I’m not the most patient soul, but after a long search for a band saw upgrade I finally found the one that I wanted; the Laguna 1412 Band Saw. The problem lied in the fact that it was still in prototype phase when I learned about it, and would not ship for another year. Could I wait this long? Well, truth be told I already had a pretty nice band saw and I didn’t really need an upgrade (my wife will corroborate this), so although it was not my happiest year you will be pleased to know that I got through it and I now have a 1412 on my shop floor.
So, why the upgrade?
My previous band saw, a 14” 1 HP American style band saw, was performing well and doing nearly everything that I asked of it. Between my father and me, this saw has gotten plenty of use and we were reasonably happy with it, but it was not great at resawing. Yes, I could do some resawing on my old saw, but the setup process required delicate tuning and the results were hit and miss for me. I would describe it as finicky, and because of this I found that I avoided resawing for the most part. I will accept that some of this was due to operator error, as I have seen George Vondriska make resawing look easy on a saw less powerful than mine, but I was looking for a “resaw easy button”. To be clear, I don’t feel a need for blinding throughput speed when I am resawing because I don’t do it that often and when I do I am typically milling only a few board feet for a project. But when I have a need to resaw, I would like to do it with minimal fuss, and experience sweet success every time. No waves, no tapers, no barrel cuts; just flat, consistent hardwood slices.
After following this evolving market for years, I gravitated to Laguna band saws for a few reasons. The Laguna guides are so simple and effective; it just seems like the right design. Their fences are solid, versatile and simple. Also, these guys have a clear passion for band saws and I have felt that they have led much of the innovation in this tool category over the past decade or so. And, OK, I will also admit that the stylish design of their band saws might have been a small secondary factor. I have never seen my wife so excited about a woodworking tool as when I invited her into the shop for a peek at the 1412 and she exclaimed “Oh my gosh! It looks like a BMW!”.
Why the 1412? This design seemed to have all of capabilities that I had been looking for. I believe that it was designed with the “occasional resawer” in mind, with a stout European frame, ample capacity for resawing (the specifications say up to 12” but read on and I will show you that I successfully pushed that a bit), and the same guide system found on Laguna’s higher end band saws. Another appealing attribute for me was the ability to run the saw on 110V power. I have 220V power available in my shop, but once I wire an outlet for a 220V tool I feel that it is locked into that location. The 110V option allows me to move it around the shop easily. The saw can also be wired for 220V but I don’t see any reason to do this in my situation. With a 14 amp motor there is plenty of electrical headroom to run this saw on my 20 amp circuits.
My favorite aspects of the tool
Resaw simplicity. As high as my expectations were for this saw, it has exceeded what I had hoped for on the resaw front. After setting the saw up for the first time I installed a ¾” Resaw King blade and made a test cut on a 6” plank of hard maple without doing any tuning on the saw other than checking the blade tracking and squaring the table to the blade. The cut quality was astounding. I measured .003” of variance across the freshly sawn plank. I was impressed with the performance as well, as the motor indicated no sign of strain through a fairly aggressive feed rate. Additional testing with a standard high speed steel ½” 3 TPI blade produced similar results.
Remarkable Power. With a 1-3/4 HP motor on the 1412, I expected to find some improvement over the ¾ – 1HP 14” band saws on which I have had most of my experience, but the actual difference was more noticeable than I anticipated. The saw has 13” between the table and the upper blade guide (although Laguna conservatively rates it at 12” resaw capacity), but could it really resaw a 13” plank? I happened to have a 13” wide plank of 4/4 cherry in my lumber rack, so I gave it a try. Honestly, I didn’t think it could perform this task in a way where I would ever want to do it again, as I have attempted this on other saws with an unpleasant outcome. I figured that would be the compromise, and the reason why many people with similar requirements to mine buy more powerful 220V band saws. I was on Cloud Nine when the saw completed this task without breaking a sweat. Seriously; a 13” resaw with no tweaking, no wrecking stock on the first three attempts? And no indication of strain during the cut? I originally planned to publish a recommended “real world” maximum resaw cut height to properly set expectations. I expected that this value would likely land in the 9-10” range, which would call Laguna onto the carpet for a bit of marketing exaggeration, but my actual finding is that Laguna has sandbagged a bit on this front, and the saw can comfortably exceed their own specification.
Resaw results. Even with a plank as large as 13” the variance was .004” – .005” across the entire plank. That exceeded my expectations. A couple passes through the planer and I had two perfect 13” wide book-matched panels.
Excels at curved cuts, too. In addition to solid resaw performance, the 1412 also works well at cutting curves, as the Laguna Guides steer the blade and minimize deflection while the work piece is steered through the cut. The project in the picture is a cutting board that I like to make by stacking two boards and cutting the pattern on a band saw. When building this design on other band saws I used to perform an additional step, where I would have to sweeten up the joints using a router with a template and guide to eliminate the gaps left where the blade would flex as it changed direction in the cut. Using the 1412 I can go directly from the saw to the glue-up table because the guides hold the blade so solidly that there is virtually no blade deflection when the work piece changes direction during the cut. This was an unexpected bonus with the 1412.
