A Trip To ACME Tools

It was beautiful out today.  After the exciting Spain vs. Paraguay match I went to ACME tools.  Larry had sent me something via email and I needed to check it out.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

In the Past

With the projects I have done thus far, it has been necessary to figure out methods for completing tasks which would otherwise be done on a machine, by most woodworkers.  To get my router table flat, I spent hours upon hours going over it with my router, then with a belt sander and finally with Robert Burns the mouse sander.  I didn’t have any hand planes at that time.  Now I do and I can tell you, even though I am still developing my hand planing skill, it would have gone much more quickly with them.

To get the board to the correct thickness, to make my tiny walnut box, I had to remove over half of its thickness.  This took a lot of effort and time.  It also wasted a half the wood.  To get the cuts right for my box, I created a jig, to be used with a chamfer bit.  The list goes on, but you get the idea.

I have been thinking for a long time that it is time to make a major tool purchase.  When I began woodworking may people told me that the most important major purchase I would make, is my table saw.  It seemed like it might actually be a commandment.  Their reasoning seemed, well, reasonable.  The safest table saw is the Saw Stop, so I got it in my head that is what I wanted.

As time passed and I learned and read more, I found that Festool makes a plunge cut circular saw and track system, which seems to do the same thing.  There is a table which one can get, with all sorts of additional attachments, and even dust collection.  I am a fan of Festool, because of Marey the PSB 300 EQ, which is a jigsaw, though it is technically a saber saw, but if I called it that you would imagine something different.  It is sort of like how people use the word decimate to mean completely destroy, though it only means to kill one in ten, but if you use it correctly, people won’t get your meaning.  I digress.

The point is that I had heard that it does ‘Everything’ a table saw would do and more.  It is the and more that caught my attention.  It is light weight, can be folded up, and taken to the job site.  I don’t have a job site, but I do have delusions of grandeur about replacing the deck on the house, and I could see setting it up in the backyard and having a deck building free for all.

Ask the Experts

I sought help from my tweeple on twitter.  (mom, that isn’t a typo, I meant to say tweeple, it is twitter speak).  There was a lively discussion about the two options.  One person pointed out that it wasn’t really apples to oranges, as the Saw Stop is around 2500 apples, while the Festool would be around 2000 oranges with all the gizmos.  This assumes that the price of apples and oranges are one dollar a piece, or 0.7967 Euros each.  This was a valid point and made me wish I had some fruit to snack on.

The real question I had was could the Festool really perform all the same functions of a table saw?  There were several good suggestions of things that the table saw did better, and a few things that people didn’t think the Festool system could do at all.  One concern was cutting pieces smaller than about 4″.  This I researched and there is an add on device which allows cutting down to 1/32.  It was while doing this research that I ran across a Festool Forum.  The Talk Festool Forum was very helpful.  I was able to read a lot about the plunge saws and track system.  It seems that some very avid users believe that a table saw is still necessary.

So it seems like this would be the end of our story.  The conversation with the woodworkers on twitter also yielded another, here to fore, not considered possibility.  I could get a bandsaw!  There were several very convincing arguments made.  This had never entered my mind, so I started to do some research.  I started with Laguna who makes a very nice looking and apparently a high quality bandsaw.  The word on the street is that it works great, but getting it set up can be hard, sometimes they forget to include the instructions and they have a history of sub par customer service.  This frightened me a little.

Unasked Questions

Then yesterday Larry sent me an email.  There is a sale this fourth of July weekend, which runs through the 9th.  (The sale, not the weekend.)  Many of the items are 15% off.  I love a sale and there was one in particular which caught my eye.  The 18″ Jet.  So today I went to ACME and talked with Del.  Del is great.  He knows me, he reads my blog on occasion, and he is a straight shooter.  The best part about Del and the folks at ACME, is that they have experience.  He not only answers the questions I ask, but also the one’s I haven’t asked, but he knows are important.

