16" Wooden Bandsaw - loads of photos

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Project by JamesVavra posted 01-04-2013 05:27 PM 32481 views 45 times favorited 50 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve finally completed my wooden bandsaw. It follows the Matthias Wandel plans fairly closely. It has 15.5” left of the blade and just a hair under 12” of resaw. The frame and many of the parts are poplar; there is also some walnut in there (I had a bunch of walnut on hand).

It has an older 1 HP motor that is rated at 13.4Amps, so it’s closer to what would be called a 1.5HP motor today.

I’ve got a pile of photos that I’ll list below and intersperse some additional comments below:

I’ve got steps in my workshop that make a great place to stage individual parts. I’ll bet I had more than 150 pieces to the frame. Each individual layer has different sized pieces, so it’s one ginormous finger joint.

Glueing up the frame.

Finishing the Frame glue up.

The lower shaft mount was cut from a big piece of 20/4 walnut that I had on had for turning hollow forms. This particular piece was kind of brittle and did not turn well. That shaft is 1” diameter by 9” long.

The back side of the lower shaft mount block – here you can see the homemade locking nut – it only takes about 1/4 turn of that screw to secure the lock nut to the shaft.

The finished glued up frame – the lower shaft mount block has to be installed before the foot so that there is clearance for drilling the bolt holes.

A closer shot of the bottom of the glued up frame.

Here you can see a little bit of the giant frame sandwich.

Rear view of the bottom.

Flanges for the bearings were cut out of 3/4” baltic birch ply.

I drilled them out on my lathe – I had tried a different method previously that required the lathe. That method failed, so I just dropped a jacob’s chuck in the tailstock. I could have used the drillpress.

Bearings pressed into the flanges. Those are 2” (outside) by 1” (inside) by 1/2” (thick).

The wheels were glued up from 3 layers of 1/2” birch ply from home depot. It’s not the greatest, but I had it on hand already, so there was no additional expense.

I added drive pulleys to both wheels so that I could mount them on the lower wheel mount and turn them true.

The drive pulleys are 12” in diameter and grooved to accept the twist-link v-belt.

At this point, the bandsaw was starting to get too heavy to move around a lot, so I stopped to make a small base cabinet. It’s about 24” tall (with the casters), 19” wide and 15” deep. I made it out of scrap 1×12 that had spent most of their life as shelves in my wife’s grandmother’s garage.

The back got skinned in 1/4” luan ply.

I bolted a temporary tool rest to the front edge of the frame so that I could turn the wheel true. The tool rest is a scrap of oak stair tread with a 1” bullnose.

The wheels need to be concentric to the bearings, not whatever was originally marked as the center of the wheel when I roughed it out on the old bandsaw. So the best method is to mount the wheel on its shaft and then turn it. Matthias bolted the wheel mount block to his workbench for this part. I figured I’d skip a step by truing it directly on the frame.

The wheel has a crown of about 5 degrees in each direction. This helps keep the blade tracking in the center.

After truing the wheels, I gave them a couple of coats of amber shellac. Then I stretched 14” bicycle inner tubes around them (the stem is cut off and the inside slit all the way around). I had to wash the silicone powder off first.

A closer shot of the shellacked wheel. (I bored a 1.125” hole in the temporary tool rest and used the upper wheel shaft to mount them both at a similar level for shellacking).

Finished wheels in place – the upper wheel mount block is not done yet, but I wanted to see what it would look like.

Here’s a preview with a blade installed (a 3/8” x 105” blade for cutting green wood – it’s the woodturner’s blade from Highland Woodworking).

The upper wheel with blade preview.

Somehow, I failed to take any photos of the upper wheel mount assembly being built. Basically, there is a frame that goes up and down to tension the wheel. Inside that frame, the shaft mount block is loosely held. That block has a tilt adjustment built in. There are more pictures below that show the assembly, but it’s already been installed in this photo.

The upper wheel mount – the poplar frame that goes up and down to adjust blade tension is built with a series of bridle joints that are pegged with a 1/2” dowel in each corner.

The shaft is pulled down by the weight of the wheel and the tension of the blade. This adjustment screw tilts it back up to make it co-planer with the bottom wheel.

The upper shaft mount block outside its frame.

The walnut piece here squeezes the arm of the upper blade guide to lock it into position.

