Monday 9 July 2018
As with most woodworking apparatus, the heavier the machine the better. Physical bulk is just one way of establishing a firm platform on which to bolt a powerful motor and rigid supports. The Jet 18Q, although a large capacity bandsaw does not altogether follow this pattern. The case is sleek in design and features a triangular column between the two cabinets instead of the more usual box section. In practice it felt stable and the level of vibration transmitted through the structure was very low. The entire pressed steel cabinet was finished to a good standard inside and out and there were no sharp edges on either of the doors or anywhere else that may come into contact with the operator. Inside the case the eight spoke cast iron wheels are computer balanced and machined.
The three horsepower motor drives a 'V' belt with two speed options. The change over is simple enough as there's a tensioning lever and lock mounted externally on the electro-mechanically braked motor.
Fence and table
The aluminium fence extends from a short casting and locks at the front and back of the table via a single positive lever. It's very firm and extends slightly beyond the reach of the table to give a little extra control at the start or end of a cut.
The 18Q comes with a parallel edge attachment that fits directly onto the fence for free hand re-sawing.
There's scope to adjust this to suit the width of the blade in use. There was a slight amount of drift on the fence of the machine I used but nothing that wasn't easy to correct.
One of the first things I noticed about this machine was that it's very accessible. Blade tension, bearing guides and table alignment are all within easy reach and have a good level of adjustment in every plane. The cast iron table was just as well finished as the rest of the machine and has a 'T' slot for a mitre fence attachment. The table itself is a breeze to set at 90° to the blade.
There's a very accessible nut towards one edge beneath the table locking into a cast chasis that in turn is adjustable where it marries with the case. The table will tilt between -10Âº and 45° on a pair of individually lockable rails, a Bristol lever on the rear and knob on the font.
Blade guides and tension
The guides above and below the table are again, easy to access.
The bearings either side and behind the blade mounted on toolless micro-adjusters. The entire guide system beneath the table can be slackened off with one Bristol lever to make blade removal much easier.
Blade tension can be finely set via a wheel directly under the top cabinet. A scale is fitted both inside and outside with settings marked for blade widths of between three and 30mm. However, these may not be accurate for every type of blade. Mounted at the back of the top cabinet there's a long arm lever with three positions to either partially de-tension the blade or to do so completely for blade changes. I like this quick system. It serves as a very visual reminder that the machine is set and should prevent you from firing up a machine with a de-tensioned blade.
The blade guard is raised and lowered using a wheel at the side of the top cabinet and locked off with a knob at the back. A scale indicator makes for quick setting and might encourage the user to work more safely.
Opportunities for above average extraction are limited as is often the case with bandsaws. In the lower cabinet a brush is mounted against the drive wheel in close proximity of the 100mm dia port, which was reasonably effective at driving waste away from the machine. At the end of the day a relatively dust free upper cabinet was evidence of this working.
There's a wheeled base available for this machine if portability is a requirement. Should this be the case, I thoroughly recommend it to avoid damage to yourself or the machine by dragging it around the workshop. Although I suspect if this were your intention then the JWBS 14 or 16 might be a wiser choice.