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View Full Version : 4x6 bandsaw justification: HF vs. SB



Arthur.Marks
05-27-2010, 09:07 PM
I should first give my prejudices and preferences: Really cheap tools make me feel like junk using them. I have a little bit of tool snobbery in me born out of bitterness from past experiences with an import lathe. That said, I am not hard-line against buying Asian imports, although I greatly prefer not to. Practicality has its place. I have a RF31 mill/drill that is so very useful that I don't think of it as a "really cheap tool" :) In addition, superficial appearances actually do matter to me. I have a rather extensive background in visual arts so blame it on that. If it is that ugly Grizzly Green I will not buy it... I have something coated as such and greatly regret it :o

I need a simple means of cutting larger stock. From what I've read here in the archive and many other places, the 4x6 Hor./Vert. Bandsaw seems to be the one bottom-tier priced tool that earns its usefulness. I don't care about a perfectly straight cut. I just want it to work. No fiddling for ten minutes every third time it's used, no thank you. No swapping the 'gasket', no replacing the rollers, or otherwise rebuilding any abhorrently under-spec'd parts.

So here's my dilemma: $200 HF bandsaw with no shipping (pick directly up from store) or $675 delivered South Bend bandsaw. My expectation---or at least hope!--- is the South Bend line has adequate spec's for the tool and conscientious assembly. Both of which are usually lacking in the typical HF price level of tool. Mind you, the buyer ends up paying for it eventually in cost of time and swapping of parts. I would like to avoid this.

I'm having trouble justifying over 3X's cost, though, without some assurance that my assumptions are correct. Has anyone actually taken delivery on the SB model 4x6?? Other recommendations?

strokersix
05-27-2010, 09:50 PM
I've got a Grizzly 4x6 I bought nearly 20 years ago. This tool has earned it's keep many times over. I've worked on it a couple times and the original motor long ago expired but other than that it's been a great value. I use it all the time.

My only complaint is if you move the leading guide out to cut something big it twists the blade too tight and it will roll the blade up into the guides and ruin the blade. Other than that one issue, feed it quality bimetal blades and it cuts like a champ both horizontal and vertical.

If newer 4x6 saws are similar to my older griz it'll be tough to beat the value.

Bill Pace
05-27-2010, 09:52 PM
You got a link to the SB? I'm not familiar with one from them... It could very well be a re-badged/painted version of all the others, except with SB's way of asking 3 times the price as a similar or same product.

The HF version, and, really, all of them is somewhat of a love/hate thing, There is indeed a good probability of having it come needing a little tinkering -- or, maybe even a lot!

However, that being the case, I, and many others think it has to rank as one of the best bargains for a home shop!

I had one for 20+ years and only got rid of it to get a larger throat saw, dang thing was amazing with what I put it through.

doctor demo
05-27-2010, 09:52 PM
I have an old Jet (New when purchased) that I've been abusing for over 25 years and am about ready to finally put a real motor on it so it lasts another 25 years. As a side benefit it isn't green either. You might want to check one out.

Steve

wierdscience
05-27-2010, 09:54 PM
At work we sell a 4x6 that is made in Taiwan.It costs 2x's what the HF model does,but it has ball bearings in the tracking wheel,a motor with a believable rating and actually cuts straight.We don't sell many since people only see the price.

I had an HF 4x6 given to me,while many here have had decent luck with them,the one I had was absolute crap.The tracking wheel had NO bearing as in none,just a plain cast iron bore with an oil hole.

This Griz saw -

http://www.grizzly.com/products/5-x-6-Metal-Cutting-Bandsaw-w-Swivel-Head/G9742

is basically the same as this SB saw,except for the cast aluminum belt cover and the bent lawnmower handle screwed on the front.

http://southbendlathe.com/bandsaws/5x6-Swivel-Mast-Bandsaw.aspx

The only other difference is about $350;)

Paint can be had in many colors:D

Course if money were no object,then by all means buy an Ellis-

http://www.ellissaw.com/Band-Saws/10/1100-mitre-band-saw

$2695.00 .........COUGH!:)

Bill736
05-27-2010, 09:54 PM
It may be an unjustified leap of faith to assume that a Chinese made South Bend machine is $400 better than a Chinese made HF machine. You can paint them up and claim better quality, but that doesn't make it so. My limited experience with products from the green bear has been disappointing.
In truth, I haven't used any of the " new" South Bend branded machines, so I suppose we'll both be finding out the facts.

Evan
05-27-2010, 09:57 PM
My Craftex 4x6 saw from Busy Bee Tools here in Canada works very well. It isn't possible for the SB saw to be a lot better since the Craftex works as it should. The only maintenance it has required in about 5 years is new blades from time to time. It cuts straight and it will cut nearly anything that I can manoeuvre under the blade. It has been heavily used at times as I have done a lot of decorative iron work.

The import 4x6 saws exhibit a very wide range of quality. Some are complete crap and some are very well made. The one I have is the latter. The motor is powerful and runs cool no matter what the load. In 2005 it cost $200 not including shipping.

radkins
05-27-2010, 10:31 PM
I have the small HF saw that I bought on sale several years ago for 159$ (I think they are $249 right now) at one of the "sidewalk" sales, dang thing has taken a beating and so far it has been trouble free and cuts as straight as I could ask. It has obligingly cut everything I could wrestle onto it and close the vise on and a few things I had to fanagle around to finish the cut on! :rolleyes: I set up a coolant pump which greatly extended blade life but other than a belt breaking which was my fault because of leaving it too loose after a speed change it has been absolutely no trouble at all, if I had of spent 2 or 3 times as much money for a different saw I could not have gotten better reliability or a straighter cut.

Paul Alciatore
05-27-2010, 10:49 PM
Wierdscience, I thought he was asking about the 4 X 6, not the 5 X 6?

http://www.grizzly.com/products/4-x-6-Metal-Cutting-Bandsaw/G0622

But then I looked on the SB site for a 4 X 6 and found none. ?????

So which are we talking about? There is an obvious difference as they have different functionality.

Frankly, I have a Grizzly 4 X 6 and love it. Yes, it is the cheapest design out there, but it just plain works. You DO need to get a good bi-metal blade. But, it works. I have used other brands and they worked too, but the Grizzly is a cut above in QC. As for the green, it appears they now use it on the base only and if you don't like it a can of spray paint will fix that.

