No announcement yet.

4x6 bandsaw justification: HF vs. SB

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • 4x6 bandsaw justification: HF vs. SB

    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

    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?

  • #2
    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.


    • #3
      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.
      If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........


      • #4
        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.



        • #5
          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 -

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

          The only other difference is about $350

          Paint can be had in many colors

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

          $2695.00 .........COUGH!
          I just need one more tool,just one!


          • #6
            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.


            • #7
              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.
              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


              • #8
                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! 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.


                • #9
                  Wierdscience, I thought he was asking about the 4 X 6, not the 5 X 6?


                  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.
                  Paul A.
                  SE Texas

                  Make it fit.
                  You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!


                  • #10
                    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
                    If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........


                    • #11
                      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 that is not the "swivel mast" design. The HF is this one, on sale currently for $200

                      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.
                      Last edited by Arthur.Marks; 05-27-2010, 11:42 PM.


                      • #12
                        Hmmm... I also found this one:
                        Hydraulic downfeed with coolant system. Would a coolant system make or break the deal for anyone?


                        • #13
                          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.



                          • #14
                            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.

                            Last edited by Farbmeister; 05-28-2010, 07:55 AM.


                            • #15
                              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.