customer service is not particularly great from Record Power, I know that Axminster are generally great, and I have no experience of Scott & Sargeant but I've heard nothing negative about them so I'll take that as a positive.

So there is my predicament - probably somewhat over-analysed as I spent a good part of the weekend looking at the reading websites, checking out specs and watching reviews etc. As I said at the beginning I am still considering used saws but really good ones seem to be very few and far between. I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of any Laguna owners and also from anyone who has a Sabre 450. If there's anything that I've missed please let me know.
 

Neily

New member
Joined
18 May 2020
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
Location
Ayrshire
Following.....also looking at a the 1k bandsaw market and seem to be heading down the 350 sabre road due to its good reviews
 

CaptainBarnacles

Established Member
Joined
18 Aug 2013
Messages
202
Reaction score
4
Location
Forest of Dean
Well, I was on the verge of buying the Sabre when I spotted a Jet JWBS18 on Axminster’s ebay outlet. It was listed as 3 phase but looking closely it looked like it was single phase to me. I asked for clarification and was told it really was 3 phase. I looked at the pictures again and even asked a mate to look at them too. We both decided that it really looked like a single phase machine.

As I’m away on holiday in darkest Wales and have no phone signal, contacting them was not easy but I found a phone and got in touch. Long story short, It turns out that it is a single phase machine after all!

It has been repaired but nobody seems to know what was wrong with it which worried me a bit but as there’s a 3 month warranty on it I figured that is long enough to give it a good test and make sure that it is alright. So I bought it. It looks like a nice machine and I’ve always like most of Jet’s stuff so we’ll see what it’s like when it arrives.

Onwards towards the next minefield now, I am looking for a lathe! :eek:
 

RueFondary

Member
Joined
23 Jul 2020
Messages
15
Reaction score
1
Location
Kent
I've just been though a process similar to CaptainBarnacles...

The number of new options in the £1000-£2000 range is actually quite limited... There is basically the Record Power family (Sabre 350, Record BS400, Sabre 450), the Lagunas 1412 and 14BX, and, towards the upper range of this budget, a few one-offs from Italian manufacturers (ACM440 with a low power motor, barebone display model of the SCM S45N), plus possibly one Chinese made Hammer model.

All have there strong and weak points, and I found it hard to identify a winner (see below for what I ended up with, which is unlikely be a solution for many others).

The Sabre 350 is very good value for money (not as good though as the Rikon 10-326 which is sold by Record's parent in the US and which has a bigger resaw capacity, a slightly beefier motor and a variable speed upgrade option which may or may not work on the Sabre 350), but in my case it was just a wee bit too tall and possibly a bit underpowered (I also found it's mobility kit to be poorly designed as it prevents the opening of the storage compartment which sits under the saw itself). One other concern for me was the lack of some security features found on the pricier models and the non serviceable motor assembly after too many starts and stops. Reviews seem to be good though (although mostly from people with little previous experience of bandsaws).

The Sabre 450 is actually a tiny bit shorter than the 350, which got me interested in it, as did its 1.5kW rating, bigger capacity, dual dust exhausts, serviceable brake, etc. It seems a good option but it's difficult to find any serious review from experienced users (including for its Rikon 10-342 stablemate in the US), and I'm wondering if the much increased capacity over the Sabre 350 required too many engineering compromises... interesting though

I didn't investigate too much the RP 400, but there is a great thread on this forum and other sources which indicate it's a very good value for money design, with the same power as the Sabre 450, but without some of the upgrades from the Sabre line... Blade speed is a bit low (but it's a 2 speed model should this be of interest). It weighs nearly as much as the bigger Sabre 450 which can't hurt. Fit and finish isn't impressive, but it's a valid contender for barely more than the Sabre 350

I had high hopes for the Lagunas, based on the brand's reputation in the US, and my past familiarity with their 'Industrial' line (ACM designed but Laguna branded in the US)... but the reviews from knowledgeable (and unbiased) people where a bit let down, with too many concerns about design shortcuts and reports of costly and proprietary spares with availability issues. I understand that Laguna is new to the UK (and Europe with one distributor based in the Czech Republic), which means there is hope for improvement, especially if this bypasses the poor experiences in the US, but time will tell. Some of the features are attractive (2.5hp motor and resaw capacity on the 14BX), but construction seems to be fairly light and the basic bicycle brake technology got me worried. The compactness was quite tempting, as was the foot brake idea, but not enough to overcome the long term concerns.

