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Jigsaw Vs. Bandsaw


dpm99
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I'm putting this up because a lot of people ask this question, including me. The conclusion I've come to is that a good jigsaw is better than a bad bandsaw. I want to make comparison between four tools I've used recently that span a wide variety of quality. I realize there's much more to say on this topic, and I don't intend to do any comprehensive reviews. I just want to make a simple point.

I want to look at four products I've used:

1.) Grizzly 14" Extreme Series Bandsaw ($625)

This is by far the best of the four. I don't own this saw. A friend of mine (jmrentis) has it, and I go to his house when I have to do bandsaw work. Really, I think this is the ideal tool for hobby guitar work. I know there are better saws out there, but this really does everything you need. However, you're going to shuck out a bit of money to get one, and it needs floor space.

2.) Ryobi 9" Bandsaw Model BS903 ($100)

I picked one of these up at Home Depot about six months ago. I didn't keep it long before I returned it. I don't want to be totally unfair to this tool. Maybe others have had success with it. The 9" reach makes it really tough to cut into the horns. Plus, it felt like it was working to cut through an 8/4 body. It's a benchtop model, so it can be stored when you don't need it, but it's heavy.

3.) Bosch 1590ESVK Jigsaw ($150)

I got this saw for Christmas. It's amazing. The big problem with jigsaws is that the blade drifts, because there's nothing to hold it at the bottom. It will drift a little, so you need to give yourself some distance from the edge if you're rough cutting a body (1/4"?). Before I got it, I remember someone telling me it cuts through wood like butter. I can attest to that. After making sharp turns on 8/4 walnut all day long, I have to say that I'm kind of blown away at how good this saw is. It won't touch my friend's Grizzly bandsaw, but it blows away the Ryobi. At least I think so. And it fits in a drawer, which is important to me. (Ok, it's important to my wife.)

4.) Old Black & Decker Piece of Junk Jigsaw ($30 a long time ago)

This is the jigsaw that made me hate jigsaws. I'll say this for it. It makes a jigsaw blade go up and down....unless you're trying to cut through 8/4 walnut, which is a task it does not like to perform. It didn't have enough power, and I wouldn't consider taking it near something I really cared about. The jigsaw is as good as new - I've hardly ever used it. I got it new about ten years ago. So it's not broken. It's just a piece of junk.

So these are four extremely different tools. I list them here for the new builder, in the hope that someone might gain some understanding about what sort of saw will best suit them. Can you build a guitar with a jigsaw? Yes. Is a bandsaw better? Yes, generally speaking. I am of the opinion that if you're limited in funds and work space, you may be better off with a jigsaw than a bandsaw. I know westhemann swears by his Delta 9" bandsaw, and different things work for different people. I also know you don't have to spend $150 to get a good jigsaw, but you probably shouldn't get the cheapest one you can find. I can't recommend the Bosch 1590 enough. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to get it. But I know it's not the only good jigsaw on the market. I do feel confident in saying one thing. Lousy jigsaws and lousy bandsaws are not appropriate for guitar work.

Hope that's helpful.

-Dave

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Yea, some saws will need a riser kit, you'll need a decent resaw blade, a quality fence designed for resawing, good guides, and so on.

Anyhow for many hobbyists I don't think they don't plan on cutting their own drop tops, most just want to be able to cut a body out. And for those who cannot afford certain tools or do not have the room for them, the quality of jigsaws these days will pretty much allow one to do everything they'd need and there are now so many places that sell tops that they can just purchase the top already cut, thicknessed, and ready to go. So these newer jigsaws really have opened up the door for those who once before had no real options, aside from kits and such. I was shocked when I started to use my Hitachi jigsaw, I couldn't believe what it could do and that isn't even the top of the line for jigsaws. I think its just something good to point out as Dave did because when I first started reading up on guitar building it was pretty much a fact of life that you needed a bandsaw to build or at least that is what everything said, but things change and now people can get into building without having to have a bandsaw. If you have the money and room, bandsaws are great no doubt, but for those who don't they now still have the chance to get involved in building guitars which is great.

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The better jig saws are pretty nice and would work fine compared to some of the older or cheaper ones they are like a whole different tool a bandsaw is a lot nicer though. I would suggest that anyone who needs one to check craigslist before going with a jig saw, I got my bridgewood 14" bandsaw for $80, not the greatest but it will do anything besides resawing fine and probably with a riser kit and set up good it would do resawing. I have a really old craftsman jig saw that works pretty good I barely ever use it I needed to today but can't find a blade lol.

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I second the hatred of the ryobi 9" bandsaw...by far the worst I have ever attempted to use...the body of the bandsaw flexes so it's impossible to get proper tension,and the motor is weak as hell...

The Delta 9" is a decent machine...but recently I really have been getting irritated at the lack of room...a 14" with a riser I think would be just the trick for most guitar work.

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I second the hatred of the ryobi 9" bandsaw...by far the worst I have ever attempted to use...the body of the bandsaw flexes so it's impossible to get proper tension,and the motor is weak as hell...

The Delta 9" is a decent machine...but recently I really have been getting irritated at the lack of room...a 14" with a riser I think would be just the trick for most guitar work.

Mine is a Ryobi 0". I probably would not have picked it, but I got it for $25 from a neighbor's brother so I can't complain.

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