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Bandsaws - is the Record BS350 bandsaw still a good choice?

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pooka

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I have read through the archives here, in threads where the BS350 was discussed, and it gets a lot of praise (thanks in particular to gidon for a very informative review). Many of those threads are nearly 6 months old though, and I was wondering whether people still hold a high opinion of this bandsaw after several more months of use?

I noticed that the Record site states that this bandsaw is 1.5HP, but one of the older threads here mentions that it is 2HP. I wonder whether the specification of the more recent BS350 has changed, or whether the difference is to do with Record now publishing more accurate figures for power of the saw?

Just to put this into context, I am looking around at various 14" bandsaw options at the moment, and the main contenders (here) seemed to be the Basato5-2 (really a 17" throat, but in the same price range as some of the other 14" saws at about €1,875), the Startrite 351 (about €1,750), some other 14" Record (again, sales guy wasn't sure of the model, for about €1,600) and the EB505 (at least I think it is the EB505, the salesmen on the phone was not sure, at about €1,800). These are all pricey machines, but while I was mentally adjusting to the prospect of having to pay a lot of cash for a decent (?) 14" bandsaw, one sales guy mentioned the BS350 (for about €700). I immediately assumed that the BS350 must be lacking something or other (the power of marketing and sales speak defeats me again!!), but the comments about it on this forum suggest that it is a very capable 14" bandsaw.

As yet I have only had a very brief look at both the Basato5-2 and the BS350, and while the Basato seems to be more solidly built, the BS350 seems pretty good for less than half the cost. I hope to get to see all five bandsaws, that I mention above, side by side at the weekend so that I can really compare them, but in the meantime I'd be very grateful for the latest feedback on the BS350 (and the others that I mention too).

Also, I'll be looking to put a mobile base on my choice of bandsaw, so any suggestions for mobile bases that work well with these saws would be gratefully received too.

Thanks in advance for any info.
 

devonwoody

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Nice tobe in a position to look at the top end priced bandsaws and if I ever extend myself up to that price the first thing I would want to know is; Is it easy and convenient to set up the lower bearings and thrust.
If you are changing blade size and you know you have got another half hour setup time to get at those little bu g gers it really gets my blood pressure going.

Tilting table both directions would be on my list (good for dovetailing), heavy machines though to have wheels/casters around.
 

Shady

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Yeah, it looks nice, but Pooka - I thought you were trapped in a small workshop? That's a serious chunk of iron for an 'indoor' shop...

Will you really need to resaw to that depth? I don't think I've ever needed more than 6 to 8 inches...

Without wishing to sound like an Axminster sales rep, I spent some time looking at bandsaws, and ended up going for the Perform CCBB (which is currently on special offer...):

http://www.axminster.co.uk/category.asp?cat_id=207975&pf_id=&jump=8&sfile=1

I've been pretty pleased - I think it's overspecced for the 'perform' range. Big solid cast iron table, powerful motor. I have not yet found that it has been too small for anything I've done, and I just wonder if you really need to go bigger?
 

pooka

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devonwoody - Thanks for the tips. To be honest, I started out by looking at the Basato 3, which is cheaper than the BS350, but following some good advice on here, further reading, and further thought about what I'll be using a bandsaw for, I decided to go for a 14" bandsaw instead. When I rang a couple of local suppliers, I was being quoted for saws in the €1,500 to €1,900 range. At that stage I was still fantasy shopping (the reality only really kicks in when signing the credit card slip!), so I started to mentally put aside that kind of cash. When I was quoted for the BS350, I was amazed to find that there is a saw, with an apparently good track record, for a fraction of the price of the others. I think the problem with my local suppliers is lack of choice - they stock either 12" saws at the low end of the price range (and with the ones I have seen you really get what you pay for!) or they stock 14" saws at the other end of the price range (having seen only the Basato5-2 at this stage, it certainly does seem to be a much better class of machine). The BS350 seems to fall somewhere in between, and might be an ideal choice for me.

As for the lower bearings, having only seen the Basato5-2 and the BS350 in the flesh, the Basato5-2 does seem to have better quality top bearings (and it has the same bearings top and bottom) - they require no tool to adjust them, and it looks like they should lock reliably too (the bearings themselves are each on a threaded rod, which is locked in position via a locknut which you tighten by hand too). I think the thrust bearing has the same kind of adjustment mechanism. The BS350 has a similar setup for the top bearings, but the machining is a little more crude (also, there were no locknuts on the display model that I saw, but as the Record website photos show locknuts I guess that was due to poor setup by the retailer. And at least one of the bearings appeared to be seized on the display model too, as I could not rotate it with my fingers) - the BS350 has such bearings on top only, with what looks like a more basic setup underneath, possibly with no bearings (only got a quick glance at the lower guides though).