And here’s the upper blade guide arm assembly. I get just under 12” of resaw capacity – a little more if I move the walnut clamp block to the lower hole. (When the arm is low, it’s more stable using the center hole.)

Upper blade guide – outside view (missing the guide blocks here).

Upper blade guide – inside view – you can see it’s configured using a Carter-style thrust bearing. Matthias mentioned that he tried this and found it to be effective, but too loud, so he changed back to the “standard” bearing configuration (with the bearing rotated 90 degrees in the horizontal plane and the blade riding the side edge of the bearing).

The lower blade guide assembly. The lignum vitae guide blocks are installed. It’s flipped from the upper guide so that there is less clearance needed on the left side, where the trunion mounting arm sits.

Another shot of the lower blade guide assembly.

The back side of the trunion mounting arm. You can see the cutout for the lower wheel.

The cutout in the trunion mounting arm from below – it’s pretty tight through here and, at one point, I had the speed so high that the rubber was starting to separate and whack against the trunion arm. I had to put a slightly smaller drive pulley on the motor. Speaking of which – I started with a 3” drive pulley putting the blade speed at around 1600 FPM. That seemed too slow, so I swapped it for a 5.75” pulley (3000ish FPM and too fast). I settled on a 4.5” pulley and somewhere around 2400 FPM.

The trunions are mounted. Matthias used a wooden piece to house the top of the carriage bolt. I opted for a slightly bent washer – it seems to hold well.

More trunion shots.

More trunion shots.

More trunion shots.

At this point, I built the table. There is a piece of 3/4” ply that sits between the trunions and has all of the necessary cutouts for the blade and the frame when taking the tilt into account. On top of that is a 3/4” piece of melamine coated chip board. The melamine should work well, but looks weird. I’m going to replace it soon. Again I failed to take pictures of this part. It went just like Matthias’s tutorial (although it was sized a little differently).

Here I’m starting on the cover. The wheels look way too cool to cover them completely. Probably a little less safe, but not too bad. I’m building this for my use, not the public.

A cut down piano hinge opens the cover. You’ll see I had to cut out some bits at the bottom to clear the motor when in the open position. Later, I just cut that part off.

Priming the cover.

I picked up a quart of what looked like Burnt Orange (Texas Longhorn) paint at the Habitat ReStore for $2. It was peach. I used it anyway and later bought the proper color for the final 2 coats.

Priming the base – the bandsaw was so heavy at this point I could barely lift it by my self.

The peach base later got repainted with the proper Burnt Orange.

Back side of the completed bandsaw.

A closer shot of the back side – you can see that the new paint went on after I set the bandsaw back in place on the base cabinet. It was just too heavy to move again.

Completed bandsaw. I have since built 3 drawers for the base cabinet and installed a latch on the right side to hold the cover closed.

Closer shot of the front. I swear the table is level – it’s just a lens distortion. I never put edging on the table because I am planning to replace it. The melamine performs well, but it looks out of place. If I had not been out of 3/4” BB ply, I probably would not have used melamine in the first place.

Here you can see the clearance around the upper wheel. I still need to fabricate a blade guard to attach to the upper blade guide – something to cover the exposed part of the blade in that area.

The upper part of the cover only covers the front – I may modify this and add a supplemental cover that is fixed behind the wheel.

Final Thoughts:

I have about 60 hours in this project. On the day I installed the cover, I sold my old bandsaw on craiglsist, so I’m committed to it. It works incredibly well – adjustments stay adjusted, plenty of power, smooth running, etc. I highly recommend building one. It’s not even remotely as difficult as I thought it might be. If I had stuck to the plans more closely, I’d say even a relative beginner could do this.

I did use my old bandsaw for some of the work, but could have gotten around it with other tools. I have around 15 bf of poplar, 1 or 2 of walnut, less than a sheet of 1/2” ply (all scraps that were on hand), less than half a sheet of 1/4” ply (again, already on hand), $150 in bolts, bearings, screws, belt, innertubes, drive pulleys, glue, etc. If I don’t count what I already had lying around the shop and the motor, and then what I made on the resale of the old saw, it comes out to almost zero net cost. If I had nothing on hand, maybe $400.

Comments, questions, critiques are welcome – I’m sure I missed a lot of detail here, but a lot of it can be found at and in the step-by-step video that Matthias has posted on youtube.