The Italian machines did tempt me, but a well equipped machine would have stretched my budget by quite a bit. It was also difficult to find some reliable information on these machines (which are almost custom designed with many variants). These machines can be quite powerful and have impressive resaw capacities (400mm on a 16" model) and I expect them to have all the security features of professional machines, plus the expected reliability provided you can find a good dealer nearby to supply and support you as they are quite heavy to lug around!

In the end, I went for the last remaining 'display model' of the Record Power Startrite 403 as this is a fairly compact unit (1680mm tall, ideal for my special needs), which seems to be designed for semi-industrial use, with decent guides, fence and safety features. I found some appeal in getting the lower end model of a family of machines (it shares quite a few parts with the beefier Startrites), rather than getting a large machine which shares of lot of the internals of a lower end model (e.g. the Sabre 450 reuses some of the same key parts as the smaller 350). It lacks some of the innovation of the other, more DIY orientated models (tool less guides, slightly better fence) and trades sturdiness for a somewhat limited resaw capacity, although it is still a 16" machine with the corresponding throat opening. I wish it were not a discontinued model, but this probably won't matter much in a few years anyways. I could not find any real review online of this model, with the exception of a few comments from Paul Sellers who ones one, and whose views I highly respect...

In some ways there seems to be many decent choices, especially in the Record family, but no overall winner.

I hope this helps!
 

CaptainBarnacles

Established Member
Joined
18 Aug 2013
Messages
202
Reaction score
4
Location
Forest of Dean
RueFondary":3r937s7a said:
I've just been though a process similar to CaptainBarnacles...

The number of new options in the £1000-£2000 range is actually quite limited... There is basically the Record Power family (Sabre 350, Record BS400, Sabre 450), the Lagunas 1412 and 14BX, and, towards the upper range of this budget, a few one-offs from Italian manufacturers (ACM440 with a low power motor, barebone display model of the SCM S45N), plus possibly one Chinese made Hammer model.

All have there strong and weak points, and I found it hard to identify a winner (see below for what I ended up with, which is unlikely be a solution for many others).

The Sabre 350 is very good value for money (not as good though as the Rikon 10-326 which is sold by Record's parent in the US and which has a bigger resaw capacity, a slightly beefier motor and a variable speed upgrade option which may or may not work on the Sabre 350), but in my case it was just a wee bit too tall and possibly a bit underpowered (I also found it's mobility kit to be poorly designed as it prevents the opening of the storage compartment which sits under the saw itself). One other concern for me was the lack of some security features found on the pricier models and the non serviceable motor assembly after too many starts and stops. Reviews seem to be good though (although mostly from people with little previous experience of bandsaws).

The Sabre 450 is actually a tiny bit shorter than the 350, which got me interested in it, as did its 1.5kW rating, bigger capacity, dual dust exhausts, serviceable brake, etc. It seems a good option but it's difficult to find any serious review from experienced users (including for its Rikon 10-342 stablemate in the US), and I'm wondering if the much increased capacity over the Sabre 350 required too many engineering compromises... interesting though

I didn't investigate too much the RP 400, but there is a great thread on this forum and other sources which indicate it's a very good value for money design, with the same power as the Sabre 450, but without some of the upgrades from the Sabre line... Blade speed is a bit low (but it's a 2 speed model should this be of interest). It weighs nearly as much as the bigger Sabre 450 which can't hurt. Fit and finish isn't impressive, but it's a valid contender for barely more than the Sabre 350

I had high hopes for the Lagunas, based on the brand's reputation in the US, and my past familiarity with their 'Industrial' line (ACM designed but Laguna branded in the US)... but the reviews from knowledgeable (and unbiased) people where a bit let down, with too many concerns about design shortcuts and reports of costly and proprietary spares with availability issues. I understand that Laguna is new to the UK (and Europe with one distributor based in the Czech Republic), which means there is hope for improvement, especially if this bypasses the poor experiences in the US, but time will tell. Some of the features are attractive (2.5hp motor and resaw capacity on the 14BX), but construction seems to be fairly light and the basic bicycle brake technology got me worried. The compactness was quite tempting, as was the foot brake idea, but not enough to overcome the long term concerns.

