Motivation for a bandsaw tune-up

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Blog entry by WhattheChuck posted 12-26-2017 12:21 AM 1193 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

LJ Gang— I’ve been doing a bandsaw tune-up, and thought I’d post the end result to motivate folks that might have been putting this off. Uh, like yours truly.

These are a test dovetail corner I cut to see how it all worked out.

And here is a 7.5” resaw veneer I also managed to make. Pretty awesome! This bedeviled me forever—the ability to do this.

What did I do?

1. Changed both top and bottom bearings ($80)
2. Added an aftermarket Kreg fence with resaw attachment. ($135)
3. Added Cool Blocks and a Highland Woodworking Wood Slicer blade. ($30 +$30 blade cost)
4. Added a new bandsaw spring (Carter—$17)
5. Added new urethane bandsaw tires (from Amazon—$30)

Total upgrade cost ~ $325
Result—Basically, a new bandsaw.

Changing the bearings was kinda tricky, because my saw is one of the combo metal/wood Delta saws. It was also made in 1948 or something. There are videos on Youtube about this. I got my smart machinist friend to help me. The top was trivial. The bottom required us to make a couple of stupidity payments in order to figure out it wasn’t that hard. A cold chisel to knock out the Woodruff key was the ticket, along with a file to repair the inevitable damage we did.

The spring is drop-in easy.

The Kreg fence is also pretty trivial to install, if you have one of the selected varieties. The Delta saw has two attachment points on the front of the table which make it easy. The fence takes about 15 minutes to assemble and install.

I had purchased Cool Blocks from a long time ago, and re-surfaced them so they were nice and flat.

You can also see the Kreg re-saw fence attachment. This thing really does provide support, but you should also work on getting your blade to track as close to 0 off center as you can. There are videos on Youtube about bandsaw drift, but the first thing to do is to get the saw so drift is minimal. For the Delta, this is not hard—the goal is to get the blade to run on the middle of the tires/wheels. After that, the Kreg fence will easily you adjust for remaining drift.

I also put new bandsaw tires on top and bottom. This is super-important. I saw where the Wood Whisperer dude was advocating boiling the tires to make them so you can stretch them on. My advice is to get someone to help and you can pull them on. With two people, it’s really not hard. I also set myself up using some bike tire irons. I think that the Wood Whisperer has been working out in the Baby Gym!

The Wood Slicer blade is really amazing. If you get one of these bad boys, you won’t need any fancy motor upgrade. Here’s a picture of my motor, which is very likely the original motor. It still has a lubrication port on it.

In conclusion—just do it. I’ve always cut dovetails with either my Leigh jig, or by hand. That meant no meaningful dovetails cut by hand that were thick. Now that my saw is tuned up, it is trivial to cut thick stock dovetails with minimal effort. And the thing used to rattle like crazy. It isn’t perfectly silent, but I can run it without ear protection and not kill my ears. Not that this is recommended—but noise is the hallmark of vibration. And it’s super-satisfying to turn on the saw and not hear the intense rattling.

Total time with parts—about one afternoon. Misery factor (on a scale of 1 being easy to 10 being really freaking miserable) ~ 5. If I hadn’t changed the bottom bearing, it would have only been a 2.

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

6 comments so far

View Dwain's profile


602 posts in 4463 days

#1 posted 12-26-2017 02:47 AM

Congrats on your efforts! I need to go through my bandsaw. While not as old as yours, a new blade and adjustment would do wonders. Glad to see the quality of work you can accomplish with your updates.

Thanks for sharing!

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View WhattheChuck's profile


372 posts in 4164 days

#2 posted 12-26-2017 02:57 AM

Glad you liked it, Dwain. It wasn’t that hard. Makes me wonder why I didn’t do it five years ago. The bearing thing was probably the largest improvement. That and the tires. You can’t make headway with an oscillating blade.

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View pintodeluxe's profile


6033 posts in 3417 days

#3 posted 12-26-2017 05:58 AM

Did you replace the thrust bearings that sit just behind the blade, or are you talking about the wheel bearings?
I replaced the thrust bearings when one froze up on me.

Like anything else, I’m guessing the blade made the biggest difference, but beyond that I do wonder what helps the most. How did you true up your cool blocks? I just touch mine to the oscillating belt sander, but it’s hard to get a square end on such a short piece.

Even with a fresh blade and good bearings, my 14” bandsaw likes to wander. Maybe a fresh set of guide blocks would do me some good.

Nice post.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View WhattheChuck's profile


372 posts in 4164 days

#4 posted 12-26-2017 06:06 AM

I replaced the wheel bearings. That’s really the biggest thing. The thrust bearings are a minor detail.

It was a pain to get the bottom wheel off, but the top came off pretty easily. All the bearings have a number on them—mine (remember!) were 70 years old! Turns out they’re pretty standard things, though.

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View WhattheChuck's profile


372 posts in 4164 days

#5 posted 12-26-2017 06:07 AM

Re: truing up the Cool Blocks—I just used my belt sander. It was good enough. I didn’t try to square up the diagonal one down below.

Replace your top bearing to start. NOTHING wanders now on my saw. Wandering was an enormous problem before. I actually find it mind-boggling. I almost feel like Gary Rogowski!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View WhattheChuck's profile


372 posts in 4164 days

#6 posted 12-26-2017 06:09 AM

BTW—I went to our local farm supply (The Grange) for the bearings. They have a bearing guy. If you haul the top wheel of your bandsaw into such an outfit, they’ll have mercy on you and help you replace them. I didn’t need that, because I had my machinist friend, who I bought off with good wine. There were two locking retainer springs for mine. Once removed, the bearing popped right out.

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

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