Jet 16” JWBS 16X band saw review

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AJB Temple

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Preamble - delivery
This is a follow on from a previous thread. Photos will be in post 2. I wanted a bandsaw, looked at used and new, all the usual culprits including Hammer, Startrite, MinMax, Axminster DIY, trade and Industrial, Record (and similar clones from other suppliers) and Jet. Comparing specs and so on is very dull, but suffice it to say I went for the 16” Jet JWBS 16X because I thought it was a good value compromise for my use.

I bought it from Axminster, over the phone, having had a look at one in their excellent branch near Sittingbourne in Kent which is about 20 minutes away from me. They gave me a good deal and it worked out at about £1100 including VAT, a spare Axi blade (as they said the blade it came with is good for setting up but not for actual use), and a wheel set. Comes with a fence, resaw guide and mitre fence. I considered various saws and various sizes, but this is about the limit size wise in my workshop at the moment as there is only 6” ceiling clearance above the saw. (I will be dealing with that, but not until next spring). Here are my first thoughts:

Axminster have discounted this by £200 lately and also offer incentives. This bandsaw appears to be in limited stock in the UK and I had to hunt around a bit to find one. It would not surprise me if a new model is on the way, but for me I wanted to spend under £1000 excluding VAT, so this was a factor. Axminster sell this as “intended for heavy work”. I regard it as probably top end hobby / light trade. That’s fine for me. Probably bigger than I need most of the time in fact.

Delivery
Delivery was agreed at 9.30 am. Their driver called me the night before and asked to come at 8.30. Fine. Having taken a day off I was in bed listening to the torrential rain when he rang at 7 am and his lorry was outside at 7.10 am. Early is better than late in my book!

We used my heavy-duty large wheeled pot barrow (possibly one of the best tools I have ever bought) and wheeled the fully timber crated machine, across my parking area, over a patio, up some ramps and across about a further 100 metres of sodden lawn to my workshop, in the pouring rain. The exceptionally helpful delivery driver then un-crated it and single handedly manoeuvred this very heavy machine up over the workshop step and into position whilst I made the tea. The crate base has already made a handy workshop step. Top class delivery. Could not have been more helpful or friendly. Or indeed prompt! 10/10.

Packaging was absolutely excellent and the machine arrived pristine. Not a mark on it and the rust protection was highly effective. The machine is pretty heavy (two strong men to lift it) but once on the floor I can move it around on my own and am not sure I will fit the wheel kit. I will probably bolt it to the floor for stability in due course once I have decided on optimum position. I hate wobbly machinery.

Assembly
There are two books: how to assemble and use, and a comprehensive parts list and wiring diagram. The books are well written and clear in English that actually makes sense. This is not always the case with machines made in the Far East. The photos are OK, not brilliant.

The entire assembly took me 1 hour at lunchtime. 45 minutes of this was cleaning the protective wax off the 17” square cast iron table top with thinners, with ample allowance to eat my sandwich and have a cup of tea. Otherwise all you have to do is drop the table on, fix the fence guides on each side, adjust everything for square and alignment. In my case it was pretty much spot on factory perfect from the off. The mitre fence slot is well machined and has very little or no play in it, and the main fence is secure, easy to adjust and parallel from the off.

Jet supply a spanner and a hex key. The hex key does not fit the fence bolts, but luckily I have a few tools knocking around….Their hex key is to adjust the rear blade guide assembly by the look of it.

Power
It requires a 16 amp fuse but runs off 13 amp sockets with a standard 3 pin plug. Axminster recommend a 20 amp supply. I had expected a 16 amp plug (no idea why as I had expected the machine in the shop) and am making provision for this in my workshop anyway.

Capacity
10” resaw (I think Record claim 12” for theirs), 16” width. We shall see, not tested yet as I am still wiring up my workshop and sparks has not commissioned my work yet for Part P.

Why did I choose the Jet?
I almost bought a Startrite. Supply issues put me off in the end. My wife exercised her veto on a used one made in England ( as opposed to Taiwan or China like the new ones) as she didn’t fancy helping me collect and lug yet another machine into my workshop. I was very keen on a Hammer as well. Salesperson arrogance and taking 2 days to respond to emails killed that, and eventually, a bit irritated, I decided that it was not worth paying double for an Austrian machine – not sure if it really is Austrian as they were a bit cagey when I asked where the frame, castings and motor were made.