I am sure the SB is good also, but it is likely not much better than the Grizzly 5 X 6. The same guy owns both companies (SB and Grizzly). Again on the green thing, a can of spray paint is far less than the price difference.

Bill Pace
05-27-2010, 10:49 PM
The HF saw and the SB saw are actually 2 quite different saws..

The SB and Grizz (and a couple other brands) are what is called by most of us, and the sellers, as the "swivel" 4x6. It had the ability to swivel the the table/vise and allow cutting of angles with relative ease. It has a hydraulic damper on the down feed allowing finite control of a cut (very nice feature!) And, most importantly, its just an all around better made saw!

I think I could put up with the puke green on the Grizz for the $100 difference in the two.

The HF is ------ well ----- its the HF saw:rolleyes:

Arthur.Marks
05-27-2010, 11:39 PM
There seems to be a little confusion here. I'm not comparing the SB linked to earlier in this thread. I'm looking at the smallest one http://southbendlathe.com/bandsaws/5x6-Horizontal-Vertical-Bandsaw.aspx that is not the "swivel mast" design. The HF is this one, on sale currently for $200 http://www.harborfreight.com/horizontal-vertical-metal-cutting-bandsaw-93762.html

They say 4x6" vs. 5x6" but really... they're the same. I would bet you money if you put them side to side they had the same capacity. In all but the details I am not fooled into believing they are any different. The SB has the hydraulic feed control which the HF and nearly all the other "clones" do not in that model. The closed base in nice, but no deal winner. Other than that the only difference that may or may not be there is quality of materials, components, and assembly. That's the crux of my question, it would seem. It would also seem that no one has ordered or seen one of the newer SB's to either confirm or deny that assumption.

I very much agree with both Bill736, "It may be an unjustified leap of faith..." and Evan, "Some are complete crap and some are very well made..." The nagging problem is you never know which you'll get. I really don't feel like rolling the dice and winning the former right now. I was hoping to learn the extra $$ would assure the latter---even if it is a basic, simple model of saw.

Arthur.Marks
05-28-2010, 01:42 AM
Hmmm... I also found this one: http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PMAKA=EX307-1735&PMPANO=0551177&PMKANO=252&PMKBNO=2148&PMPAGE=5&PARTPG=INLMPI
Hydraulic downfeed with coolant system. Would a coolant system make or break the deal for anyone?

Oldguy
05-28-2010, 06:02 AM
I've got one of the HF saws that I bought about 5 years ago. It was made in Taiwan and I'm impressed with the quality. The casting are nicely done and it cuts straight enough to keep me happy. My experience with this saw has me in agreement with those who say that Taiwan builds better machines than China.

Glenn

Farbmeister
05-28-2010, 07:49 AM
Since you are out shipping if you get the SB and it sucks, get the HF freight, set it up and use it. If in 30 days your 'tool snobbery' simply cannot stand a good deal then take it back, for a full refund.

You mail order a saw, what the return policy? You gonna pay shipping to return it? Full refund?

If the only complaint is the the tracking wheel is not ball bearing.. um, how hard is it to put on in? Its a $5 item with maybe an hours work?

The HF site is boogered up right now.. cannot download the product manual to see if there are bearings or not installed.

The grizzley and Welton from enco look WAY to close (even have the same stop bolt under the motor?) to NOT be coming off the same line, with the same castings. I don't see 'hydraulic downfeed'... just a metering piston... thats an e-bay item.

http://www.use-enco.com/ProductImages/0951652-11.jpg
http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_2769.jpg
http://cdn7.grizzly.com/pics/jpeg500/s/sb1017.jpg

Abner
05-28-2010, 08:30 AM
Both look similar "frames" to the jet one I bought @ 20 yrs ago.
My has roller bearing idler, rolling bearing guides.
Tough saw, I work it hard. Replaced the motor last year.

My bitches-
The HF saw has the same base as mine - way too light, it tended to tip backwards when I lifted the saw quickly or had heavy spring tension.
I fixed this by raising it up with a bolted on plywood base. This gave me the ability to add weight, and more importantly got the thing up to reasonable height. Looks like the SB pictured addresses both issues.

I also put in an adjustable backstop to the fence to keep it from moving under clamping pressure/ and allow fine adjustment to 90 deg. The bolt in the curved slot is not enough imo.

The new motor I installed is thermally protected, the old one let the smoke out and quit working.

I would buy it again in a heart beat.

reggie_obe
05-28-2010, 09:58 AM
Why not look for a used Wellsaw, Johnson or similar? Must be some machine shop auction in your part of the country.

chrisfournier
05-28-2010, 10:05 AM
I had a hand me down 4 X 6 and it was ok. It was never great and refused to cut square after mucho fettling. After making two eccentric guides and failing to improve the cut quality I took a closer look at the farme and soon realised that the pivot was not machined square - it would never cut square.

Overall the saw was a workhorse and it asked for nothing but you likely needed to square up the cut prior to fitting the pieces for welding etc.

I replaced this saw with a larger 7 X 12 and I wish I'd done so years ago. This 7 X 12 performs so much better than the little guy. If you have "SouthBend" money then I'd look at a green 7 X 12 for only a bit more.

My experience anyways.

Dr Stan
05-28-2010, 11:26 AM
Why not look for a used Wellsaw, Johnson or similar? Must be some machine shop auction in your part of the country.

You beat me to it. That's exactly what I'd do.

Try this for a Google search

"metal bandsaw": site: craigslist.org

You may also want to look at: http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/tls/1752021522.html

Grainger lists it for $3229.00. The CL seller wants $1250.00

BTW, no connection with the seller.

radkins
05-28-2010, 11:47 AM
There are those out there who will just automatically write off anything from Harbor Freight as total junk and while this may be true for almost every so called hand tool they sell it just does not seem to be the case with their machinery. What I am finding, and this is based on hands-on-evaluation of several machines, is that they are simply importing the same thing as some of the other outfits. Just like the lathes and mills they sell that bandsaw is the same one except for color as is sold under different brand names at varying prices and there seems to be no decline in quality, at least not with mine and there seems to be a lack of horror stories about them falling apart!


