A Small (& Cheap) Band Saw for Chairmaking – Lost Art Press

The Rikon 10-305.

I’m a long-time fan of the Mississippi-made Delta 14” cast-iron band saw – and its better clones. But not everyone has the space for one of these saws. Or they don’t have the eggs to buy a used one that will surely need some restoration.

For the last couple months, I have been using/abusing the Rikon 10-305 band saw. Rikon stopped making it, but Highland Woodworking bought up all their extant stock and is selling them at $299. This is a bargain price for a saw that can do everything necessary for making stick chairs. 

If you have been wanting a band saw, but are short on space or money, quickly go get one before they run out. Then come back here and read about why you are such a genius (and a good dancer).

First, for all the first-timers here, please know that I bought this saw at full retail. I paid shipping and tax. Highland didn’t ask me to do a review. They might not even know I bought one of the saws. The saw isn’t perfect (more on that later), but $299 (plus $73 shipping) is chump change for a machine like this.

Decent bearing guides.

Most important: The saw has the guts to do serious work. It handles 8/4 oak without a problem. Heck, you can get almost 5” under the guides, not that I would ever need that with chairmaking.

The guides are standard bearings – two on the sides and one thrust bearing. Standard stuff and easy to adjust. There are guides above and below the table (you have to ask when a saw is this cheap). The table and trunnions are aluminum, but that’s not a demerit in my book. I like that the saw is so lightweight. I can pick it up myself and move it wherever. It’s small enough to fit in a closet.

The dust port actually fricking connects to a regular shop vacuum, which is some miracle. The dust collection is much better than on my 14” Delta, but it’s not perfect (observe the dust on its components).

No-frills fence. But it works.

The downsides: The fence is skimpy (they make an upgraded one). But it locks down fine at the front and rear of the table and doesn’t move. The throat plate is way too gappy – a common problem with all band saws. I’ll make a new zero-clearance one, but for crying out loud I shouldn’t have to. 

Vibration isn’t bad. But clamp the saw to the bench when you use it. It doesn’t jump around, but every little bit counts. The saw is remarkably quiet. I expect little machines to be like little dogs – very barky.

The wheels are skimpy, but they were balanced at the factory and run true. 

Svelte wheels. But what did you expect?

I wish I had a saw like this when my workshop was on the back porch. It would have saved me hours of farting around with a jigsaw and circ saw to process lumber.

So, as I said, act now or regret it later.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Rikon has replaced the 10-305 with an upgraded model, the 10-3061. I haven’t tried or seen one. And at $599, I’m unlikely to.

Decent trunnions for a bargain saw.

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