Startrite 401E Bandsaw review

In the UK, Startrite’s bandsaws have long been seen as something of a benchmark: the old UK-built models seem to go on forever, and are still to be found in workshops up and down the country. Startrite’s bandsaws are now made in Italy, but they enjoy the same build quality, and the 401E is absolutely rock solid.

At 390mm, the Startrite’s throat capacity is the smallest on test, but its depth of cut is a huge 400mm, which is a serious consideration if you fi nd yourself resawing stock frequently. Although the Startrite is limited to a maximum blade width of just 30mm, this should be enough for the majority of work that the saw’s likely to encounter; the narrowest blade the Startrite can run is 6mm.

Blade tension is manually set, there being no quick-change lever. This means it takes a little longer, but the tension guide mechanism is of industrial quality: the cast iron band wheel is mounted on a massive slide, and the tension held with an exceptionally heavy-duty spring. The amount of tension applied is expressed in pounds per square inch which, according to Startrite’s top technical bod, Phil Meyers, is the proper way of doing things. There is still an element of tweaking needed to fi ne tune the setting for different materials and blade sizes, but this set-up certainly takes the guesswork out of tensioning the blade.

Startrite 401E bandsaw details
1] Tilting the table.
2] Hinged panels guard the blade. They allow easy access for blade changing.
3] The height adjustment is solidly constructed and silky smooth.
4] The fence runs smoothly along this rail. There are graduations etched along it, but no tape scale.
The guides and height post assembly are equally solid, the 30mm diameter height post being notched for the rack-and-pinion type adjustment; the large three-spoked adjuster at the rear gives the saw easy adjustment and a very smooth action.

The cast iron table is split to the front for blade changing, with the guarding for the blade hinged for easy access; the running bar for the fence remains in position.

The 401’s 128mm-deep aluminium extrusion fence offers good support for deeper ripping cuts, while the large cast shoe ensures that it runs true.

The table height is the lowest of all the saws on test at only 860mm. When you’re working thinner stock, this might feel a little low. I certainly felt the need to stoop slightly to see under the guides when making these cuts, but on deeper resaw rips the height is ideal as your feet are fi rmly planted.

Typical price: £1468.75
Made in Italy
Motor: 2hp (approx. 1500W)
Speed: 900mpm
Blade Capacity: 6-30mm
Height under guides: 400mm
Throat capacity: 390mm
Table Height: 860mm
Weight: 158kg

Rating: 4/5
The table tilts on a cast rack-and-pinion trunion, with twin-cogged brackets keeping the table solid. Interestingly, owing to another Eurolaw, the Startrite has a pin through the trunion to limit the tilt to 20°. If you need to get the full tilt range, however, the pin can easily be withdrawn with pliers.

The table has a single T-slot to the right of the blade, but it measures 15 x 4mm, so the standard accessories aren’t compatible. At 900mpm, the Startrite operates at the same speed as the Jet, and it runs very smoothly, too. The cutting performance is equally impressive: the 2hp motor wasn’t troubled by deep cuts, and now that the Startrites have deep, solid fences that lock, veneer cutting and deep-stock ripping are painless. So, while the Startrite’s throat size may limit some operations, its extra depth-of-cut capacity makes it a very attractive proposition.