Wiring for 3HP 220V (for Laguna Tools 18|Bx)

I recently purchased a Laguna Tools 18|Bx 3HP 220V 18″ Bandsaw, specifically a MBAND18BX2203, and needed to wire a 220 Volt outlet. I’ve done a fair bit of electrical work (both low and high voltage), but I had a couple questions.

Just for the record, I enjoyed this video to make sure everything was setup correctly and this unboxing video was helpful. Also, here is the manual. The instructions weren’t great, but the wiring digram in the manual was helpful. YouTube and web forums are incredible for learning how to do new things like this. This article, Understanding 240V AC Power for Heavy-Duty Power Tools, was super helpful.

The 18BX2203 has a 12-amp 3 HP 220 volt 1 phase Leeson motor, with a 20 Amp recommended breaker. (Engines use more current on startup. Why not more Voltage?). 220V is a somewhat outdated nomenclature for the US system, but tools like this have adequate tolerance to take 240 without problems.

Laguna made this confusing since their website for the 18BX, differed from the manual. The website recommended a 20 amp breaker, while the manual recommend 15.


The machine’s wiring diagram showed me a couple important things. First, I have no need for a neutral wire and the saw has a NEMA 6-15 plug.


The single phase motor will need at least 12-amps of continuous current at 240V (hot 120V + hot 120V) plus a ground. Here in the US, we have 240V single-phase residential, with a center tap. The center tap is called neutral. This is called “Split-phase” since you can grab the outer “phase” wires (hot-hot) or grab one phase and neutral for half the voltage.

This diagram cleared everything up for me:

Where I found myself confused was on the “single-phase”, if a “normal” outlet grabs one phase, and a neutral for half the voltage, wouldn’t a 240V setup have two phases? There actually is a 2-phase, but it’s weird as heck. It was basically two single-phase circuits set 90 degrees apart, and requires 4 wires instead of 3 but only carries about 14% more power for 33% more wires. Needless to say it wasn’t popular.

This diagram cleared it up for me. The amplitude of 120V on each leg adds to 240V at the same frequency. The current doesn’t add since the flow remains the same. A 240V-only piece of gear connects to two hot legs and a ground (no neutral), so if it pulls 20A, that 20A has to be going in one hot leg and out the other hot leg — there’s nowhere else for it to go! (In other words, it draws 20A, period — the legs do not “add together”.)

In setting up a 20-amp circuit, I had to make sure this worked with my setup. Per the table in the manual, I need at least 14 guage wire, so I went with 12 guage which I needed for the 20-amp breaker anyway.

wire thickness

How many wires?

I initially was going to use 12/2 wire, but I decided on schedule 40 conduit with Thermoplastic High Heat-resistant Nylon-coated THHN wire. I like this reference on wires.

I initially thought I would need to have 4 wires (a 12/3 wire), both a neutral and a ground in addition to two hot wires. After thinking about it a little bit, it made sense two use three wires total, since I was setting up a dedicated circuit and the ground and the neutral will have the same purpose. (The neutral is connected to the ground in the panel.)

What receptacle do I use?

The bandsaw came pre-wired with a 220V NEMA 6-15 3-pin plug. I used this page to make sure I used the correct outlet. One of the decisions I had to make was if I wanted to use a twist lock plug, but I didn’t consider the benefit worth the extra work to re-wire the saw.

For this setup, I needed a NEMA 6-20.

By the way, I learned that due to an exception in NEC, I’m allowed to plug 15A-plugged loads into either a 15A or 20A circuit. Further, a 20A circuit is allowed to have 15A sockets on it (as long as there are 2 or more sockets, e.g. the above NEMA 6-15 will suffice).

I decided on 20 Amp Commercial Grade Double-Pole Single Outlet, White which has two connections for hot and one ground wire and is a NEMA 6-20R, 2P, 3W.


This is the most simple part. I need two 20 amp breakers that connect to different leads to get both parts of the split phase. This one will work.

What you do is who you are

This book was a timely opportunity to understand the intersection of culture and action.

Ben Horowitz is the cofounder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that invests in entrepreneurs building the next generation of leading technology companies. The firm’s investments include Airbnb, GitHub, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Previously, he was cofounder and CEO of Opsware, formerly Loudcloud, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $1.6 billion in 2007. Horowitz writes about his experiences and insights from his career as a computer science student, software engineer, cofounder, CEO, and investor in a blog that is read by nearly 10 million people.

Here he writes about culture; specifically company culture. The book combines lessons both from history and from modern organizational research to give advice aimed at leaders that want to proactively design culture.