So that pretty much left me with the Record 400E or this Jet. The record has had a truly excellent review on this site recently, and I went along and saw one (no pun intended) in Pete’s shop just down the road from me. It was an unfair test really as I saw it about 3 hours after unpacking, and the blade was rubbish as his later review has clearly shown. It is clearly a good tool at a great price, but for me it was worth less than a couple of hundred quid more for the more rigid and robust Jet. Plus, I had just bought a 12” disc sander from Record, with a disk brake that was impossible to fit, and after they sent me the second disk brake, which still didn’t fit, I ended up machining my own out of aluminium. That put me off a bit: they spoil a machine for a £2 part, and the motor is a bit too feeble on the sander.

Pros
Sensible price. Under £1,000 before VAT including spare Axi bade and wheel kit
1.5 hp continuous power based on numerous tests over a good few years. Some power ratings you see on the internet verge on total fantasy as I have discovered to my cost over the years
The Jet 16” has been around for a long time now. It’s a proven machine
16” was about the biggest I could get in my workshop height wise
Capacity more than sufficient for my (revised) needs
Extremely rigid triangular spine – I liked this aspect – it makes sense to me
Well finished cast iron wheels
Fences were quite a bit better than Record (not amazing, but good enough)
Fence adjustment was a lot better than the Axminster trade series. More precise, fast and and rigid. Cabinet is a lot better too
Paint finish is exceptional for the money.
Good reviews on dust extraction that allegedly actually works (we shall see) (I get asthma and am allergic to wood tar, which is not ideal for someone doing woodwork ;-)
I hated the plastic adjusting wheels for depth and blade tension on the Record 400 (they would have annoyed me forever) – these on the Jet are metal. Not really solid cast iron beautifully finished metal, but not plastic.
Blade guide wheel adjustments require no tools
Top and bottom doors are linked for safety and quite a bit more robust than the Record
Does not require a 20 amp supply (unlike the Hammer – and the Hammer sales people were so arrogant!)
Window in the front to show whether blade is running true
Nicely machined wheels
Table tilt is easy and precise enough
Heavy duty height adjuster is really very good

And the cons – this is before I get into a proper test
The blade guides are el cheapo – neither ceramic nor ball race. Judgement reserved on that for now
No tension release lever. I know these are a gimmick, but you do get them in the 18” machine and it works well on that for tension relief. Not the only way to achieve tension relief obviously. The tension wheel is tight in use blade tensioning is OK but not excellent in use
No safety kick stop (unlike Startrite). On the other hand I am not operating a school
Blade size scale is hit and miss
No longer comes with a stability plate – most of the original internet reviews show this wider plate addition. However, if I bolt it down, it will make no difference
The bit of black pressed metal at the back of the cast iron table is unimpressive compared to the table (but irrelevant)
Table top finish is OK approaching good, but the edge castings are rough. They are hidden on three sides though
There is no provision to store the re-saw guide that I have discovered so far
Plastic knobs to secure the doors might not last forever
Fence scale is metric only

What comes next?
Order some Tuffsaws blades for re-sawing and general purpose carcass work
Cut a bit of firewood to bed everything in, then a blade change
Accurate tests on beds and fences
Make some assessment of the saw in use for cutting and also dust extraction.

This will not be until I have finished wiring up the shop as I don’t want to be distracted by fiddling about with tools (or toys, depending on how you look at it).

Photos follow in next post but Part 2 - machine in use, will be a while
 

AJB Temple

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Random selection pf photos. I did snap the cast iron wheels as well, but technical hitch with file conversion has afflicted their display.

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cerdeira

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I have that same model since 2008. probably an earlier revision since it does not have that side window to see the blade tracking.
On mine adjusting the lower blade guides to cope with different blade widths is a major pain in the ar*e. I also don't like that the table split is oriented the way it is: it makes changing wider blades (20mm up) very fussy.
The fence aluminium extrusion on mine also came slightly twisted. (within tolerances according to the manufacturer) It does not seem to affect performace though.
Overall it performs satisfactorily, but is very prone to vibration if a less than perfect blade is used.
If it was today I'd look for a 2nd hand machine with a cast iron frame. I think a bandsaw is one machine that benefits from all that extra weight for stability.
 

AJB Temple

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It has now had a few months of use. I managed to knacker one blade cutting up rather rough wood for turning, and have worm out the 2 Axi blades it came with. Tuffsaws blades will be ordered today.

My comments on it in practice:

I don't have a problem with adjustment as Cerdeira above did
It benefits from being bolted to the floor
Blade tension adjuster is stiff and awkward
Dust / debris collection chute is remarkably good - very little accumulates in the cabinet
Cast table is flat and was well machined
Mitre attachment is junk
Fence could do with being heavier duty
Fence adjustment though is good
I have had no problems with the cut wandering off - maybe because I am rarely in a hurry
I wish it had a tension release handle (both the smaller one and the bigger one do!).

Adrian
 
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