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Chicago Machinery bandsaw

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  • Chicago Machinery bandsaw

    I've decided to get a 12" bandsaw to use instead of using my radial arm saw for cutting small pieces of wood for scrolling. The dust from the radial arm saw now flies and fills my woodworking room with a lot of airborne sawdust which as we all know is unhealthy. I really don't want to pop for a dust collector if there are other options. For my scroll saw I've set up the 20" fan with furnace filters on both sides. Since I still have a table saw outside, I'll have the ability to cut and rip my wood. My table saw was an el cheapo that has served me faithfully for the last 8 years.

    I've been looking at the Chicago Machinery bandsaw at Harbor Frieght and I'm wondering if any of you on this forum have used one. I've bought some of their other tools and as a hobbyist, they've worked just fine. What's been your experience?

  • #2
    I do not have the Harbor Freight b-saw, but a fellow carver has their 14" with a riser, and he does everything with it - no complaints. He says Delta accessories fit it perfectly. I don't know how long ago he got it (I'm guessing quite some time) but he is very pleased. So, if that is what your budget can do, by all means consider it. Some things to look at at the store before you buy - does the table adjust easily to 90 degrees, is the casting smooth enough to slide your wood across it without hanging up, does it look easy enough to change or adjust the blade... You probably have your own list of needs - just check it out.
    I have found that HF tools usually give you good enough performance for the price - it is just that sometimes that isn't good enough. Then you know you need to spring for all the budget can stretch, because that is a tool you need to rely on for heavy or precise work. (For instance, their scrollsaws are pretty much toys or junk!)
    Good luck with your purchase, whatever you decide, and let us know how it works out.


    • #3
      I have a Jet w/riser. As stated before, Harbor Freight's stuff is kinda hit or miss.. I'd first pick up a copy of The Bandsaw Book (I've seen them used at and read that then go look at the saw at your nearest Harbor Freight.

      Save money; If there's a school selling the Entertainment Book, there's a 20%off coupon in it good for one item at Harbor Freight. Combine that with the Mail Order price (Usually less than the retail stores). My local Harbor Freight honors the mail catalog price. ..less 20%..

      Happy Holidays,


      • #4
        Just a little side note because I have no knowledge of that saw but do not think for one minute that it does not create dust. It will put out as much dust as your radial arm saw or miter saw. If it comes with one of those 2" dust ports they are usless. Sure you can hook the shop vac to it but not enough for the dust especially if you are going to resaw on it. Every woodworking tool creates dust so it must be dealt with accordingly. I would suggest investing in a good dust collector of some sort.
        John T.


        • #5
          I picked up the bandsaw and it's just what I was looking for. It's not heavy duty and I don't know how long it will last but for $125, I'll find out if it will be worthwhile to get a bigger more heavy duty one later. As far as sawdust, because the blade is a lot narrower than my radial arm saw, it sure makes a lot less and doesn't kick it out the back. Not only that but this little hummer will resaw short 2x4's if I decide to do some edge gluing. The neat thing about getting into scrolling is that everything new you do is fresh and exciting. It's just what the doctor ordered. Thanks to all of you for your great advise and insight.



          • #6
            I had a Grizzly 12" that I think is pretty much the same saw - 3 wheeler?

            If so, the biggest thing to watch out for is making sure you only get the thin blades made for 3 wheelers. The wheels are small and turning the tight radius heats up thicker blades. I bought some TimberWolf blades and they did resaw well on it (up to its almost 4" height), but if the blade starts to bind shut it off quick! I broke those in far less use than I hoped. The other downside is that you cannot tension the blades very much. The design is just too light and the saw flexes a little. So it is difficult to get really accurate cuts in tight grained hardwood (if you rip a board, leave a little extra and plane it).

            The good news is that it is a little workhorse! It will cut faster than most benchtops, won't bog down as easily, has a deeper throat and more blade clearance. Also the dust collection is pretty good and the thin blades do limit how much dust they make.

            I got rid of mine thinking I was about to get a larger Delta. Then that didn't happen and I ended up getting an older 2 wheel benchtop. It tracks better, but lacks the power.


            • #7
              HF Bandsaw more than good enough

              I know you already got the 12", but other people shouldn't fear investing in the 14". I have the 14" Harbor Freight Bandsaw. It is more "than good enough". Get Mark Duginske's book and most important get some good blades. Timberwolf blades from are very good. Also get a "link belt" to reduce vibration. I think the saw stacks up to the 14" Jet or the new 14" Delta's for half the price. This hardest thing about the saw is assembling it. Most Harbor Freight instructions are very poor. Take a look at this site for many hints on assembling/using this saw. Use the search menu for HF bandsaw.


              • #8
                They do seem to have improved the 14". They used to have plastic wheels, but now have cast aluminum, I think. I looked one over at my local HF not long ago. I would buy a big tool over the counter from them with much less apprehension than mail order, BTW. They have a reasonably priced full replacement NQA warranty on everything they sell and it is renewable forever. They sell a $20 set of roller bearings for the 14" saw and you will find the saw on sale for around $200 every now and then.


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