Friday, December 14, 2007

Happiness Is a New Saw

The best case scenario one can hope for when buying a new tool is that it does what its manufacturers claim it does. So often, sadly, this isn't the case. What woodworker hasn't been frustrated by a tool purchase when the tool doesn't perform as advertised?

The flip side of this equation is the feeling of satisfaction and possibility that arises in response to a new tool that does exactly what it's supposed to do without any tweaking or fuss. Happily, this was my experience today as I set up my new Laguna bandsaw, pictured below.

The first thing I noticed about the saw was how small it is. Despite its petite profile, it has a full 12" below the guide for resawing wide stock. That's one of the reasons I chose it. In the picture above you can see how the saw's mobility kit works. Wheels are affixed to an axle on the saw's left-hand side, and a removable wheeled lever fits into a tab on the opposite side. You can see the lever leaning against the wall. This is such smart design.

Everything inside the saw is so tidy and well-machined. This particular model is manufactured in Bulgaria. It comes with a signed certification from the head of the factory, which seems kind of touching and old-world to me. Let's just say it's something I've never encountered when un-crating a machine made in Taiwan. In the upper left-hand corner you can see the tension guide; Laguna doesn't even bother with the standard markings for this-or-that blade width. Everyone knows that as a spring wears, those markings become meaningless, and I like it that the folks who designed this machine responded to that fact by ditching the convention.

The photo above depicts the heart-and-soul of what separates a Laguna from the rest of the pack. Instead of using ball-bearing guides, they've gone with small pieces of ceramic--those would be the white parts next to (and behind) the blade. The rear guide actually touches the back of the blade when not under tension, and the side guides are set but a hair's breadth apart from the blade. This results in amazing control when pushing a workpiece through the blade.

Here's another smart feature of the saw. It's a plywood baffle into which one cuts a kerf during initial setup. It directs almost all of the sawdust down the dust chute on the right. Laguna went so far as to attach a bushing strip to the outside of the baffle so that it would connect with the lower door. The net effect is a relatively dust-free wheel housing. Anyone who has recently purchased a Powermatic bandsaw would likely give their eyeteeth for this.

This last shot is of two pieces of bookmatched oak veneer I sawed before leaving the shop this afternoon. You're actually looking at the sawn surfaces! They're about 3" wide by 7" long. Without even trying too hard, I sawed them to 1/32" in thickness. That was using a 1/4" 6 tpi blade! I can't wait to get my specialty resaw blade ("The Wood Slicer") on the machine tomorrow and have a go at resawing my last big hunk of wenge into veneers.

1 comment:

Kala Fine Furniture said...

Great blog, I just found it. I am actually looking into buying one of those saw when I get back to Fredericksburg, VA. Happiness truly is a new saw.