Monday 9 July 2018
SIP Group Managing Director Allan Woodings has designed and produced a competitively priced range of essential woodworking machines and this month I am looking at their mid-size bandsaws. I also have a small 10 x 6in planer thicknesser on long-term test for a future issue of F&C.
First of all Allan showed me around the building. There were the usual racks of boxed machines, but I was more interested in the spares and servicing area. Of course SIP make more than just woodworking machines but, as I have said before, I like the idea of a dedicated service area with engineers that know every machine inside out.
I was introduced to Andrew Harrison, one such engineer who was going to look after me in the demonstration room. Although they don't sell from the HQ building because sales are from retail outlets, customers can come to Loughborough and try a machine or three. I would never even consider buying a machine that I couldn't run up and test with some decent-sized timber.
There are two 14in bandsaws, the small 01489 and the heavy-duty 01444, which was the one I was testing. This has more than sufficient power with a 2hp induction motor and suitably large capacities with 9 3/4in under the guides.
What you get
Ease of adjustment for the guides is one of those must-check areas. If the guides cannot easily be adjusted and locked in position one cannot be surprised that owners use the saw with badly fitting guides. This SIP bandsaw has robust guide-holder blocks that I am glad to say are easily accessible with an Allen key.
The guides are roller bearings, which are cheap and easy to source when they need replacing.
The large cast-iron table had a comfortable-to-use rack-and-pinion quadrant for tilting. The fence was really solid and had a useful rack-and-pinion fine adjuster and magnifiers for the scale.
There were T-slots on either side of the blade, but the mitre guide had a bit of play in the slide. Raising a burr with a centre punch and then filing back to fit would, I'm sure, solve that.
Whilst I am on the subject of fettling, a below-table dust extraction port would be a good idea but a magnetic one could be retro-fitted. There is of course a main extraction port for the band-wheels at the rear of the machine. One has to remember that this is a really usable bandsaw at under Â£500, so a little bit of owner retro-fit upgrading is not too much to ask.
Another must-test area is ease of blade changing. The doors have micro switches but I like to isolate at the mains by unplugging anyway. There is a tension release lever on the reverse and the blade can be threaded out through the slotted guard on the front of the rack-and-pinion guidepost.
A different-sized blade was easily fitted and tracked. Now here is a nice touch: a window in the casing allows the tyre to be seen. There is also a blade tension window in the top door.
Whilst inside I checked the cast wheels which were drilled for balancing. The wheels will revolve with the power disconnected which I think is an advantage over those machines with electronic braking that cannot be overridden for tracking adjustments.
Have SIP managed long-term engineering quality at this price? Only a long-term test will tell, but they do offer a two-year guarantee and have a proper servicing department should problems arise.