He starts the book with language similar to the Netflix culture deck:

Is culture dogs at work and yoga in the break room? No, those are perks. Is it your corporate values? No, those are aspirations? Is it the personality and the priorities of the CEO? That helps shape the culture, but is far from the thing itself.

I love Ben Horowitz’s brash style and direct advice, but the selection of non-traditional characters felt forced. It was hard for me to connect with characters more defined by their crimes than successes. While historical villians may present some lessons, I think the pool of case studies is large enough to include moral leaders, even if you force yourself to exclude white europeans, which is very Zeitgesity these days.

Studying gang dynamics for leadership lessons, has a Freakonimics like novelty to it, but I’m looking for impact over novelty.

Samuari and the difference between culture, values and virtues?

One case study I did enjoy was the focus on Samurai, specifially the focus on virtues over values. The samurai’s bushido code—"the way of the warrior"—lasted nearly 700 years and still infuses Japanese culture. It endured because it established clear requirements for behavior bounded by loyalty, respect, and sincerity and enforced them with severe consequences for misbehavior.

Bushido isn’t a set of principles, but a set of practices: it’s about actions, not beliefs. Other samurai virtues included honor, politeness, and sincerity: three complementary qualities that translate well to business.

He makes an important point that culture isn’t the same as values – values are more like aspirations, while culture has to mean something in practice. Virtues are what you do. Values are what you believe.

He hits a key point with his perspective on what matters.

Your own perspective on the culture is not that relevant. Your view or your executive team’s view of your culture is rarely what your employees experience…The relevant question is, what must employees do to survive and succeed in your organization? What behaviors get them included in, or excluded from, the power base? What gets them ahead?

Then, he emphasizes how important conveying context to a workforce is:

Above all else, employees want to know that they matter, they’re making a difference, there’s meaningful work to be done, and they’re moving the bigger picture forward. Without this, it’s impossible to get people to care.

If people don’t care, then it is just their own ability to succeed in the culture. If a culture can’t make quick decisions or has a void in leadership, it becomes defined by indifference.

Disagree and Committ

As a manager, the worst thing you can do is undermine decisions made above you. This creates cultural chaos, makes your team feel marginalized and powerless, and end result is apathy and attrition. If you disagree with those above you you need to leave before you start complaiing about them.

The problem is there is a lack of courage in most business leadership. Telling the truth isn’t natural. It requires courage. The easy thing to do is to tell someone what they want to hear.

The way you get to the place of being able to articulate a decision you might not agree with is by asking why. It’s your job to understand the reasoning behind a decision, otherwise you have failed your team.

You might not convince everyone you’re right. But everyone must feel heard and that you’ve acknowledged their concerns. This is the path towards disagreeing and committing.

Final Takeaways

Culture matters and leaders must be intentional. I also take his point that leadership lessons can come from non-traditional sources.

No matter what your culture is, your new hires should embody them: always hire people well suited to your culture. Second, make sure the virtues you choose are actionable. Like the samurai’s bushido code, they should be things you do, not just idealized beliefs. Third, while the virtues don’t have to be totally unique, they should at least distinguish your company from the competition.

This all requires trust. If your employees don’t trust both each other and you, a distinct culture won’t form. They should trust you so much that you can deliver bad news when necessary – for instance, when there will be layoffs – and still retain their respect. If they don’t, bad situations will have a habit of just getting worse and worse.

Ben Horowitz uses Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to show how being direct can be so effective if done with context. With that speech, Lincoln managed to imbue the American Civil War with new meaning by explaining why so many soldiers had died at Gettysburg. He acknowledged the cost of the war, but also explained why he believed in its significance – a model for any CEO.

Bad news goes both ways, of course, and he makes the point that you should foster a culture in which you always know the worst of what’s going on. Every organization of significant size is home to lots and lots of problems: your job is to know about as many of them as possible. Your employees should therefore trust you enough that they can come forward with issues, and know that you’ll be positive and constructive about them when they do.

Crossing the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm is a marketing book by Geoffrey A. Moore that explores the dynamics of marketing high tech products in early stage startups. While an older book, it continues to be read because the exploration and expansion of the diffusions of innovations model continues to have a significant and lasting impact on high tech entrepreneurship.

I would summarize the book into three main lessons.

  • The chasm is a gap between visionary early adopters and the pragmatic majority.
  • Crossing the chasm requires securing a specific niche as a beachhead first.
  • Position yourself as a market leader in your niche by making a strong claim.

Lesson 1: What is the Chasm?

Visionary early adopters start outside the space of the pragmatic majority. To change that, the book explores the technology adoption life cycle and concludes the states that new technology makes its way through the population in a bell curve distribution.

