Q. Dear Fred, we are ready to purchase a new saw. Our 30-year-old bridge saw is finally getting near the end of its life cycle. We are really getting confused on which saw to purchase. Which kind is best?
A. I really can’t recommend one brand since there are many options and requirements that would fit your needs. However the following are some tips when buying a new saw:
The first question you must ask before purchasing any saw is how often you will use it. If you’re just starting out and you only anticipate fabricating one to two kitchens per week, a large bridge saw with all the bells and whistles may be overkill. In addition, the saw may not pay for itself. On the other hand if you’re moving up from a smaller saw and your workload is increasing, a larger bridge saw may be just the ticket to keep you on schedule and allow you to fabricate more kitchens per week.
The next thing you need to do is a payback analysis. In other words, based on the initial cost and set up, what it will cost to operate and how long before you pay for the saw. If you discover it takes 10 years or more, the saw will more than likely be outdated by then.
Finally, before you purchase any saw, ask the manufacturer or distributor for a list of fabricators who have purchased that saw. Call each and every one and ask them specific questions. Here is what I would ask:
1. How long have you had the saw?
2. Have you had any problems with it?
3. How long does it take to get a service tech out when it breaks down?
4. Are parts available in the U.S. and how long will it take to get the part needed?
5. If you had to do it again, would you buy this saw?
6. What do you like about this saw or why did you buy it?
7. What do you dislike about the saw?
8. What would you change on this saw to make it better?
9. What saw did you have before this one?
10. What did you pay for this saw?
Ask as many questions as you like. You will find that fabricators are friendly people and enjoy helping other fabricators. You can also post questions relating to saw purchasing at online stone fabrication forums.
Do you have a question on stone or engineered stone fabrication, repair, installation or restoration? E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author: Frederick M. Hueston is a worldwide expert on stone installation, failures, fabrication and restoration. He is the founder of the National Training Center for Stone & Masonry Trades (ntc-stone.com) and Stone University (stoneuniversity.org). He can be reached at Fhueston@aol.com.