Quite a while back, my Craftsman 12” band saw crapped out. Pretty much just wore out and I really didn’t think that “rebuilding” the thing wasn’t worth the time and expense. I began to nickel and dime a stash to purchase a new saw. My target price range was around 1000 bucks. Three things I based the purchase on were 1, longevity, I wanted a saw that was going to outlast me and 2, resaw capabilities and 3, budget. Being a weekend warrior, a good decent saw should out last me easy enough. I don’t use a band saw on every project, but when I do need one, I wanted one that will do what it’s supposed to without a lot of fuss. When it came to resaw capacity, I wanted a saw that could handle at least 10”s easily.
After considerable homework I narrowed my choices down to 3 saws. Laguna 14/12 14”, Powermatic PWBS 14CS 14” and the Grizzly GO5132X 17”. Each of the 3 saws have reviewed extremely well. A few negatives could be found on each, but that’s to be expected. Pricing on all 3 saws were a bit more than what I had originally set my budget at. Retail pricing was generally consistent with the Laguna at 1100, the Powermatic at 1400 and the Grizzly at 1100. Sale pricing brought the Powermatic down to the 1100 range with the Laguna and Grizzly running 10% off pretty regularly. All three saws required shipping charges which varied between 50 and 100 bucks. With drop gate charges being additional depending on where the saw was purchased from. Occasionally you could find the shipping charges waved. Seldom did I find shipping charges waved and sale pricing combined. Both the Laguna and Powermatic would occasionally offer accessories to sweeten the pot. Usually a light or a mobility feature. I never did run across the Grizzly offering any kind of accessory deal. That’s not to say they didn’t run one, I just never came across it if they did. Depending on the saw either could save you a hundred to a hundred and a half give or take.
I think it safe to say that by far, Powermatic has the reputation for longevity. They have a lot of equipment out there that has been running strong for 30-40-50 years and longer. It’s hard to argue with that kind of history. Its safe to say Powermatic has earned it reputation. Everything I could find on Laguna suggested that there was no reason to doubt that their saw would stand the test of time as well. Again, just based on reviews and countless comments made by owners, I think the same can be said of the Grizzly line. All in all, I think all 3 saws are fine pieces of equipment with Powermatic having an historical edge over the other 2. I should add however that I did run across comments on all 3 saws that claimed all 3 were anything from just fair to flat out junk. Make of it what you wish.
When I got down to it, there were 3 things I looked at for resawing. 1st being capacity, 2nd was power to back it up and 3rd was blade. The latter being a subject for another thread. The first two however were researchable.
Resawing: Each saw is easily capable of handling my requirements. Since the majority of my time on a band saw is spent resawing, this was a very important if not the most important selling point I was looking at. Resaw capability for each saw is:
Powermatic PWBS 14CS: 6”s. BUT, it was easy enough to find the 6” riser being offered as part of the sale price. Thereby extending resaw capacity to almost 12”s.
Laguna 14/12: Advertised at 12”s
Grizzly GO513X2: Advertised at 12”s
Hell, that was easy enough _
Ok, so what was going to back up those numbers. Each saw came with a different horsepower rating. The minimum I would have considered was 1 1/2hp. The only thing I can base that on is just a gut feeling. I felt that anything less would be insufficient when dealing with wide hard woods such as Maple or figured woods. Both of which I spend a lot of time with. At some point or another I came across which mfg. was supplying the motor to each of the 3 machines. Off hand, I don’t have the information but I think it safe to say all have quality motors.
Powermatic PWBS 14CS: 1.5hp, 115/230v, 60hz, single phase, 11amp at 115v/5.5amp at 230v, prewired at 115v.
Laguna 14/12: 1 3/4hp, 115v/230v, 60hz, 14amp at 115/7amp at 230, prewired at 115
Grizzly: 2 HP, 110V/220V, single-phase, TEFC capacitor start induction, 60 Hz, 1725 RPM, pre-wired to 220V, Amps: 20A at 110V, 10A at 220V, prewired at 220v
All 3 saws meet or exceeded my minimal requirements with the Grizzly edging out the other 2.
Warranties vary by mfg. Take the time to look at each before making any kind of decision.
Ok, there you have it in a nutshell, the 3 saws that made my short list. There is a ton of data available on all 3, including youtube, retail and mfg. websites. So, which one did I decide to go with? As the thread title would indicate I ended up choosing the Grizzly GO513X2 17”. I could have easily picked either of the other two saws, with the Laguna perhaps edging out the Powermatic. In fact, I probably would have gone with the Laguna over the Grizzly had circumstances been a bit different. Either way, I don’t’ think I could have gone wrong.
