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The Delta X5, 14" bandsaw is a well built, smooth performer that will enhance any woodworking shop.
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Delta X5, 14" Bandsaw

Accuracy, capacity and quality for your woodshop

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

Posted - 5-30-2005

Note: See my story on "Hopping Up"this band saw!   

The Delta X5 #28-475X 14" bandsaw brings an array of features and capacities to the home woodworking shop that may seem familiar. That is because the Delta X5 #28-475X comes out of the box with several features built in that woodworkers frequently added to their saws later, usually at considerable expense. In its basic form, the Delta X5 #28-475X has plenty of accuracy, power and capacity to enhance any woodworking shop. Add a mobile base and the 6" riser kit and the Delta X5 #28-475X takes on a new set of capabilities that make it even more valuable to new or veteran woodworkers.

   If you need a bandsaw, or are replacing your current machine, the Delta X5 #28-475X deserves a hard look.

Initial Impressions

Everything, down to the automotive quality paint is well done on this machine.
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Removing the Delta X5 #28-475X from the box reveals an exceptional fit and finish of the major components. Many of the standard features on the Delta X5 #28-475X are better than the "add-ons" I was considering buying to improve my previous bandsaw. From the lever actuated blade tension system, cool blocks, (effective) dust collection to the easy to adjust blade guides, the Delta X5 #28-475X came out of the box with the features I wanted.

The basic Delta X5 #28-475X is a bit larger than I anticipated and got bigger when the riser kit was installed. Considering the 12 ¼"-resaw capacity, the 74" overall height is more than reasonable and fits in my garage shop without problem.            

Mobile Base            

   Like many of you, I have to maximize the space in my shop. Using mobile bases under any machine possible makes reconfiguring my shop when needed a simple, fast operation. Adding the Delta #50-274 mobile base beneath my Delta X5 #28-475X bandsaw was a no-brainer.

Delta's mobile base is very strong, fits the machine well, rolls smoothly but sits rock solid when lowered to use the saw.
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   The base comes almost ready to use, needing only the installation of the lift pedal assembly. Four bolts and less than ten minutes later the mobile base was ready to go.

   The #50-274 mobile base is solidly built and easily handles the #28-475X's 280 lb weight. It rolls smoothly when I want it to but rests solidly on a pair of rubber feet when lowered to use the saw. The 31" by 23" footprint of the mobile base is sufficient to keep the machine steady without taking up excessive floor space.

   The mobile base fits the Delta X5 #28-475X enclosed base cabinet easily and while its sides are more than tall enough to safely retain the saw, they are low enough to allow the cabinet door to open.

Instructions and Assembly

   The all-English instruction manual is well written and guides assembly in a logical progression. All of the parts fit properly, making assembly a no-surprise process. In fact, the most exotic tool needed during assembly turned out to be a 4mm Allen wrench.

   It should be noted that assembling the Delta X5 #28-475X is best done by two people. At nearly 280 lbs, the Delta X5 #28-475X is heavy. More importantly, it can be awkward at some points, like when putting the saw atop the cabinet. With two people, these tasks are much easier - and safer for you and the machine.

   The hardest part for many will be getting this saw home in the first place. It comes in a refrigerator-like box 45 ½"-tall, 20 ½"-deep and 28 ¼"-wide. This is a good time to consider delivery options from the various vendors. Unless you have a truck or very large SUV, having the Delta X5 #28-475X delivered may be a safer plan.

Installing the Riser Kit

The Delta #28-984 riser kit includes everything you need and is easy to install.
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   The Delta #28-984, 6" riser kit was installed during assembly of the saw but it can be added to an existing machine just as easily. The kit comes with the riser block, an aluminum rear blade guard (replaces the factory plastic version), extended upper guide post, an adjustable upper blade guard and a long bolt to replace the factory one holding the frame halves together.

   The toughest part of installing the riser was finding wrenches to fit the large bolt. I found that 1 ¼" and 1 1/8" open end wrenches work. Of course, those sizes are not in my open-end set and there isn't enough room for the sockets I did have. A $13 investment for cheap versions of the needed wrenches solved the problem. After that, the riser kit pieces went in easily.

   A small amount of blade to frame clearance, (less than an inch) is lost when installing the riser block. This is caused by the necessarily square sides of the riser block that maintain the rigidity of the saw frame. The good news is that resaw capacity nearly doubles to 12 ¼"!

Power and Wheels

The 9 spoke blade wheels are cleanly manufactured and show no signs of wobble or vibration.
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   The Delta X5 #28-475X is powered by an 115V, 12.8 amp, 1 ½ Hp motor that can be converted to 220V operation. Power is sent through a V-belt drive to the 14"-diameter, 9-spoke blade carrying wheels, generating 3000 SFPM. (Surface Feet Per Minute)

   All of the wheels and pulleys are nicely made and show no signs of wobble or vibration. The blade wheels were checked after installing the riser kit and found to be coplanar. They required no alignment other than a small tracking adjustment to the top wheel. After using the Delta X5 #28-475X with the 3/8"-wide blade, I changed to a ¾"-wide blade and found that it also tracked perfectly with no adjustment needed.

Blade Guides

The upper (left) and lower (right) blade guides are very trick and make this often difficult job exceptionally easy and accurate.
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   Both the upper and lower blade guide systems feature adjustment knobs for positioning the cool blocks and thrust bearing. This system makes setting these critical adjustments very easy. Even the lower guides are easy to set because the adjuster knobs are extended outwards and the blade is clearly visible through the insert hole. If you have fought the older bar and setscrew adjusters, you will appreciate the Delta X5 #28-475X system even more.

