Laguna 14|Twelve Bandsaw - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

You'd be hard pressed to find a 14-inch bandsaw with the combination of build quality, rich feature set, and competitive price that the Laguna 14|Twelve offers.

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Laguna 14|Twelve Bandsaw



You are more likely to find a 14" bandsaw in woodworking shops than any other size - particularly in smaller workshops, and among hobbyist woodworkers. There are several reasons for this. A bandsaw is probably the most versatile shop machine, it doesn't take up much floor space, and it's one of the easiest and safest machines to use. While it doesn't have the crosscutting ability of a table or miter saw, a bandsaw is superb for ripping rough and dimensional lumber to size, resawing lumber into shop-made veneer, cutting curves, circles, and irregular shapes, and cutting a variety of joinery, including tenons, lap joints, bridle joints, box joints, and tail boards for dovetails.

Laguna's new 14|Twelve bandsaw offers a compromise for those wanting a larger resaw capacity and greater motor power than found on most 14" saws, yet can be plugged into a standard 110/120V, 15 amp outlet. In this review I'll share my impressions about what I feel are the key features of this new bandsaw.

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14|Twelve: front and back view


Set-Up

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As with most stationary shop machines, some assembly is required. Fortunately, the 14|Twelve comes with a well written, amply illustrated manual, though the photos could be of better quality. However, if you follow the guide you'll get through the assembly process fairly quickly.

The saw came well packed in Styrofoam – nothing was damaged and no parts were missing. I don't mind going through the assembly process, as it gives me to a better idea of the build quality, and how the various parts of the machine go together. All the components on the 14|Twelve are very nicely machined, and the finish is excellent.

It took me about 1-1/2 hours to fully assemble and configure the saw. You'll definitely need someone to help you lift the bandsaw upright once it's assembled. Otherwise you risk hurting your back, or just as bad, dropping the saw.

Basically, t
he saw consists of two main parts: a heavy duty steel panel base, which you simply bolt together, and the body of the saw, which you bolt onto the base. On the bottom of the base are four leveling feet that also help to absorb vibration. Once the saw is positioned upright you install the table top, fence bar, a few knobs, and then you're ready to install a blade and set up the guides.

The 14|Twelve is a compact, European cabinet-style saw, measuring approximately 27" by 32" x 70", and weighing in at 258 pounds. Shown in the photos at the top of the page are the optional Wheel System ($149), and the Flood Light ($99). In my small shop I often need to move machines about, so the wheel system makes a lot of sense. It consists of two unidirectional hard rubber wheels mounted on one side of the base cabinet, and a 360-degree rotating wheel and foot pedal mounted on the opposite side. Arranged this way the wheel system is fairly unobtrusive, and in use it proved to be very effective. 

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I haven't found the Flood Light to be overly useful, probably because my shop is very well illuminated. Still, the light is quite bright, with a beam that covers most of the work table. In the photo at right I've turned off the shop lights to give you a better idea of how bright the flood light actually is. If you work in a shop that has less than adequate lighting, then it would certainly make a useful addition to the saw. A nice feature is that the light can be plugged directly into a 115V outlet that is located on the back of the saw, so you don't have to use up another receptacle in your shop, or run an extension cord from the lamp to a receptacle.

Laguna lists the foot print of this saw at 18" by 25", but realistically you'll need a space about 54" wide for the saw – assuming the frame of the saw is snugged up against the wall this will allow about 20" of passage space to the right of the table.

General Design Features

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The 14|Twelve has several features that are worth noting. 

The frame on any bandsaw is critically important, as it supports the various components of the saw – the motor, flywheels, table, trunnion system, and guide post. As well, the frame has to be rigid enough to withstand deflection when tension is applied to the blade. 

The 14|Twelve has a very robust 
3-1/2" by 5" welded steel frame that runs from the top of the saw to the stand. Even when applying the maximum tension to the widest blade that the saw can accommodate, I found that there wasn't any deflection in the frame.