Several factors went into the choice of the Grizz. At the time, I was itching to finally get a saw. I had a need, I had a want and I had very little patience left. Grizzly put out on the website that they were closing down their Muncy warehouse. Clearance and closeout pricing. AND they were running their famous tent sale from Sept. thru Oct. to liquidate as much inventory as they could. The possibility of saving a few extra hundred bucks put me over the edge. Off to the Grizzly warehouse my wife and I went. I won’t even get into the adventure of just getting there *L*
Once at the warehouse, first thing I did was head back to the scratch and dent area. There I found TWO saws, just two! One of which I wouldn’t even have considered and the other already had a SOLD sign on it. Disappointed? Yes, Deterred? NO!! Off the the sales floor I went. Looking at the lineup of all their band saws was to say the least, quite impressive. Everything from the 14” 3/4hp up to the 21” 5hp saws were on display. Nothing like being able to touch, feel, open/close and give each a good looking over. I went to the 17”s and starting looking. I looked at the 17 with the foot brake, which I wish I had gotten, but having smacked into a deer on the way up, those extra couple hundred bucks were now already spoken for. So, needless to say, I picked out the 513X2. Priced at 1,095 plus 100 shipping. I thought I’d get a great deal, especially since I was planning on taking it home with me in my truck. Sale price amounted to only 10 percent off. I thought for sure it would have been more. I had even called Grizzly the night before but they would not give me any pricing info for this event at this warehouse. Pretty disappointed with Grizzly in that regard, but not a deal breaker. So, all in all, 10 percent off the saw and a couple of blades that I picked up for it. Saved just a little over 200 bucks with the package, spent 75 on gas and food…so I ended up ahead of the game. *S*
Grizzly loaded up the saw from the back warehouse. The thing is crated, and crated well. It’s quite a big package to say the least. It took two of their guys to get it off of the fork lift and flip it into the back of my truck. From there, you’re on your own. Buyer is responsible for securing the load!!! I can’t blame em for that. So I tied her down and off I headed for the 4 hour drive home. Once home, the fun started. This thing is a beast. It is a BIG saw and at 400 lps a heavy saw. I managed to get the saw off of the truck, to the basement steps and that is where the wife intervened. *L* She would not allow me to muscle the thing into the basement even though I had it under control. So made a call, son-in-law came over and we got her to her new home. This saw is heavy, somewhat awkward and big. It’s not something I’d suggest you attempt to move by yourself. Get some help. For most, this is definitely a 2 man move. If you have a number of steps you have to navigate, I’d suggest an appliance dolly. A 2 wheel dolly may work, but an appliance dolly would make it so much easier. If you are navigating a number of steps, think it out. If the crate gets away from you, it will cause some damage. The saw is very bottom heavy!!!
As mentioned, the saw was crated very well. The saw itself was wrapped in a heavy plastic with the accessories boxed and tucked away nicely. Everything that was to be supplied, was supplied. No surprises there. The only things that needed assembled were the table and the fence. Everything else was pretty much in place and just needed adjustment after getting the table on. The table was the first thing to get cleaned up and installed. Again, no big deal. But the thing is heavy and a bit awkward to maneuver around the preinstalled blade. Once in place, aligning it with the trunnion was a bit tricky but not overly difficult. 4 bolts hold it in place and then a stop bolt at the rear of the table. Fence rails mounted easily with just a couple of bolts. The fence itself is a pretty nice fence. Heavy, well made and locks in place solidly. Takes a little tweaking to get it zero’s out with the blade but here again, no big deal. Nothing unexpected I guess you could say. The saw comes with 1 insert and 1 blade. Adjustment to the fence and the tilt mechanism is positive and sound. Fit and finish on of the overall package is fantastic. Not a single blem would be found. Paint and decals were excellent.
I took some time to get used to all of the new features of the saw that my previous saw lacked. The rack and pinion blade guard is slick as is the tension adjusting arm. The small window to view is the blade as it rides on the upper wheel is handy, but you need a good light source behind you if you are to take advantage of it. Otherwise, it’s pretty dark and difficult to see through. The window for the tension gauge is a different story. You can easily see the numbers. The tension adjuster is massive compared to the old Craftsman. ..
Once everything was in place, time to set the saw up for use. Having viewed the Snodgrass method for setting up a band saw I went with it. First was to get the blade to track properly! I set up things up so that the tip of the teeth tracked just in front of center on the tire. Played back and forth between tension and alignment. Really wasn’t too difficult to get the blade to track properly. According to the owner’s manual you want the tension gauge to read somewhere between 4 and 6. At between 1 and 2 I felt the blade was plenty taunt. So that’s where I left it.