Quick blade change. The blade change process is quick and painless on the 1412, due to the quick release lever, the nicely designed magnetic release blade guard and the easily accessible blade path.Quality components throughout.When I first heard about the Laguna 1412 Band Saw, and the low price point, I was concerned that I would find some compromises on quality upon close inspection, but this has simply not been the case. Here’s a look at a few standout attributes of the 1412:
Table. The 21-1/2” x 16” table is massive, dead flat, and ground to a mirror finish. A large surface like this on a band saw is a nice luxury as it provides enhanced stability when cutting larger pieces.
Fence. I love this fence. Kudos to Laguna for incorporating fence features from their higher end band saws into the 1412. The design is simple and ingenious, allowing the fence to be positioned upright for resawing, or switched in seconds to a low profile orientation for ripping operations. One downside; I would prefer if the fence could be slipped on and off the saw a bit more easily, but it only takes about 10 seconds to perform the necessary partial disassembly so I guess I can live with that.
“Man-size” trunions. This underappreciated design element on a band saw is often overlooked, but I believe that this is a critical component. These are beefy and refined, which helps absorb vibration and minimize flexing during the cut. The table tilt mechanism is controlled with convenient lever action releases that engage solidly to whatever angle is selected.
The beefy frame is heavy gauge welded steel for serious rigidity compared to cast iron which tends to flex under stress. This is key for reliable, hassle-free resawing, as the frame absorbs much of the stress from blade tensioning.
Cast iron wheels. Big band saws perform better with cast iron wheels to provide stability and to power through heavy resaw cuts. These wheels are well made and nicely balanced. Laguna did not take any shortcuts in the wheel department.
These upper and lower guides control the blade at 10 points using a ceramic surface. The brilliance of this design is in its simplicity. No moving parts, no maintenance required, just solid support to keep the blade cool while preventing it from wandering under pressure.
Dust collection. With a 4” port positioned behind the blade just below the table, dust collection on the 1412 is decent. I am admittedly a bit obsessed with dust collection, and if I designed this saw it would have a second 4” port directly to the side of the blade, also below the table. Resawing produces a huge volume of fine dust and it is important to corral it for health and nuisance reasons. But the dust collection results that I experienced during my tests were quite good. I suspect that most hobbyists don’t have adequate dust collection to draw from two 4” ports simultaneously, so Laguna probably felt that it was not worth the expense of adding the additional port. During one resaw test cut I forgot to turn on my dust collector before starting the cut and I immediately figured it out after cutting into the plank, as a cloud of dust appeared directly in front of my face. That gave me a good indication that the dust collection as designed is actually accomplishing its intended task pretty well.
Quick-release blade tension lever. This is a not only a great convenience for de-tensioning the blade at the end of a shop session, but also speeds up the blade changing process. The mechanism engages solidly in either position, and there is enough travel in the action that blades can be slid on and off the wheels with ease when the blade is de-tensioned. I also appreciate that de-tensioning the blade leaves it in the 6 o’clock position, providing a nice visual queue to the user standing in front of the saw so that the saw is not accidently turned on without first tensioning the blade.
Blade guard mechanism.
The rack and pinion system used to raise and lower the blade guard is extremely smooth, and I am equally impressed with how rigid the this mechanism remains even when fully extended. This is one of the key attributes for maintaining good cut quality.
Halogen work light (option). If you get the saw, I’d suggest that you also choose the optional light. It is a thoughtful feature, and if you are over 40 (or ever hope to be), you will really appreciate having the task lighting readily available. Whenever I do band saw work that requires any accuracy at all, I set up a portable task light, so it will be a nice convenience to have one attached. I also like the on-board outlet for the light so an extension cord isn’t required, and it can be turned on when the saw is not running. Plus, like everything else on this saw, it looks cool.
For a saw at this price point I’m hard pressed to name a significant functional downside. Although not uncommon, the motor is made in Taiwan (I’m sure that’s the only way that Laguna could deliver a saw of this quality at such a low price point) so that will be a question mark for me, and only time will tell whether that becomes a problem. As I continue to use the saw I will provide updates if I experience any problems with the motor or anything else related to the saw.
Customer support experience
I encountered some minor hiccups during the setup of the 1412 that I could have worked through on my own, but when I am writing a story on a stationary tool I like to get some exposure to the customer service for the company. I called in and was immediately transferred to a technician who spent a half hour on the phone with me, not only answering my questions but taking the time to explain some additional tips for band saw work. He was extremely knowledgeable and seemed to know the 1412 pretty well in spite of the fact that it had been on the market for less than a week and I was the first customer to call in with a question. If this saw performs over the years as well as I expect, I won’t be spending much time on the phone with Laguna support, but it’s good to know that they have both the ability and the commitment take care of any problems that may arise.
For me, this saw is a great value and was a tremendous upgrade from my previous band saw. For professionals with volume production resaw requirements, you’ll probably want to step up to a saw with bigger wheels, larger blade capacity, and more power. But for my needs, and those of most hobbyist and small shop professionals, the capacity, performance and value of the Laguna 1412 are superb. In terms of the saw’s design, construction, performance and value, Laguna has knocked it out of the park with this band saw.
Laguna Tools http://www.lagunatools.com/ 800.234.1976
14/12 Bandsaw $1097
14/12 Pro Light System $99
14/12 Pro Wheel System $149
¾” Resaw King Bandsaw blade $149