Sunday, January 11, 2009

Laguna LT14 bandsaw sucks

We just got a bandsaw at work, a $1600 Laguna LT14 SEL. We could have gotten a much cheaper unit from the likes of Jet or Grizzly, but we figured it's worth a premium price to get a tool that's elegant, high quality and reliable.

Presumably Laguna knows their customers expect a premium tool. So it totally mystifies me that setting up the saw for 110v took me several hours and multiple trips to the hardware store.

Seriously, though. This is woodworking; people care about brand names, and they talk to their friends. Laguna makes a lot of different types of tools, so they stand to make a lot of sales when they impress a customer with a quality product. We bought ours because one of the guys in the group recently bought a 16" bandsaw from them. So it's mind-rendingly stupid to ship a product that's $10 and a few hours of QA short of working correctly.

Now, the website specs only list the saw as working at 220v. But the manual shows both of the 14" models as supporting 110v as well, although it doesn't say anything about how to select between the two. Also, the unit doesn't ship with a plug. That sent me on hardware store trip #1, where I spent half an hour purchasing a $4 part. Here's an idea: if people are spending $1000 more than they have to on your product, their time is probably worth a lot to them, so don't waste it.

I consulted the motor housing, which does actually describe how to rewire for 110v. Now, a nice piece of equipment would have a block of screw terminals so that all it takes is a screwdriver to reconfigure it. But no, all the wires were spliced. So I got to spend an hour looking for wire nuts, then looking for my soldering iron, in order to resplice the wires according to the instructions on the motor.

Finally we try to turn it on, and get nothing but a buzz. We notice that the box the switch is in also mentions 110v vs. 220v, but someone at the factory has blacked out the 110v text with a permanent marker. Right on the side of the saw, just about at eye level. So much for La Bella Forma.

So, I consult the interwebs. According to their forums, you have to call up their tech support and order a 110v switch box if you want to use the saw at 110v. A $100 switch. A $100 switch that has lots of unused terminals inside for safety switches that disable power when the panels are open, unused because this model doesn't have panel switches.

This is exactly the kind of nonsense I was trying to avoid buy spending extra on a nice tool. If you're only making $2 profit on each unit, I can understand why your manual might not be totally correct and why you didn't spend the time and money to fix the errors that inevitably happen during manufacturing. That's not to say that anyone should actually spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a half-baked product, but at least the manufacturer has an excuse for shoddy workmanship.

But seriously, $1600 and you didn't even get the (staple-bound, fresh-off-the-inkjet printer) manual right? You couldn't even be bothered to ask if I'd like the correct power switch or the right kind of power plug? Astounding.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I bought the same bandsaw and gotnothing but superb performance from the Laguna 14.

When I called to order I just told the laguna rep that I needed it wire for 110volt and they converted it at no charge.

great machine . great service . great performance.

Anonymous said...

I have the LT14SE. Never a moment that I have regretted this machine.

Sounds to me like you have more comment than sense. If you have been around machinery much you readily quickly know to consult the motor for wiring details. Obviously you are not used to that.

Now how about getting down to some work with the machine. Be sure to set it up correctly. If you are not sure take the time to check the on-line help and on-line video instructions which are very useful and professionally done.

Chances are you will not be able to find a reasonable complaint.

I would be very interested to know if you actually follow up on this space with some well documented experience in actually using the saw. Its real easy to blast off useless blather. Lets see if you have it in you to post objective well described experience even if you have to withdraw the previous "...sucks" comment.

Lunkwill said...

I'm glad you like your saw, but that's no reason to insult my intelligence, especially if you aren't even going to address the actual points I made.

The docs for 110V operation were inconsistent (or nonexistent), and required a kludge and multiple trips to the hardware store. That's disappointing in a premium product.

Anonymous said...

I bought the 16HD last fall, what a joke, overpriced and under built, a single #3 drive belt for the motor to lower wheel, 4.5hp even Grizzly uses 2 belts to drive there model that is still a bunch cheaper, I sold it on craigslist, after two months and 5 belts, so not an industrial or even heavy duty machine, table flex, guides spark, needs constant adjustment, I have a very old US built saw now that is always ready to go, 1/5th the price 10 times the machine

mike said...

I've had my 14SE for 4 years now and it's been an awesome saw. It resaws beautifully and never bogged down. I bought it as a 110V and rewired it to 220V without too much of an issue. Saying this saw sucks because you don't know how to rewire it is pretty lame.

Lunkwill said...

If they had had their act together, I'd agree with you. But they didn't, in several important ways. Shipping a tool with conflicting documentation about whether it's even *possible* to rewire between 110v and 220v is unprofessional. When your manual was printed on an inkjet printer and stapled with a stapler, it's worse, because it'd be so easy for them to change the manual and print a correct one. Using a sharpie to black out the 110v lines on the motor starter tells me that not only was the documentation an afterthought, but so was the *wiring*.

Anonymous said...

Laguna 16" Bandsaw with foot brake purchased in '06. Best of the best. Can only guess you're inexperienced.

Anonymous said...

Laguna 16"bandsaw superb. Purchased in 06. So far best of the best.

Rick said...

I have the exact same bandsaw and I love it! It is wonderful and I have gotten excellent cooperation from Laguna the few times I had to call them.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Their bandsaw is OK. With the proper blade any saw is a good saw.
Laguna Tools customer service is much to be desired. It just sucks.
I also bought a 14SUV saw and got crossed out documentation and then called and got no reponse to why. Their website kinda works but its not better. Was going to get a CNC machine but from what i hear it sucks too. If you like your saw and fixed it yourself then congratulations. Otherwise that company can use some good management!

tread684 said...

Hey there I'd like to bolster your comments with my own experience with Launga. I am a professional with more than 15 years of experience in woodworking and the machines asscoiated with. Right now I am in the middle of problem with my brand spanking new laguna platinum series tablesaw. Seems there may be an issue with their fence design, with moderate pressure (maybe 4 pounds) you can deflect the fence 1/32-1/16 of an inch. This is a serious design flaw as I have backed out/in the set screws in the t-square foot. Laguna has been slow to respond, several calls, hours on hold, and several e-mails with photos detailing the problem later... and no solution. I am considering selling the fence system as scrap metal, buying a biesemeyer fence, and sending the bill to laguna. Went from being psyched about upgrading the lynch pin piece of equipment of the shop to counting the dollars I am losing because I am not in production.

lagunatoolssucks.com said...

if you have problems with how Laguna FOOLS does business.. go to:

http://www.lagunatoolssucks.com

and there you will find links to YELP and other sites that they will KNOW about and READ!

Anonymous said...

You people that say the Laguna bandsaw is good or great! Are the ones in this world why its in the disray its in. no sence that god gave you. Help us that have.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to say that people don't have any sense you should probably spell it right.