I'm not sure whether the BS350 table tilts in both directions, but the Basato5-2 table does. Also, the Basato wil take a 25mm blade, although I'm not sure that my usage of the saw will ever require such a blade for the forseeable future.

Shady - Yeah, I think all five of those bandsaws are big beasts, but the BS350 is small (well, on a grand-ish scale!) relative to the others. I plan to re-organise my workshop over the next few weeks (main aim is to hang all tools on the available wall space and relocate my workbench to make better use of the limited floorspace), which will leave sufficient room to store a sizeable bandaw in one corner, under the wood that I have stored on wall brackets (please let the brackets hold, please let them hold! :D ). This will mean that I'll have free space in the centre of the floor, which is where I'll have to move the bandsaw to use it. It's not ideal, but as I hope to rely on my own machinery for all wood preparation (hence the need for a beefier saw) I think it is achievable and worth the effort.

Thanks for the link to the Perform CCBB, by the way. Ironically, for my small workshop, a bench-mounted bandsaw is likely to use just as much space as a floor mounted one (I won't be able to use it on my bench so I'll need to sit it on a movable cabinet of its own - somehow, my workshop seems to defy several laws of physics!).


Generally speaking, I guess that I am in the enviable position right now of having manageable/affordable debt (my mortgage), and sufficient savings put aside to fund the purchase of a good bandsaw. In an ideal world, I'd like to spend sufficient money now to avoid having to replace or upgrade the bandsaw at a later stage when spare cash might be a lot more scarce - that inclines me towards looking at some of the high-end saws that are inevitably more expensive, but at the same time I don't want to make the mistake of discounting a perfectly good saw at a significantly lower price (basically, I don't want to base my buying decision on a blind application of the "you get what you pay for" rule of thumb). So, I welcome any views on the bandsaws that I list above, good and bad.

I have already learned a lot from this forum about what things to looks out for, when evaluating a bandsaw, but I am also aware of being very close to the bottom of a long and steep learning curve so I really appreciate people sharing their views and experiences of the models that I am looking at. Thanks.
 
A

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No experience or knowledge on these saws, but I think one of our members had and hated the Besato 5 to the point where it was replaced pretty quickly
 

Shady

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All fair points:

Pooka - note that it ain't a table top one - It's a pretty beefy floor mounted job.

Devonwoody - fair points: the lower bearings are ok to adjust, although the table doesn't tilt both ways. I'd describe the CCBB as a basic but well specced machine - powerful motor for its size, cast iron table, and a tweakable fence that allows a user to get it truely square. I'd accept your points, all other things being equal; I just wonder whether Pooka is 'overbuying' for what he'll actually be cutting with it - but that's a nice position to be in, I guess...
 

Alf

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Tony":wbbqc5ob said:
No experience or knowledge on these saws, but I think one of our members had and hated the Besato 5 to the point where it was replaced pretty quickly
I partially resemble that remark. It had less to do with the model itself than that particular example of it and the subsequent hassles incurred. On the basis of the 5-2 per se, I can only point out a few things that struck me that you might want to consider.

The design of the body is such that it takes up noticeably more room than an equivalent sized saw from other manufacturers - wouldn't have been a problem for me, but sounds like you're a bit snug for room. The mitre gauge was such a sloppy fit it seemed a bit pointless in having it at all; probably better with something you make yourself, if you want one. IMO the pressed steel trunnions, because they're large enough to facilitate the geared table tilting feature, are too flexible for the cast iron table. My Axminster/Jet has much smaller, cast trunnions, and they inspire more confidence in me personally. YMMV.

On the other hand, it has good capacity. Theoretically, German engineering and efficiency should make it reliable (guess I was unlucky). It's a pretty colour... And I know there are many happy owners out there (that's why I wanted one); in fact I think Steve Maskery's got one...?

Don't know about the Record, but I haven't been thrilled with Record Power in the past either, so best not go there. :roll: :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 

Adam

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At that price, you could pick up a second hand version from days gone by when it was solid reliable cast iron with enough oomph to cut through anything you throw at it, and have enough left over to have a nice holiday or a selection of LN's!