Setting up the guides: Now here is where the fun begins. Dang, this thing has got some seriously large guide bearings. I mean half dollar sized! I still can’t get over how large they are. Especially since the old Craftsman had those cucumber graphite style guides. *L* I can’t say setting up the guides was difficult, just a little fussy. More a matter of getting used to what to expect and making adjustments from there. Using a feeler gauge to set clearances worked well. I used a set that has the bent ends which made accessing between the guide and the blade much easier. After several attempts and a bit of farting around, I got em set up just right . I have to say, I was/am thoroughly impressed with these guides!
I fired up the saw and let things run for a few minutes, just to make sure nothing was going to bind or break or whatever… Nothing did, so time to grab a piece of wood and give this new girl a workout.
First was a piece of 2” square by 24” long block of red oak. I didn’t mess around, I set the fence for 1/8” and began to saw. Very slow, very steady was all it took. The saw responded beautifully. A nice straight line. NO DRIFT whatsoever. Impressive to say the least. Especially considering what I was used to. Grabbed the dial calipers and measured it out. Yep, 1/8”. After sanding, she measured out slightly less. Something like .110. Next I set the saw for 5/32nds. Made the cut, one pass on the drum sander and I was at .123. A little practice and I feel that I can zero this thing out pretty darn nicely. Getting to know what it is capable of is vital. Especially when counting on it for cutting thin veneers. BTW, this was done with the factory ½” standard blade. Not a resaw blade.
I’ve ran a ¼” , ½” and two resaw blades on the saw so far. Each time the saw performed just wonderfully. I’ve also ran approximately 240’ worth of 1 ½ mahogany thru the saw. From 4 ½’ wide to 6 ½” wide. 5 foot long boards. Easily getting one ½” board and one ¾” board with each pass. With a bit of tweaking and a little luck, I might very well be able to get an additional 1/8” board from that 1 ½” mahogany. Very, Very cool!!! Making adjustments to the guides between blade changes is no big deal once you get the hang of the routine. The blade tracking was needed. I could not be happier at this point. I have yet to push the saw to its limits and probably won’t do so for quite a while yet. However, if and when I do, I’ll be sure to post the results. Good or bad.
The only problem I have encountered thus far is a bit of an odd one. During sawing, I was getting this high pitched chatter when pressing material into the blade. Once pressure was relieved, the chatter would go away. It took a little detective work, but I found the problem to be located at the lower support bearing. I suspected the noise was due to vibration more than anything else, but I could not identify exactly what was vibrating. I carefully turned the machine on, pushed a cut-off into the blade and placed my finger below the table and sure enough the vibration was coming from the support bearing assembly. Exactly where, I wasn’t willing to place my fingers any closer to a moving blade. So I took the table off, disassembled the support bearing assembly. And found zip, nudda, nothing. So I had hoped that the problem was just with the assembly from the factory. I cleaned everything up and reassembled. Readjusted and ran some test wood thru the saw. The noise ceased. Nice and quiet. Fact is the saw runs so smoothly its really quite impressive. ..
Other than a little bit of misleading advertising (pretty lame I know) by Grizzly regarding their clearance sale and the 125 pound doe that attempted to become a hood ornament on the way up to Grizzly I got absolutely no qualms at this point with the saw. I could not be happier. I fully expect to get many, many years of faithful service out of this ole girl.
Did I need to get a 17” saw??? Hmmmmmmmmmmm, probably not to be honest. The Powermatic and the Laguna both have similar capacitys but with lower hp ratings. Both may have served my needs well. Footprint wise, there really isn’t that big of a difference between the 3 saws. Maybe 6”s worth either way. Big difference height wise though. The Grizzly is much higher than the other 2. One immediate advantage the PM and the Laguna have is the cost of blades. With the 131 ½” blade being a big more expense than the blades for the 2 14” saws.
I purchased the saw without a mobility base. Mistake!!! Thinking I could walk the saw as needed proved to be a bit much. Shortly after getting the saw I ordered the heavy duty base from Grizzly for 70 bucks. Sweeeeeeet!!! Should have gotten it while I was at the warehouse.
All in all I am totally impressed with the Grizzly GO513X2. It will no doubt open up some new possibilities in my shop. At just a month and a half old, I wouldn’t dare rec. this saw to anyone. But so far, its looking pretty damn good to me