Don't misunderstand I am not defending HF quality, and whether it is a lathe, mill or bandsaw, I would never attempt to push these things as a good quality substitute for a real industrial American or European built machine for those who need or just want the high quality. What I am saying is that if a person is going to settle for Chinese imports, and they seem to be adequate for most HSM use, then it certainly seems to me that HF machines are no worse than other brands of the same machine. Some people would have us believe that anything from HF is going to be total crap and from their standards of quality that may be so but would the same machine with a different color and name be any better? HF machines get no more bad press than the other Chinese imports (except from HF bashers who don't own them) and in fact the sites where these things are discussed the owners of the HF outfits are just as happy with their machines as the Enco and Grizzly owners, no surprise to those of us who actually own them.


About Grizzly lathes, Grizzly lathes from the 12x36 and larger seem to have a lot of differences than the standard generic China import. I have no idea if they are better or not but I mention the lathes to make the point that at least Grizzly does have some things at least a bit different.

Arthur.Marks
05-28-2010, 12:22 PM
Alright. I bought the true generic copy---the Rong Fu to be exact. I found it for $220 instead of HF's $200. I am sure they are the same, and that brings me to the point. I will pay more for a different color scheme :p The RF is white with blue details.

For the record, my gripe is with the corporate idea that I will buy a brand based on no informational differences whatsoever. As said, I will buy based on color preference... But when the color preference also brings along a brand name billboard based on a lie, I'm sorta bitter over it.

I guess the point here is I am so utterly, aggravatingly skeptical over all these low tiered choices. Their price range is utterly laughable, yet the differentiating factors are minuscule and based on assumption, sometimes luck. I am still hoping the SB brand will take a different approach. The comments by the owner on the Practical Machinist list are encouraging. I will have to leave others, though, to sort out the truth. I am unwilling to make the leap of faith mentioned earlier in this thread.

Another part of this discussion I must admit to is my hope for a difference in South Bend WRT the new, upcoming Heavy 10's. If only someone would make a quality machine in the old sense of the word for around $10k. SB must EARN the trust in its name all over from square one for me. It would seem this was the first occasion where the new SB offered an option for something I needed. I was secretly hoping someone would talk me into it, and the choice would prove worthwhile.

Oh, well. Like I said, practicality has its place. As a side note, I was a little surprised only one person called me a "snob" :D and it took so long to start one-upping my model choice :D Gotta love it all ;)

Thanks for talking me through this one. I hope, at least, someone gained something useful out of the discussion other than me!

ace
05-28-2010, 12:23 PM
I've had the HF bandsaw for about a year. It works very well. It's obviously not the best you can buy, but for the price it's a great deal. The stand seemed flimsy to me, so I don't use it. I simply set it up on a bench table.

Something I would recommend is replacing the blade. The one it comes with is junk.

I use the bandsaw mostly for aluminum so I got this blade and it goes through stock in seconds.
http://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=1854&category=

knudsen
05-28-2010, 12:40 PM
A Jet 5 x 6 is a bit heavier and might be a nice in-between. Much sturdier than an HF. If you can find one local, they are usually well under list price, especially if on sale. The Enco 5 x 6 might be the same.

http://www.jettools.com/us/manufacturing/en/product.html?node=4638&product=910

wierdscience
05-28-2010, 03:29 PM
If the saw doesn't have hydraulic downfeed now you'll probably end up adding it later.Same goes with coolant.Easier to buy one with it already installed.

Tony Ennis
05-28-2010, 04:13 PM
My HSM'er friend has the HF variety. With all its faults it's very useful and a great bargain. I intend to get one also.

radkins
05-28-2010, 06:03 PM
Alright. I bought the true generic copy---the Rong Fu to be exact. I found it for $220 instead of HF's $200. I am sure they are the same, and that brings me to the point. I will pay more for a different color scheme :p



Actually there's more to it than just a color scheme and that name will be worth a heck of a lot more than just 20 bucks if you decide to sell that saw later, I know we are talking about only a couple hundred dollar item here but it would be the same if it was $2000. That is one major problem with buying HF machines, an Enco, Grizzly, etc will sell and fetch a decent price on the used market where as the exact same machine from HF will almost have to be a give away item no matter if it is the same thing.

Deja Vu
05-28-2010, 06:34 PM
If you decide on the HF saw, it might be handy to buy a "reader's Digest" mag and get the HF 20% off coupon(for ANY purchase) out of the back pages. That makes the saw cost even less. I picked up the HF 4x6 several years ago at the nearest store and with adjustments to the tracking it has served me well. I don't like the stand it comes with, but it functions well enough that I haven't bothered to rebuild one.
I DID drill index holes in the vice to quickly change angles by inserting a pin at the desired angle.

sidneyt
05-28-2010, 07:19 PM
I too own a Harbor Freight 4 x 6 bandsaw and have gotten more than my moneys worth over the past 8 or 9 years. It was a good bargain for the $140 I paid including freight. The motor does not appear to be of the highest quality, and gets awfully warm or hot if you run it for any length of time...BUT it has never quit on me and I have sawed and sawed with this machine. Yes, it took a little tweeking, but this has not discouraged me. I might point out that the model I own which is a 37151 is no longer sold. The replacement is the 93762 which is somewhat different in certain ways. I have seriously considered replacing what I have with the new model, but I can't really see bring myself to trade in a perfectly good bandsaw. The new model has what I believe are some improvements over the older Taiwanese model that I own. It has a more robust looking motor, the crank and screw for the vise are improved, and the adjustment for the extending the guide arm is more like the Enco and Jet models...that is they are better. Overall the saw has a more substantial look about it.

That said, if I had was going to spend what the South Bend cost I would go along with the what Chris Fournier suggests: buy a 7 x 12 for only a few dollars more than the SB.

Black_Moons
05-28-2010, 07:50 PM
If you are gonna spend $600 on a bandsaw, It BETTER be a 'swivel head' model with hydrolic downfeed.

I just checked busybee.ca and they have a few $400 bandsaws with swivel head, but no hydrolic downfeed..
I might of bought one of those and added downfeed myself if they existed when I bought mine..

But I am quite happy with KMStools:
http://www.kmstools.com/king-canada-5-x-6-dual-swivel-metal-bandsaw-387

Pricy, but with hydrolic downfeed, automatic shutoff, swivel.. iv cut through 4" solid round in just a few mins, praticaly did'nt do anything but put a few drips of rapidtap on the peice every 30 seconds (just for good measure, probley would of done it fine without it.. extends the blade life some though im sure) and watch the pile of shavings get bigger.
VERY straight cuts too. I bet I could cut a 1/8" thick peice off a 4" round and it would be straight and parallel within 10 or 20 thou, and I havent even adjusted it from factory settings yet.

