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JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw
New Design, big capacity, same JET quality
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 8-20-2008
If you are one of the growing number of woodworkers who need a large capacity band saw, the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw could be in your future. This new band saw is new to the JET line and brings a new load of standard power, capacity and features.
New Frame Thinking
JET started with a new triangular-shaped frame that is fabricated from heavy gauge steel. This combination of material and shape makes a remarkably stiff backbone. JET literature says this triangular column design reduces rotational twist by 65% over the usual square column designs and I have no problem believing that.
This new frame design makes the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw a one piece unit in place of the traditional top and bottom sections. JET built
in a large 12-1/4" resaw capacity eliminating the cost of a riser kit. That essentially knocks another $100 or so off of the price of the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw over other that would need the kit to achieve this resaw capacity.
At the bottom of the triangular column is an 18" by 29" steel base that keeps the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw steady. Each corner of the base has a pre-punched hole for bolting it to the floor if you would like.
JET also updated the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw upper and lower cabinet doors, adding an attractive curve to the face. This curve makes the doors more rigid and an overlapping edge at the top and bottom along with a foam gasket at the front edge seal the cabinets better and enhance dust collection. The cabinet doors are secured by rotating locking knobs that keep them secure during operation.
JET also added a see-through window on the front edge of the upper cabinet that gives the operator a clear view of the blade while making tracking adjustments without having to open the door. They even use light colored tires on the wheels to make the blade stand out clearly.
Logical Dust Control
JET added a 4"-diameter dust port to the rear of the lower cabinet just below the table where it makes lots of sense. They also added a brush on the lower wheel directly in front of the dust port so what it sweeps off of the tire gets sucked out of the cabinet rather than just falling onto the tire and wheel below it. Who says logic in design is dead?
Cast Iron Wheels
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw uses 18 3/8"-diameter cast iron, 8-spoke wheels. Their mass adds a substantial flywheel effect that keeps the blade cutting smoothly. The wheels are precisely machined to run wobble-free and computer balanced so all of that weight doesn't turn into vibrations.
Both band wheels run on high quality, sealed and pre-lubricated ball bearings. These bearings insure a very long, smooth operating life.
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw comes with a blade tensioning/de-tensioning system most manufacturers charge extra for, if they offer it at all. Blade tension itself is adjusted using a handwheel on the bottom of the upper cabinet. Scales on the inside and rear of the cabinet have graduations referring to all of the common blade widths.
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw has an oversized, l9"-long steel operating arm that applies, relaxes and totally removes the blade tension. Three detents each labeled on a sticker at the base of the arm show its current state. The Full Tension position is used for making cuts. Partial Tension relaxes the blade tension for when the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw is not in use. Full Release totally removes tension so that the blade can be changed.
Motor and Blade Speeds
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw comes with a 3HP, 230V, 1 Phase motor. Like all JET motors, it is rated using a continuous duty cycle rather than the "peak" or "max developed" ratings pushed by other manufacturers. Using a continuous duty cycle gives the user a far more accurate representation of the power available during use. The motor, along with the belt tensioning handles are mounted on the outside of the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw lower cabinet where they are easily accessible.
The motor is controlled by a magnetic switch that is mounted within easy reach of the operator. The pushbutton On switch is illuminated whenever the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw is plugged into electrical power. A large red OFF ring surrounds the On button and shuts the saw down when bumped or pushed. The switch also has a yellow "key" that has a magnet in it that enables the switch. Remove this "key" and the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw is disabled for when you are not present.
The magnetic switch is intended primarily to protect the motor from potentially damaging power fluctuations. However, a magnetic switch also protects the operator by preventing the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw from restarting unexpectedly should the power go out and then come back on. The On button must be pushed after the power is restored too restart the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw.
The motor sends its power to the lower band wheel through a Poly-V belt. This belt type is desirable because it transmits power efficiently and resists slipping exceptionally well. The Poly-V Belt also runs much cooler (less friction) than conventional V-belts, which means a longer life.
Two step pulleys on the motor and lower wheel give the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw blade speeds of 1800 and 3000-FPM (feet per minute). The exterior belt tensioning controls make changing between the speed ranges exceptionally easy.
Real Roller Blade Guides
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw is equipped with fully adjustable roller bearing blade guides above and below the table. All guide bearing adjustments are tool-free. Both guide assemblies use double roller bearings for side control of the blade. The double roller guides work with 1/8" to 1 1/2"-wide blades. A large diameter ball bearing is in the thrust position on the upper and lower guide assemblies.
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw upper blade guide post is tough and rigid. The post is raised and lowered through the 12" cutting height range with a rack and pinion gear drive. A large handwheel on the front of the upper cabinet operates the gear drive.
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw comes with a precisely ground 19" x 19" cast iron table. The table tilts to 45-degrees right and up to 10-degrees left, locked at any angle in between by a pair of knobs below the table. The table has an adjustable stop making sure it is 90-degrees to the blade.
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw table has a full-sized, t-shaped miter slot running across its full width. JET includes a simple miter gauge that pivots left and right.
JET also includes a T-square style rip fence with the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw. The fence mounts to all-steel rails and has a maximum rip cut of 16 1/2" to the left and 7 5/8" to the right of the blade. This fence hooks over a rail on the far side and locks with a single handle on the operator end. The front rail has a dual range scale that can be used with the bare fence or with the included resaw post.
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw fence includes a 1-1/8"-diameter by 6"-tall solid steel resaw post. This post attaches to the fence with a threaded rod and knob and can be set to align with the teeth on blades up to 1 1/2"-wide.
In the Shop
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw originally piqued my interest with its 3HP motor and 12" standard resaw capacity. The 18-1/4" throat capacity didn't hurt my feelings any either. The triangular backbone made lots of sense to me as well. After building triangles into racecar chassis for 30-some years, I understand the rigidity that shape embodies. In addition to its stellar performance, this is just a very nice looking bandsaw.
In use, the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw seems to loaf along, fearing no wood species or thickness. The 3 HP motor and two blade speeds appear to be way beyond adequate for anything this side of a heavy-duty factory environment. Despite the substantial amount of power and the large cast iron wheels, there is virtually no vibration. Easily the most noticeable "click" is the blade weld passing through the guides.
The roller bearing blade guides are very well done and adjust easily. The lower guide is still under the table but the extensions on the side bearings really do make them much easier to adjust. I also like the upper guide post and its rack and pinion drive.
The blade tension release handle and its associated system is a very nice touch that virtually eliminates any excuse for not relaxing the blade when not in use. It also makes changing blades far easier and faster than with lesser bandsaws. This is a really nice system that you will appreciate forever.
The JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw is a very well built, exceptionally rigid large capacity bandsaw with the capacity and power to handle virtually all of the jobs a wood shop may encounter. All of its components are tough and should last a very long time with minimal input from the operator.
With a street price of $1729.99 (10-28-2008) the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw and its long list of standard features make this a good value even if you do not consider the traditional JET longevity. Right out of the crate, the JET JWBS-18QT-3, 18-Inch Band Saw is ready to handle your work without breaking a sweat.
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