The gravity feed system relies on gravity for it to work. Gravity feed on saws is basically a rope and a pulley with a weight on one end. The carriage runs because the weight is submitted to gravity, and as a result, the weight that's tied on a string drives the carriage forward. Most people prefer this feed system, but to tell you frankly, it's terribly slow.
To tell you frankly, our first saw was a Highland Park 10-inch gravity feed saw. And while it was a nice saw, honestly, it still sucked. We struggled before because it cut so slow. The feed is relying on the pull of the weight which limits the speed of cutting. We had to attach more weight to the rope, for it to cut slightly faster.
The only advantage gravity feed has, is it's cheaper. And that's why people still use it nowadays.
Our early days of lapidary were super demotivating because it was tough to achieve anything using the saw we had. Honestly, we almost gave up starting in this industry. We haven't built our interest in lapidary until we had our first power feed saw. We loved it and were impressed by it, and it became the prototype for our Model 12 saw.
Speed and consistency are what make the power feed system better. Power feed improves the operation of cutting because it automates the process of pushing the carriage and therefore, provides a steady cut. It allows the saw to run much faster as it operates and pushes the material automatically, rather than manual feeding, as the gravity feed.
Unlike back in the day when we used our HP gravity feed 10-inch saw, we now use power feeds on our machines. Though power feed costs more, you get what you pay for. With the power feed, we designed three speeds to adjust the carriage in-feed for various rock hardness.
The poor engineering design of the old lapidary machines almost made us not pursue lapidary. But discovering the power feed system was a total game-changer. We enjoyed the pleasure of lapidary, rather than suffering from the struggles of it.
The point is, knowledge really matters. This will determine whether you can succeed in this hobby or not. Don't be discouraged if what you currently have doesn't meet your standards. Just like in our experience, you can find the machine that's right for you. Here in Highland Park, we are committed to making your lapidary journey worthwhile and have no room for regrets.