The 16"-square table (top) provides lots of support and tilts out to 45-degrees. It also tilts inward up to 9-degrees using a three-position stop under the rear edge.
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The cool blocks are secured with setscrews (4mm Allen wrench) but are quite easy to adjust.

The value of this guide system with its standard cool blocks and large diameter thrust bearings should not be overlooked. Not long ago, these were aftermarket pieces and increased the cost of the saw considerably.          

Large Table            

   The cast iron table is 16"-square and has a nicely ground work surface. The table mounts to its trunnions with a pair of large bolts, fitted with paddle-type handles that make locking and unlocking it for tilting far easier than with the knobs many other saws use.

   The table tilts outward to 45-degrees from zero and can be adjusted accurately anywhere between using the built in scale under the left side. Several angles were set and checked, showing the scale to be very accurate after a small correction of the pointer at 0-degrees during setup. The table can also tilt to the rear up to 9-degrees. A rotating block has three adjustable stops can be preset as you like to make going back to commonly used angles very fast and accurate.            

Blade Tension & Release            

   Most woodworkers know that de-tensioning a bandsaw blade when not in use is good for the blade itself and the wheel bearings. Despite this, many leave their blades tensioned because the old style dial

Video Blade Tension Demo!

adjusters took too long to relax and were difficult reset accurately. Aftermarket lever-actuated systems are available but can be costly. Cheaper aftermarket versions often require modifications to install and do not always work very well. The Delta X5 #28-475X refines this concept, making the application of the right amount of tension for the blade width or relaxing it quick and easy.

   After installing the blade, move the tension lever all the way to the right to bring the spring block fully down. Pull the spring loaded handle hub outwards, turn it to the appropriate scale graduation for the blade and then let it seat in that position. To tension the blade just pull the handle towards the front of the machine until the locking shoe drops into place. To relax the blade, pull the handle down a little, rock the locking shoe out of the way and let the handle move towards the rear. The handle will stop with just enough tension on the blade to keep it on the wheels.

Dust Collection

Dust is evacuated through a 4"-diameter port in the base cabinet. Even though this is a bandsaw, it works pretty good!
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   Bandsaws have always been notorious for lousy dust collection but the system built into the Delta X5 #28-475X goes a long way to fix that.

 A 4"-diameter port on the side of the base cabinet collects dust from an angled chute running diagonally through its interior to the bottom of the saw. A shroud under the front of the table helps direct dust into the lower wheel enclosure rather than onto your feet.

   The instructions mention not installing the exterior port if the saw is to be used without a dust collector attached. Without the air flow generated by a dust collector, don't count on finding a big pile of sawdust outside the chute.

In the Shop

The large table makes flat-cutting operations easy and safe. There is also plenty of room for clamping a guide fence in place when needed.
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   Because the riser kit was installed during assembly, we did not get to use the Delta Platinum Pro 93 ½"-long blade that was included. Timber Wolf blades 1/4"-6TPI (teeth per inch), 3/8"-4TPI, ½"-3TPI and ¾"-3TPI, all 105"-long were used.

  Before starting the Delta X5 #28-475X for the first time, the setup instructions were followed closely and showed how nice the dial-type guide adjustments are. It is much easier to position the cool blocks (front to back) and thrust bearings precisely than with setscrew systems. The cool blocks themselves still use setscrews to lock their position next to the blade but both the upper and lower block sets are easily accessible.

   The blade tensioning system is very easy and fast. Adjusting the handle hub to the graduation matching the blade width produced very stable cutting. Because the Timber Wolf blades are designed to run at lower tensions, I tried using the 3/8", ½" and ¾" blades at tension settings one graduation below their actual width. All worked great at those reduced tensions.

   The simplicity of using the Delta blade tensioning system leaves no excuse for not relaxing the blade whenever the saw is not in use.

Video Resaw Demo!

   Flat cutting on the Delta X5 #28-475X is very accurate thanks to the stability of the blade. Use the right blade width for the job and the Delta X5 #28-475X cruises through hard of soft, thick or thin woods with ease. Following layout lines is strictly up to you because there is no drift or wander caused by deviations of the blade track. Several of the test cuts were repeated with the table tilted to its limits forward and to the rear. The cuts were again easy and accurate.

   The real shocker on the Delta X5 #28-475X came when resawing. I glued up an 11 ¾"-wide by 14"-long piece of red oak, purposely opposing the grain at the joint line to make resawing it more difficult. With the ¾"-wide, 3TPI Timber Wolf blade installed and tensioned using the ½" graduation on the handle, I tried slicing a 1/8"-thick sheet from the oak sample. The Delta X5 #28-475X cut the slice accurately and with no apparent loss of blade speed. I held the wood against a shop-made fence and applied enough forward pressure to keep the teeth engaged. The Delta X5 #28-475X handled the rest, cutting a consistent 1/8"-thick slice from the piece of wood. Without changing the setup slices were cut from a 6"-wide piece of walnut, also producing even 1/8"-thick slices.

Conclusions

   The Delta X5 #28-475X is a solidly built, smooth-running bandsaw with a full set of features and capacities to make it a valuable asset in the home woodworking shop. Adding the riser kit and mobile base extend the value of the Delta X5 #28-475X even more.

   The Delta X5 #28-475X has plenty of power, handles blades up to ¾"-wide and with the precise guide system, makes virtually any cut easily and accurately. The quality of the parts and construction suggest I will not have to buy another bandsaw any time soon.

   The street price of $899 (5-30-2005) makes the Delta X5 #28-475X and its array of features an exceptional value for the woodworker who wants to make this purchase once. Factor in the 5 year warranty Delta has on this X5 machine and the deal gets even better!

 

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