Why not?

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Reflecting back on that crummy band saw I talked about last time, and I think I came up with a possible answer to the question, “Why oh why?”

Did I hit a nerve last time talking about my wish for a tool with the same attributes of a full-size one, but just in a smaller package? It seems a number of you have felt the same way. I noted that manufacturers have no problem producing smaller versions of some tools – routers, drills, etc. – that are just as good as full-size ones.

That’s because many pros and serious woodworkers want small versions of those tools, so compact routers, small drills and such are available in quality matching their larger counterparts. Pros and serious woodworkers often have an arsenal of these tools sized to fit different jobs; I know I do.

But non-pros and weekend hobbyists don’t demand them. Sure, they got lucky with drills and routers available in good, small versions. But when they decide to step up to stationary machines – albeit benchtop versions – their demands aren’t the same as ours.

I’m generalizing here, but most weekenders probably work in standard 1-by pine. That little band saw that so disappointed me might actually be useful to them. Issues like tension and tracking might not matter so much to someone cutting projects out of a piece of 1x6 pine. (Tracking and tension may, in fact, be uncommon aspects to those not as familiar with woodworking as we are.)

But I was trying to cut 1” oak and cherry on that saw, and the tracking and tension issues involved made it nearly impossible. Hence, my disappointment.

The bottom line, then, is that I just wasn’t the target market for that saw. The target market may enjoy having what, to them, might be “a real band saw,” and it might just suit their needs. But for pros and serious woodworkers, not so much. And so few pros need a small, quality band saw (or combo sander, or drill press, etc.), that there’s little incentive for manufacturers to offer one. Sadly, then, I’m left with only two conclusions: First, I shouldn’t buy a tool intended for an entirely different market and expect it to meet my needs.

And second, my wish for a quality downsized benchtop tool is likely to remain an unfulfilled dream.

A.J.

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