The Italian machines did tempt me, but a well equipped machine would have stretched my budget by quite a bit. It was also difficult to find some reliable information on these machines (which are almost custom designed with many variants). These machines can be quite powerful and have impressive resaw capacities (400mm on a 16" model) and I expect them to have all the security features of professional machines, plus the expected reliability provided you can find a good dealer nearby to supply and support you as they are quite heavy to lug around!

In the end, I went for the last remaining 'display model' of the Record Power Startrite 403 as this is a fairly compact unit (1680mm tall, ideal for my special needs), which seems to be designed for semi-industrial use, with decent guides, fence and safety features. I found some appeal in getting the lower end model of a family of machines (it shares quite a few parts with the beefier Startrites), rather than getting a large machine which shares of lot of the internals of a lower end model (e.g. the Sabre 450 reuses some of the same key parts as the smaller 350). It lacks some of the innovation of the other, more DIY orientated models (tool less guides, slightly better fence) and trades sturdiness for a somewhat limited resaw capacity, although it is still a 16" machine with the corresponding throat opening. I wish it were not a discontinued model, but this probably won't matter much in a few years anyways. I could not find any real review online of this model, with the exception of a few comments from Paul Sellers who ones one, and whose views I highly respect...

In some ways there seems to be many decent choices, especially in the Record family, but no overall winner.

I hope this helps!
Wow! That really is a very, very similar though process to my own, although I think you dug deeper than I did :eek: :D

You did well to find a 403, I searched and called around a few places but couldn't track one down. On balance, and after all that research It seems like the ideal choice based on quality-size-power-value, I hope you are pleased with it. It would be great if you could post a quick review when you've used it for a while.

I am really surprised that RP are dropping the legendary Startrite brand from their range but it's good to see that Scott and Sargeant are selling a virtually identical machine though. If the Jet saw doesn't work out for me (I am still a little wary as there appears to be no record of why it was returned to Axi for repair - I'll be going over it very carefully) that's the machine I'll be looking to buy instead.
 

RueFondary

Member
Joined
23 Jul 2020
Messages
15
Reaction score
1
Location
Kent
I did dig quite deep :wink: as tend to keep my equipment for decades and didn't want to have to go through the hunt again!

I must say that it was surprisingly difficult to find reliable information, even from distributors/importers/resellers... The advice given on the Startrite from these sources changed completely since I started looking. What was the standout recommendation in February was dismissed by the same people as inventories of the 403 ran out!

When I called the vendor I got my machine from a few days ago, they weren't interested in selling the machine showing on their inventory system (too much trouble it would seem). It's only because I happened to be in the neighbourhood and dropped by to have a look at the Record machines, that I was able to purchase what was in effect the showroom display machine (and leave with it right away to be sure nothing happened to it!)

The salesperson did say that the Startrite 403 will reappear under the Record brand, but I wouldn't take this information to the bank as the same person wasn't quite correct regarding the country of manufacture of this product (clue: it's not in the UK! :roll: ). As Rikon, the US based parent of Record/Startrite doesn't have a 16" bandsaw in its offering and as the US market seems to prefer big machines with higher resaw capacity (and more hp), I have my doubts even if this would be a good outcome.

It will take me a while to install my bandsaw properly and take it through its paces , but I'll try to post a review by year end once I have some feel for reliability and the various niggles. I just hope that I won't have to call technical support as the experience with the salesforce has been underwhelming. This being said, I'd like to be proven wrong and will keep an open mind!
 

CaptainBarnacles

Established Member
Joined
18 Aug 2013
Messages
202
Reaction score
4
Location
Forest of Dean
RueFondary":2amhlj3u said:
I did dig quite deep :wink: as tend to keep my equipment for decades and didn't want to have to go through the hunt again!
Amen to that. If I counted all the hours that I've put into researching tools and machinery I would scare myself!

