Bandsaw Restoration #1: New Old (Really, Really Old...) Toy

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Blog entry by Jimi_C posted 12-31-2009 06:06 AM 17644 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Bandsaw Restoration series Part 2: Progress, at last »

As I mentioned here, I acquired a new toy last night, which I had been considering for a while. I found this on Craigslist, and I started doing some research on OWWM. As it turns out, Power King was a pretty popular machine maker back in the day, and was acquired by Atlas Press Tool Co. (another pretty popular manufacturer) in the late 40’s. The 912 was sold pretty much as-is by Atlas after that, as you can see from the OWWM page (they look almost identical except for the paint color). Mine is branded “Power King”, so it was made some time between 1942 and 1948, more likely closer to 1942 since the serial # is 2889.

So, for $100, I figured I was getting a pretty good deal, yet at the same time I figured the machine would need some work to perform to its full potential. Here’s the full view:

As you can see, there’s minimal rust on the machine, something I was pretty surprised about when I saw it. What looks like rust is just gunk and sawdust built up in places here and there. I took a small brush and started cleaning some parts off, just to be sure, and found no rust under the build up.

Here’s the label on the front, and the serial # tag on the back (which I didn’t notice was blurry till now… but it’s too damn cold in my garage to retake it right now…):

And here’s the table top, which measures 14”x14”. The surface is not bad, there’s very little actual surface rust – the discoloration looks like paint or stain that was spilled on it at some point in the past. I took a random orbit sander to a small part to see how easy it’d be to clean up, and I got shiny metal within a minute of sanding. There’s a small ding on the back side of the table, but it’s not bad, and no crack. The table insert is pretty chewed up, but I could not get it out of the table. I don’t know if it snaps in, or twist-locks in or what, but I couldn’t get it to budge.

Here’s the shot under the table, showing the guide block holders for the bottom. This saw is a bit odd apparently… it has 3 1/2”x1/2” cubic guide blocks, and one 1/2”x1/2” guide block that is skewed (parallelogram I think it’s called?). The holder for the skewed guide block is clearly visible in this picture:

Any idea where I could get a set of guide blocks to match this? It seems like most of the saws that have skewed block configurations are larger than 1/2”. The trunions for the table are all in good shape, and the table tilts pretty well… it’s a little stiff after 30 degrees or so, so I’ll probably need to clean up some gunk from underneath to get it to tilt freely… not that I plan on using it while tilted.

Here’s the upper wheel, after the top guard was removed. The tires on this thing are shot… hard, dry, and cracked all over, so I’ll have to get some new tires for it. The wheels seem to be a modern standard size (12” diameter, over 1” wide), and I’ve seen on at least one forum the mention that urethane tires work fine on these, so that’ll be a future purchase. Once again, all the stuff that looks like rust is just gunk build up, it wipes off with little effort, so it should be an easy clean up. The wheel bearings seem to be in good shape, and the wheels spin nice and easy.

Here’s a view of the upper blade guide, I took one of the guide blocks out to measure it (these are the old style brass type). The thrust bearing looks pretty rough, but it still spins ok – though it needs to be cleaned up. I used to play roller hockey, and I’ve seen worse, so a nice bath in some WD40 should be all that’s required to get these working well again (the lower looks a bit worse, more gunk built up on it).

Here’s the motor, it’s a 1/2HP Eicor.

And here’s the tension adjustment knob and height adjustment for the upper guide. There is just over 6.25” of capacity when all the way up (at 6.5”, the thrust bearing rubs against the upper blade guard).

So, why no blade on this? Because I already broke it :-/

I was testing out the saw on some scraps of maple, and it was not going well… the blade seemed to be burning through the wood more than it was cutting it. I don’t know much about bandsaw blades yet, but this one was a 1/4” 6TPI blade, so I’m sure it was less than ideal for cutting through something as hard as maple (probably dull as a butter knife too). The edges of the wood were absolutely blackened, so I’m sure I over heated the blade. Also, I doubt the previous owner de-tensioned the blade after using it (the tension on the blade seemed pretty high to me), so with all that going it really didn’t surprise me that the blade snapped at the weld point after a couple of test cuts. I’ve already researched getting a Timber Wolf blade for this, based on the reviews here, so I’ll look to get that in the near future as well.

One of the really cool things about OWWM, is that they have manuals scanned in, including one for the 912. So, the recommended blade size is 3/8”, and (as you can see written all over the outside of the upper cover) the blade length is 82”. This seems to be a pretty standard blade, so it shouldn’t be too expensive to pick up.

