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4 x 6 Band Saw Decisions

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  • 4 x 6 Band Saw Decisions

    My next acquisition is probably going to be one of the ever popular 4 x 6 horizontal and vertical band saws. I have a copy of the Blade Tracking and Adjustment guide for these units.

    As of yesterday Grizly has one for $398, Amazon lists a couple for $350, Northern Tool $370 and finally Harbor Freight $200 (Local pickup with a 20% coupon). All abve include shipping but not sales tax. I didn't check into Enco / MSC as I never rolled over my Enco account. Amazon used to carry a $300 Wen unit but they are out of stock (almost bought one).

    Right up front the $150 to $200 price difference between *HF and the others is quite a jump. One can do quite a bit of modifying / adjusting (even painting) for that price difference.

    Does anyone have any experience / knowledge with differences in quality between brands?

    *Can we keep the Harbor Freight discussion to this saw only?
    Last edited by DS_park; 02-04-2017, 04:25 PM. Reason: added "horizontal and vertical" to saw

  • #2
    First off yes you do need one. And this IS the one billed as being "horizontal and vertical" right? The vertical mode is extremely handy.

    My own version came with the blade guide supports very badly made and I needed to do some fairly major correction to it. But the corrections were fairly easily done just with hand tools. So whatever it is as long as there are no big cracks in the castings you can fix it or tune it as required. So I'd say go with the cheaper version.

    One thing to check that took me a while to get around to doing. Lift off the top of the gear box and ensure there is oil in it. Mine was OK but I've read about some showing up dry and producing early wear as a result.

    The other thing is to play with the guides until the blade cuts square to the line of travel and also supports the blade so it is in line with the vertical down path. Mine was quite a bit out in both aspects and required me to cut and file some of the metal to achieve the range of adjustment movement to nail both points. But it can be done.

    Mine is actually still going strong many cuts and many blades over 15 years or more of use. Even the bearings used as guides are still in good condition.

    I did make up a new table to use with the vertical mode. For a while I tried to adjust the upper guide in and out to suit the work. But it kept upsetting my adjustments and really it only moves a little anyhow. I finally set it so I could cut a full 4x6 and left it there. It hasn't been an issue.

    Here's a picture of the table. The extra size has proven well worth making it up for supporting small parts that need splitting or notching. Nothing other than the angle is critical. The cut off corner is done so it can cut the full depth in the horizontal mode and still not touch the main table casting. The material in this case is a scrap of 1/8 sheet that is 3.5 x 5.5 inches.

    As I recall it also came with a big table that could be used. But it would prevent the saw being used in the horizontal mode. This smaller but still fully functional table does not need to be switched out to use in horizontal mode.

    Chilliwack BC, Canada


    • #3
      great tool for the money.


      • #4
        Thousands of guys have been happy with the HF saw. Differences are mostly cosmetic.



        • #5
          A common suggestion is to replace the blade with a bi-metal one.


          • #6
            I have not used the HF model but have used at least three others, two Grizzly and one from one of the farm stores. All three worked satisfactorily.

            The design is somewhat generic, but there are differences from one name brand to another and even between the two Grizzly's I have used. The older Grizzly actually worked better but that may be just the luck of the draw.

            I have not had to make any strictly corrective work on any of them. I did have to adjust tension and tracking, but one expects that. And I did check to see that the gear box was correctly filled in all of them.

            Most of the work I did on them was for modifications to make them more useful or for protection. I did things like adding a chip guard above the motor, a folding table for things like oil cans etc., a chip pan, and a screw on the opposite end of the vise to allow holding short objects. That screw keeps the vise jaws parallel when they are only gripping on one end of the jaw. I have also drilled and tapped some holes in the table area for clamping on odd shapes I have had to cut. I believe I used a standard 3/8" thread so I could use my 3/8" clamp set.

            The biggest upgrade you can make is to change the original blade for a bi-metal one. They work better and last 5 times longer.

