Band Saws -- Two vs. Three Wheels
Issue: Issue 5.08
Posted Date: 12/2/2003
A woodworker was considering a Delta 12" three-wheel band saw, but he recalled seeing a message on anther forum that disparaged three-wheel models. So he asked the group for insight into the advantages/disadvantages of a three-wheel vs. two-wheel band saw.
The response was a mixed bag. Having owned a 16" Delta three-wheeler, a forum member argued that it was impossible to tension the blade on that model and how much happier he was with a cheaper, two-wheeled model. Ditto from another three-wheel veteran, who complained about the difficulty in tracking his model's blade. The owner of a similar 12" three-wheel band saw (Grizzly brand) also complained about the difficulty in making it track correctly. As he understood it, the third wheel adds more of the variability that causes tracking problems.
On the other hand & though he admitted breaking a few blades initially while working on tight-grained hardwood, a woodworker described the three-wheel model as more of a workhorse than the two-wheeled benchtop models. And since he switched over to Sears Craftsman 3/8" 6TPI blades for general use and 1/8" 15TPI for fine work, he hasn't broken a blade since. (Wouldn't you know it, but he later admitted that, following this post, he broke one of the blades.) He also thought that three-wheelers worked better freehand than with a fence. Another post described ten years of good results from an el cheapo (his term) three-wheel import. Again the key was using higher quality blades from www.tufftooth.com. It was important to know, he disclosed, that these saws were not designed for cutting hardwood.
Somewhere in the middle, the owner of a Delta 16" three-wheel band saw declared that they work OK for cutting small pieces and plastic. For normal use, however, he uses a JET 18".