Agazzani 18" Bandsaw
by John Preston


I decided I needed a bandsaw after I saw what my neighbor could do with a 14" Grizzly and a Woodslicer blade. I'd never owned a bandsaw, or even seen anything bigger than the 14" models in stores, but I knew I only wanted to go through the process of buying a bandsaw once. I spend 20-30 hours a week in the shop, between house projects and furniture, so I figured it would get pretty regular use. I thought they were only good for scrolling, but the Pond set me straight on that. I use it as much or more than my table saw. I do all rough ripping on it, resaw after face jointing rough lumber because my planer is wimpy, and the usual curves.

I wanted a saw that could resaw at least 12 inches, that I would look forward to using, and that I wouldn't have to replace for anything short of starting my own company doing woodworking. That gives a choice of everything from a 14" Grizzly with a riser kit on up. So I sent away for a Laguna video, said, "Wow," and from there decided to set my sights a little higher. I heard many people on the Pond say they wished they had opted for the Laguna 16HD, instead of the lower 16" models, and an 18" was only $100 more. So I ended up with a monster (to me) 18" Agazzani. Why Agazzani? Who knows? Maybe just because everyone else has a Laguna.

If you don't want the rationale, skip this paragraph. Agazzani's representatives in the US do business almost by word of mouth, because they are small. They can't afford to offend too many purchasers, because every owner is a salesman. After reading James Krenov's book, I would put him down as a perfectionist, if he owns one (unknown age) and is happy, I figure it will be good enough for me. If the saw is built well, then probably no one will be making parts for it by the time I wear them out.

Shipping:

The saw arrived fine, I requested Eagle Tools ship it to my workplace (loading dock and forklifts,) and the crate arrived in good condition (thanks to Watkins Freight.) It had been shipped on its back, in a heavy cardboard box, on a pallet. I got it out of my pickup with a cheap wire come-along with no problems, and uncrated it. The saw has a handy padeye on the top (but not over the balance point) that aids in standing it up and getting the mobile base under it.

First impression:

My first impression was that the thing was BIG, it's about 6'3", and the box is big enough for a coffin. But there is no such thing as too much tool, right? The saw arrived with a 1/2" blade tensioned on it, three other blades made by Lenox, and a very terse instruction manual.

There are several plastic knobs on the saw, but all of them seem to be well made, none of them have broken or cracked. There is one 4" dust port, a 4"S&D pipe fits right over.

I checked out the European style blade guides, and some were a little stiff, so I sprayed some WD-40 in them, and most freed right up with a little turning. Wiring the thing up was no problem, (after all, I had to change the panel box just to get space for the extra breaker,) the terminals are easy to get to, and pretty self-explanatory. I fired it up to make sure it ran, then went over the saw closely.

Paint: They use powdercoat paint, and it immediately flaked off of several places where the sheet metal was sheared with a brake. I assume the surface finish or grease has something to do with that. There were no scratches or dents, and good coverage in all visible areas. Welding:

The saw is heavy gauge sheet steel, all the main frame welds are good, but some of the tertiary welds have blow throughs. I expect the saw will rust in two from old age before any of the welds break.

Table:  
Saw Table

The table is good sized for a bandsaw, milled different than I am used to, it has small ridges ~ .002" running parallel to the feed direction, about 1/2" apart. No problems so far, but not a mirror surface.

The table is relatively flat, it dips down ~ .008" forward of the throat plate, on either side of the blade removal cut, with no pin to join halves. A pin might help solve the dip. Not all of the table is cast Iron, there is a small area towards the spine of the saw that is heavy duty sheet metal, about 4" wide, and runs the length of the table.

The fence is not too bad, it's heavy aluminum, with two positions like a Unifence. It has effective adjustments for blade drift, using bolts and jam nuts. I just do it finger tight-- with no problems so far. I had a problem figuring out how to adjust it for square to the table for resawing, then after a couple of days. . er, weeks, I figured it out. Doh! Just loosen the fence a smidgen, and rotate it till it is plumb. Too used to fancy doodads, I guess.

The throat plate is UMHV I guess (white slippery stuff,) about 1" thick, and tapered to fit a tapered square recess. I doubt if it will be easy to make a new zero clearance one.

The tilting mechanism is heavy, but rudimentary. The bolt to loosen the trunnion is accessible with a normal wrench (metric) and effective. I believe the next size up has a quick release for the tilt. Trunions
Guides:  
  • The guides are European style, with no ball bearings or anything, just a shaft inside a bushing.
  • The upper set is on a rack and pinion guidepost, and the lower set is below the trunnions, inside the dust collector housing. They are all adjustable with only fingers, no wrenches required to change blades. The side adjustments are threaded, with a jam nut, and the thrust bearings you move by hand, then lock them down with a knob.
  • The upper guide post is stabilized by a bolted plate, and about three inches lower, a bored hole in the frame. Not real impressed with that, it seems like the lower hole might wear fairly quickly. A tube containing the rack post would be much more desirable.
  • The upper guide can be adjusted with two bolts inside the cabinet, allowing you to move the upper plate. I have found that there is enough play to adjust the post manually to center the guides on the blade, then lock the rack and pinion down without unbolting the upper plate.
  • Resaw capacity is about 12-1/4"
   
Wheels:  

18-1/8" in diameter, cast iron, well balanced, and pretty true. The bottom wheel surface is excellent, and runout is .004". The upper wheel runout was .002" -except for a couple of small indents and two ridges. The largest of the ridges was .007" high, running transversely across the face of the wheel, and only about 1/16" wide. I carefully sanded them down until they were smooth, took about 5 minutes. The indents are about the same size, and shouldn't affect the blade at all. Don't know if the tensioned blade on it when shipped was the culprit, shouldn't have been.