On any bandsaw, a large, heavy trunnion bracket (the part of the trunnion system that is attached to the body of the saw) adds a measure of vibration dampening, but more importantly, it provides solid support for the table, helping it remain rigid.

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The 14|Twelve features a massive 8" by 13" cast iron trunnion bracket, among the largest I've seen on a 14" bandsaw. As you see in the photo to the right, the concave portions of the trunnion bracket are very smooth, which I think, helps explain why the table tilts so effortlessly, and remains true to the blade at any angle.

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The trunnion block, mounted under the table, is made of cast aluminum, which seems to be typical of all trunnions on 14" bandsaws. It does have a scale printed on the front, but, similar to most bandsaws, it's difficult to read, largely because the degree marks are very close together. I find it more convenient, and a lot quicker, to use a digital gauge to set the table bevel. To reduce friction between the bracket and trunnion it's not a bad idea to spray the mating surfaces with a dry lubricant before assembly.

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The 14|Twelve has a stout guide post that uses a rack and pinion system for precise height adjustments. It runs parallel to the the blade, upward and downward movement is very smooth, and it locks in place like the Rock of Gibraltar. 

The rack 'teeth' are covered with a layer of grease that picks up dust, which means that you'll want to regularly clean it up and reapply a suitable lubricant.

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If you look at the right hand photo at the top of this page you'll notice that the motor is bolted to the back of the saw, which makes for easy access should it ever need servicing. As you would expect for an exposed configuration like this, Laguna uses a totally enclosed fan cooled (TEFC) motor. The motor shaft extends through the lower cabinet, and connects to a grooved pulley, which you can see in the photo to the right. There is also a grooved pulley on the back of the flywheel. A poly-groove drive belt connects the two pulleys, spinning the flywheel. This grooved belt/pulley arrangement provides better torque transmission than would a flat belt, which is why you'll find it on better quality machines.

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I'm glad to see a robust 1" steel spring on the 14|Twelve. This is important because the spring regulates blade tension, and, as blade size increases you need to apply more tension to the blade to keep it from twisting or flexing under load. On a 3/4" blade, which is the maximum width for this saw, blade tension can be anywhere upwards of 25,000 psi. 
 

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Lighted power cord plugs and switches are becoming more common on power tools and machinery. They're convenient because you can tell at a glance whether the unit is live (plugged in to an active receptacle). The 14|Twelve features an illuminated direct start power switch that is also equipped with a safety key - which you'll appreciate if young children have run of your shop.

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(L) Spring-loaded handles; (R) Brass plug on fence lock knob

I've always been cheesed off when companies put small, poor quality handles on their machines. It cheapens the machine, and devalues the user experience. On this bandsaw the knobs and handles are large, and of excellent quality, making them easy to grasp and manipulate. Many of the handles are spring loaded. Pull on the handle and the gear teeth disengage allowing it to be repositioned up to 360-degrees exactly where needed. This design works great in confined spaces, such as under the table top.

A thoughtful addition is the brass plug on the end of the threaded rod of the fence lock knob. It serves to keep the stainless steel fence bar from being marred. A nice attention to detail.
 

Fly Wheels

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(L) Upper flywheel; (R) Lower flywheel

I particularly like the massive cast iron, dynamically balanced flywheels on this saw. I much prefer cast iron to aluminum, as it provides greater flywheel inertia, while the extra weight produces more centrifugal force, which translates into more cutting force. As well, I find that cast iron wheels absorb more vibration and seem to run quieter. The wheels are covered with polyurethane tires, which have the benefit of wearing very slowly, and shouldn't dry out and harden over time.

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(L) Shallow crown; (R) Tire brush
 
The crown on these wheels is fairly shallow. This enables the blade to seat better on the tire than if it were highly crowned – particularly for wider blades – as most of the blade is going to contact the surface of the tire. I also feel that a narrower crown results in less blade slippage.

