Budget bandsaw

The JWBS-9 is a classically styled two-wheeled machine. The main frame is die-cast, but has plenty of ribbing to provide additional strength. The hinged front cover is plastic. A neat micro-switch on the door shuts off the power if it is opened, and this is actually a Jot more positive than the interlocks I’ve seen on some much more expensive machines!

I was surprised at how quietly the induction motor ran. It drives the bottom wheel via a small pulley and a toothed belt. The motor hinges down to apply more tension to the belt if necessary.

Table and fence

The table is another aluminium casting.

It felt rather rough and needed a good polish with some lubricating wax to make it smooth enough for work to slide easily across it. At 300mm square it’s plenty big enough for the sort of work you’ll be carrying out on it, and the rather crude tilting mechanism allows you to angle it to 45°.

The rip fence Is as good as you get at this level and locks front and back, though precise positioning can be a little tricky if you want to move it just a fraction.

A mitre guide is also provided, but there’s so much play in the slide that it would be useless for anything other than approximate angles. However, this isn’t the machine for that sort of job anyway.

One neat feature is the adjustable workiight mounted on the back of the machine, but sadly this illuminates only when you switch the machine on. It would have been far better fitted with an independent on/off switch.

Controls and guides

The blade controls are all as you would expect, with a rather flimsy looking tension knob on the top which had me worrying about stripping the thread. However, a quick spray with silicone lubricant soon eased the situation.

The tracking control on the back required similar treatment, and operated much more effectively once I’d worked out that you also need to slacken off the locking nut first!

The top guide is located behind an excellent guard system, but the actual guides themselves require some careful setting with their fiddly little Allen screws.

There’s a similar system below the table as well, but once set they seem to perform well. The rack-and-pinion rise-and-fall mechanism makes it quick and easy to adjust for depth of cut.

First the bad news…

The blade is the Achilles heel of ail these budget machines. For years, manufacturers have been fitting really cheap and nasty blades, and there must be a lot of disappointed users out there whose machines are actually far better performers than their blades would suggest.

However I’m pleased to see that the Jet now comes with a note that says the blade is fitted for transit purposes only’ — whatever that means — and recommends that you fit a better-quality one. All we need to do now is get the suppliers to fit a decent one in the first place, and we’ve cracked it!

Changing the blade

The standard blade supplied on this machine laboured to cut even 20mm along the timber, and by then it was already about 3mm out of line: it was totally useless! Fortunately I’d also been supplied with some Axminster Axcalibur blades, so I fitted a Vm x 10 tpi one in its place. By comparison the results were amazing. The machine whistled through the wood in seconds and kept perfectly true to the rip fence.

To test this further I tried a veneer cut in 75mm-thick material, cutting right against the rip fence. This produced a wafer-thin and consistent veneer over the full length with ease. This was so much better than I’d have thought possible; it was hugely impressive for such a small machine.

Subsequent cuts were all as good, and I was having so much fun that I spent some time producing turning blanks — normally a job reserved for my Start rite 401!

Conclusion

This is a super little machine for the occasional woodworker. The build quality is a bit flimsy in places, but at this price what do you expect? Dump the standard blade in favour of a decent one, and you’ll transform it into a real little workhorse provided you don’t need massive cutting capacity.

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