Overall, the machine runs pretty quiet, though there is a noticeable vibration. If replacing the tires and blade don’t correct that, I may look to replace the belt to the motor, and even maybe rebuild the stand the whole thing is mounted on. The current one is quite large, with a hinged lid and compartment for storing stuff. Looking at the later Atlas 912’s, they all seem to have the motor mounted below, and many people have fabricated belt guards for them, which is something I really like. Also, I’m not a fan of the current power switch location, and I’ll probably move that in the future regardless (maybe upgrade to a larger paddle-style switch). The space between the feet is open as well, so it may be possible to add dust collection ability as well.

So, that’s my new old tool :) I’m pretty excited about it, as I’ve never bought a tool this old before. I find it very cool just thinking that this thing is 60+ years old, and still looks to be in pretty damn good shape!

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

14 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117781 posts in 4134 days

#1 posted 12-31-2009 06:09 AM

Looks like it’s might need some work or at least a new blade

View drfixit's profile


318 posts in 3701 days

#2 posted 12-31-2009 06:10 AM

Cool! I love older machines and I am a craigslist addict, over half of my shop came off craigslist.

-- I GIVE UP!!!! I've cut this @!&*!% board 3 times.... its still too short!

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3792 days

#3 posted 12-31-2009 06:26 AM

@a1Jim: yep, I was researching blades pretty much all afternoon, even before breaking the one that came with this. I had pretty much settled on the Timber Wolf, since it has many good reviews on this site. I had hoped the tires weren’t shot, but as a realist I figured they would need replacing.

My main question is, where can I find guide blocks for the odd setup this saw uses? The Cool Blocks and ceramic blocks sold by Rockler/Woodcraft don’t seem to match up perfectly (no skewed guide).

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View ward63's profile


362 posts in 3644 days

#4 posted 12-31-2009 06:40 AM

Why not make your own guide blocks out of lignum Vitae, Verawood, or some Teak?
Cut to size with a fine tooth handsaw.

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3792 days

#5 posted 12-31-2009 06:47 AM

@ward63: I suppose I could do that :) If all else fails, that’s what I’ll do.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3866 days

#6 posted 12-31-2009 08:37 AM

You will learn alot from restoring your new toy. Best of luck.
That bandsaw is similar to some of older Jumberjocks…over 60+ years ols and still in pretty good damn shape.

View DavidD3's profile


20 posts in 3644 days

#7 posted 12-31-2009 08:55 AM

I’ve always ended up being more comfortable with machines I’ve had to take apart and fix or fiddle with in some way. Understanding a machine inside and out helps a lot.

Good luck fixing it up. It’s great to see an old warhorse like that put to use than melted down for scrap.

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 3919 days

#8 posted 12-31-2009 09:12 AM

Hey Jimi,
Just been down this road and it was fun to do…enjoy the experience.

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3792 days

#9 posted 12-31-2009 08:46 PM

About wood guides – I found this doing some googling: It sounds like just about any hardwood will work, and letting them soak up some WD-40 provides lubrication to the blade as well as the blocks while preventing scorching of the wood. Looks like this will be the way to go for sure, so I’ll get to making some new guide blocks this weekend.

I have also been looking through the manual on OWWM again, and noticed that the arm is detachable from the base, meaning I could add a riser if I wanted more resaw capacity in the future. The downside of course is that I’d probably have to fabricate it myself (or pay a machinist to do it…).

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View ward63's profile


362 posts in 3644 days

#10 posted 01-01-2010 05:59 AM

Just remember to keep the blocks behind the blade ‘set’. There’s no point in dulling the blade further by having them on the ‘set’ or in front of the blade. Although the WD-40 sounds like a good idea, I never really liked the smell of it. On smaller, more delicate blades…1/8”-1/4”, I use white oak blocks soaked in carnauba wax. It doesn’t burn, has no smell and works great.

Good luck

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3792 days

#11 posted 01-01-2010 12:23 PM

I was curious about that, whether I should keep the blocks behind the set or not, since the wood is so soft compared to the metal blocks. I know for the Cool Blocks brand, it says it’s ok (and preferred) to have the blocks in front of the blade, but for the ceramic brand they say not to. I’ll position them behind, just to be safe, like you say.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View Tim Gates's profile

Tim Gates

38 posts in 3601 days

#12 posted 04-12-2010 06:01 AM

On your next trip to HF, buy a buffing set for your grinder. It starts with sandpaper and works its way up to compound. Will polish up the table nicely.

View jim45's profile


1 post in 1535 days

#13 posted 09-22-2015 12:18 AM

Hello Jim;
I also have a power king 912 bandsaw and I have been trying to rebuild. The cool blocks for it will also fit a delta 14” but I am having trouble with the thrust bearing. I have turned it into a tabletop saw with the motor behind the saw. I am thinking of using SpaceAge Ceramics, LLC , 192 Kurtz Lane, Hamilton, MT 59840 for the cool blocks and the hopefully also the thrust bearings. Wish you luck.

View ScamNonsense's profile


1594 posts in 7 days

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