The AC1400B is the smallest bandsaw offered by Axminster Tools. Part of the Axminster Craft range, it is a bench-top model intended for small craft projects in the home workshop. Weighing in at 20KG, the saw is based around a sturdy curved-welded steel chassis with curved doors to reduce vibration and noise, a cast-iron table with aluminium rip fence and a blade guard with integral rack and pinion adjustment.
Key to any bandsaw is the chassis. Here a curved chassis of thick sheet steel allows increased blade tension, which in turn stops the blade wondering from side-to-side during a cut. Cheaper bandsaws that compromise in this area can quite literally flex ax under the tension of the blade, especially with the added backward pressure when making a cut.
Two doors allow access to each of the 200 mm wheels. The bottom-most wheel is directly driven by the 250W induction motor, which gives an unloaded blade speed of 800 metres per minute. The top wheel is fully adjustable for angle via four grub screws on its mounting plate, and via a rear lockable adjustment wheel which is used to align the blade to run correctly on the centre of each wheel. Both wheels have a thick rubber coating to grip the blade, and both use quality smooth-running bearings.
The cast-iron table measures exactly 300 mm (12in) square and tilts up to 45 degrees to the right. There is a 90-degree stop in the form of a bolt protruding through the chassis; it’s crude and a pain to adjust to the nth degree but it works. The mitre adjustment is smooth and locks solidly into place, and there is no movement in the table at any angle. The surface of the table is finely ground and the front edge is ground too, though the sides of the table are unfinished so can’t be used to square up a mitre fence or run a jig. Instead a 13 x 9 x 9 mm mitre slot is provided which will fit the optional mitre fence that is not supplied with the machine.
The rip fence is one of the worst aspects of the saw. It comprises an aluminium extrusion that is nicely machined, fitted with a mechanism that locks to both the front rail of the saw and the rear of the table. However, the material chosen for the rear locking plate bends easily with hardly any pressure required. As a result the fence never locks securely to the table, and when it does lock there is too much movement to produce an accurate cut.
The solution is an Axminster small rip fence upgrade, product code 100257. This is a vastly superior fence that frankly should be supplied with the machine. It locks to an included front rail, into which you must cut slots to match the positions of the four bolts on the AC1400s table. This fence locks perfectly every time and it takes a great deal of sideways pressure at the rear to move it. It is also adjustable and can be squared to the blade, or in this case to the front of the table and takes the accuracy of the AC1400B to another level. I would go as far as to say that for any straight cuts or ripping operations, this upgraded fence is a necessity.
The optional mitre fence (Axminster code 102919) is a very nicely made item. It is reasonably accurate in the mitre slot, with a small amount of play. The thick plastic handle is easy to tighten and the cast aluminium fence provides two slots for attaching sacrificial fence faces or jigs. There are no positive stops at any of the angles on the scale, though it will mitre in both directions and is easy to square to the front of the table for a 90-degree cut.
The blade guard rises to allow a cutting height of up to 80 mm. It is adjusted by a rack and pinion mechanism that is entirely made of plastic. It’s a great design that is thwarted by dust ingress, which quickly clogs up the plastic rack gear making the guard immovable. There is a superficial plastic dust guard but it does very little to combat the problem. Unfortunately cleaning the gears requires disassembly of the guard assembly, which requires that the blade and top wheel both be removed. This isn’t difficult but it does take time, and after going through the process a few times I simply removed the gear which allows the guard to be slid up and down manually. Removing the gear didn’t negatively impact the performance in any way, and the rear locking knob still tightens to lock the guard in place.
On a positive note, the guard features phosphor bronze blade guides and a rear thrust bearing. The guides are friction bearings and not roller bearings, but are fully adjustable and are also replicated below the table. When set correctly they give excellent blade control. I set them up with a set of automotive feeler gauges but it is quite easy to do it by feel alone, and there is a helpful tutorial on Axminster’s website that will walk you through the full adjustment process.
The AC1400B bandsaw is smooth and quiet in operation. It cuts through suitable material like a hot knife through butter. It is supplied with a 6 mm 6TPI blade as standard, but Axminster offer a complete range of blades from course to fine, and from thick to thin for rip cuts and fine shaping respectively. Their website has a handy blade picker tool in which you choose your model of the saw and are presented with compatible replacement blades. They also offer a multipack of five blades at a discounted price.
The saw is just as smooth slicing through softwood with its standard blade as it is cutting carbon fibre, phenolic laminates and even sheet aluminium with a fine-tooth blade. Dust collection via the 40 mm outlet is so-so, though that is the same for any bandsaw that doesn’t also capture dust from the guard. There is a blade brush in the bottom compartment which helps to keep dust at bay and brush resin from the surface of the blade it increase its life.
The AC400B bandsaw from Axminster Tools represents excellent value but budget an extra £30 each for the better rip fence and the optional mitre fence. Both of these upgrades elevate the saw’s performance and utility and should be standard inclusions, even if the saw’s price was raised by a nominal amount to cover the additional manufacturing cost. I’d also recommend modifying the guard out of the box. It would be a shame if buyer’s judged the saw as-is, as swapping the fence, fixing the guard and performing an accurate setup makes the AC1400B a highly capable machine. It is portable too, relatively lightweight, nicely built and very flexible. It earns my recommendation.