It was time for another step up in my woodworking arsenal. Dimensioned lumber had done me well, providing straight lines and well surfaced sides in all the standard big box store thicknesses. But what about plans requesting 7/8" thick ash? Or 3/8" cherry? A beautiful five foot post of six inch thick Black Walnut heartwood discovered at a local flea market was prime material for a jewelry box. As done in the past, could work it through my tablesaw with its thick kerf and multiple passes meant to reduce risk of sawn off fingers. Or the Paul Sellers route ripping and sweating through that log with a hand saw.
Or finally get that 14" bandsaw.
Handtools are awesome. My assortment of new and old Stanley hand planes assumes the place (and much less space) of a jointer. Yet constantly resawing lumber the craftsman way at my age strikes me as burning up too many woodworking years. Like driving along a desolate highway with only a quarter tank of gas in the tank - you just can't afford any long detours. So a beefy bandsaw, in my budget, and one that could handle greater than a 6" resaw, became the target.
Laguna 1412 Bandsaw
If you did buy the mobility base (a very common option) Laguna offers two suggestions for getting it installed; placing the saw on its side and using blocks of wood to raise it up to align the bolt holes on the saw with those on the base, or leave the saw vertical and just lift it on top of the base. Tried the first option. It did not go well, even with help. Getting the holes aligned with the saw sprawled out on the ground on top of a unsteady stack of 2x4's turned out trickier than thought. And once done still had to lift it into vertical position. Would have been easier for two (sturdy) workers to just dead lift it to the top of the base. Also a boat load of fun moving with a dolly due to the off centered location of the heavy motor. Any wobble of the dolly caused the saw to suddenly lurch to one side.
Hard to imagine using the 1412 without the Laguna mobility base, or for that matter any standard base that doesn't provide lift. The 18" added by the mobility base puts the table top at a reasonable 38" height, although my 6' 6" frame would have preferred a bit more. And not to be picky but it irked me that the lower door on the saw hits one of the bolts on the $149 mobile base, requiring me to use my $5 rubber mallet to pop it free. Took awhile before it bothered me enough to take a metal file to it.
And speaking of options, Laguna also sells a light for $99. Sorry, not a light it's a "Pro Light System". To Laguna's credit, it does include bulb, cord, and switch. After coughing up the money for saw, base and blade, just couldn't spit out another $99 for a light, don't care how amazing it is. Instead opted for a cheap flexible led light with magnetic base for $15 from Amazon. We'll see how long it lasts.
Different from almost all other saws I considered, as far as I know Laguna uses ceramic blocks in its guides for all its saws. There are three sets of ceramic blocks on both the upper and lower guides. Really hope they last because a replacement set from Laguna is $100. Ouch.
Other than a benchtop saw from Ryobi this is my first "large" bandsaw and therefore can't contrast ceramic blocks with rollers. Some Laguna owners mentioned sparks, and on occasion, flames, produced when the blade hits the blocks. Laguna informs us that this happens upon initial contact and should disappear over time. After resawing five or ten boards I was still seeing a significant amount of glow produced on the back guide. Not something I want to see in a landscape of dry sawdust. A quick call to Laguna's excellent customer support (an amazing and unexpected surprise these days of offshore minimal support) told me that the blade tension and back guide needed to be adjusted. Once done cutting improved. But it was also my inexperience that caused problems; timely advise courtesy of youtube (wish I could remember the source) urged me to "let the blade do the work". Once I slowed down the feed rate the saw cut smoothly through eight inch hickory with no more fireworks.
An interesting note about resaw capacity, although Laguna lists the maximum resaw at 12" several people have noted that the height actually exceeds 13".
Adjusting the guides works as expected, although there is an extra task of rotating the rear blade guide after around 8 hours of usage to prevent deep scoring on the ceramic block. Adjusting the lower guide without tilting the table can be a bit of a challenge. My long thin fingers barely reached the knobs.
The included fence (Laguna sells several other fences, including a $395 version) does the job although it's a finicky fence to adjust. The handy one piece design provides both high and low configuration that's easy to use and quick to change.
Note: at the time of my purchase both the print manual and videos did not mention that there are two adjusting screws used to easily align the fence to the table. It was Laguna support that steered me to this helpful feature.
Use these screws to get fence adjusted to the table.
Here's a look from the front of the fence. The two adjustment screws are top and bottom.
Dust collection has worked well, even with my Rigid shop vac/Dust Deputy setup. Easy to appreciate how well it works on the rare occasion when I forget to turn on the vac. It's a standard 4" port so I also added a Dust Right 4" to 2 1/4" adapter from Rockler, same as on my table saw, to connect my shop vac.
Changing out blades, though not fun, is not a big job. The one thing noticed was that the upper flywheel didn't drop down completely when the blade tension lever was fully released. A short tug on the flywheel was needed to provide full slack on the blade.
To date I've added two more blades to the mix - a 5/8" Laguna ShearForce and 1/4" Laguna ProForce. All three blades have done well and with time and more sawing hope to have a better feel for any performance difference between the TimberWolf and Laguna. Who knows, perhaps someday I'll even shell out the big bucks for the 3/4" Laguna Resaw King. At $150 it may be a while yet.
The first project using walnut, hickory and maple for a jewelry box:
And then a stationary box with cherry and walnut:
And finally to try out that 1/4" blade, a small bandsaw box made from basswood:
Well worth the money.
As mentioned in my review of Laguna's Fusion table saw, 110v was also a strict requirement. And for the most part resaw height and cost are directly proportional. Many models are available that offer 6" resaw capacity at a price of around $500. Even with the narrow boards used in box building this resaw height just missed the mark for me. Most have optional riser blocks to kick it up a bit, yet the question becomes can the typical 1 or 1 1/2 HP motor effectively handle the additional workload? Probably not. Really wanted a saw with greater than 10" resaw and motor sized up to the realistic limit of a 110v power supply. I settled on a budget of $1000, give or take, which in this case meant "give" as in a few hundred more to get the Laguna in the shop.
And seriously, this really had been my thought process. It's just that it happened after reading about the Laguna 1412 winning Taunton's 2015 Tool Guide awards for Editors Best Value Choice and Editors Best Overall Choice. So it's a good guess these reviews heavily influenced my decision.
And I'm very happy about it. The Laguna 1412 has been a great saw, meeting all my immediate expectations as well as holding promise for future work.
Purchased was the Laguna 1412 with a 1 3/4 HP motor, prewired for 110v, and a resaw capacity of 12" at a cost of just over $1100 from Amazon. Added to this was the Laguna Bandsaw Mobility kit from Woodcraft for $149 (ouch), and since I actually wanted to cut wood with the bandsaw (blade not included), also bought a 115" x 1/2" Timber Wolf Bandsaw blade again from Amazon for about $31. Check any site such as Amazon, Rockler, or Laguna for the detailed specs.
Some assembly is required, but not much. Before even un-boxing the saw check on Laguna's site for a series of fourteen videos covering installation and setup. Great source and soooo much better than their bandsaw manual pamphlet. Can one person assemble the saw? Most likely not. I might have if it wasn't for that mobility base. Installing the cast iron table was a breeze compared to setting the 250+ pound saw on top of the 18" tall mobility base.