The 'swivel head' has a angle guage that has like a 12" diamiter too, SUPER easy to set exactly on the angle you want, within 1/2 degree.

Jack772
05-28-2010, 10:10 PM
I have a HF 4x6 I bought several years ago. It works great!
Really cuts square. I believe I paid $190 for it.
Jack

Farbmeister
05-29-2010, 07:56 AM
Um.. where is this 'hydraulic downfeed'?

All the saws I pictured have a steel coil spring for pulling the blade down and the 'fancy ones' seem to have a piston added.

Now is this piston pulling the saw down or simply metering the rate of fall?

I think they are simply metering the rate of fall otherwise you would need to 'unload' the piston to raise the saw back up.

Either way I don't see what the big deal is.... that big ole spring and the weight of the head is doing all the work.

BWS
05-29-2010, 09:00 AM
I'd get an older American saw and do a quick rehab............we have 7x?,of what you call ugly green.Funny thing is,there ain't much green showin..........whats not cvd in swarf is a brownish blackish funk colour.We might get 10 years service based on how much we cut,ammortized....can live with it.Deffinately will get a bigger saw next time,but theres been not one complaint about current saw.Best of luck,BW

radkins
05-29-2010, 11:24 AM
All the saws I pictured have a steel coil spring for pulling the blade down

The spring does not pull the blade down it actually works just the opposite to lighten the load by pulling against the weight of the blade frame, it's the weight of the frame that provides the cutting force. To lighten the feed you would add spring pressure to counteract the weight and to increase feed you decrease spring load.

Paul Alciatore
05-29-2010, 12:21 PM
So we ARE talking all 4X6s. Good.

HF - Grizzly - SB?

HF is the cheapest. Period!

Grizzly is more $s and there's shipping unless you can go to one of their three stores. But then there's gas.

SB has a few obvious features that the others don't. One frequently mentioned complaint is the base is flimsy. The SB base is obviously different, but different is not necessairly better. I have had no trouble with the Grizzly base but I don't cut 5' pipe from 20 foot sections. Hydraulic down feed? Sounds nice, but I haven't had any trouble with the down feed on my Grizzly or even on the brand X 4X6 that I used at a former employer. The basic down feed is gravity with a spring to adjust the pressure/rate. It works quite well.

As I have said before, I have been to both Grizzly and HF stores. There is NO comparison. I am not just talking about the stores themselves, but the machinery displayed. They may come from the same factories, but Grizzly obviously pays a LOT more attention to QC. This can not be seen in a web photo but is obvious if you walk up to and play around with the machines. I know that others say the machines are the same, but I would not buy any machine from HF. I have bought four machines and several major accessories from Grizzly and I am completely satisfied with all of them. To me, the price difference is definitely worth it. And there IS a price difference. Grizzly is more.

SB is owned by the same person as Grizzly and he has said that the line will be better quality. I believe him, but I haven't seen any of the new SB machines so that is just faith on my part. I am sure there is at least an effort in this respect. But is it worth a 250% price difference between that line and the Grizzly products? For a good lathe, perhaps it is. Perhaps for some other machines too. For a band saw, I doubt it. My two cents worth.

If I were going to spend $600+ on a band saw, I would look at the Grizzly line and pick a better model. Bigger, more features, etc. You would get a lot more bang for your buck. A LOT MORE!

And if you can't stand the green, get a can or two of spray paint. Personally, I find the green soothing. I like it a lot better than the gray of my SB-9 lathe. But again, that's me.

datsun280zxt
05-29-2010, 12:36 PM
I have the red HF 4x6 bandsaw, while I like it a lot, it took a lot of fiddling to get it to cut square. Once I got it set up, it's been great, but it did take some tweaking (but no fabrication) to get it right. Paid around $150 for it one sale and maybe with a coupon. For that price, I'd buy another one just like it if this one got run over by my truck or something strange like that. I honestly don't expect to wear it out. It's been well used and hasn't had any troubles.

radkins
05-29-2010, 12:43 PM
As I pointed out earlier some Grizzly machinery is different, lathes from the 12x36 on up are different as is some of the smaller ones, and the quality on these machines seems to be quite good or at least the few I have seen seem to be. I suspect that Grizzly has made arrangements to have these machines made from a different design to their specifications instead of just buying the generic product like most of the others so QC can be overseen in a more definite manner. As far as the generic products they have that are simply clones of other brands, the 9x20 lathe for example, there is no quality difference and they are the same thing as sold by others. When I was researching my 9x20 Jet lathe vs the HF version I looked at 2 Grizzly examples and they ARE THE SAME THING!

PatTheRat
05-29-2010, 12:51 PM
I've cut thousands of feet and cuts of steel with the HF 4x6 for commercial use in my home shop for 6 years with it. Use a quality USA bi-metal blade. Run dry.

The only downside was the blade pinched when I walked away and it burnt up the Chinese motor. Replaced it with a Grainger motor with thermo button.

I cut stock for my machined products all day with it. I have a big American made Kalamazoo with hydraulic feed and flood coolant and rarely need to use it. The HF saw is just to convenient. Just make sure when you bring one home it cuts square top to bottom of the cut. If not, take it back and get another one.

I use a Morse blade that lasts for ever. PM me if you would like the number.

ulav8r
05-29-2010, 12:57 PM
Also consider watching Enco sales flyers and look for a Turn Pro saw or a 7x12.

7x12 http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PMAKA=137-3175&PMPXNO=953914&PARTPG=INLMK3 $730

Turn Pro 7x12 http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PMAKA=137-3190&PMPXNO=953991&PARTPG=INLMK3 $780

Black_Moons
05-29-2010, 01:14 PM
I must admit even with my expensive swivel saw, the base is COMPLETE CRAP
yea its a box, but its a box with no shelfs/doors. Someday I plan to put it ontop of a tool box or something.