For instance, I did not ask, “With such a large distance between the bed and top of the bandsaw, will it effect quality of cut?”  He explained that the 18″ would resaw larger piece of lumber than the Powermatic PWBS 14″ bandsaw.  The 14″ is set up to only handle a maximum of 6 inches.  Which might seems strange at first glance, but he explained that there is an extension one is able to add, to increase it’s capacity to 14 inches.  The reason one might want to generally leave it in the 6 inch setup is that the quality and accuracy of the cut will be improved by having the little bits which hold the blade closer together.  This is an excellent point.  90% of the walnut and cherry boards I have, are in fact, less than 6 inches in width.

He also went into a very detailed discussion about how to set up the bearings so they are close to the teeth, but NEVER over lapping.  “One hit from the bearing on the teeth will ruing a blade”.  He showed me how to set it up properly, what to look for on the wheel, and pointed out a part of the fence which could be better, if one was using it for resawing.  Apparently it is important to have a slight bump in the middle when resawing.  This lets one get past tricky spots with grain.  These are all bits of information which I never would have thought to ask about.

He also pointed out that the bigger Jet 18″ couldn’t take some of the smaller blades which one would need if they wanted to do curved cuts and scroll work.  I had never considered these types of cuts, but you can bet that if I couldn’t do them, I would be a little bit disappointed.  So I am glad he mentioned it.

I did ask about rip cutting and cross cutting.  Those are two things I would want to do on my table saw.  He said that this bandsaw would handle those tasks well.  So when he was done, I turned to him and said, “I would like to buy an burnisher.”  Which I did.

I bought a Crown Tool burnisher.  I need it to properly get the burr on the Stanley 80.   As for the bandsaw, it is now $849.00 before the 7% sales tax.  I don’t know if I am going to buy it or not, but I do know that it has moved up on the list.  I have a few days to mull it over, so if anyone has any thoughts, please chime in.

29 comments
Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks

Bill,

Two excellent questions. As for lighting, I have close to $1000.00 in lighting from my photography, which is great, because it is easy to move around, very bright, and makes taking the pictures for my blog easy. The configuration question is one I can't really say for sure. I have plenty of space for the stuff I have now, but I would imagine that eventually I will have to expand. I have a room, which is twice the size of my shop. This will be where any growth happens. Right now, I am drying wood in there, but I intend to build something to hold my lumber, and this would free up a good deal of space. It is much easier to configure a room, when all you have is a workbench, two saw horses (Teri and Tracy) and a router table. As for electrical, the bandsaw I am looking at doesn't need me to upgrade. I did ask about that. Great thoughts, thanks.

Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks

Bill,

Two excellent questions. As for lighting, I have close to $1000.00 in lighting from my photography, which is great, because it is easy to move around, very bright, and makes taking the pictures for my blog easy. The configuration question is one I can't really say for sure. I have plenty of space for the stuff I have now, but I would imagine that eventually I will have to expand. I have a room, which is twice the size of my shop. This will be where any growth happens. Right now, I am drying wood in there, but I intend to build something to hold my lumber, and this would free up a good deal of space. It is much easier to configure a room, when all you have is a workbench, two saw horses (Teri and Tracy) and a router table. As for electrical, the bandsaw I am looking at doesn't need me to upgrade. I did ask about that. Great thoughts, thanks.

rtb
rtb

Crosscut no more than 14 inches off of length. You will probably need to build a top for the band saw also an out feed table and side support table if you wish to cross cut or rip anything greater that roughly the length of your arm same for resawing. I agree thatyou really need to define where you are going in woodworking before you decide on how you are going to get there. You saw many of the pictures when I built my workbench. how much of that do you think could been done on a band saw.

rtb
rtb

Crosscut no more than 14 inches off of length. You will probably need to build a top for the band saw also an out feed table and side support table if you wish to cross cut or rip anything greater that roughly the length of your arm same for resawing. I agree thatyou really need to define where you are going in woodworking before you decide on how you are going to get there. You saw many of the pictures when I built my workbench. how much of that do you think could been done on a band saw.

