If you are looking to buy a bandsaw, you will find plenty of used saws that are just as good as new ones. But you still need to know what to look for to ensure you purchase the best bandsaw for your requirements. Stick to the following buying advice and you will not go wrong.
Lots of types of industrial fabrication equipment can now have a second life when you purchase used tools. Second-hand tools can be just as high-quality as brand-new equipment, and they have the advantage of being cheaper. You will find excellent used horizontal and vertical bandsaws from a variety of well-known brands with various lengths and capacities. Larger bandsaws are often more desirable. However, they are not always better. For instance, the larger 16” bandsaws have a larger cutting capacity and are less prone to vibration, but they are heavier to move and will take up more space. New users can also find them more challenging to use. A 14” bandsaw will do 95% of what a 16” saw can do, and it is ideal for both novices and professionals.
Bandsaw motor sizes range from ½ to 1 ½ HP. The smaller the motor, the more it will have to work harder. However, the motor size you choose should suit the work you intend to use the bandsaw for. If you are primarily cutting softwoods, a ½ to 1 HP should be sufficient. For making furniture, a 1 ½ HP saw is better.
It is best to opt for a bandsaw with cast iron wheels rather than alloy wheels. The wheels need to be aligned, and the more spokes they have, the smoother and less-vibrating the saw will be to work with.
The tabletop needs to have a standard ¾’ by ⅜’ miter slot so it can accept all commonly available gauges. If required, you can make an auxiliary plywood table so that you have a larger work surface.
The semi-circular brackets called trunnions support the tabletop and enable it to tilt. So, choose a bandsaw with strong cast-iron trunnions rather than flimsy zinc alloy castings. Choosing a bandsaw with robust trunnions is important because you will most likely grab the tabletop when moving the saw, which puts a lot of stress on the trunnions.
Fence and Gauge
A good bandsaw has a quality fence and gauge. The fence needs to move easily and lock securely. It also needs to be easily removable and provide adjustment for band alignment.
Blade Guides and Thrust Bearings
When you push the stock against the blade of the bandsaw, it flexes backward. Two sets of thrust bearings, one above the table and one below, counteract that movement. Also, the blade can move sideways, especially when you are cutting curves. But two sets of guide blocks below and above the table can prevent lateral movement. When you buy a used bandsaw, you need to adjust both the thrust bearings and the guide blocks. The bearings should be positioned so they are a paper-thickness from the blade, and the blocks should be about 1/16” behind the blade’s gullets.
Make sure you know what a bandsaw’s cutting speed is before you purchase. The ideal cutting speed is about 3,500 feet per minute. It is not worth buying used bandsaws that have a couple of speed rates, because the slower speed makes little difference to cutting hardwoods and it is not slow enough for light metalwork. It can be a pain to change the belt on bandsaws with two speed-rates, too.