Laguna LT18 18" Bandsaw
In April of 2006 I acquired a new Laguna LT18 18" bandsaw. It replaced an 18" Jet that I had for some time. The jet was a constant problem - underpowered, under tensioned, excessive vibration and poor quality fence. Because of its weaknesses its use in my shop was rather limited to the occasional rip, or resaw if I didn't mind a lot of waste. From the moment the LT18 arrived I was pleased and never looked back.
The LT18 is expensive, about $1,400 more than the Jet 18". But every dollar of that expense shows up in the tool's quality and the quality of the resultant cut. It arrived in one box, securely and cleverly packaged. There was no damage or mishandling of any kind. It was tall and heavy. Fortunately I had the use of a front end loader and garage door access to my shop, so I was able to bring the entire package inside without unpacking it first. Setting the LT18 up requires two people. The motor alone weighed close to 100 lbs and needs to be held in place on one side of the base while bolted in place on the other side.
The Baldor motor is rated at 4.5 HP, 220 VAC, and 19 Amps. I had to run a separate line and 30 amp breaker which I did using conduit. When running it is very quiet and smooth, no vibration.
Assembling the bandsaw was straight forward and the manual was adequate (the pictures didn't always match my unit). I had it up and running in about two hours from delivery. I started off with an inexpensive blade, 1/2" 3TPI which cost $23.70. That was in April of 2006. I still use that blade today. My first cut was a 1/16" veneer cut from a 5" tall block of cherry. I never had to adjust the fence to compensate for drift. It is completely unnecessary with this machine. Adjust the fence parallel with miter slot and forget about it. I credit that to the tensioning capability of this machine.
I purchased a number of blades, all for under $24, with the exception of the Resaw King, which is a 1 1/4" carbide tipped blade for about $240. I use it only for very thin resaws of wide stock where the finished cut requires only finish sanding. For all other applications I use the inexpensive blades and am entirely satisfied with the results.
The guides are ceramic and wear well. I haven't had to change one yet and see no noticeable wear. Changing blades is relatively easy, though when installing a thin blade, requiring the guides to be moved to their shallowest depth, the top safety housing gets in the way of doing so. I have removed it for expediency, though I am not recommending anyone do so. I trust this plastic safety housing gets redesigned in future models.
Tensioning adjustment is easy, simply set it for the thickness of the blade. I believe the heavy spring tensioning capability of this machine is directly responsible for its ability to resaw without requiring the user to find a magic fence tracking angle. I have resawed numerous veneer thicknesses and stock height and never had to adjust the fence from its parallel to miter slot setting. Speaking of the fence, the stock fence that comes with the unit is solidly built and easily adjusted. One turn of the tightening lever to loosen it, slide it freely to where you want it, one turn to tighten and that is it. It also flips out of the way when needed.
With a 4.5 HP motor, heavy tensioning, solid fence, vibration free and quiet performance the LT18 has become a frequently used tool in my shop. In fact, if my cabinet saw were to suddenly fail I am quite comfortable using the LT18 in its place. Few power tools would I rate as high as this one (the Performax Pro 22-44 Drum Sander is another which I will review another day).
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