As you'll find on most bandsaws, there is a tire brush installed in the lower wheel housing, below the guides. The brush helps to keep debris from building up under the blade, which can affect blade tracking. I noticed that the brush on my saw was loose – a small wrench easily fixed the issue. It's worth pointing out that having a tire brush doesn't remove the necessity of regularly cleaning the tires, especially if you cut a lot of resinous woods.
 

Table

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When it comes to bandsaw tables, bigger is better, as a larger table makes it that much easier to guide stock through the blade, especially when ripping or resawing long stock. You also want the top to be reasonably free of dips, though having a super flat table isn't as crucial as it is on a table saw for most sawing applications.

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(L) Flat across the table split; (R) Large, rigid throat plate

At 16" by 21-1/2", the table on the 14|Twelve is a fairly generous size. The surface of the table is micro-polished, which helps to glide stock across the surface. While you don't necessarily have to apply a lubricant to decrease table friction, it's still a good idea to apply a rust prevention spray.

The table is dead flat width wise, both fore and aft of the blade. Length wise, across the table split 
(for installing the blade), there is a mere .005" variance.

The aluminum throat plate is one of the largest I've seen, measuring almost 3" by 5" and 1/8" thick. Set screws, accessible though the top of the plate, make it very easy to adjust the plate flush with the table top.

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(A) Tilt stop bolt; (B) Tilt blanking disc

It's important that the table be set perpendicular to the blade. This is easily achieved with the adjustable tilt stop bolt (A). Once set, you can then quickly realign the table back to 90-degrees after tilting. The table tilts smoothly from 7-degrees left (swing the tilt blanking disk (B) to expose a hole through which the stop bolt will pass) to 45-degrees right, with the stop bolt providing a 90-degree positive stop. 

The table is 38" from the floor, which I found adequate for my 6' height. I think that a higher table height would make it a bit more awkward for resawing tall stock. Either way, you can either raise the saw or raise yourself to achieve a more comfortable height.
 

Rip Fence

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(L) Fence in low position; (R) Fence in high position for resawing

The 18" long fence, made of anodized aluminum, rides on a 1" by 28" stainless steel rail. It's rock solid and easy to adjust anywhere along the rail. I really like its high/low feature – when cutting tall stock you position the 5-1/2" tall side of the fence towards the stock, and when sawing thin stock you can quickly switch the fence around to use the narrow side. In the low position you can get the guide block within 1/2" or so of your stock. In either configuration you have a clear view of the blade and the cutline, while still having the guides close up to your stock.

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(L) Fence is quick to switch over; (R) Nylon glide pad

Switching the fence configuration takes about 12 seconds. All you need to do is release the tension on two lock knobs, slide the fence off the cast iron support bar, and then reinstall it in the desired orientation.

A nice feature is the adjustable nylon glide pad. It makes the fence slide more smoothly, and keeps the table top from getting scratched.

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(L) Fence is square to the table; (R) Minimal fence toe-out

In either orientation I found the fence to be perfectly square to the table. Just as important, toe-out at the end of the fence is only about 1/64", and that's after applying a fair amount of pressure against the end of the fence.

With the fence installed, the throat capacity (the maximum cutting width) is 12-1/4"; with the fence removed you get an additional 1-3/8" of cutting width.

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Accurate rip scale

The rip fence scale, attached to the front side of the table, has both imperial and metric units. It's accurate, easy to read, and easy to adjust if required. Unlike the bevel scale, I rely on the fence scale when ripping stock.
 

Dust Extraction

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4" Dust Port

The 4" dust port is located below the lower blade guide, which I feel is a more logical location than at the bottom of the lower cabinet, as you'll find on some other bandsaws. I use a reducer and connect the port to a Makita dust extractor, which provides ample power to extract a surprising amount of dust.

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(L) Lower blade guard; (R) Zero clearance insert

Dust extraction is aided by three features on this saw. The door has a foam gasket around its rim that helps seal the inner cavity, while the lower blade guard provides a barrier to deflect air back towards the dust port. And, finally, there is a plastic zero clearance insert that helps prevent dust from falling to the bottom of the cabinet. Overall, it's quite a effective system.