            Is the Grizzly or any of the other, more expensive ones worth the extra cost? I don't know. I am presently using my Grizzly and am quite happy with it. It is about 10 years old and still going strong. And it sure has saved my arm a lot.
            Paul A.
            SE Texas

            And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
            You will find that it has discrete steps.


            • #7
              This thread got me thinking about a replacement base for my saw so I could finally toss out the useless stock base. That got me searching and I found this older thread right here on HSM that has a lot of great ideas and links to a few videos that are superb. It's worth the read
              Chilliwack BC, Canada


              • #8
                I have the ENCO version of the 4x6.
                I've been happy with it, and use it daily to cut Aluminum and 1018 steel.
                I think the only real differences in the makes/models are purely cosmetic.
                They're all pretty-much the same creature.
                My only gripe is that my bandsaw goes through blades rather quickly. And I can't figure out why!
                I've adjusted the tracking, tension, tried using oil, coolant, etc. but my blades only last about 3 months of near-daily use.


                • #9
                  I have two 4X6 bandsaws, one from Northern Tool and one from Harbor Freight.
                  Both have quality bimetal blades installed and they both work just fine.
                  I had more trouble with the Northern Tool unit getting it adjusted so it tracked OK.
                  The HF unit is used much more often and has been perfect since purchased.
                  I think I bought both within a year of each other. They are in separate shops 850 miles apart.
                  I would buy the HF saw without hesitation.
                  Last edited by Seastar; 02-04-2017, 07:12 PM.
                  I cut it off twice and it's still too short!


                  • #10
                    I have the Jet 5x6 version from 15 yr ago. I have to say Jet has gotten pretty proud of their gear with the pricing. All the saws are pretty close, but not exact. There are obviously several builders making that style saw. On some the castings are just hideous. Anyway its a nice little saw but once I got my vertical saw I have to say (not being a production shop) that if I could only have one it would definitely be a vertical saw. Its so much more versatile.
                    Central Ohio, USA


                    • #11
                      As I said earlier, I have used at least three of these 4x6s. I have often read comments about the base being poor and wondered about that. I did not have any problems what-so-ever with the base on the ones I have used. I can only conclude that this complaint must come from people who must saw larger, HEAVIER stock than I do. Or perhaps those with models that lack any cross bracing below the table casting. Mine have all had at least a horizontal brace between the legs about half way up/down.

                      If you need to cut 2" diameter, 10 foot long, thick wall, steel pipe or tubing then you may have problems. If you try to push the envelope and cut a 10 foot length of 4" x 6" steel solid, then it will probably collapse the base on all of the 4x6 machines. But, in the average home shop usage, I doubt that you will have a problem.

                      Originally posted by BCRider View Post
                      This thread got me thinking about a replacement base for my saw so I could finally toss out the useless stock base. That got me searching and I found this older thread right here on HSM that has a lot of great ideas and links to a few videos that are superb. It's worth the read
                      Paul A.
                      SE Texas

                      And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                      You will find that it has discrete steps.


                      • #12
                        Grizzly is the easiest to get parts from most times.HF be careful,I have seen some they used to carry that had cast iron bushings in the tracking wheel which is why they were in the scrapyard.
                        I just need one more tool,just one!


                        • #13
                          I have one bought 30 years ago. all I did was put a piece of 1/4 "x1" horizontal between the legs then a piece of the same diagonal. I have sawed tons of 6" channel and more on it with no problems wore out one motor. still on the replacement motor.


                          • #14
                            Have an MSC version almost 20 years old that I think was $190. S-ok, base is crappy sheet steel, cut can't be adjusted square, and it walks the blade off the wheels very quickly if you jam. I could survive without it using other tools, but it's handy.
                            Location: Jersey City NJ USA


                            • #15
                              I've owed 2 4x6... one HF and the other generic rebranded Chinese. I didn't really like either of them. I upgraded to a generic 7x12 ($200 craigs list) world of difference, especially with the ability to run coolant. Then sold that and got an Enco Turn-pro gearbox (no belts to change) version - like new $400 used) Nice. Very happy. I did build a real base and made a better vertical table though.
                              Last edited by lakeside53; 02-04-2017, 10:37 PM.