RueFondary":2amhlj3u said:
I must say that it was surprisingly difficult to find reliable information, even from distributors/importers/resellers... The advice given on the Startrite from these sources changed completely since I started looking. What was the standout recommendation in February was dismissed by the same people as inventories of the 403 ran out!
I called several resellers and was disappointed on the whole. Some had little to no interest in actually selling me anything. I had called a couple with my credit card in my hand ready to make the magic happen but I was so turned off by their attitude that I decided to "go out and do something less boring instead" - (bonus point if you get the 1980's kids TV reference :lol: ).

RueFondary":2amhlj3u said:
When I called the vendor I got my machine from a few days ago, they weren't interested in selling the machine showing on their inventory system (too much trouble it would seem). It's only because I happened to be in the neighbourhood and dropped by to have a look at the Record machines, that I was able to purchase what was in effect the showroom display machine (and leave with it right away to be sure nothing happened to it!)
You'd think that you were trying to steal their babies or something! Well done for getting them to take your hard-earned money from you, I know it can't have been easy. :D

RueFondary":2amhlj3u said:
The salesperson did say that the Startrite 403 will reappear under the Record brand, but I wouldn't take this information to the bank as the same person wasn't quite correct regarding the country of manufacture of this product (clue: it's not in the UK! :roll: ). As Rikon, the US based parent of Record/Startrite doesn't have a 16" bandsaw in its offering and as the US market seems to prefer big machines with higher resaw capacity (and more hp), I have my doubts even if this would be a good outcome.
It might just be my perception but, as a company, Record Power don't seem to have the va-va-voom that they once had. I've heard numerous tales of poor cutomer service and shoddy support. I can't remember the last time I heard something really good about them and that saddens me. As a Sheffield lad myself I like to support as many of the old Sheffield companies as I can but there comes a point where I have to draw the line. When the company is American (?) owned, selling chinese made machines and still not falling over themselves to envelop their customers with a warm, fuzzy feeling I start to look elsewhere.

I had a really good chat with Simon (I think - apologies if I got your name wrong) from Baileigh yesterday. I didn't realise that they are owned by JPW who also own Jet and Powermatic. Anyway, it sounds like they have established a presence in the UK and done much better than they expected, so well that they have sold out of pretty much everything! When it feels like the choices are becoming less and less each year it is good to see a new kid on the block with some new (to the UK) machines. As customers, choice is good and competition is great, just look at the US machinery market! We'll just have to wait until next year to buy anything from them #-o

RueFondary":2amhlj3u said:
It will take me a while to install my bandsaw properly and take it through its paces , but I'll try to post a review by year end once I have some feel for reliability and the various niggles. I just hope that I won't have to call technical support as the experience with the salesforce has been underwhelming. This being said, I'd like to be proven wrong and will keep an open mind!
Thanks, that would be great. Good luck :)
 

RueFondary

Member
Joined
23 Jul 2020
Messages
15
Reaction score
1
Location
Kent
Yes, it's a sad state of affairs!

Looking at the Instruction Manual supplied with my Startrite 403 (Version 3.1 from June 2015), I was surprised by the number of errors, inaccuracies and plain omissions on things such as the electrical diagram! The manual on the Record/Startrite website (version 3.2 also from June 2015) is hardly better, with new errors introduced here and there.

Fortunately someone posted online a version to download which is much more current (version 3.4 for December 2017). Very silly of me to assume that the importer/'manufacturer' would have the latest version on its website! ... Mind you, their official record website (window to the world!) is quite confused on the Startrite 403 (no information on the support side which redirects you to the older startrite range!)
 

RueFondary

Member
Joined
23 Jul 2020
Messages
15
Reaction score
1
Location
Kent
I had promised to post a review of sorts following my purchase over the summer of a Startrite 403 bandsaw (it was probably one of the last ones on sale). While I haven’t intensively used it so far, I’ve set it up and tested it in my workshop. Without further due, here are my findings and initial impressions.

Overall, I think it is fairly basic, no frills, machine which has no major irremediable issue, is fairly safe and should last a long time. While it is let down by many details which could have been easily addressed, I’m still not sure that there is a better solution for a new semi-industrial machine in the £1000-2000 range.

