Grizzly “G0636X – 17 Inch Ultimate” Bandsaw Review

The first post to Lumberjocks was this review, which I posted in the Forum, Under Tools etc. It was recommended that I re-post this review in the Review section of Lumberjocks.

Purchase. I have been woodworking as a hobby since 1985, but never owned a bandsaw – until now. Previously, I re-sawed on the table saw and used the jig saw & router for curved cuts. Before making my bandsaw purchase, I saved my money and researched bandsaws. I considered 14” to 19” bandsaws from every manufacturer I could find, eliminating any bandsaw that did not offer cast iron. Major considerations were the footprint and table height, access to and adjustability of upper and lower blade guides, a blade de-tensioning mechanism, a blade brake, and dust collection. There were other considerations, such as overall height (I had to get the machine in my 2 car garage workshop) and value (what I got for the money). Most of all, I wanted this first bandsaw purchase to be my last and to avoid buyers regret by under-buying.

I read every bandsaw review and watched every YouTube video I could find. In the end I concluded that the Grizzly G0636X 17” 5 hp bandsaw offered me the best value, so that is what I bought. I also purchased a de-greaser, the Shop Fox mobile base model D2058A and lift gate service, all from Grizzly Tools. In addition, I bought a Lenox 161”x1/2”x.025”x3 Tri-Master Carbide Bandsaw Blade from Industrial Blade & Products. Total cost was about $ 2800 for everything.

Receipt. I ordered the bandsaw in December 2014 and received it 6 days later. It arrived in a slatted crate on a pallet. All parts were present and nothing was damaged. I rented an engine hoist with sufficient weight capacity to handle 1000lbs (the bandsaw weighs 620 lbs.) and a maximum lifting height of 105”. I prepared the mobile base, hooked up the engine hoist and with a helper, lifted the bandsaw off the pallet, slid the mobile base under the swinging bandsaw, and slowly lowered it onto the mobile base – all in the driveway. With the bandsaw secured to the mobile base, it rolled surprisingly easy into the garage with 1” in door height clearance to spare.

The fit and finish of the bandsaw and its components was excellent.

Setup. There was some setup required, but surprisingly little. The manual was clear enough for me to follow, which I read both before and when the bandsaw arrived. The degreaser easily removed the protective film on the cast iron. Since the machine did not come with a power cord, I purchased a 10 gauge power cord (for a 30 amp circuit 240 volt circuit) as well as a 240 plug from Lowes. The electrical connection to the bandsaw was easily made. I installed the 1” blade Grizzly shipped with the machine, tracked the blade, adjusted the roller bearing guides with little difficulty, and turned the machine on. It started right up and ran quietly and with little to no vibration.

Then came the test cuts. I positioned the included resaw fence to make a 1/8” resaw cut from a 6” tall ¾” wide board. The machine cut smooth and true with no detectable drift leaving me with a board 1/8” thick. The thickness of the re-sawn board was consistent along its 2’ length. Other test cuts were true. Unlike the apparent experience of others, the factory included blade worked fine – but then it was new and sharp. I found the YouTube video entitled “Band Saw Clinic with Alex Snodgrass” regarding the setup of a bandsaw to be most helpful. I followed Alex’s advice with great results.

What became clear to me was that someone in the manufacturing process spent some time with this saw. Without making any adjustments I found the blade tracked to the center of the upper wheel, the table was perpendicular to the blade and rested firmly on the 90 degree stop, the fence was parallel to the miter slot, and motor belt tension was as it should be. Other things I noticed is the de-tensioning mechanism is firm and tight indicating a strong spring, smooth and easy rack and pinion adjustment of the blade guard, good access to the upper and lower blade guides; the table is heavy, flat, and smooth, and easy table tilting with a rack and pinion mechanism. If Grizzly went cheap anywhere on this saw, I could not find it. The one enhancement I would have liked to have seen is a switch that prevents the bandsaw from running while the blade is de-tensioned – like that on Powermatic’s 15” bandsaw. I added a signaling device which is described below, to alert me when the blade is de-tensioned.

Use. Over the past year, I used the bandsaw with no performance issues. After figuring out how to use the machine I installed the Lenox carbide tip bandsaw blade. I have done some resawing, ripping, crosscutting, circle and curve cutting. The foot pedal brake works well and when depressed shuts off the machine as well as bringing the blade to a stop. I thought the motor brake was more important than it is. I rarely use the brake, but when I do, I am glad I have it. The bandsaw continues to cut straight and true with no drift. At 5 hp, it has plenty of power, more than I expect I will need. But if I ever have a 12” wide piece of oak that I wish to resaw in the future, I do not have the worry of bogging down the saw or leaving burn marks on the wood.

I only had a ½ hp dust collector so I blocked off the lower dust port to maximize air flow at the upper most dust collection port. The lower wheel chamber remained free of saw dust using only the upper dust port. Since then, I upgraded my dust collection and now use both the upper and lower dust collection ports.

I did modify the bandsaw by adding a signal device to alert me when the bandsaw blade is de-tensioned. It consists of a board mounted on top of the saw secured by one of the lifting eye bolts. The board is long enough so that the end is directly above the edge of the table when angled to be in line with the blade. An eye screw is mounted at the end of the board. A shoe string loops though the eye screw and is secured to the de-tensioning handle. The other end of the shoe string is attached to a scrap block of wood, wrapped in red electrical tape. When the de-tensioning handle is in the de-tension position, the wood scrap block rests on the edge of bandsaw table in line with the blade. When the de-tension handle is positioned to apply tension the blade, the scrap wood block is pulled up and is out of the way.

Opinion. Although expensive and probably way more than I need (the Powermatic PWBS-14CS 14” bandsaw would probably have been adequate and was my second choice), I highly recommend the Grizzly G0636X bandsaw. It includes 1) a cast iron fence that supports the included two position (tall and short) aluminum resaw fence and a miter gauge. This is my first Grizzly machine. Other machines I own are sold by Sears Craftsman, Woodmaster, Powermatic, and Clearvue. I have no brand loyalty, rather when buying a major tool; I look for value trying to ensure that I get the most for my money regardless of the name plate. Based on this purchase, I would buy Grizzly again if the machine meets my value test.

Although I have yet to make a bevel cut, the rack and pinion table tilt mechanism will make accurately changing the table angle easy. Blade changing and adjusting is straightforward and relatively quick to perform, with good access to the lower blade roller bearings.

The machine has been reliable and no remedial adjustments have been necessary – it keeps its settings. Dust collection is effective. It has plenty of power and with the Lenox Carbide blade, cuts easily. I am very satisfied. The only problem I encountered with the G0636X is the aluminum portion of the fence lightly drags the table. I would have liked maybe a 1/16” clearance from the table top to the bottom of the aluminum fence for saw dust and ease of movement. Nonetheless this is more of a nuisance than a major problem. Even so, moving the fence into position is done accurately.

While assembling the Shop Fox mobile base, I snap off one of the bolts that hold the stand together; because I over-torqued the bolt. I wanted it tight due to the weight of the machine. I did not think about whether the supplied assembly bolts were hardened or not nor did I think I could snap the bolt with a 9” long ratchet wrench. Since the bolt was securely seated and snapped where the remaining bolt had plenty of holding power, I continued with the assembly of the stand – not repeating the over-torqueing mistake.

In summary, the sting of its cost has faded, but the Grizzly G0636X continues to be a pleasure to use.

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