Lu47Dan
05-29-2010, 01:28 PM
I had a Clarke 4 X 6 bandsaw, for about six years, until I started having tracking problems with it, I went to tune it up and discovered it had a bushing in the top wheel instead of bearings. The bushing was worn out and the work required to fix it added up to more then the saw was worth.
I need a larger capacity saw anyway and but a HF 7 X 12 saw that was made in Taiwan, it has been a good saw and I am happy I spent the money on it.
If I needed another 4 X 6, I would make sure that it had a bearing in the upper blade wheel before buying it.
I plan on machining the old blade wheel, now that I have a lathe, to fit a Torrington bearing into the bore and use it for cutting stock in the machine area of the new shop.
Dan.

914Wilhelm
05-29-2010, 01:53 PM
I've been looking for a bandsaw that can also cut vertically in a pinch thus comparing the 7 x 12s. Just looked at the Griz and HF and for what it's worth the HF manual is much more detailed in the operation on the saw. Looks like they've finally hired some native English speakers with some experience to write their manuals.

radkins
05-29-2010, 03:35 PM
I've cut thousands of feet and cuts of steel with the HF 4x6 for commercial use in my home shop for 6 years with it. Use a quality USA bi-metal blade. Run dry.



The blade that comes on the saw is a blade in name only, it is total JUNK and needs to be replaced before even using the saw however blades are consumable items and as such have nothing to do with the overall quality of the saw itself. I too have discovered the Morse blade but have also had excellent service from Lenox bi-metal blades, I prefer the Morse however. My HF saw cuts square even after all these years of use and about 3 months ago was used to make 7 cuts through 3 1/2" 4150 bar and it did so without so much as a whimper. I have cut untold amounts of angle iron and never had a problem with fit-up when joining angled cuts, all in all not bad for an investment of only about $150! :D

Alistair Hosie
05-29-2010, 04:40 PM
What's ugly about GREEN :D Alistair

Farbmeister
05-29-2010, 07:37 PM
I still have the original HF blade in my saw and it cuts pretty good. Not having anything to compare it to.. but it cuts. Not in a production environment so I don't care if I save 30 seconds a cut.

oldtiffie
05-29-2010, 08:19 PM
My stock-standard 6 x 4 band-saw works really well. It sure saves getting the hack-saw or the oxy or plasma cutter/s out.

I use tapping oil - drip-fed - from a bottle by hand - works fine. It really doesn't do a lot too often and what it does it does well as I have a lot of my stuff pre-cut at my supplier's shop as the cost is negligible. I generally buy what I want as I need it as my supplier is only 5Km (3 miles) away and we pass his shop 2>6 times a week.

My saw vice will swivel which is very handy. Its not the model saw where the entire saw swivels on the stand.

My saw is still on its original light/sheet metal stand - but its fixed to the shop floor-slab with masonry anchors which makes a huge difference. I did have several sets of anchors in the slab to allow for moving the saw but I've settled on one permanent spot which works well enough.

The main reason my saw is bolted to the slab is that one day - before it was fastened to the slab - I was raising the cutting arm to the vertical position and it got away from me and the arm flew up under spring tension and it went straight over onto its back on the slab.

Lesson learned.

I straddle the saw base when using the saw as a vertical band-saw and it is safer with the saw fastened to the slab!!

I leave my saw in the vertical position as it takes the load off the "off" switch as well as easing the tension on the springs.

I don't have and don't need an automatic feed or a powered cutting fluid supply as I hand-feed and hand lubricate my saw. It needs a bit more pressure when cutting wider stuff and a little to a lot less when cutting square or circular tubes. I can "feel" the saw by hand and can regulate the feed rate and pressure on the blade very easily.

I might as well hand feed etc. it as I am always at any machine that is running. I never move away from or leave any running machine. I stop any machine I am using if anyone else comes into the shop and/or starts talking. I like to have all my attention directed to and at the machine.

The stock-standard Chinese-made 6 x 4 band-saw? Great - in every way from my point of view in a small shop where "hurry" or "production" are not only not issues at all but are banned.

radkins
05-29-2010, 10:12 PM
I still have the original HF blade in my saw and it cuts pretty good. Not having anything to compare it to.. but it cuts. Not in a production environment so I don't care if I save 30 seconds a cut.


I am reasonably sure they just use whatever blades they can get cheap at the time so it's likely that not all of them will have the same blade, the one's I have seen on HF saws would probably not last long cutting pine 2X4s! On my HF saw the teeth on the band (blade) just curled up the first time I used it with one spot a few inches long being completely stripped of teeth while the rest became extremely dulled within minutes, this was cutting angle iron IRC.

metalmagpie
05-29-2010, 10:49 PM
The SB 5x6 weighs in at 170 pounds; the HF saw at 136. Both saws use the same 64-1/2" x 1/2" blade.

After I sell my 9x16 WF Wells horizontal saw to downsize to a small shop, I'm going to look hard at the SB swivel saw. Think I'll take a drive up to Bellingham to see if they have one on the floor I can look at.

radkins
05-29-2010, 11:30 PM
The SB 5x6 weighs in at 170 pounds; the HF saw at 136. .



Dang they must put a lot of paint on those SBs! :D




JK, apparently something is heavier built!

squirrel
05-30-2010, 11:49 AM
All the New South Bend is China/ Taiwan import with a real pretty SBL logo. The nice emblem adds alot to the retail price of the same item, your better off buying the "plain Grizzly" brand, same machine about half the price.

The best saw is a USED Dake / Dake Johnson, the Ellis is also very good saw. Our dake is a 1960's model, that was completley rebuilt in our shop and flood coolant was added. The reason for the "old" Dake our Wells Twin post could not cut straight enough and we had an old timer that is a Journey man tool and die maker working for us that said the Dake he used many years ago would do a much better job, he was very right about that. The old bone was bought for less than $600 and reworked and it works perfectly. New is not always better!!!

sidneyt
05-30-2010, 12:24 PM
All the New South Bend is China import with a real pretty SBL logo. The nice emblem adds alot to the retail price of the same item, your better off buying the "plain Grizzly" brand, same machine about half the price.