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Effective dust extraction 

The photo above shows how much sawdust was in the lower cabinet after I had resawn a 1-1/4" by 5" by 48" length of Douglas Fir into 5 boards.

Blade Guides

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Upper guide block: (A) Side gap adjustment knobs; (B) Parallel adjustment knob; (C) Back gap adjustment handle

I've seen, and used, a variety of different blade guides, and the Laguna guide system is a model of effective simplicity. No tools are required to make adjustments, and I found that once I became acquainted with the system, I could readjust both the upper and lower guides in a couple of minutes. If you run the same blade day-in and day-out, then this might not be important to you. However, if you regularly switch between, for example, a general purpose blade and a wider resaw blade, then a quick, effortless changeover can be a real time saver.

The guides themselves are ceramic, which has the advantage of being very wear resistant, yet a poor conductor of heat. As you can see in the photo above, the square guides provide two levels of support to the sides of the blade, both above and below the back (round) guide. This provides superior resistance to blade twisting.

The manual provides clear instructions on how to adjust the guides. Even if you have previous experience with other guide systems, I recommend reading through the guide adjustment section.
 
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Lower guide block: (A) Side gap adjustment knobs; (B) Back gap adjustment knob; (C) Parallel/front to back adjustment knobs

The lower guide system is very similar to the top guide. The only real issue here is the confined space under the table in which you have to work. 

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(L) Side gap adjustment knobs are easy to reach; (R) The other knobs are not so easily reached

I could easily reach and manipulate the two front knobs (A) that are used to set the guide side gap. However, accessing the locking knob for the back gap adjustment (B) and the parallel adjustment (C) is a bit tricky, and if you have large hands, a real challenge. If you rarely, or never use the table bevel feature, then you can move the back gap adjustment knob (B) to the screw hole on the opposite side of the guide assembly.

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Access is easier with the table raised

The best solution, and one that is not much more time consuming, is simply to tilt the table 45-degrees to access the knobs.

Blade Installation

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(A) Blade tension release lever; (B) Tracking knob; (C) Blade tension wheel

Installing a blade on the 14|Twelve is a piece of cake. The whole process, including re-adjusting the guides and blade tension (if mounting a different sized blade), and readjusting the rip fence to accommodate blade drift, takes me about 10 minutes.

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Just as you'll find on virtually all bandsaws, there is a tracking knob (B) located on the back of the saw that enables you to track the blade – that is, to adjust the location of the blade on the tire. Tracking is made a lot easier with the blade tracking window located on the side of the saw (photo to the right).

I use the tracking system as outlined by Michael Fortune. I begin by tracking the blade with the power off, so that the middle of the blade rests approximately on the middle of the tire. I then close the upper wheel door, turn on the saw, and fine tune the tracking while the wheel is under power. I quite like this blade tracking window as it enables me to track the blade more quickly and accurately. Once you begin to use this feature you'll really appreciate how convenient it is.

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The blade tension wheel (C) is conveniently located just under the frame, rather than on top of the frame, where it can be harder to reach and turn, particularly for anyone of short stature. To apply the correct level of tension I use the tension scale. On this saw the scale is inside the upper cabinet. I like that Laguna has put a window in the door, so you don't have to open the door to view the scale (photo to the right).

Laguna recommends that you use the blade tension wheel to roughly adjust blade tension, and then complete the process by manually measuring blade deflection. I rely on the tension scale alone, and don't see any issues with blade performance.


Once you've set the blade tracking and tension you only need to change the settings when you install a different size blade. At the end of the work day you can de-tension the blade with the blade tension quick release lever (A). This will prolong both blade and tire life. You only need to move the arm downward until tension on the blade is released – about 10 to 15-degrees. This way, the blade won't change it's position on the tire. You have to remember to raise the arm back up before starting the saw.

