Powermatic 141 bandsaw refurbish #5: Saw setup

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Blog entry by splintergroup posted 06-13-2016 09:10 PM 4256 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Reassembly Part 5 of Powermatic 141 bandsaw refurbish series no next part

(Note: updated with tension spring info at the end)

The saw is assembled and ready for adjusting all the parts that matter (to me!).

The Blade

Everything on the saw needs to be adjusted with respect to the blade. The table needs to be square to the blade, the guide bar needs to be square to the blade, the blade guides need to be set to the blade, etc.

Step 1: Get the blade installed

First thing is to install a blade. The saw had a 1/4” blade in good condition so I looped this over the wheels and cranked up the tension on the tension adjustment wheel.

This thing turns smooth…..! Originally the wheel was much harder to turn. The greasing during assembly really did it’s job.

Minor gripe This wheel takes a lot of turns to tension the blade, it would be nice if it had a spinner handle!

I get the blade up to tension, but the tension spring is fully compressed. Given that this saw should be able to handle a much wider blade I can only assume the spring is shot. Not surprising given that the saw is over 50 years old and chances are it never was de-tensioned after use. None of the aftermarket springs I can find are correct. The closest, for a Jet 14”, is the correct length (3”), but appears to fit around a 3/8” tension adjust shaft. The Powermatic measures in at 1/2”. eReplacement parts shows the correct dimensioned spring, but lists it as a ‘spring clip’. The price also indicates that what I see is not what I’ll get. $8 will buy a $0.50 hardware store item from them, but not a spring.
I’m going to try anyway, at least the picture associated with the part number and price all agree.

Back to the blade install: With the blade under tension I can spin the wheel and adjust the top wheel tilt tracking to keep the blade centered. The tracking is exceptionally touchy, I’ll probably have to crown the tire if I continue to use a narrow blade.

Blade is installed and running without drift, I can proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Square the table

This assures that the miter slot is running parallel to the blade. I feel a good way to get this reliably set is to use a straight edge and assume that if the blade is running on the wheels without drift, it is where it will be when cutting wood.

Here you can see I have a straight edge aligned with the back of the blade on both sides of the wheel. This cast iron frame allows for nice access like this!. I can now use a square and align the miter slot by twisting the table. Once the square says everything is perfect, I can tighten up the trunion bolts on the bottom of the table.

Step 3: Zero the table tilt

99% of my bandsaw use is with the table flat. This saw (and I assume most others) have a stop for setting the table at 0 degrees. I placed a square on the table (aligned with the blade) and tilted the table until all was good. At this point I locked down the tilt levers and set the table stop bolt.

I should now have a table set for a nice square edge and a miter slot that should have the same squareness on a cross cut.

Next up is the guide bar.

Step 4: Square the guide bar

The guide bar should run exactly parallel to the blade as it is raised and lowered. If it is not parallel, I’ll have to readjust the upper blade guide bearings every time I raise/lower the bar. Not fun!
On this saw the bar slides in a cast iron ‘box’ that is bolted to the saw frame though some slightly oversized holes.
Alignment (to the table which is now square to the blade) is by setting the bar position and tightening the bolts.
The problem is the bar moves slightly as the bolts are tightened. Eventually I compensated enough to get everything to fall into alignment with the bolts secure.

Step 5: Crown the tire
I was hoping to avoid this since everything I read about crowning rubber tires involved some tedious setups and sand paper. Referring to the tire manufactures web site, I found that they recommended crowning for narrow blades and only doing it on the top wheel (only one wheel, half the work I had anticipated 8^).

They also said to use tape! This makes total sense, a layer of tape around the center of the wheel will raise a crown.

Instructions were to run a ring of duct tape 1/4” wide around the wheel

Easy enough! A full width wrap of tape and then I used a razor blade to trim it to 1/4” wide.

Next, another layer twice as wide (same method)

I re-stretched the tire over the wheel without disturbing the tape (again, fairly easy) and behold! A slight crown in the upper tire that takes the ’touchiness’ out of the tracking adjust (nice!).

Step 6: The Guides

Part of any blade install. I had the guides removed while I aligned everything and it turns out that the lower guides really should be installed with the table removed. I had the trunions secure so I could just tilt the table out of the way, but it ended up being easy enough to get the lower guide mount installed without disturbing anything. The lower guides are much like the steel blocks on other saws except these are angled. I kind of like this since it keeps things further out of the way and kind of acts like a scraper. One side of each guide was worn so I just flipped them over. Replacements from eReplacementParts are $80 each (ouch!) so I’ll baby these. At least they should be easy to regrind when needed.

The Good
This whole process was much easier and faster than these kind of things usually go! All the bearing presses and pulley/wheel removal/install went easy without the typical binding or something breaking. Everything other than tires, springs, and bearings was in good shape, no bad surprises. The entire process went quick, just three weekends and I still had time to attend to other issues during the days.

The Bad
I’m sure I’ll find more things as I use this saw, but what I consider ’bad’ are ergonomic factors. Mainly these are just gripes. The tension knob takes a lot of turns and there is no way to speed up this process. The guides are a pain to adjust, everything involved uses a different sized hex wrench and/or box wrench. The start/stop switch is in a ridiculous location. I could move it to the column, but I’m not in a hurry 8^).

The Ugly
How this saw looked before I began!

Future Items

Figure out some dust collection, make some table inserts, keep an eye out for a ‘real’ motor.