Squirrel, you are probably confused about China. The South Bend is a product of the Republic of China located on the island of Taiwan which is also a close ally of the United States. You are probably thinking it is made in the People's Republic of China which is commonly referred to as "Communist China". You are right that it is an import just like things that are made in Canada and sold in the US are "imports".

squirrel
05-30-2010, 03:00 PM
Squirrel, you are probably confused about China. The South Bend is a product of the Republic of China located on the island of Taiwan which is also a close ally of the United States. You are probably thinking it is made in the People's Republic of China which is commonly referred to as "Communist China". You are right that it is an import just like things that are made in Canada and sold in the US are "imports".
That is a good point, not sure how to take it.

reggie_obe
05-30-2010, 03:25 PM
The point is that with a little Craigslist, newspaper classifieds or auction search, one can buy a quality American made saw for the same price as a HF/Grizzley/Jet/SB import saw. Bought my Johnson Model J for $200, working condition, extra blades, just need cleaning. I don't have to worry about the motor going up in smoke either.


There are those out there who will just automatically write off anything from Harbor Freight as total junk and while this may be true for almost every so called hand tool they sell it just does not seem to be the case with their machinery. What I am finding, and this is based on hands-on-evaluation of several machines, is that they are simply importing the same thing as some of the other outfits. Just like the lathes and mills they sell that bandsaw is the same one except for color as is sold under different brand names at varying prices and there seems to be no decline in quality, at least not with mine and there seems to be a lack of horror stories about them falling apart!

radkins
05-30-2010, 09:26 PM
The point is that with a little Craigslist, newspaper classifieds or auction search, one can buy a quality American made saw for the same price as a HF/Grizzley/Jet/SB import saw. Bought my Johnson Model J for $200, working condition, extra blades, just need cleaning. I don't have to worry about the motor going up in smoke either.



I am not arguing that point and whether it is bandsaws or lathes my point was never to try to claim the HF machines are as good as or a better buy than used "good" brands. The point is IF a person is going to buy Chinese, and there are some compelling reasons to do so sometimes, then IMO it makes little sense to spend more money for the same machine with a different name on it. There simply is no real argument to claim even close quality between American/European vs Chinese (mainland) and I have never tried to do that, I do however have darn good reason to believe that most HF metal working machinery is the same as the "Brand Names" that import the same machines and sell them at higher prices.

reggie_obe
05-30-2010, 09:34 PM
Radkins, in that case, sorry I misunderstood the point you were making. However, we once again have a multi-page thread discussing the various "merits" of Far East machines, while so many really good American made used machines head into the furnace.

oldtiffie
05-30-2010, 09:49 PM
Originally Posted by reggie_obe
The point is that with a little Craigslist, newspaper classifieds or auction search, one can buy a quality American made saw for the same price as a HF/Grizzley/Jet/SB import saw. Bought my Johnson Model J for $200, working condition, extra blades, just need cleaning. I don't have to worry about the motor going up in smoke either.


I am not arguing that point and whether it is bandsaws or lathes my point was never to try to claim the HF machines are as good as or a better buy than used "good" brands. The point is IF a person is going to buy Chinese, and there are some compelling reasons to do so sometimes, then IMO it makes little sense to spend more money for the same machine with a different name on it. There simply is no real argument to claim even close quality between American/European vs Chinese (mainland) and I have never tried to do that, I do however have darn good reason to believe that most HF metal working machinery is the same as the "Brand Names" that import the same machines and sell them at higher prices.

I think you are right in large part radkins.

I suspect that a lot buy for the "name", often for no good reason - as a "gloat"? - even when bought new where a warranty applies, in which case they are paying a premium for what they assume to be a premium product which may not be the case at all.

But it beats me how they really can be confident of "name", manufacturing "quality" ("looks", "feel" but most importantly "accuracy/performance") when they either buy it sight unseen, "as is" or without actually trying it out and getting a "fit for purpose" warranty - all too often at sales, auctions, Craig's List and e-Bay etc.

There has to be a pretty high risk premium in there as well.

I agree that many do well in that regard but I expect that some will not admit or tell of a less than good deal and some may say that it was better than it actually was.

I expect everything I buy to work as it should right out of the box. The vast majority of times it happens even if sometimes I have to attend to small and insignificant details. I rarely have to return anything.

oldtiffie
05-30-2010, 10:52 PM
Radkins, in that case, sorry I misunderstood the point you were making. However, we once again have a multi-page thread discussing the various "merits" of Far East machines, while so many really good American made used machines head into the furnace.
Irrespective of any other matter, this is a good example of the/a free market and free choice in operation in a time of Free Trade Agreements in a global economy.

I suspect that a lot of the reason for "the furnace"/scrapping is that its cheaper, easier and quicker than having to break it up and send it to land fill.

If the options for disposal of a saw (or lathe, mill, grinder etc.), say, is either sold "as is" for say $200 or scrapped and it has go quickly either because it was in the way or was taking up floor space or "just had to go - quick" or had waited long enough for it to be sold - for a whole lot of reasons - a commercial decision was made to "scrap it" - and scrapped it was.

If on the other hand someone is prepared to go to the trouble of offering it for sale and waiting and putting up with any hassles that go with it - that's his choice too.

Auctions and sales, deceased estates etc. are good examples of stuff either being sold or scrapped before the auction etc. or the buyer - if any - taking it "as is" on the day or else it goes to scrap.

I find it hard to reconcile being so sensitive about machine tools being scrapped (and presumably going to China) and yet so little is said - or done - about all the "recoverable" scrap iron, steel and what-ever else in cars, trucks, commercial/industrial machinery, factory specialised stuff and even domestic appliances etc. which all get "melted".

914Wilhelm
06-03-2010, 05:59 PM
HF sales coupons came today. They Have this band saw for $179.99 with the coupon. The local Gresham, OR store has the 7 x 12 on sale for $729.99 and with a 20% off coupon it is $539.

Just in case your interested.

lost_cause
06-03-2010, 09:11 PM
i've got a harbor freight in the shop - says 2001 on it. i can't think how much it has cut over the years, and it's still on the same motor. i recently was at a semi-local tool dealer (there's nothing local to me) and they had a delta and a jet that are identical castings to it. about $300 & $400 respectively. there may have been some slight differences in the actual saws or hardware used in assembling them, but from what i can see, if you pay more than the $200 harbor freight price, you mainly just start getting upgrades in the stand. i do hate my flimsy stand, but would i pay $200, or even $100 more for a better one? probably not... i dunno, maybe if i could write it off i would...

Ries
06-03-2010, 09:26 PM
I gotta say, my Jet saws, (and I have bought 4 of em since 1978) are NOT the same as the Harbor Freight saws.
The castings have the word "JET" cast in inch and a half letters, for one thing.
I still have 2 running, 2 I have plumb wore out, in 30 years or running a shop that ranges from 1 to 3 people using the little saws every day.

