A bandsaw is one of those machines that most woodworkers aspire to, being able to do many of the mundane cutting tasks in the ‘shop but at the same time having a small footprint; an important consideration for many home and trade users. My first machine was the rather excellent French built Inca Euro 260 which I bought from Axminster in 1997. Over the years I had it, this little bandsaw provided faultless service and, in all that time, it never broke a blade, but after nearly a couple of decades it was getting a little tired. When I offered it for sale, my very good pal Andy Parsons snapped it up and it’s now working merrily away in his workshop just outside Caen.
At the end of Jan I replaced the Euro 260 with the newly introduced, Axminster Trade Series BS11, which uses the same size blade (73”) as my old machine. It’s a weighty little beast, topping the scales at 60kg, which is quite a lot heavier than the old one. Whereas I could lift the Euro, this one’s a ‘no hoper’, so the only way I could just about get it onto its stand was to remove the heavy cast iron table. Even so, it’s worth paying particular attention to H&S and lift it correctly…straight back, lift with the legs and most importantly ask for assistance.
Once on its stand and bolted down, I replaced the table, adjusted the fence/blade/table alignment and set up the blade guides. The next thing to do was to hook up my old Axminster WV100 extractor to it, which matched the 63mm port on the machine. Having completed the initial setting up process, the first time I switched on the bandsaw, I made a few test cuts on some scraps to try out the blade which comes with the machine. Normally, this is the first thing to be junked but I was pleasantly surprised as it’s quite good, cutting true and square with no deviation. After around five weeks of constant use, it’s almost time to replace it with one of our diamond ground blades.
Despite its capabilities, there are almost always a few minor niggles which need attention with any new piece of equipment. From a personal viewpoint, the fence is the weakest part of the whole machine. The Fine Adjuster mechanism on the left hand side means that it’s very awkward to use the full width of cut because its 8mm bolt falls out the end of the rail and is intensely irritating to fit back each time. As a consequence and for my own personal preference, the Fine Adjuster was summarily removed in the first 5 minutes of use, as was the cam operated locking lever, to be replaced by a simple knob.
I also found that it was quite awkward to slide the fence up and down the rail as the 8mm hex headed bolt seemed to catch inside the rail. Another good pal of mine then very kindly machined a much longer bar into which I glued a section of 8mm studding. However, to its credit, the fence is pretty solid and square when clamped in position.
One further advantage of the new bar and lack of Fine Adjuster is that’s it’s now possible to obtain a full width cut, as the bar is still located inside the rail, whereas with the original 8mm bolt it would have fallen out the end!
Using a small file to round off the sharp corners, the fence can now be pushed with one finger along the rail and locks securely with a quarter turn of the knob. There’s also a measurement scale on the rail which I removed as it’s too easy to obtain an incorrect cut due to parallax error. The width of cut is set with a rule as I used to do on the old Euro 260.
It’s virtually impossible to obtain 100% extraction, but on the BS11 it’s very good. After some heavy duty and quite sustained work, there’s very little dust inside the cabinet, where most accumulates round the bottom blade guides.
It should be noted that the guarding has been removed for ease of setting up, but it is of course supplied with the machine.
Apart from vacuuming out the internal compartment, the only other regular maintenance that I do once a week is to clean the blade guides. This I do with an old nylon brush, after which they’re given a good squirt with some of our Ambersil PTFE lubricant. Fail to do this over a period of time and you may find that the ball bearings seize up!
The acid test for the new machine occurred a few days ago, when I needed to saw off the lid for my latest box project, which I did quite gingerly after twice checking the blade for squareness against the table.
The joints are secret mitre dovetails with very, very little margin for error so it was essential to saw dead true and dead square to separate the lid.
A lot of ongoing development has been ploughed into the new BS11 and I think it’s fair to say that this is the best bandsaw of its size available on the UK market today. The features and refinements of this machine are too numerous to mention, but suffice to say that a careful study of the specifications together with the excellent User Manual ought to leave you in no doubt that this is a very comprehensive little bandsaw.