I understand that Scott & Sargent will soon be marketing a bandsaw based on this discontinued model, but I don’t know if it will represent a real improvement (the announced iTECH BS400 specs are almost a carbon copy of the Startrite 403’s, presumably replicating some of the errors in the original materials).


PRINTED/ONLINE MATERIALS

The latest marketing information on the Startrite 403 left a lot to be desired. The blade speed stated on the company’s website (and on many resellers’ websites) was incorrect (it runs at 1100m/min rather than 1500 m/min) and the stated height of the machine was off by 60mm (it measures 1750mm from head to toe, not 1680mm!). Information on the warranty duration was vague as well. I should add that the Startrite 403 disappeared from the Record’s website weeks after I purchased it, and it doesn’t currently appear within their legacy products either (there is information there on older Startrite models though).

The owner’s manual also leaves a lot to be desired. The one supplied with my machine is obsolete, as was the one on Record’s website… fortunately some resellers are doing a better job and one can download a more current revision from them (Version 3.4 from December 2017 seems to be the latest one published). This newer version, while better, is inaccurate in a few ways, or at least doesn’t match my saw, for instance, in terms of the features and controls available on the switch panel, or the wiring diagram. Some of the issues I noticed may be due to changes in the specs and parts/features of the saw over its commercial life (the fence and control panels seem to have changed, for instance).

The part lists and drawings are moderately helpful and accurate, but should help as long as Record/Startite has the matching references in stock. If they run out of stock, it will be down to the owner/maintenance engineers to guess the specs and details of each part, including off the shelf / standard ones.

Don’t expect to find much details on initial set up, alignment of the cast iron table, or even correct advice on how to align the blades with the tyres—the manual states that “the points of the teeth should slightly protrude over the edge of the bandwheels”, which seems a recipe for disaster on crowned wheels and thin blades). Some features of the bandsaw, such as the height adjustable table insert can only be discovered by the parts list, and the table alignment mechanism in the schematics is –fortunately- incorrect.

Any experienced bandsaw user/maintenance engineer will likely be able to go over these shortcomings though, as the machine is fairly simple in its construction and workings, but this is still disappointing (I should mention that the manual is written in proper English, which is a plus)



SCOPE OF SUPPLY

The machine is supplied with a decent blade (6 tpi), which is fine for initial testing and setup. It doesn’t come with a power lead or power plug, just a plastic junction box on its frame). There are few extras or frills included besides the wrenches/allen keys needed to adjust the saw, a plastic push stick and a small screw to hold the push stick in place.



CONSTRUCTION

The machine feels fairly robust with decent thickness sheet metal construction, solid welds, good quality paint (although there are rust marks in a few places). The cast iron wheels and the table seem reasonably well made (overall good, but not perfect flatness, no vibrations in operation), and it should be fairly simple to maintain in the long run (with the possible caveat of the rubber tyres which, per the manual, are glued and can’t be replaced by the user as they require grounding in a crown form by a specialist or Record… this being said, mine look ruler flat!). Because it’s not very tall at 1750mm, and because the base is fairly large (580mm x 420mm) it is quite stable even when installed on a raised platform as in my workshop.

The cast iron table of my machine is a bit ‘agricultural’ in feel, but it is broadly flat (the front right corner does sag by a few 1/10s of mm). Contrary to some of the competition, there is no insert/key to prevent the deformation of the table around the blade change cut-out, but this doesn’t seem to be a significant issue in use.

For those to whom it matters, the mitre track is smaller than the ¾” standard, and there is only one track (aligning the fence and blade with it is possible by try and error, but it takes some patience).

The rip fence is fairly solid (and flat enough), as is the fence guide (a thick rod of stainless steel). Please note that the design may have changed over the commercial life of the Startrite 403 as some models do seem to have a fence system similar to the ones of Record’s Sabre line (see for instance the Startrite 403 in Paul Sellers’ videos), while others, like mine, have a different aluminium profile and a fence guide which doesn’t protrude to right of the cast iron table. The version I have is basic but works. It does have some quirks: When in its upright position, the fence can’t be extended fully if one wants to be able to remove it without completely losing its alignment setting. Presumably this is a price to pay for a long and relatively tall fence. It is also not designed for use on the right side of the blade. I would suggest adding a protective pad underneath it to avoid scraping the cast iron table when sliding the fence. At least it is possible to change blade without having to remove the rip fence guide (it’s fortunate because aligning the rip fence guide properly with the help of only 4 nuts in elongated holes on the non-square front edge of the cast iron table is time consuming).