I dont believe they are all the same except for the name- because all 4 of the Jet saws I have owned have worked, and cut straight, right from the box. All have had stands sturdy enough for my 200 plus pound employees to sit down on, all have had bearings in most places they needed em, have been adjustable, have had NO sand in the gearbox, and have been good trouble free saws.
All 4 came with motors made in Taiwan, not china.

Meanwhile, I have heard horror story after horror story about HF and other cheap saws falling apart, not cutting straight, not being adjustable at all due to design, and on and on.

You are certainly entitled to buy whatever you want, and believe whatever you want- but I have had years and years of trouble free use from those saws, in a commercial shop-
I wont buy anything from Harbor Freight, never have- I am too old and cranky to waste all my time fixing tools.
But I have a few Jet tools mixed in amongst my German, American, Italian, Spanish, and Turkish machines, and all of them have survived years, usually decades, of really hard use- 90% of what I do is stainless.
I dont buy 9x20 Jet tools- at the bottom end, they cut corners like everybody else- I buy the biggest, herkiest tool available in each category- 1hp bench drill press with 17" throat (30 years, still ticking) 12" disc/6x48" sander (15 years, used daily to hog stainless) or my 2hp bench grinder, with a 12" stainless wire brush on it. All are made in Taiwan, all are decent tools, not, by any means the quality of made in america tools from days of yore, but all cost about 1/4 of what the american tools would cost. Priced a real american bandsaw lately? Ellis, the cheapest, start at 2 grand or so, and real industrial brands are easily 5 grand to 20 grand.
My jet saws are disposables, by any measure, but pretty decent disposables.

thats my story, and I am sticking to it.

Farbmeister
06-04-2010, 09:26 AM
Most people treat a $179 saw like crap. They are used to a manufacturing environment were everything weights 2 tons. So they load up stock that should never be on the low end tools (wasn't one guy trying to cut Titanium with a HF saw?) and wonder why it just heats up the blade.

A lot of it comes down to how smart the monkey putting the stock on the saw is. 12/18TPI is probably not the best choice for 1/8th in angle iron (isn't there a min two teeth on in the cut rule?)... but hey, its a cheap HF saw.. if I break it it MUST be the saw, the Chinese parts etc etc etc.

I've had a electrical motors from USA and China both give up the ghost.

The best saw in the world is useless to me if I can't afford it. Any tool will break/underperform if you don't use it right. Remember.. screwdrivers are NOT chisels :) That sort of thing. :D

radkins
06-04-2010, 10:50 AM
I gotta say, my Jet saws, (and I have bought 4 of em since 1978)




All 4 came with motors made in Taiwan, not china.




Meanwhile, I have heard horror story after horror story about HF and other cheap saws falling apart, not cutting straight, not being adjustable at all due to design, and on and on..


Several things here, you are comparing apples to oranges, first a Jet from 1978 and a Jet today are whole different animals. Also Taiwan built machines are NOT what we are talking about here and most everyone already agrees that Taiwanese machinery is a heck of a lot better than mainland Chinese machines. Chinese built Jet machinery is no better quality than the stuff at HF, I found this out the hard (expensive) way when I bought that Jet lathe that was the EXACT SAME machine that HF had for half the price! As far as you hearing horror story after horror story about HF saws you seem to be quite alone, read what others here are saying about them and it's the same at other sites where these things are discussed. No one is saying that the cheap Chinese saws, including the Jet, is the same quality as a Taiwan built saw but if you think that Jet name on a Chinese saw means it is high quality, well it's your money.

radkins
06-04-2010, 11:02 AM
Most people treat a $179 saw like crap. They are used to a manufacturing environment were everything weights 2 tons. So they load up stock that should never be on the low end tools (wasn't one guy trying to cut Titanium with a HF saw?) and wonder why it just heats up the blade.

A lot of it comes down to how smart the monkey putting the stock on the saw is. 12/18TPI is probably not the best choice for 1/8th in angle iron (isn't there a min two teeth on in the cut rule?)... but hey, its a cheap HF saw.. if I break it it MUST be the saw, the Chinese parts etc etc etc.

I've had a electrical motors from USA and China both give up the ghost.

The best saw in the world is useless to me if I can't afford it. Any tool will break/underperform if you don't use it right. Remember.. screwdrivers are NOT chisels :) That sort of thing. :D



Absolutely!

I keep different blades for my saw (Morse and Lenox bi-metal) and switch them out for the job at hand, this should also be done on an industrial saw. I don't know how big is too big I guess if it will fit in the saw vise and the stand will support the weight then the saw will cut it just fine as long as the proper blade and feed rate is used, I often cut heavy bar in mine such as the 3 1/2" 4150 bar I cut a couple of weeks ago and I have cut 4" bar just as easily.

Falcon67
06-04-2010, 11:31 AM
I have the HF 4x6. Note there is a whole Yahoo group that collects info on these saws and there is a lot of reference material there. Mine came missing the belt, was a bitoch to get tracking decently (toss the blade in the box - worthless IMHO, buy a bi-metal blade when you get the saw), cuts maybe .030 off square over 1" and has the shutoff switch hole cast in the wrong place, shutting off the saw before the cut is done. I got it on sale with a 20% coupon for like $150.

If it was stolen I'd go buy another immediately. I have cut and made more stuff with that little thing - it's great to have around. I intend to build a roll around platform for it because the base that comes in the box isn't hardly worth the sheet metal it's stamped from. I imagine I could get it to cut straighter if I'd mess with it some more.

There are two main issues I see with the HF and similar units. The upper wheel is mounted on a slider and jacking with that using shims, etc plus the tension is how you work with the blade tracking. Not real swift. In teh case of my saw, "perfect tracking" means not so much tension and the blade running about 1/3 off the lower wheel. It works and doesn't jump off even when cutting through 2 1/2" steel bars, so - good 'nuff. The other item is that the saw pivots on two cast ears on the main casting. If those are not bored square and perp to the vice surface, it'll almost never cut straight. There is no adjustment to the pivot. I have seen mods where those were cut off and replaced with adjustable bearing/pillow blocks.

