1953 Delta Milwaukee 14" Band Saw Restoration #1: Introduction

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Blog entry by onoitsmatt posted 08-28-2015 05:51 PM 4863 reads 3 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of 1953 Delta Milwaukee 14" Band Saw Restoration series Part 2: Lower Wheel Assembly »

I should preface this blog with a note about myself. I recently shed most of my power tools in favor of old hand tools, like Stanley Planes, Disston saws, and old Braces/Bits and eggbeater drills. This was around December of 2014 (about 9 months ago as of this writing). The two power tools I decided to keep in the shop were a band saw and a drill press. Problem was, I didn’t own a band saw (at least not a decent one). So the search began. I hemmed and hawed about it, researched, and researched and finally decided that between what everyone said about old Delta 14” band saws and my general love of old things, the older 14” Delta was likely the best choice for me and my style of woodworking/personality/etc.

I should also mention that I am somewhat mechanically/electrically inclined, though I have never tackled a project quite like this before. Meaning, I have never restored an old tool of any kind. So I am writing this blog as a means of documenting my work and costs, but also hopefully providing people like myself a window into some of the challenges that someone new to band saw restoration can learn from as I get myself in over my head. I’m hoping to provide lots of photos and very detailed descriptions of each process, so that every dummy (like me) can hopefully have a successful band saw restoration as I hope mine will be.

Now to the band saw!

I picked up this 1953 Delta/Milwaukee 14” band saw at a garage sale for $150. It appears to be lightly used, but definitely needs some cleanup/work.

I live in Phoenix, AZ so the air is dry and most garages (including my own) are exceptionally hot. Having said that, the tires on this band saw are very dry and cracked and need replacing. I also had planned to replace the belt and upgrade the motor, as the current motor (though original) is only 1/4 hp.

Between researching here on Lumberjocks and over at the OWWM website, it became more and more clear that new tires and a belt weren’t going to be the end of it.

New upper and lower wheel bearings and upper and lower guide bearings were also likely in order. As well as the need to buy a couple of new blades and a tension spring.

Again, via all posts I found on the subject both here and at OWWM, it seemed I could piece-meal out the resourcing of parts to save a few bucks or call Lou Iturra at Iturra Design and get everything in one place, probably save on shipping and likely pay a dollar or two more for the parts, but save myself a lot of trouble. The added benefit was being able to talk to Lou directly, ask a few questions about how to do some of these things, and also get a copy of his catelogue which everyone seems to rave about.

Rather than jump into cleaning it up, I decided to assemble the parts needed first. It is about 115 degrees in my garage right now, and will be that hot for the next several weeks, so I’m in no hurry to spend a lot of time out there messing with this saw.

I called Iturra Design today and had a lovely chat with Lou about my new/old band saw and what I wanted or at least thought I wanted. I sought out his opinion on things and placed my order. This is what I got and what it cost:

2 Urethane tires at $22 each: $44.00
Set upper wheel bearings: $20.00
Set lower wheel bearings: $45.00
Upper/Lower Guide Bearing Kit: $16.00
Tension Spring: $16.00
1/4” 6 TPI basic blade (93.5”): $15.19
3/4” 3-4 variable tooth Woodslicer blade: $22.59
Shipping: $12.00
Total including shipping: $190.78

So I’ve just more than doubled the cost of my band saw. I still want to get a belt/pulley guard and upgrade the motor to a beefier HP. There is currently a Baldor 1725 rpm, 1 hp motor on local craigslist for $50 that I’m considering. But given the above total, I may go with the 1/4 hp motor for the short term. I’m sure my wife will agree with that decision as well. :)

For what it’s worth, the upper wheel bearings were numbered 87502 and lowers were 87504 which is apparently typical of both. I looked at the upper guide bearing, it appeared to say 3200. Lower guide bearing was too buried in sawdust/muck to clean up without taking the table off, and as I mentioned before, it’s 115 degrees out there, so I didn’t bother spending the time to remove the table over guide bearing numbers.

Anyway, Lou was a pleasure to talk to and offered good advice and said he’d put his catelogue in with the shipment of stuff. He talked like he’d get the blades welded today (more likely tomorrow) and then have my shipment in the mail, likely arrive in just a few days.

-- Matt - Phoenix, AZ

2 comments so far

View hairy's profile


3197 posts in 4508 days

#1 posted 08-29-2015 08:01 PM

I have a similar saw, mine is 1946 or 47. All I’ve put on mine is blades, inserts and a set of tires. Love it!

You are replacing all the wearable items, it’ll be good for another 62 years.

-- You can lead a horse to water, but you can't tie his shoes. Blaze Foley

View onoitsmatt's profile


447 posts in 2152 days

#2 posted 09-08-2015 07:56 PM

Thanks for the comment! I’m hoping it’ll last a while. I kind of wanted to clean it up, so figured as long as I’m digging around in there, may as well go all-out!

-- Matt - Phoenix, AZ

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