Setting up shop: Machine number two.
I suggest the second major machine acquisition should be a good quality bandsaw. No, not a table saw, not in the number two slot. True, the table saw rips and crosscuts very well but it is far less versatile.
The great freedom afforded by a good bandsaw can change your relationship to wood. Here is a sampling of bandsaw work:
- cut curvy legs from 12/4 mahogany
- resaw a 10″ figured board into bookmatched panels
- make your own 3/32″ veneer
- select out furniture parts from stock irrespective of their orientation to the original edge of the board
- cut tenons
- cut and dry some wood from a tree felled in your backyard
- try some sculptural work
- rip laminates for bent lamination work
- cut out cartoon characters and toys for your kids
A bandsaw will generally not rip as cleanly as a table saw, but with an excellent blade it does a surprisingly good job that can be cleaned up and trued reasonably easily with a hand plane. For clean, accurate, consistent crosscutting, it must be conceded that the table saw is the clear winner. Still, the shooting board can take care of that issue. If I had to give up one of these two machines, there is no doubt the table saw would go because the lack of a bandsaw would be far more limiting to my range of designs and work.
The bandsaw takes up much less shop space than a typical table saw. There is an additional, hard- to-define virtue of bandsawing. It is the machine work that I liken most to hand tool work. I feel in touch with the cutting action and in control of the work, unlike with the table saw where, after the setup for a cut, the machine essentially rules. A bandsaw is also much more fun to use than a table saw, jointer, or planer.
I suggest a steel frame saw in preference to a cast iron version, with at least 10″ cutting height, preferably 12″ or more. Lower priced steel frame saws in the $800-900 range, such as the Rikon 10-325 or Grizzly G0457, are not more expensive than a quality cast iron model with a riser block. Better still, move up to a bigger saw such as a Minimax or Agazzani.
Build your wood shop team by adding a quality bandsaw to the roster early on, and you are likely to increase your woodworking skill, fun, and versatility.
What’s next? I’ll leave this question open for now, but I think the table saw is in line behind the router table. If you’re really hooked on woodworking, you can work your way down the wish list in due time. Happy woodworking.
|More in this series
• Which Machine First and Why
Resawing to make book-matched panels is one of the many tasks accomplished with the bandsaw.
Resawing can change how you use wood.
See the online Tool Guide for bandsaw information.