Adam
 

gidon

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pooka - you've noticed the one thing I don't like about the BS350 - although it's not a biggy. The top guides are easy to adjust and resemble far more expensive ones. But they are the saw's weakest feature in my opinion. Very difficut to set close the blade. If you do, because you can't get them to run perfectly parallel to the blade, they can turn and press hard against the blade - not good. This is the second set I get so think they must be all the same poor quality. Having said that I set them close enough and have had few problems.
For the money I paid (£350 IIRC), it was a bargain. If you have any specific questions PM me - I'm not getting to see this board much at the minute unfortunately.
Cheer
Gidon
 

woodshavings

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Still happy with my BS350. Have fitted duredge blades. My main gripe is with mobile base I fitted. (HS1000?) Its too flimsy and the BS wobbles when cutting large stock.

John
 

pooka

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Thanks a lot for the responses.

Shady - Oops, I was looking at the wrong saw. Checking again, it does like a good saw, but I think the restriction on the size of cut rules it out for me.

Alf - Yes, the Basato is a real giant, even when compared against (photos of) some of the other saws that I mention. To be honest, I suspect it is not realistic for my environment at all, because of its size (even when pushing scaled pieces of paper around my scaled floor plan, that saw seems determined to knock corners off things!). Now if I could convince my better half that it would look really well in the adjoining kitchen... :D Thanks for raising your concerns about the trunnions - it gives me something else to have a proper look at on the other saws too.

Adam - I have been keeping my eyes open for secondhand machines alright, but I don't think I have yet been looking in the right places. It is certainly an option that interests me though.

gidon - Thanks for that info. Hmm, as this will be my only saw (i.e. I won't have a tablesaw), I wonder if the dodgy guides will allow me to get the accuracy of cut that I'll be hoping for. I'll PM you about it.

woodshavings - Yikes, that is one mobile base that I will be avoiding then. Thanks.
 

Rosco

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Hi Pooka,
if you are thinking of the Basato 5-2 why don't you have a look at the Record BS500. It is a more conventional design than the Basato and will thereby fit in a more conventional space has a depth of cut of just under 12" and with a 2 hp motor has enough grunt to go through anything I have thrown at it also it is £300 cheaper than the Basato.
All the best,

Rosco ( Chris ).
 

pooka

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Hi all,
I had a look at the bandsaws available from one of the local retailers here in Dublin, over the weekend. It took quite a while to investigate them, and even then I couldn't get to see behind the doors of some of the saws because of the way they were laid out (actually "laid out" suggests that some thought went into their positioning, but in fact they were scattered round amongst all of the other machinery, and some were virtually inaccessible mutter, mutter :evil: ).

The following is a summary of my novice appraisal of the various bandsaws, for my requirements:

- The Basato5-2 really is just too big, as well as being the most expensive of the saws at €1,875. I didn't bother spending the time having a detailed look at it (although it would have been interesting as a comparison to the others - basically though, it was one of the more inaccessible machines there as it was surounded on three sides by large machinery), even though I suspect that it is a better quality machine than the others (might just be blind optimism though, and the fact that I like the colour! :wink:)

- The Record BS500 (thanks for the pointer to that Chris) is a beast alright. It seems like a BS350 on steroids (even the bearings look the same, but bulkier). It is €1,500, so it is comparable in price to the Startrite and the Elektra Beckum.

- The Startrite was a real disappointment. It was priced at around €1,600, but based on what I have read about bandsaws it seems to fall short in some significant areas. For a start, it has pressed steel wheels (had to get this info from the catalogue as I couldn't get the doors open in the store). It also appeared not to have a rack and pinion adjustment for the guide column - it looks like you manually lift it to the desired height and lock it in place with a knob. Initially, I thought that maybe the store hadn't assembled it properly, leaving out the knob for raising and lowering the column, but even the manual has no mention of the existence of such control. On the basis of those two things, it seems overpriced when compared to some of the other saws.

- The Elektra Beckum BAS500 was priced at €1,700 including a dust extractor (SPA1100), but this drops to €1,500 for the bandsaw only. The price was dropped again to €1,450 after a few minutes of talking to a sales guy. I suspect this is more to do with that model being replaced by the 505 than anything else so they'll probably be glad to clear out old stock. That price makes it the cheapest of the beefier saws, but it seems lacking in a few areas. For one thing, the top bearing guides require a spanner to adjust them (I am assuming here that this would prove to be a bit painful over time by comparison to those that need only hand adjustment), while the lower guides looked like bits of steel rod (all of the other saws have bearings as the lower guides). Secondly, the tensioning rod is just a long M8 (?) bolt (which is the same as is on the Record BS350), and I wonder whether it is really beefy enough for the job. Thirdly, the mechanism for lowering and raising the guide column was very stiff but occasionally slipped as well - this might just be due to poor setup by the store staff though. Last, but probably not least, it doesn't have micro-switches on the doors so in a dumb/careless moment it looks like I could turn the saw on with the doors open.