Joe ledington
Joe ledington

I think the main question you have to ask your self is what type of woodwork you are interested in pursuing? then the answer will be easier for other people to help with. A lot of the guy that are suggesting table saw might build cabinets as I do in which case a good table saw would be my first choose, but I am also a trim carpenter and have build a lot of cabinets on the job with just hand held power tool and my hand tools. if you are building solid wood furniture or craft type items with more emphasis on hand tools, then a band saw and a few hand held tools would be my pick. I use my hand tools now with a band saw and a power miter saw, a circular saw, a drill, a belt sander when I have to, not often, and a scroll saw, for all the work I do now, But and this is a big but, kind of like mine, if I got a job tomorrow for some case work you can bet your last cup of coffee I would drag my table saw out and fire that puppy up and be damn glad I own one.
Joey

Joe ledington
Joe ledington

I think the main question you have to ask your self is what type of woodwork you are interested in pursuing? then the answer will be easier for other people to help with. A lot of the guy that are suggesting table saw might build cabinets as I do in which case a good table saw would be my first choose, but I am also a trim carpenter and have build a lot of cabinets on the job with just hand held power tool and my hand tools. if you are building solid wood furniture or craft type items with more emphasis on hand tools, then a band saw and a few hand held tools would be my pick. I use my hand tools now with a band saw and a power miter saw, a circular saw, a drill, a belt sander when I have to, not often, and a scroll saw, for all the work I do now, But and this is a big but, kind of like mine, if I got a job tomorrow for some case work you can bet your last cup of coffee I would drag my table saw out and fire that puppy up and be damn glad I own one.
Joey

Doug Whitson
Doug Whitson

Hi Brian, I have and use both machines. When building cabinets a good table saw is hard to beat with any hand help option. I find a track system nice for sizing sheet goods right off the truck but shy away from it for any real precision work. When I'm not doing cabinet work I seldom use either. The band saw how ever is my go to saw followed closely by the SCMS. I believe you will eventually end up with all three as each has it's merits depending on the work. I look at it kind of like having different vehicles, you can tie stuff to the roof of your car if you only haul once in a while or you can buy a truck, you can crowd 6 people in your car or buy a van if you have to haul people all the time. If I could only have one of the three saws, I would go with the bandsaw because of its versatility. I have a 14" Grizly with the riser and have never looked back. Gook luck and happy decision making :)
Doug in AZ.

Doug Whitson
Doug Whitson

Hi Brian, I have and use both machines. When building cabinets a good table saw is hard to beat with any hand help option. I find a track system nice for sizing sheet goods right off the truck but shy away from it for any real precision work. When I'm not doing cabinet work I seldom use either. The band saw how ever is my go to saw followed closely by the SCMS. I believe you will eventually end up with all three as each has it's merits depending on the work. I look at it kind of like having different vehicles, you can tie stuff to the roof of your car if you only haul once in a while or you can buy a truck, you can crowd 6 people in your car or buy a van if you have to haul people all the time. If I could only have one of the three saws, I would go with the bandsaw because of its versatility. I have a 14" Grizly with the riser and have never looked back. Gook luck and happy decision making :)
Doug in AZ.

Bill
Bill

Brian, Restating something Jeff Zens already wrote above, for emphasis: Note that it is impossible to cross cut a 3' board into two equal pieces with a 14" band saw.

Bill
Bill

Brian, Restating something Jeff Zens already wrote above, for emphasis: Note that it is impossible to cross cut a 3' board into two equal pieces with a 14" band saw.

David
David

I want to chime in as well. I am on my second shop. I don't know if I would keep a table saw if you gave me one. I have a cheap HF14in bandsaw with a riser block for rip cuts and a power miter saw for cross cuts. Anything else gets the handsaw or the circular saw with a saw guide. I also have a small router table and plan to make a nicer one. Less than $500 for the lot. I am happy as a clam with things as they are now. If the bandsaw cuts are not perfect, that is what I have planes for. The bandsaw is for rough cutting although when it is tuned up, it makes a pretty nice cut. I am waiting for a better tension spring to make up for putting the riser block in. The stock one is pretty wimpy.