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The quick release lever is also a very useful feature when it comes to changing blades. In this case you simply pull the lever downward as far as it will go, and you'll be able to easily slip the blade off the flywheels. After installing a new blade you'll still have to adjust the tracking. However if you install a blade of the same width you won't have to readjust the blade tension - just raise the quick release lever back upwards again. 

On many bandsaws you have to remove the upper blade guard in order to remove the blade. Not so on the 14|Twelve. There is a magnetic hinged door on the front of the guard (photo to the right) that swings out of the way. A very nice feature.

The first time you install a blade on the saw you'll want to check that it's square to the blade. If things are out of square, all you need to do is adjust the tilt bolt stop under the table top.

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Blade true to table

Whenever you install a new blade you'll also want to check blade drift. I've found that with a blade properly tensioned and seated on the belt, blade drift is considerably minimized. 

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Adjusting for blade drift; insert: fence support

The process of adjusting the rip fence to accommodate for the drift of the blade is straightforward. There are three bolts to loosen on the cast iron fence support that rides on the fence rail. Once loosened, you can angle the fence to the cut line you've made on a piece of scrap material. The fence on my saw needed to be angled about 4-degrees. I make a habit of rechecking the fence each time I install a new blade – the whole process takes less than two minutes. 

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Sweetly humming, vibration free

One of the hallmarks of a good quality machine is how little it vibrates. Whether running without a blade, with blade installed, or under load, the 14|Twelve was as close to vibration-free as you're likely to get on any shop machine. It practically hums.
 

A Few Caveats

There are a couple of features that the 14|Twelve lacks. Most notably it doesn't ship with a blade, which I suppose is a bit meager. Fortunately, many retailers will include one to sweeten the deal.

Neither does it come with a miter fence, which is no great loss for me, as I rarely use it. However, the miter slot in the table top is a standard size (3/8" by 3/4") so you can always use your table saw miter fence. 

It also lacks a foot brake. When you turn off the motor on a bandsaw centrifugal force will keep the flywheels spinning for a while. On the 14|Twelve it takes about 30 seconds for the wheels to come to a complete rest. On a much larger bandsaw it could take a minute or more. A foot brake allows you to stop the blade from spinning instantly. In a busy shop with multiple bandsaw users, a brake might be useful, but for the kind of work I do in a one person shop, I can certainly live with a 30-second run-on.

The rip fence lacks a micro-adjust feature, an inconvenience if you do a lot of precision cutting on the bandsaw.

And finally, the throat in the table is huge, but I wasn't able to access either of the adjustment knobs for the lower guide through it.

Blades

The 14|Twelve takes 1/8" to 3/4" wide blades from 114-3/4" to 116" long. Laguna sells a variety of excellent quality blades including the ProForce and the Resaw King, both of which I tried.

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ProForce blade showing nicely finished welds

The ProForce is a premium general purpose blade made from tempered Swedish silicon steel, which will run cooler and last longer than carbon steel blades. The 1/2" by 3 TPI blade I tried retails for $28 (about .24¢ per inch) and comes with a 1-year warranty. The blade body is .025" thick with a set of .031". The welds, which are done by hand, are very smooth. 

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C4 carbide tipped teeth with variable tooth spacing

Resawing is probably the toughest job that you'll do with a bandsaw, so for any amount of resawing you would do well to purchase a dedicated resaw blade. The German made Resaw King has been designed specifically for the job. Like a table saw blade, it has C4 carbide teeth soldered onto the band, which are then then CNC milled to uniform dimensions.

The 3/4" Resaw King is the largest sized blade that can be used on the 14|Twelve. The blade body is .031" thick, with .045" thick carbide teeth variably spaced from 2.3 to 2.5 TPI. These variably spaced teeth help reduce blade vibration, while the deep gullets help move the sawdust through the cut without binding. And, because the blade is so thin it doesn't put as much strain on the motor.

The 3/4" Resaw King is priced at $149, or roughly $1.30 per inch. It can be resharpened 4 to 5 times at a cost of $55 per sharpening.

