Small Wood Bandsaw

Photo: Small Wood Bandsaw 1
Some people have noticed and asked about the new small wood cutting bandsaw in my studio.

It is a “WEN 3939T 2.8-Amp 9-Inch Benchtop Band Saw”. It was $208 when I purchased it on 1/24/2020. I see it is now $179 on Amazon on 5/10/2020. Err…

Photo: Small Wood Bandsaw 2
Beware! WEN makes two different 9″ bandsaw that look almost identical. I decided to go with the WEN model 3939T because the blade guides are roller bearings rather than metal blocks. It is also a little more powerful than the WEN model 3959.

I am very happy with this little bandsaw. I got it 4 months ago. I use it to cut up small things. Thin plywood, etc.

I can cut 2″ thick hard maple with it. It is a little slow, but acceptable. It still cuts straight in 2″ hard maple. HOWEVER, I am pushing things. The saw is not going to take a lot of this abuse before failing. 1″ thick or less is the way to go.

I got this saw to replace an old 9″ Delta 28-210 bandsaw that was driving me crazy! The plastic bandsaw from hell! The small delta saw would never cut straight. The frame and case were plastic, the blade guides sucked, etc.

I also have a big bandsaw (well not that big by some people’s standards). I like it. It is big enough for me. I use my chainsaw for big stuff. My big bandsaw is a 1980’s Delta 28-203 14″ bandsaw with a riser block. I keep an aggressive 1/2″ 3 teeth per inch blade on this saw. You don’t want to get your fingers any were close to this blade. I don’t like to waste time changing to a smaller blade. Thus, I like to have a smaller bandsaw with a fine blade for small things and plywood.

Note: The bandsaw blade that came on the saw was a surprise. It is pretty good. I am still using it for now. Until I break or dull it. I also purchased a “AYAO 62 Inch Band Saw Blade X 1/4-Inch X 14TPI, 2-Pack” from Amazon. I am going to use these blades in the future.

Small Bandsaws (9″ or 10″)

Photo: Small Wood Bandsaw 3
I looked around a LOT for a good small saw before going with the WEN 3939T. At first, I REALLY did not like the idea of going with the relatively new Chinese brand.

I decided from the start I wanted a band saw with a metal frame. No more plastic crap for me. Metal or plastic doors was a don’t care. Roller bearing blade guides were desirable, but NOT required. My 14″ bandsaw has after market “cool blocks” for blade guides. Cool blocks work fine.

Eventually, I decided all the metal frame saws look the same under the covers. Well there are some difference in the blade tensioning mechanism. It looks, like they are made in the same factory. The WEN brand is the native factory brand? All the rest of the brands were the same saw with a different logo and slightly different features. The blade tension system looks good on the WEN saw.

It came down to a choice between the WEN 3939T and the very similar Rikon 10-305 that costs $100 more. I decided to save some money and go with the WEN. The Rikon is probably a better saw. But, I already have a better big bandsaw.

Bandsaw for a Newbie Turner

If I was a newbie turner, could I live with the WEN 3939T as my ONLY bandsaw? If I had a mini lathe. Then, yea, maybe for a short while. If, I had a big lathe, then no!

I would have to limit myself to cutting blanks for small things. Pens and bottle stoppers would be no problem. Small pepper mills may be pushing things, but probably ok.

I would have to limit any bowls or plates to blanks that were 17.5″ diameter max and no taller (thicker) than 2″. 2″ in cherry or hard maple. Maybe a little thicker in softer poplar wood. 1″ thick in really hard African exotic woods (Rosewood, Zebra, Bubinga, Ebony, etc.). However, I always recommend avoiding the African exotic woods because people may have SEVERE allergic reactions to them.

No wet wood or raw logs. All the wood would have to be air or kiln dried dimensional lumber.

HOWEVER, cutting 2″ thick hard wood, is really pushing things. The saw is not going to take a lot of this abuse before failing. 1″ thick or less is the way to go.

Bandsaw Reviews & Bandsaw Fences

Photo: Small Wood Bandsaw 4
The WEN 3939T gets good reviews on Amazon, etc. After you throw out the negative reviews from people who were expecting to get a $1000 bandsaw for $200.

Anyone with bandsaw experience knows that bandsaw generally don’t cut straight! Thus, you CAN NOT use a fence on a bandsaw to cut a straight line. The teeth on one side of a bandsaw blade may be a little off, a little worn, not as sharp, or what ever. Thus you always have to skew the blank a little to the left or right (i.e cut at a little angle to the blade) if you want to cut a straight line. Thus the fences that come with bandsaws are useless. Thus, the people who review a bandsaw and talk about the lack of a fence or how great a fence is are worthless.

If you want to use a fence to cut a straight line then you need a bandsaw resaw fence that looks something like the one in the photo on the right. i.e. the fence only controls the width of the cut at the blade. The fence still allows the blank to be feed into the blade at a slight angle to the left or right.

Note: Table saws are designed to cut straight lines. The fence and miter gauge should ALWAYS be used on a table saw. Bandsaws are designed to cut curved lines. The fence and miter gauge are almost never used on a bandsaw.