The Delta 28-203 has become the de facto standard for 14" band saws. Delta has a good reputation for parts and service and their USA-manufactured machines are solidly built and reliable. These factors made me choose the Delta over a Jet band saw and I haven't regretted the decision. Delta isn't perfect, of course, and some of their recent Taiwanese-manufactured equipment have received some complaints.
The saw comes packed in two boxes: one for the saw assembly itself, and one for the sheet metal enclosed case. It is really a two-man job to assemble the saw although I managed to do it by myself. The saw assembly is heavy and difficult to lift up to mount on the stand. If you have someone to help you, the job will go much more quickly.
Out of the box, two items were damaged. Both of the plastic knobs which are used to open the upper and lower wheel covers were broken. My dealer had these in stock and that was quickly fixed. The packaging job seemed good and I don't really know how the knobs became damaged.
Setting up the saw was painless and accomplished quickly. All parts were in the box, none were missing. There was minimal rust preventative on the cast iron parts and it was easily removed with mineral spirits. The saw ran vibration-free and the blade tracked well with no additional tuning up although I later went back and adjusted the wheels to be coplanar. This was accomplished by putting a fender washer behind the top wheel.
Blade changing is easily and quickly accomplished due to Delta's attention to details. The thrust bearings and friction blocks are easily loosened and moved out of the way with either an allen wrench or knurled knobs. The thrust bearings are well-placed so that the lower bearings are easily adjusted, unlike other brands of saws which make this task difficult. All that is needed to make any of these adjustments is an allen wrench.
I bought Delta's 5" quick-disconnect dust collection add-on and it is well worth the money. You have to drill and tap one hole at the front of the saw to attach the collector but this is easily accomplished. The collector has to be removed to change blades, but this isn't a problem as I use a threaded knob to attach the collector and it is easily removed. I run a 4" hose connected to the collection hood and it is a bit of a pain to have it located at the front of the saw where it gets in the way of operations, but the design of band saws make this a problem with all of them.
The saw's specifications list a 3/4" blade as being its capacity, but I've found that it is a waste of money to purchase a blade that size. Resawing is accomplished much better by using a 1/2" inch 3tpi skip-tooth blade run at maximum tension. The saw handles resawing well and I regularly resaw oak and maple. The saw has adequate power for this. I haven't added the riser kit to the saw to enable 12" resawing although I suspect that the motor is powerful enough for it if a slow feed rate is used. I do believe I'd want to upgrade to a 1 or 1-1/4 hp motor if I added the riser kit. Delta now sells this saw as model number 28-275 with a 1hp motor. My saw was manufactured in 1993.
I've used the saw for two years now and really have no complaints. The 3/4 hp motor has been up to every task I've asked of it and the saw holds it's adjustments well. I replaced the stock friction blocks with Cool Blocks and I adjust these so that they actually ride on the blade, just behind the teeth gullets.
I'd like to see an integral work light on this saw. I need to purchase one as I've grown used to the light on my Jet drill press and it makes work much easier. It would be nice if Delta would include a good work light with the saw.