It beats the hell out of a hacksaw. :D

radkins
06-04-2010, 11:53 AM
These problems (misaligned holes, etc) also sometimes happen to the "other" saws of the same design sold under different names. Unless the saw is ordered it is usually no big problem to exchange it and most of them are aligned fairly good. Mine is quite accurate and took very little adjusting to get it that way and that seems to be the way it is with the majority of them, just as with any cheap tool however there will be problems with some of them. Once again, HF and other brands of the same basic machines are not going to be top quality by any means and for the price no one should expect them to be. Comparing them to better quality industrial machines is a waste of time and accomplishes nothing since everyone already knows, or should know, that the quality is going to be sub-par. The comparison should be kept to the different brands of the same basic machine from the same country of origin and whether or not one brand vs another has any advantages over the other to justify a higher price.

Arthur.Marks
06-04-2010, 01:52 PM
Wow. When I started this thread, I had no idea it would find such a response. It just refuses to die! :) haha!

lost_cause
06-04-2010, 02:36 PM
Meanwhile, I have heard horror story after horror story about HF and other cheap saws falling apart, not cutting straight, not being adjustable at all due to design, and on and on.

i remember hearing dozens of times that the kid who used to do the life cereal ads died from eating pop rocks and pepsi. 20 years later, i heard he was still alive.

i'm not saying that all harbor freight stuff is good or bad, i'm just saying that some of the stories are probably not much more than urband legend. believe half of what you see and none of what you hear. there are a lot of people who bitch and complain about something, only to find that they are not using it correctly. my hf saw has worked great. the 1/2 x 64 1/2 blades i bought from hf for $2.47 a two-pack... well... not so well. go figure :D

doorknob
06-04-2010, 11:42 PM
This is somewhat OT, but I wonder what technique HF 4x6 bandsaw owners used when assembling the machine to mount it onto the stand - two people lifting it into place, or putting a sling wherever the center of gravity might be and then lifting it into place with a shop crane, or something else?

I've just started uncrating mine (so far all that I've done is assemble the stand)... I do have the 2-ton HF shop crane (not yet assembled) and the HF hydraulic lift cart, and figure that between all of those I ought to be able to get the thing onto the stand without any help, but maybe I'm about to discover that I'm very, very wrong about that...

The Artful Bodger
06-05-2010, 12:34 AM
Deleted by me, double post.

The Artful Bodger
06-05-2010, 12:34 AM
This is somewhat OT, but I wonder what technique HF 4x6 bandsaw owners used when assembling the machine to mount it onto the stand - two people lifting it into place, or putting a sling wherever the center of gravity might be and then lifting it into place with a shop crane, or something else?

I've just started uncrating mine (so far all that I've done is assemble the stand)... I do have the 2-ton HF shop crane (not yet assembled) and the HF hydraulic lift cart, and figure that between all of those I ought to be able to get the thing onto the stand without any help, but maybe I'm about to discover that I'm very, very wrong about that...

Well, I just put my arms around mine and lifted it onto the stand, seriously though something that is essential is to tie the saw frame to the base casting so that it cannot 'flop open' when you are trying to position it.

lost_cause
06-05-2010, 08:51 AM
Well, I just put my arms around mine and lifted it onto the stand, seriously though something that is essential is to tie the saw frame to the base casting so that it cannot 'flop open' when you are trying to position it.

i just pick mine up and toss it around as needed. i've had to take it a few places to do the job, as it was easier than bringing the job to the saw. i just pick it up and muscle it over the side of the truck as needed.

to keep it from opening up... well, i just wrap the cord around the saw and stand a few times. you gotta do something to keep from tripping on it anyways. as long as you don't give it slack so it can bang open and put strain on the cord, it shouldn't bother anything. i figure cords take more abuse than that on floors anyways.

radkins
06-07-2010, 06:38 PM
OK I have been saying a lot about the HF saw assuming the one they sell now and the one I have are the same, well I was at HF today and the 4x6 they have now and the one I bought several years ago are different-waaaay different! If fact there is hardly any part that has more than just a slight resemblance, I was not impressed with the apparent quality of the new one vs the old one I have. While the stands are quite similar everything else is very different, the new one has a much smaller gearbox and the frame casting looks to be a lot lighter along with a weaker looking vise setup. This is not at all the saw I have been talking about.

Ries
06-07-2010, 08:21 PM
Which is exactly my point- there are something like 50 different factories making these saws in the mainland alone, sourcing the parts from an additional few hundred subcontractors, 30 to 50 foundries, and thats not even talking about Taiwan.
Taiwan has mostly moved upmarket, now being the worldwide center of IC manufacturing, making over 70% of all laptops, and in the machine tool industry, mostly concentrating on CNC. Nonetheless, there are probably still a half dozen small companies making 4x6's left on Taiwan as well.

The end result being- ALL THESE SAWS ARE NOT THE SAME.
Not even the ones from the same importers, over time, as proven by the HF example, but also visible in my 4 Jet saws, which were purchased at roughly 8 year intervals. The Jet saws consistently got better with time, with the latest ones sporting UL motors, better switches, and working quite well straight from the box.

It is my contention, which I know is controversial and not held by all, that, even with chinese products, you get what you pay for.

I know that if you buy a $5000 chinese geared head drill press, its sure a different beast from a $200 Harbor Freight model. But even within vaguely similar models in the same basic category, I have found more attention to detail and quality with the Jet, Grizzly, and Enco offerings than with the ones that "Cummins" sells from a circus tent on the vacant lot twice a year.

Your mileage, of course, may vary...

radkins
06-07-2010, 09:11 PM
It is my contention, which I know is controversial and not held by all, that, even with chinese products, you get what you pay for....



I will agree that there may be differences in quality in different Chinese design models but I disagree that similar models sold under different names are much different if they are any different at all, I have good reason to believe this since I base it on "hands on experience" not just only opinion or hearsay. I had both a JET and a HF lathe of the same model and they were most certainly the SAME EXACT thing except for the color! I now have a HF 14x40 lathe which is EXACTLY the SAME THING as my Buddy's 14X40 from Enco and after examining both lathes he also agrees they are identical except for the color and price. This is discussed quite a bit in the Yahoo group on the HF machines where other owners have had the same experience. If a Chinese machine looks identical, has identical features and specs and appears no different other than the color then it most likely is the same machine no matter who's name is on it! The Jet name certainly got me no better quality for the almost double price I paid for it and the HF model of the same one was no better or worse than the JET, I know for a fact I had both of them.