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Woodgears.ca (Matthias Wandel) Homemade Wood Bandsaw

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Project by harriw posted 12-19-2021 10:49 PM 1035 views 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I believe I’ve seen a few of these posted on lumberjocks over the years, but I FINALLY put the finishing touches on mine, and wanted to post it as there was some interest back when I started this project.

For those that don’t know, Matthias Wandel over at www.woodgears.ca (also on youtube) has been designing and building these wooden bandsaws for a decade or two, along with many, many other woodworking machines. He sells the plans on his website as well. You can find the plans for this saw here: https://woodgears.ca/bandsaw/plans/index.html. Note that he also has plans for sale for 4 or 5 other wooden bandsaws of various sizes (including one that’s designed as more of a portable option for use as a sawmill). This one happens to be his oldest design, and the one that drew my attention to him in the first place.

I started this build 5 or 6 years ago and made excellent progress for a while, but reached a point where I admitted that you really do need a bandsaw in order to build a wooden bandsaw :) As luck would have it, I stumbled across a killer deal on craigslist, and picked up an old Grizzly 14” saw. It’s woefully underpowered and under-tensioned for re-sawing (doesn’t help that I never really had a proper re-saw blade for it), but it worked quite nicely for me for years. Well enough that when I got frustrated with turning down the wheels for this wooden bandsaw, I wound up packing the project pieces into a box and shelving it for several years.

During the pandemic, I stumbled across the box and thought it’d be fun to resurrect and finally finish this project. Like with most shop projects, I got 95% finished, put it into service, and never went back to finish the final 5% (mainly cosmetics like finishing up the covers, dust collection, etc.). After finishing up the Christmas season builds a bit early, I figured it would be a good time to finally put the finishing touches on this so I could post it for others to see.

Matthias provides an EXCELLENT set of plans, drawings, and pictures. But I did modify them here and there to meet my needs. For starters, I made the column about 5cm taller (sorry folks, the plans are all metric which takes some getting used to). That’s the max increase Matthias recommends, and it gives me a max re-saw height of just over 12.” That works out nicely for me, since I already have an existing 12” limitation with my planer.

I also built the wheels a bit different than Matthias does his. He likes to use bicycle inner tubes as band saw tires, and just loops them over his wheels. Many of his readers have found that the resulting pocket tends to collect sawdust though. To avoid this, I shaped my wheels a bit differently and put regular urethane tires on my wheels instead. The tires were about 3/16” too wide though, so I had to trim them down with a razor blade before installing them. It was a bit putter-y to do, but they work extremely well.

I also had to modify the base and motor-mount geometry pretty significantly in order to fit the absolute PIG of a motor that drives this thing. It’s a 1.5HP motor that dates back to the 40’s or 50’s, and weights a TON. But it’s what was available locally at the time. Now that it’s installed, it works beautifully. Makes for a nice heavy foundation too – no worries about top-heavy saw here. I had to modify the way it mounts a little bit too. I wound up building a motor-mount “table” from a piece of plywood that the motor is fixed to. That “table” is slotted to slide on a set of fixed bolts as well. Those slots allow tensioning and de-tensioning of the drive belt.

Speaking of foundation, you may notice the table seems a bit low. I built the base cart low on purpose, as that places the band saw table at the same height as my table saw, and my table saw’s outfeed table. I figured that would make re-sawing large boards easier. I get most of my lumber from local downed tress that I have a buddy with a sawmill slice up for me. To keep the time and cost down we tend to cut most of it to 8/4, so re-sawing heavy boards will be a common task for this saw.

I think the biggest hassle I had (and the reason I packed this project in for several years) was turning the wheels down to the correct diameter. I figured I’d do this RIGHT, and glued up my wheels from some nice baltic birch plywood. They were a real bear to turn down to the right diameter though. Part of the problem was that I over-sized them a bit more than I should have (in an effort to make sure I had enough material to get them completely round). Baltic birch has many layers, which means there’s nearly as much glue in it as there is wood. That glue did a real number on my turning tools. I suppose I don’t know for certain that the glue is the reason, but I could basically cut for 20-30 seconds tops before the blade was dull and I’d have to go sharpen again. These were my nice Sorby tools too – not cheapo’s. I sharpen them on a rikkon slow-speed grinder so it doesn’t take long at least, but turning these wheels was a labor or love. They were plenty sharp enough too – I can usually shave hair from my arm without trouble off the grinder. So my suggestion would be to use plywood with fewer layers.

-- Bill - Western NY





2 comments so far

View sras's profile

sras

6697 posts in 4589 days


#1 posted 12-20-2021 04:55 PM

That’s quite a project! Hope you get many years of use out of it.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View ohwoodeye's profile

ohwoodeye

2775 posts in 4613 days


#2 posted 12-20-2021 05:51 PM

Has to be a satisfying accomplishment. Well done.
I thought it was only me that finished his projects to a full 95%

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

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