First, Innovators jump on the product, followed by early adopters, the early and late majority, to finally reach the laggards. Specifically, the chasm is the gap that lies between the early adopters and the early majority, when a product is very disruptive and requires behavioral changes.

This is due to differing motivations for buying a product. The visionary early adopters want huge changes and are willing to bet on them against the odds.

People in the early majority are much more pragmatic though. They don’t want big changes and huge innovations, but rather incremental improvements based on using proven products and solutions. But!, most arguments visionaries make to get the majority to buy aren’t appealing.

The majority wants to buy from established brands and companies, but without having the majority buy your product, you can’t become an established brand.

This dilemma is what Geoffrey Moore calls The Chasm and it’s something all high tech companies must overcome, if they ever want to see their product become successful and reach the majority of the population.

Lesson 2: How is the Chasm Crossed

This book claims that one can only cross the chasm by targeting a specific niche first. To make this happen, you start small.

This also resonated with me in reading Zero to One. Thiel insists that every startup should start small, because it’s easier to dominate a niche market than a larger, pre-existing one. Citing one of his earlier mistakes, Thiel recalls that PayPal initially let users send each other money via PalmPilots–a market that was, ultimately, too large and too spread out for them to control. PayPal then pivoted to work with eBay auctioneers instead, a smaller grouping of a few thousand "PowerSellers" who were easier to reach.

Here, Moore recommends to pick a very targeted and specific niche of customers inside the early majority to focus on and then expand into other niches later on until you cross the critical threshold.

Think of it as first securing a beachhead in an invasion, to take a stand and then build from there.

In order to convince your target segment you’re selling a holistic, well-supported product with good references and establish yourself as the market leader, you have to strictly sell to only your target group.

Don’t expand too early or sell to outsiders, just because you have the chance to. You’ll end up adjusting and customizing your product to death to make it fit for every individual purchase.

One of the best reasons for this, is the scarcity of time, people and money for early stage startups. It is critical to have forward motion.

Lesson 3: Make a strong (defensible) Claim

Position yourself as the market leader in your niche by making a strong claim.
Positioning is extremely important when it comes to customers making purchase decisions.

For example, when I mention Lamborghini, you immediately recall certain attributes in your head, like “expensive”, “luxurious”, “high-end”, “sportscars” and “rare”.

That’s great positioning in action.

Pragmatists want to know where you stand with respect to your competition (as they’re only interested in established brands), but you’re the high tech newbie, and there might not even be direct competition, so what can you do?

You define your competition yourself.

When you contrast yourself with a market alternative (the traditional way of doing things) and a product alternative (a competitor, who uses the same technology, but in a different industry), you can easily position yourself as the leader in the new, combined field.

For example, Dropbox could’ve positioned itself by saying: “For private PC users, who are sick of carrying files from one PC to the next via USB stick, we offer a hardware-free file syncing solution. Our service makes your files available on any device with an internet connection, just like YouTube does with video, but with any type of file you choose.”

These 2 sentences are all it takes to give you a powerful position – in fact, it shouldn’t take more than 2 sentences to make it clear to everyone in your target niche.

This claim will allow you to focus exactly on your initial niche and eventually take the majority of the market share there, so you can then expand and dominate the rest of the market as well.

Crossing The Chasm Review
I’ve heard the concept of Crossing The Chasm several times before, and I keep wondering whether it translates into other segments as well, where the products aren’t as high-tech.

If you want to learn more about it, Simon Sinek integrates it well into his TED talk. He says:

The problem is: How do you find the ones that get it before doing business versus the ones who don’t get it? So it’s this here, this little gap that you have to close, as Jeffrey Moore calls it, “Crossing the Chasm” — because, you see, the early majority will not try something until someone else has tried it first. And these guys, the innovators and the early adopters, they’re comfortable making those gut decisions. They’re more comfortable making those intuitive decisions that are driven by what they believe about the world and not just what product is available. These are the people who stood in line for six hours to buy an iPhone when they first came out, when you could have bought one off the shelf the next week. These are the people who spent 40,000 dollars on flat-screen TVs when they first came out, even though the technology was substandard. And, by the way, they didn’t do it because the technology was so great; they did it for themselves. It’s because they wanted to be first. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe. In fact, people will do the things that prove what they believe. The reason that person bought the iPhone in the first six hours, stood in line for six hours, was because of what they believed about the world, and how they wanted everybody to see them: they were first. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

Mr. Moore’s blueprint works, dozens of companies have proven it over the years – most recently Uber, who initially targeted the techy hipsters at the SXSW conference, video drones, who are becoming a standard tool for shooting video and of course Facebook, who collected college campus after college campus in his user base until everyone wanted to get an account.