Performance

In my shop I primarily use Ash, Cherry, Western Maple, and Douglas Fir, which I usually purchase rough, in 4/4 or 8/4 thickness. My practice is to do initial rough cutting with the miter saw and bandsaw, and final dimensioning on the table saw.

Over the past couple of months I've been using the 14|Twelve with the 1/2" ProForce blade for all my day-to-day ripping, and for resawing smaller stock, up to about 6". This accounts for 85-percent of my work on the bandsaw. When resawing stock wider than about 6" I've switched over to the Resaw King.

I'm very satisfied with the ProForce blade – it cuts very quickly and smoothly, producing a narrow .033" kerf. I can take the stock to the jointer or planer and generally remove any mill marks with a single pass set to remove somewhat over 1/32", or if I've cut thin veneer, a couple of passes with a hand plane. And, when cutting larger stock I've not noticed the motor bogging down, no matter how fast I feed the stock.

To date I've used this blade for about 6 cumulative hours, and it still continues to cut well. In the past blades that I've used seem to dull out at between the 8 to 10 hour mark. Of course, everyone has their own conception of what sharp is, which, along with the species of wood they typically use, will have an impact how much use they get out of a particular blade.

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Ash resawn with the Resaw King
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Boards are of consistent thickness

The Resaw King is in a class by itself. It has a .045" kerf, only marginally wider than the ProForce blade, which means less waste. If you resaw a lot of exotic lumber, the cost savings can add up quickly. I've been using the Resaw King to cut veneer at 1/8". After each slice I joint the board before taking another slice. The cuts are smooth enough that I can easily remove the mill marks with some light plane work.

The Resaw King cuts amazingly fast, and all the boards that I've resawn are consistently of uniform thickness, with no bowing. I haven't put enough hours on this blade to really get a good sense of how it will perform over the long run, but I'm quite optimistic. I'll update this section of the review once I've put a good 20 hours on the blade.
 

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The Laguna 14|Twelve: excellent build quality, rich feature set, competitive price

When purchasing shop machinery I look for quality, reliability, and value. With the Laguna 14|Twelve bandsaw that's what you get. It has a lot of the features you'd expect from a larger bandsaw, but in a more compact format, and at a highly competitive price. Equipped with a premium blade it delivers consistently high quality cuts.


Read our Update on the Laguna 14|Twelve

Excited by this new bandsaw from Laguna? Share your thoughts and comments with us in the comments section at the end of this post.
 
KEY FEATURES:

  • Motor: 1-3/4 hp, 14/7 amps (115/230 volts)
  • Resaw Capacity: 12"
  • Throat Capacity: 13-5/8"
  • Blade Capacity: 114-3/4" to 116"
  • Blade Width: 1/8" to 3/4"
  • Miter T-Slot: 3/8" by 3/4"
  • Table: 16" by 21-1/2", cast iron, micro polished
  • Table Height: 38" 
  • Table Tilt: 45-degree right, 7-degree left, 90-degree positive stop
  • Trunnion: 8" by 13", cast iron
  • Rip Fence: 1/2" by 5-1/2" by 18", aluminum
  • Throat Plate: 2-7/8" by 5-1/4", aluminum
  • Dust Port: 4"
  • Flywheels: cast iron, dynamically balanced
  • Tires: polyurethane
  • Guides: ceramic
  • Drive Belt: flat poly-groove
  • Frame: Steel, pyramid spine, cast iron wheels
  • Power Switch: illuminated, with safety key
  • Dimensions: 26-7/8" by 31-1/2" x 70-1/4"
  • Weight: 258 pounds
  • Power Cord: 6'
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Accessories: Wheel System ($149); Flood Light ($99); Blades from $28.75 to $149: View the Blade Page

COMPANY:Laguna Tools
MODEL:14|Twelve
PRICE:$1,249
MADE IN:Taiwan
SOURCE:Locate a Dealer
February 2014
Author: 
Carl Duguay
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