Factors to consider when choosing used band saws
Factors to be considered are the same whether you are choosing new or used band saws. For example, if you buying a band saw for woodworking, you will notice that they have different throat capacities from 8” to 36” with two or three wheels for the blade. The smaller three-wheeled band saw is not so popular because the blades break frequently because of the curvature around the wheels. Band saw blades for a woodworking shop range from the 1/8” to the 1” in width. Narrow blades are used in cutting small radius curves while wide blades are used for straight cuts and re-sawing. If you plan to do more re-sawing a good option will be the 14” models because smaller band saws may be too light for the job. 16” can be better and if you plan to do heavier work, the 18” or 20” models will even be better options. However, manufacturers tend to base the band saw on the diameter of the wheels and not the throat capacity which means that if you choose a model that is 14” the throat capacity will be about 13 ½” only.
There are used band saws with frame design in cast iron and welded steel. The classic 14” stand-mounted machine with the cast iron frame and 6” re-saw height used to be very popular until the introduction of the band saw with the heavy welded sheet steel frame that requires minimal floor space. The re-saw height can be expanded to 12” by using a riser block but the motor must be rated at 1 horsepower or 1.5 horsepower so that it will not be underpowered when re-sawing 12” of hardwood. A better option will be a 2 horsepower for more power for different applications.
Band saws with high quality steel frames tend to have heavy cast iron wheels which in operation can create a powerful flywheel effect that will ensure a strong steady cut. The band saw blade will track on rubber tires that can be found on the rims of the wheels. Tires of the steel framed machines are flat or nearly flat to help track the band saw blades that are usually 1” or more in width for heavy re-sawing.
A thick spring is visible behind the wheel near the top of the frame which can be adjusted accordingly to maintain proper blade tension. It is normally difficult to assess the quality of the spring in used band saws but make sure to consider its present condition to gain the best value from your investment.