Total costs for the parts was minimal:

Tires $29
Power switch $14
Paint and stripper $25
Bearings (with 6 extra guide bearings) $45

Bearing Part No.
6200RS (guide)
6203 2NSENR (upper spindle)
6204 2RSNR (lower spindle)



“Mini-Me’s” new (old) little brother

Thanks for following along!


The original blade tension spring would collapse before proper tension could be applied to a 1/4” blade. The spring acts as a shock absorber and allows for slight eccentricities in the wheels so it really needs to stay in it’s linear region.

You can see the original has taken a set compared to the new factory spring.

With the new spring installed and the blade fully tensioned, you can see the spring is not fully compressed

Replacement choices for this saw are limited. The spring needs a 1/2” inside diameter to clear the tension rod. Most other 14” saws only use 3/8” rods so their springs would not fit.

I have mixed opinions about this place. The good thing is they have a lot of parts, right down to washers and nuts. The part searches are based upon manufacturer parts diagrams so if you know where the part you need is located on the machine, chances are good you can reference it in the parts diagram and located the replacement. The web site also provides pictures of most parts, placed upon a 1” gridded background for size information.

The bad thing is their prices can get downright scary-high.

Back to the spring. Iturra Designs makes a nice replacement spring (out of stock when I looked) for $16. eReplacementParts charges around $30 for a similar tension spring on other common 14” saws. The listing for the Powermatic spring was under $9!

They have the part listed as a “spring clip” even though the picture shows the complete tension spring. Since they charge about that much for a retaining clip, I suspect the part is mislabeled. To my luck, I ordered the part and what I received was exactly what I needed.

6 comments so far

View AandCstyle's profile


3258 posts in 2858 days

#1 posted 06-13-2016 09:55 PM

Splinter, I am truly impressed by (and jealous of) your mechanical abilities. I don’t even know which way to loosen a nut! :D You have a great machine in great condition that will probably outlast you and your heirs. Thank you for keeping it out of the landfill and for taking the time to document your efforts. Congratulations on a job well done!!

-- Art

View Dee1's profile


336 posts in 2490 days

#2 posted 06-13-2016 10:38 PM

very nice job have you ever ordered anything from Iturra Design Bandsaw access catalog
order # 904 642 2802
fantastic folks have everything you or your bandsaw ever needed
if you spend a few bucks on a spring for example you will get a 250 page catalog that will keep you busy for long time
your saw looks great. I solved the cranking problem with mine by taking the knob off and mounting a study 3/8 ratchet handle it has been working fine for many years now. and it has a new brother also just bought a new Powermatic 14 with a riser on it and it is fantastic.

View stefang's profile


17034 posts in 3935 days

#3 posted 06-14-2016 11:19 AM

Wonderful work on this restoration and also your the knowledgeable way you did the final assembly and adjustments. Very nice step by step blog. I wish we could see more like this one. I hope you find that tension spring you need. Can an old spring be re-tempered?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View splintergroup's profile


3194 posts in 1823 days

#4 posted 06-14-2016 02:24 PM

Thanks for following along guys!

Art, sad thing is now that I’m done, it’s back to the honey-do list. Painting and tiling is boring!
(and by the way it is “righty tighty lefty loosey” 8^)
Actually I guess I’m looking for distractions. Another blog post coming up on how I spent one hour fixing my drill press depth stop (done after I parked the BS into the corner)

Dee, I have a copy of the Iturra catalog (2010) that someone graciously scanned.I know these are nearly impossible to obtain otherwise. I have my eye on their spring for the 141, but was informed it’s backordered. Since I don’t anticipate going any bigger than maybe a 1/2” blade, the ‘factory’ spring should fill in nicely, at least until I decide to upgrade.

A ratchet handle? Hmmmm, Than gets me thinking, perhaps a speed wrench or maybe a bolt head so I can use my cordless drill with a socket adapter! 8^).

To be honest, I’m hoping the spring solves most of this, if I don’t have to fully compress 3” of spring to get tension, it shouldn’t be too much of a burden.

Mike, thanks for tuning in. I hadn’t thought about re-tempering. I have access to my wife’s glass kiln with the fancy temperature ramp controller. This may be worth trying, if nothing else just to see if it can be done 8^)

View Dee1's profile


336 posts in 2490 days

#5 posted 06-14-2016 04:15 PM

Ok how about taking the spring or its measurements to your local machine shop they will measure it and order one just like it? I am pretty positive Powermatic did not make the original? Macmasters carr or Grainger is also your friend?

View splintergroup's profile


3194 posts in 1823 days

#6 posted 06-14-2016 05:19 PM

Ok how about taking the spring or its measurements to your local machine shop they will measure it and order one just like it? I am pretty positive Powermatic did not make the original? Macmasters carr or Grainger is also your friend?

- Dee1

Good advice on the McMaster Carr/Grainger. They have several speed crank handles I’ve eyed to replace the original tension knob. Maybe a luxury I’ll try at some later date. The proper spring lies within their catalog pages, but at a price that is higher than what I currently have on order. Besides, I have no specs on the originals compression force which varies on the heat treatment used as well as the basic dimensions. Of course since I never plan to load up this saw to it’s maximum limits, any spring would be acceptable if its length sits somewhere between no-load and fully compressed with a properly tensioned blade installed.
In a pinch, I have an ample supply of old engine valve springs that match the wire diameter and length, but I’m not in a rush.
That’s part of the beauty of having this saw as a backup tool. Not being in a rush means I can bide my time.
Should the eReplacementParts spring fall through, I’d probably just wait for the Iturra part. The guy is a bandsaw Guru and I don’t doubt the Iturra spring would be a perfect fit.

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