David
David

I want to chime in as well. I am on my second shop. I don't know if I would keep a table saw if you gave me one. I have a cheap HF14in bandsaw with a riser block for rip cuts and a power miter saw for cross cuts. Anything else gets the handsaw or the circular saw with a saw guide. I also have a small router table and plan to make a nicer one. Less than $500 for the lot. I am happy as a clam with things as they are now. If the bandsaw cuts are not perfect, that is what I have planes for. The bandsaw is for rough cutting although when it is tuned up, it makes a pretty nice cut. I am waiting for a better tension spring to make up for putting the riser block in. The stock one is pretty wimpy.

Joe ledington
Joe ledington

I have a table saw that I all but never use, since I don't do much work with sheet goods any more it just sits there and I use my band saw for just about all my cutting. I agree with Larry on the 14 inch saw. I got a 14 inch saw first with the idea of keeping a 1/4 inch blade on it for cutting curves and getting a 18 inch band saw for re sawing, but after a while I really didn't see the need. I never got the bigger saw, I still dream about it from time to time, but still haven't found a real need. I thought about a track saw, but I have been sawing with a circular saw and a homemade tack for thirty years that does almost as good as job as a track saw minus the plunge cut saw, so I figure why fix something thats not broke. I say go for the band saw and get something you like, and get yourself a good 6" circular saw for them cross cuts that are to deep for the band saw or if you need to knock down some sheet goods. and if you want to know how to build a track to cut sheet goods with let know I'll email a set of plans.
Joey

Joe ledington
Joe ledington

I have a table saw that I all but never use, since I don't do much work with sheet goods any more it just sits there and I use my band saw for just about all my cutting. I agree with Larry on the 14 inch saw. I got a 14 inch saw first with the idea of keeping a 1/4 inch blade on it for cutting curves and getting a 18 inch band saw for re sawing, but after a while I really didn't see the need. I never got the bigger saw, I still dream about it from time to time, but still haven't found a real need. I thought about a track saw, but I have been sawing with a circular saw and a homemade tack for thirty years that does almost as good as job as a track saw minus the plunge cut saw, so I figure why fix something thats not broke. I say go for the band saw and get something you like, and get yourself a good 6" circular saw for them cross cuts that are to deep for the band saw or if you need to knock down some sheet goods. and if you want to know how to build a track to cut sheet goods with let know I'll email a set of plans.
Joey

jeff zens
jeff zens

Hi, Brian;

If I were starting over equipping a shop - thank God I'm not - and I knew what I know - I think the band saw would come before the table saw. Here's why.

You can do a lot of your rough stock dimensioning with a band saw, and it is a lot safer than a table saw. Maybe not as safe as a Saw Stop, but if you fire off that cartridge you're talking about $200+ to replace it and a reasonably good blade.

You can cut curves, which you cannot do on a table saw.

You can resaw, which you CAN do on a table saw, but not as safely, and with far less waste. And on the table saw your stock width is limited to twice the height of the blade above the table unless you're going to finish with a hand saw.

There is another option available to you other than a new Jet or Powermatic or Taiwan/China import: that option is a good ol' Made-in-the-USA hunk of cast iron band saw. I don't want to tie up your blog with all the details (and no, I am not selling one) but if you're interested, drop me a line.

Happy resawing!

Jeff

jeff zens
jeff zens

Hi, Brian;

If I were starting over equipping a shop - thank God I'm not - and I knew what I know - I think the band saw would come before the table saw. Here's why.

You can do a lot of your rough stock dimensioning with a band saw, and it is a lot safer than a table saw. Maybe not as safe as a Saw Stop, but if you fire off that cartridge you're talking about $200+ to replace it and a reasonably good blade.

