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Startrite 351SE

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Anonymous

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I bought this bandsaw having done very little research into the market as I urgently needed something more substantial than the sub £100 bandsaw I had at the time. I figured that although it might not be the greatest bargain and may lack some of the refinements and features of other bandsaws I would at least be safe with the Startrite name (although I was under no illusions as to the origins of the machine these days). This looked like a saw that was substantial but not too large for the workshop that could take small and larger blades (says 3mm – 20mm in the literature) and has a larger than average table and a good fence. Hence it would cover both my resawing and more intricate requirements.

I rejected the first saw on the same day I received it as there were clearly problems with the frame. It may be that this arose during transit and hence I won’t go into detail save to say I found RecordPower to be very reasonable in supplying a second saw. I have also had problems with the second saw that I will include in the review as these involve build quality and design issues.

Firstly, on a reasonably positive note, the cast iron table is pretty substantial and a good thickness. The aluminium fence is also very thick extrusion. There is no scale for the fence adjustment but that really doesn’t bother me on a bandsaw. The fence rail, block etc are also good and solid. Less positively I found that an area at one of the edges of the table is a little bumpy/ridged and could have been better machined. One of the mitre slots is a perfect fit but one is too large and both are too shallow for the mitre fence to sit in without the guide being proud of the table. When remounting the rip fence to the right hand side of the blade I also found the drilling for the fence rail wasn’t completed. On the whole though I am fairly happy working with this area of the machine.


It is in the guide post, blade guides and thrust bearings that I think the design is lacking. There is no rack and pininion for the guide post height and there is scope for movement both fore and aft and twist when adjusting the height. Hence if you are not careful you can have the blade guides set perfectly at one height but deflecting the blade if you change the height. In fact this seems to happen sometimes even if you are careful. The adjustment of the blade guides themselves is primitive using just nuts and bolts. You get the guides just the right distance from the blade and find they twist out of alignment on tightening.


The bandwheel and bandwheel mounts etc seem to be of a reasonable enough construction but I have a problem with the bottom bandwheel hub or spindle on my saw which means that the lower wheel isn’t straight in a plane across its face (if you see what I mean) and this is leading to tracking problems with small blades. I have had the engineer to the saw to replace a motor that was overheating and he didn’t seem too disconcerted about it. I am going to investigate this further when I have the time though.

I don’t intend going into minutia as really I have to say that I would not recommend that this saw be on a shortlist. I think the philosophy behind the design was to produce a small version of a the big industrial saws which tend to be set up for repeat operations and give years of service. The result lacks the finesse required by a keen amateur or small scale pro who will frequently be changing set up and blade.

I recently picked up a Startrite brochure at a show and it seems that the bandsaw range is being revised. The 351SE is still included but doesn’t have much resemblance to the other saws in the newer range which seem to address the issues around the blade guides etc. that I have raised. I think this is now a saw that will wither on the vine as far as Record is concerned.

Roy
 

Chris Knight

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Roy,

Thanks for the candid review. It does seem that Startrite is no longer a name that means anything - every review I have read of their saws recently has criticized or at best damned with faint praise. It must be very irritating for you to have gone for what you believed was a good saw and ended up with this one - commiserations
 
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