The upper and lower guide assemblies are basic but should last a good time. They require one allen key and a 10mm wrench for adjustment, which is OK by me. Tuning the lower guides is not very convenient as the side bearings are not visible when the machine is in operation, and as moving the lower guide assembly is done by two 10mm bolts and nuts which are difficult to access. At some point in time, I will need to enlarge the elongated holes in which these bolts sit, as otherwise I won’t be able to centre blades beyond 16mm, 5/8” on the bandsaw tyres). It does seem that iTECH/Scott & Sargeant have made changes to the lower guide assembly which may address some of the issues I identified, but the proof will be in the pudding!

There is some play in the guide post adjustment mechanism (which needed a bit of realignment to move in parallel with the blade) but, once locked into position, it is fairly sturdy.



FEATURES

The Startrite 403 is fairly well endowed in terms of safety features, with a sturdy blade guard, annoying (but safe) covers over the top and bottom blade guides, micro switches in both doors, a kick stop switch and an effective brake (but no way to defeat the brake manually on the control panel of my saw). There is no pedal brake as found, for instance, on some Laguna saws, but I’m not sure it is an issue (and a cheap bicycle brake design doesn’t impress me at the £1500 price point)

While the bare necessities are covered rather well (study frame, flat table, safety), this machine has few bells and whistles or features to makes life of the user easy (say when changing belts, etc.). It has a quick release tension lever which is effective and convenient, but don’t expect to see the easier to install and adjust fence, or even the plastic tool holder of a Record Sabre! It does ship with a £1 push stick and a screw to hold the push stick while not in use, and has a belt tension indicator which is visible though the top cover panel, but there is no window to see how the blade is tracking. There is no provision for a work light as on, for instance, the Laguna saws (This being said, it’s a fairly simple DIY job to add one if desired)

Extraction (two 100mm/4” outlets) seems to work fairly well with my twin engine 4” CamVac.

There is no mobility kit available (iTECH has announced one which may be compatible), but making one would be fairly simple as the base of the saw is fairly high and has 4 holes which are conveniently located. There are a few extra holes (4x M10 and 4 x unthreaded) in the base, which can help when building a raised platform or to attach the bandsaw to the floor.



CONCLUSION

Overall, my assessment may seem harsh, as there are quite a few details (ergonomics when changing blades or for the initial setup, etc.) which could have been easily improved if Startech or Record, the parent company, had cared to do so. This being said, this bandsaw doesn’t have any major flaw which can’t be resolved from my perspective. It does the job, has above average safety features, and I expect it to last for a good long time given its construction and simple design. I am also not sure whether the competition is any better at this price point, having looked at other entry level ‘industrial’ band saws in the £1000-2000 range. I’ve learned that one shouldn’t expect perfection out of the box/pallet with most semi-industrial affordable machines, and I’m glad that this one can be made to perform well with a little bit of care and tweaking.
 
Last edited:

clogs

just can't decide
Joined
24 Jul 2020
Messages
313
Reaction score
103
Location
Vamos, Crete, GREECE.......
having read all this I'm disapointed at what you get for what I think is a vast sum of money.....
£1000-2000......
Surley there must be other manufactures out there......

I bought an old but little used full hight bandsaw 30 years ago.....made in Germany....it's in a crate and can't remember the name....
Frame is heavy steel box and iron wheels.....very heavy but just a single speed tho.....
also, no fast blade tension either....cast iron table......paint is still good.....but it suits me.....price was about £50 quid...

I have seen some excellent although metal machines coming out of Poland.....
I cant beleive that nobody make a good machine for a decent price in Europe.....?
seemingly there'd be no competion....

overall it seems you are paying decent money for DIY spec machines........

but I guess thats life......shame.....
 
Top