Monday, October 13, 2014

Adding a Laguna Bandsaw

For a long time now, I've wanted to build boxes.  Beautiful boxes.  Boxes that feature beautiful wood.  And for some time now, I've been building up a stock of highly figured woods that could make boxes that are attractive and, I hope, salable.  I've got several nice, thick pieces of crotch walnut, some with gorgeous feathering, that would look lovely gracing the top of a box.  I've got some figured ash as well.  And small quantities of tiger and birds-eye maple.  Plus a goodly amount of less figured woods that would make attractive box sides to offset the figured tops, woods like quartersawn white oak, maple, cherry, hickory and mesquite, among others.

The thing about boxes is they are generally built from thinner than usual pieces of wood; 3/8" and 1/2" are common thicknesses.  While it's possible to plane wood to these thicknesses, it wastes a lot of valuable and perhaps irreplaceable wood.  So resawing--slicing wood vertically through its width--is the preferred solution.  Resawing is best done on a bandsaw.  Though a tablesaw can be used for narrower boards, for boards over 5-6" in width, a bandsaw is required.  In all cases, a bandsaw is both safer and takes a smaller amount of wood for a kerf.

I have a 14" bandsaw, a Grizzly GO555, and it's perfectly adequate for many operations.  But I've never had good results when resawing with it.  Drift is a big problem, plus I'm limited to 1/2" blades like Highland Woodworking's Woodslicer.  While this is a good blade, I'm looking for something even better.

Enter the Laguna 14" LT14 SUV.  It started with a sale that Woodcraft had on this saw.  So I did some research.  Actually, a lot of research.  This SUV model (SUV stands for "Souped Up Version") has several attractive features, including some that are new to this model.  It is driven by a 3 hp. motor.  It has a large table (slightly larger than 15" X 19") that is easily adjusted and that tilts in both directions.  It has two 4" dust ports.  It has a resaw height of just under 14".  The 125" blade is available in a 1" carbide tipped version called the Resaw King.  Amazingly enough, this 2-3 tpi variable pitch blade has no set, which helps it achieve a smooth cut.  The saw uses ceramic guide blocks that are easily adjusted above and below the table.  The fence has two positions, high and low, and can be quickly adjusted for drift.  Most reviews are high on this saw, which is said to give a superior cut when using the Resaw King blade.

The nearest competitor is the Hammer N4400, a 17" German saw from Felder, which will accommodate a 3/4" blade, quite adequate for resawing.  It has a 3.5 hp. motor.  The nicest thing about this saw is that the tires are flat, rather than crowned, so drift is never a problem.  I'd have easily have gone for this saw--I've seen it in action--but it costs almost $700 more than the Laguna's sale price.   As far as I can determine, each saw delivers excellent results when resawing.  Price being an important consideration, I decided on the Laguna.  It's on order now.

I'll be keeping my Grizzly bandsaw.  I've got plenty of jobs that call for smaller blades.  And, I'll slice logs into lumber on the Grizzly, leaving the Laguna for resawing and protecting the expensive carbide blade for high quality cuts.

Naturally, I'm eager for it to arrive.  Getting it off the truck (the crate weights 420 lbs) will be the first issue.  Then I'll need to go through the whole setup and testing process.  After I've had time to test it for myself, I'll write a review.

Have you used the Laguna bandsaw?  If so, share your thoughts with other readers by leaving a comment.


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