Monday 9 July 2018
Aimed squarely at the mid-range market, the 380mm (15in) Basato 4 bandsaw from Scheppach has been a long time coming. And what a lop-sided beast it looks! While other Scheppach bandsaws share the tilted framework, the Basato 4's slanted doors above its straight storage cabinet look particularly bizarre. However, I suspect there is sound engineering behind this quirky style – trapezoids are more rigid than rectangles and the swollen beam which forms the spine of the machine is more rigid than an equivalent rectangular box section would be.
For assembly, the deep ribbed cast iron table has four bolts to secure it, then needs adjusting horizontally and vertically to align it with the blade. The instructions are typical of a translated document – not particularly clear.
Like most bandsaws, the Basato's table can be tilted forwards to an angle of 45 degrees, while the extra clearance also allows the table to tilt backwards to an angle of 17 degrees. The locking handle secures it adequately. This quick, repeatable two-way angle adjustment could be useful for cutting dovetail pins.
A centre stop, which can pivot out of the way, provides fine adjustment to an accurate 90 degrees.
Two speed drive
The single-phase capacitor-start induction motor on this machine delivers a respectable two-horsepower. You can see why it needs to be beefy too when you look at the widest 30mm (1 1/8in) blades it takes. Having said that, this is not a resaw machine – it is a general-purpose bandsaw for the small workshop and it will perform best with standard 12mm (1/2in) 3tpi skip tooth blades.
There are two blade speeds available – 800 or 1,200 metres per minute. To change speed you need to loosen the motor then fish around behind the lower blade wheel to swap the belt between two pairs of pulleys. Certainly this is more awkward than on some machines, but many users will rarely need to change blade speed anyway.
The motor is started and stopped by a no-volt release switch with an emergency stop cover mounted on the support pillar. Educational establishments can order modified switch arrangements.
The table is milled with two grooves, one each side of the blade to accept a small but robust crosscut fence. This is adjustable up to 60 degrees to make mitre cuts in either direction. An extruded aluminium alloy rail runs along the front underside of the table where it is attached by four wing-bolts, plus a hinge at the right-hand end. This large number of fixings transfers the rigidity of the table to this relatively lightweight component. A rip fence, made from steel and aluminium, runs on the rails and is positioned against millimetre calibrated scales, both inboard and outboard of the blade. The rip fence can be stood upright to support deep cutting or laid on its side to allow the blade guides to be lowered when working thin material.
I found the adjustment precise and the support from the fence good, allowing me to saw veneer thickness slices from 125mm (5in) wide oak with consistency and ease.
If you let go of the blade cover doors, the tilted hinges will swing them shut, so a stay is provided to keep them open. There is also a concealed microswitch to disable the motor. One advantage in the connected pair of doors is that it fully exposes the blade, allowing easier removal than the guarded slots on machines with separate doors. If you are replacing blades like-for-like, then the Basato 4 allows you to change blades without interfering with the tension adjustment. This is done with a quick release lever behind the tension adjuster on top of the machine. As well as making changing easier, the exposed left-hand edge of the blade allows you to place a straightedge across the blade at table level, providing an accurate reference angle to adjust the table and fence rail against.
The guides are of the rotating type but rather than roller bearings, they have plain greased spindles. Fine adjustment of the guide pressure is simple and each guide can be locked in position with a large knurled nut. The guides worked well while I was using the machine and I like the ease of adjustment.
The bandsaw chassis is prone to wobbling unless standing on a perfectly flat piece of floor, so you might need to shim underneath it. Weighing in at 108kg, the Basato 4 is just about luggable if you aren't too bothered about damage to your workshop floor – or your back for that matter! However, the pedestal includes an integral pair of wheels which the machine can be tilted onto, which are then locked in place with a foot pedal. A protruding handle welded to the case beneath the table then allows you to shuffle the machine around the workshop on the wheels.
The Basato 4 is marketed for professional, educational and serious home users. I think it might satisfy the needs of some professionals who don't make big demands on bandsaw use or need a versatile second bandsaw for small jobs, while it would be ideal for the serious amateur. There are aspects of the finish that could be improved, such as sharp edges on castings and untidy pop rivets where you might expect bolts. A keen user might wish to tidy these details up themselves, whereas a professional would probably not have time. However, for such a robustly built machine with so many good features, I found the Basato 4 to be outstandingly good value for money.