Thanks for looking,


50 comments so far

View Sergio's profile


470 posts in 3850 days

#1 posted 01-04-2013 05:31 PM

Wow, this is a really challenging project, well done!

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View mafe's profile


13204 posts in 4247 days

#2 posted 01-04-2013 05:49 PM

Super cool!
Really a impressive job.
I love the very thought that the tool is made of wood.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3450 days

#3 posted 01-04-2013 06:22 PM

Very impressive build. Congratulations for rising to the challenge.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View SignWave's profile


472 posts in 4193 days

#4 posted 01-04-2013 06:51 PM

Looks really good, and thanks for posting all the photos. I have the plans and have started building the frame. I’m just using 2×6 doug fir that I ripped to the roughly 17mm thickness. The combination of cold weather and un-heated shop is slowing me down, though.

It looks like you could remove the pulley from the top wheel, but I’m not sure if that would help or hurt performance. Also, if you want to leave it open, you could use plexiglass or acrylic on the open area to allow the view but still offer ore protection.

Thanks again, I really enjoyed this post.

-- Barry,

View pinebox's profile


36 posts in 3126 days

#5 posted 01-04-2013 07:07 PM

Looks good! I built one too with the frame out of 2×6” wood that came from large shipping boxes. The nice thing about this is that once you build it, you can use it to improve it. For example, I didn’t have a bandsaw and my wheels did not turn out perfect. But it works good enough that the wooden bandsaw can be used to make new, better balanced wheels. It’s a great project, not as hard as it might look at first, and it works really good.

Odd coincidence but it looks like you used the exact same table—right down to the color—as I did.

View brucethecontrarian's profile


37 posts in 3143 days

#6 posted 01-04-2013 07:09 PM

Splendid stuff. You have my respect, and my envy.

-- Bruce, UK

View Tomoose's profile


422 posts in 4531 days

#7 posted 01-04-2013 07:56 PM

Very impressive work! thanks for including all the great photos and explanations – what a great post.


-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

View SignWave's profile


472 posts in 4193 days

#8 posted 01-04-2013 08:02 PM

Funny you mention that, pinebox. I don’t have a bandsaw now either, but plan to use the bandsaw once it’s running to make improved replacement parts for itself.

-- Barry,

View Caleb James's profile

Caleb James

149 posts in 4088 days

#9 posted 01-04-2013 08:23 PM

That is something else. So cool to make a tool like that.


View TNwoodchuck's profile


102 posts in 4933 days

#10 posted 01-04-2013 08:32 PM

It’s all been said above. I just want to say AMEN!!

-- Chuck near Nashville - “All you are unable to give possesses you” (Andre Gide)

View walden's profile


1552 posts in 3180 days

#11 posted 01-04-2013 09:58 PM

That is fantastic! You are my new hero. Great job.

-- "I am hiring a realtor if and when the day comes a lion is on my roof."

View Dutchy's profile


4140 posts in 3326 days

#12 posted 01-04-2013 10:12 PM

Well done!!
Nice to see all this building pictures. Specilly because I made the same http a couple off mounts ago. I


View JamesVavra's profile


305 posts in 4474 days

#13 posted 01-04-2013 10:18 PM

Thanks all – it was loads of fun to build.

@signwave – definitely plane them down to 17mm thick. I did not, and that made later parts different sizes. I had planned on changing a few things, but some I had to change due to having a different thickness dimension. I had to make a second lower blade guide because my first one was too short (it was also upside down, so it would not have worked anyway).

I considered acrylic, but didn’t have any on hand. I was too anxious to finish it to wait on a trip to the hardware store. Also considered removing the drive pulley from the upper wheel, but I glued it on, not just screws. I suppose it helps add mass for momentum.

View RVroman's profile


163 posts in 3182 days

#14 posted 01-04-2013 10:21 PM

I am always in awe of people who can work with such precision that they can build machinery out of wood. If I would ever do anything like that I think I would be afraid to use it because I would just want to look at it.

Very impressive!

-- Robert --- making toothpicks one 3x3x12 blank at a time!

View john2005's profile


1768 posts in 3336 days

#15 posted 01-04-2013 10:30 PM

That is just awesome. Not only is it made of wood, but its made in America. None of this over seas junk. It looks great and I bet you grin every time you fire it up. Well done!

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

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