I called the people I bought it from, and they handed me to someone named Jesse. I explained it, and asked his opinion, and he offered to send me a new wheel if I was not satisfied with this one, but agreed that if the runout was down to .002" then there shouldn't be a problem.

Blade runout- .001". I can live with that.

The tires are vulcanized on, with almost flat surfaces. Before I bought the saw, the Agazzani salesman measured one for me, and claimed the peak in the middle is about .030". With the wheels coplanar, the blades track slightly forward of center. Adjusting the upper wheel angle is simple, with a plastic knob, and a jam nut with a plastic handle. The lower wheel adjusts easily, with bolts on all sides of the axle, just like the Laguna video shows. Don't look for it in the manual, because along with just about everything else, it isn't there.

Wheels

 

Brake:  
It works, and has a microswitch to shut off the motor at the same time. Open Saw

Vibration:

Passes the nickel test, nickel might turn a little, I expect that a link belt would do it good. The wheels don't stop in the same place when rotated, so I can only assume they're balanced.

Blade changes:

No problems, I have owned the saw less than two months, and I can do it in less than 5 minutes.

Power:

2.5 horses, haven't been able to make it slow down, except when I tried to make a 1/2" radius cut with a 1/2" blade.

Dust collection:

One 4" port, a cover to help enclose the trunnion (not mentioned in the manual what that extra part is, but it shows on the exploded view,) and a small housing in the lower cabinet to house the guides and dust port. There is also a brush on the lower wheel. When I remember to turn the DC on, (650 Jet) it leaves a couple of little piles in the bottom, and virtually nothing on top. No dust on the table that I remember.

Safety features:

Has an emergency stop switch, a switch on the foot brake, and the regular switch. The upper guides are enclosed behind a wrap around cover in front, and the blade is contained in a box that moves up and down with the rack and pinion. It has a simple design to allow the inboard side to remain covered at all times. There is also a small window in the front, so you can put the cover right down on top of the board, and still see what you are doing.

Tensioning gauge:

It's okay, but it works on the movement of the upper wheel, not actually tension. I strum the blade, and that seems to work okay for me. And the LOML said that it can't carry on a conversation with me! Hmph.

I've only tensioned up to 1/2" on it, I ordered a carbide Lenox at the same time, they recommended 3/4" because the 1" apparently does not behave well on this saw, but haven't received it yet.

Experience with it:

I've run probably 600-700+ linear feet through it, resawing, freehand, etc. I have problems with the European style guides, I try to get them so close they almost touch, and maybe turn slowly with the saw running. Takes some fiddling. On 6" oak, the saw marks will plane off in about 1/32", watching how the planer cuts, I would say no more than 1/64" "bow" in the cut itself, and pieces 1/16" thick are no problem.

The table is fairly low, even on a mobile base, I do all freehand stuff on my knees, as I'm 6'2" (okay, so I'm only 6'-1-3/4".)

Came with 1/2" 3tpi, 1/4" 14 tpi, 1/4" 6 tpi, and 3/8" 6tpi. All Lenox, all okay. Need to slip on a Woodslicer or a Timberwolf to see what they can do, or if Eagle'd ever ship my carbide blade, grrrrr.

Problems:

One of the side blade guides would catch on something as it rotated, two spots about 180 deg apart. I played with the thing, and figured out you could press the shaft out of its holder using the adjustment threads. Well, it popped out, and I could see that there used to be a clip that held the shaft in. Apparently, it had been dragging on the back side of the bushing. I slipped the shaft back in, and it turned perfectly. I discussed this with the company I purchased the saw from, explaining that I had fixed the problem and broken the guide simultaneously. He wanted to send me a new one. I didn't take him up on the offer. For wheel problems, see above notes in wheel section.

Conclusion:

Works as advertised. I don't fight with it, and I enjoy using it. I used to only really like my table saw, but now I think it's getting jealous. My wallet might not like it, but I'm glad to own something that I don't think about replacing before I own it a month. It cost more than any three other pieces of equipment I own, but I don't regret it. Sorry this was so long, but I figured if you're really thinking about buying one, then you might as well get all the information I can give you. If there are any questions, feel free to email me.

Vega Mobile Base:

Works as advertised, but if you are going to put your stuff on mobile bases, buy a welder and a chop saw. Not entirely impressed with it, but now I have a design to go off of.


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Copyright 1997-2001 Badger Pond Woodworking

© 2003 by Ellis Walentine by special arrangement with Wayne Miller of Badger Pond. All rights reserved.
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