Monday 27 October 2008
Colin Eden-Eadon is rather taken with this bandsaw
There's an old saying, actually it's my saying: a good bandsaw is worth its weight in gold. For me it is one of the most important machines in any workshop; it's versatile and pretty safe to use. It is certainly the first machine I would buy and anyone can have one no matter what size your shed is.
The Hammer N4400 is a new kid on the block. It is a good size, with a depth of cut of 300mm (12in), which should be good for most people's needs. Also, the width of cut is good at 420mm (over 16in), so it has all the right attributes.
SolidOn opening the doors, which are micro-switched and linked, two very solid-looking large cast-iron wheels are the working engine of this bandsaw. Slightly curious is the yellow colour of the rubber on the wheels - different! Guides are obviously very important and these are good quality and adjust easily. A sign of a decent bandsaw is the quality of the guides below the table - the N4400 has the same top and bottom, another good portent. My only criticism is that the locking knobs are small and plastic and a little suspect.This is the same below on the thrust guide, too. These might under heavy use suffer a bit. The rise and fall of the guard is rack and pinion with a metal guiding band. I do prefer this type as it is easier to control and adjust. All the tracking and tensioning wheels are where you would expect, and work well. Inside it all looks solidly put together as well. One detail I liked was the tensioning indicator, which is inside the casing, but viewed through a window on the top door that is good and clear, so easy to see through.
FenceThe mounting bar is a decent diameter round steel bar and is attached off-centre so that the bolts don't interfere when you are replacing a blade. A little Allen key-shaped bar fits in the table slot to keep it stable and is just pulled out for blade changing - quite a neat solution. In the past I have had to fiddle around underneath the table undoing plates.
The bracket is cast and substantial and locks well onto the bar. The main table is grey cast iron as all machine tables should be. As with most bandsaws, the table is capable of tilting. Again this works on a rack and pinion, which makes for easier adjusting.
PlusOne of the real pluses with this bandsaw is the extension tables, available as optional extras. These can be bolted to aluminium bars on the side and back of the table.
I can't think of how many times I have been ripping on a bandsaw by myself and wishing there was an extension table on the back. Found on every circular saw in the land,
now Hammer has come up with one. It also has a support leg - why had
no one thought of this before? Because it is mounted on a bar it can be moved to wherever you need it and the extension pieces can be used on the side as well, enlarging the width.
This makes this saw particularly user-friendly for the single craftsman. These tables are transferable to other Hammer machines in the range, which is worth bearing in mind.