- The Record BS350, at €729 (making it more expensive than another branch of the same store, which has it for €700 :? ), seems like much better value than all of the others. It has good cutting capacity, a reasonable size of motor (1.5HP), and is small enough to fit reasonably comfortably in my workshop. It is cruder than some of the other saws certainly, so you can see where some of the money has been saved, but on the face of it it seems like a good deal. In fact, it seems almost too good to be true at less than half the price of the cheapest of the other saws, but the fact that the other saws are really not 14" bandsaws at all (in spite of the retailer initially describing them as such) helps explain why there seems to be such a gulf between the BS350 and its so-called competitors.

So, right now it looks like the BS350 is my leading contender for a bandsaw, based largely on price and size. I plan to explore a little further though, to see if I can find retailers of other 14" bandsaws in this neck of the woods. So far I have rung around every likely place in the phonebook, but they all seem to sell industrial grade bandsaws only (prices are upwards of €1,800). I am also looking to see if Laguna bandsaws are available here, as everything that I have read about them has been positive (I believe they are made by Meber in Italy, but Meber-branded saws seem to be up around the €2,000 level from the few that I have found listed on websites), so I won't be making my final decision for a few weeks yet.

I should point out that all of the views that I have expressed above are based purely on a detailed (where possible) visual inspection of the machines. I didn't have the option of actually turning any of the saws on (which seems strange when the store expects you to hand over the best part of €2,000 for some of them), so I really have no idea of the comparable quality of the motors. I have made assumptions about quality based on what I have read about bandsaws, but as I have never used a bandsaw I may well be very wrong in my assessment of what is good and bad. If any of what I wrote above is incorrect or misguided, then I'd welcome that being pointed out so that I can make an effort at an educated decision when it comes time to actually choose a bandaw. Thanks, and thanks too for the advice so far.
 

Noel

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Pooka, don't know if there is a model to suit you but did you consider Jet?

Rgds

Noel
 

pooka

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Hi Noel,
I had a quick look at the Jet JWBS-14 online specs, and I wondered whether it was underpowered at 0.75HP by comparison to the Record BS350's 1.5HP (assuming the motors are comparable in quality, which might be assuming too much). I wasn't able to find out much else about it though, positive or negative. A rough conversion of currency in my head (from the Axminster price of £665) brings it to about €1,000 plus shipping, which compares well against the bigger local saws, but unless it was significantly better than the Record BS350 it might not be any better value. I'd be interested in any views that people have of that particular saw though.

I also looked at the Axminster SBW3501B just now, and its specs seem comparable to the Jet JWBS-14 (are Axminster machines often re-badged Jet's?), but it is cheaper at £500. Hmmm. A search on the forum doesn't find much for it - has anyone seen/used this saw and have anything good or bad to say about it?
 

devonwoody

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These HP and wattage ratings these days are IMHO very suspect.

Our Vacumn cleaner has a rating of 1500 watts and thats bigger than some machinery advertised in some well know tool catalogues.

Perhaps some electician here on the forum can wise us up. Preferably with not too much technical jargon.
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi Pooka

The way Jet quote their power rating is different to everybody else. IIRC they quote output at 100%.

I really don't believe that it will be underpowered.

Cheers
Neil
 

Adam

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Newbie_Neil":1cc3wcxl said:
Hi Pooka, The way Jet quote their power rating is different to everybody else. IIRC they quote output at 100%.
Yes, I think Jet are the "honest" ones in this, they quote the power available at the output, which can be used for 100% of the time. Many manufacturers quote input power (peak) which could not be sustained for any duration of time. A finger in the air guess would be in use, the Jet would offer 25-50% more power than the Record says, despite the numbers shown.

Your best bet, is to try sawing an identical log on both, and see if they struggle.

Adam
 

pooka

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Thanks for the feedback guys. It sounds like I shouldn't discount the Jet, which might also mean that I shouldn't discount the Axminster either.

...last night, I looked back through the notes that I took when talking to various local retailers over the phone a few days ago. Amongst all of the stuff that I wrote down, I had completely forgotten that one of them had quoted me for the Jet JWBS-14. When I found the price that I had been quoted though, I remembered why I had knocked it off my list of potential purchases - they quoted me €1,100 plus VAT!! Unless the delivery costs from Axminster amounted to over €300, it'd be cheaper buying it from the UK and having it shipped over, than it would be to drive the few miles to a local supplier and buy it there... I can't help thinking that someone like Axminster could establish a very profitable business if they were to open up a branch here and compete against our local (rip-off) retailers - I'd certainly be in the Axminster customer queue on opening day!
 

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