You can cut curves, which you cannot do on a table saw.

You can resaw, which you CAN do on a table saw, but not as safely, and with far less waste. And on the table saw your stock width is limited to twice the height of the blade above the table unless you're going to finish with a hand saw.

There is another option available to you other than a new Jet or Powermatic or Taiwan/China import: that option is a good ol' Made-in-the-USA hunk of cast iron band saw. I don't want to tie up your blog with all the details (and no, I am not selling one) but if you're interested, drop me a line.

Happy resawing!

Jeff

Larry Marshall
Larry Marshall

Two things. First, that resaw "bump" is generally a different fence entirely but most saws also allow their straight fence to be adjusted for "drift" (the saw will want to drift as a slight angle).

Second, on the thin blade thing, I suppose this is true and the cost of moving to a bigger saw. Given sufficient horsepower, a 14" saw has many virtues for a hobbyist in my view (a view that the 'more power' guys don't think much of). Blades are also cheaper for 14" saws so if you're going to want many sizes this could be significant. :-)

Cheers --- Larry

Cheers --- Larry

Larry Marshall
Larry Marshall

Two things. First, that resaw "bump" is generally a different fence entirely but most saws also allow their straight fence to be adjusted for "drift" (the saw will want to drift as a slight angle).

Second, on the thin blade thing, I suppose this is true and the cost of moving to a bigger saw. Given sufficient horsepower, a 14" saw has many virtues for a hobbyist in my view (a view that the 'more power' guys don't think much of). Blades are also cheaper for 14" saws so if you're going to want many sizes this could be significant. :-)

Cheers --- Larry

Cheers --- Larry

Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks

An excellent point about cross cutting. I would imagine that if I needed a 16 inch piece of wood, I would likely cut it with my Japanese hand saw, and leave a 1/4 inch of extra. If I didn't get it dead on, which I often do now, I could trim it with the bandsaw.

As for the building the top and the outfeed table, you are 100% correct. I started designing something today. It will be a wonderful learning project.

I should point out, that I am not intending on having the bandsaw be my last major equipment purchase, just my next purchase. I can't afford to buy them both right now.

Great comment.

Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks

An excellent point about cross cutting. I would imagine that if I needed a 16 inch piece of wood, I would likely cut it with my Japanese hand saw, and leave a 1/4 inch of extra. If I didn't get it dead on, which I often do now, I could trim it with the bandsaw.

As for the building the top and the outfeed table, you are 100% correct. I started designing something today. It will be a wonderful learning project.

I should point out, that I am not intending on having the bandsaw be my last major equipment purchase, just my next purchase. I can't afford to buy them both right now.

Great comment.

Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks

Thanks Doug. I think you are right. I am very much leaning towards the bandsaw right now. I am curious, "followed closely by the SCMS" What is SCMS? Does it stand for Small Critter Meat Sauce, or Secret Cutlery Merchants Society...or perhaps something else.

Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks

Thanks Doug. I think you are right. I am very much leaning towards the bandsaw right now. I am curious, "followed closely by the SCMS" What is SCMS? Does it stand for Small Critter Meat Sauce, or Secret Cutlery Merchants Society...or perhaps something else.

Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks

I think that if I had to cross cut a board which was 3 feet long, I would use my Japanese hand saw before I would use a bandsaw or a table saw. (I am reading 3' as meaning length with width being much less.) So I think I will be ok, in that regard.

Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks

I think that if I had to cross cut a board which was 3 feet long, I would use my Japanese hand saw before I would use a bandsaw or a table saw. (I am reading 3' as meaning length with width being much less.) So I think I will be ok, in that regard.

Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks

Thanks so much for adding to the research. I do appreciate it.

Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks

Thanks so much for adding to the research. I do appreciate it.

Bill
Bill

Is your workspace adequately configured? Adequate electric and lighting? If not, this may save you a month or two while you think about your question.