Rollie Johnson takes this heritage-brand bandsaw for a spin.
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The recent resurrection of the South Bend brand of machines brings a renowned name back to the marketplace, and the SB1080 16-in. bandsaw is a worthy part of the company’s lineage. I made a bunch of sawdust with various soft and hard woods and was impressed with the saw’s smooth power and vibration-free operation. This massive bandsaw should serve any woodworker well.
The saw’s a beast, with a 3-hp motor (230 volt/12 amp), heavy cast-iron wheels, and an overall weight exceeding 475 lb. The wheels are very well balanced. Their weight provides a lot of inertia, helping the blade maintain a constant speed so it cuts at its most efficient rate—an important factor for a machine with 14 in. of resaw capacity. A very effective foot brake can easily and quickly bring the rotating mass to a halt.
The large table, measuring 20-7⁄8 in. by 25-5⁄8 in., is a very heavy casting that is supported on stout trunnions. Angling it for bevel cuts is no issue thanks to a rack-and-pinion system. The two-position aluminum fence slides smoothly and locks accurately. The distance from the guides to the saw frame is 13 in. with the fence and 15-3⁄4 in. without.Two dust ports (photo left). Dust collection is adequately handled through two 4-in. ports. One is positioned immediately beneath the lower blade guides and the other is at the bottom of the lower wheelhouse. Angling the table is easy and accurate (photo right). The heavy table tilts using a rack-and-pinion system, making adjustments for bevel cuts very accurate with little frustration.
Smooth-running roller guides keep the blade tracking and require an Allen wrench for adjustments. The lower guide set has the thrust bearing mounted beneath the side roller guides; that creates extra space between the upper and lower thrust bearings, but it didn’t detract from the saw’s performance.
A small storage space below the lower wheel is separated from the dust and has its own door to provide a place for extra blades or accessories.
—Roland Johnson is a contributing editor.
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