Modifying a bandsaw

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by Moose842 posted 05-24-2017 02:52 PM 2036 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Moose842's profile


4 posts in 1137 days

05-24-2017 02:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bandsaw modification

So I’m in need if a bandsaw to use for resawing. However, for the cuts I want to make, I dont have $1500 for a bandsaw with the power and capacity needed. So, my question is this, can I modify a cheap big box store bandsaw by putting a gas engine on the pulley and stiffen the frame to handle at least 1 inch resaw blades (if not thicker).
Is this sort of thing even possible? I already have a horizontal shaft gas engine to put on it (8hp) and i have a welder at my disposal. Any help or advice is much appreciated.

21 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile


2864 posts in 2904 days

#1 posted 05-24-2017 03:35 PM

Would be nice to know size of current band saw you want to modify and current HP. Might look at riser kit and increasing motor horse power as an alternative. Price of riser kit for their 14” band saws runs about $95. + shipping but might find something on E-Bay.

Friend of mine did lot of resawing on his father’s 1950 – 1960 band saw with ½ or 3/4 HP motor for years. When that motor quit bought a used 1 HP motor and added a riser kit. That Band saw has been operational for more than 50 years.

Not a fan of the gas engine idea!

-- Bill

View JayT's profile


6402 posts in 2981 days

#2 posted 05-24-2017 03:46 PM

Not a good idea, IMHO. The saws are engineered and built to certain specs and going beyond those is a recipe for disaster. Even if you could stiffen the frame enough and add HP, you are still dealing with wheels, bearings, guides and other parts that are designed for smaller blades and motors.

A good 14in bandsaw with a riser kit and proper blade is capable of resawing up to 12in with proper setup. Sure, the feed rate will be slower than a larger and more powerful saw, but it’ll work fine and be safe. If you need to go beyond that, either save up, find a used machine or consider building one. Matthias Wandel has plans for wooden framed bandsaws up to 20in throat and plenty of resaw capacity. I’d trust his engineering before trusting my own.

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

View Robert's profile


3738 posts in 2250 days

#3 posted 05-24-2017 03:57 PM

Initial impression: this guy is nuts, but after thinking about it, its more like ‘hmmmmm I wonder’. If you do this, definitely post a project blog.

You can find used old iron BS’s fairly regularly for $2-300. Properly set up with the correct blade and some patience they can be successfully used to resaw.

However, if you do a lot of re-sawing or don’t have the patience, you can upgrade the motor.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View bigblockyeti's profile


6575 posts in 2490 days

#4 posted 05-24-2017 05:16 PM

Sounds like it should work OK, I would go with an engine between 13hp & 15hp with a centrifugal clutch. I wouldn’t worry about the frame but I would install a stronger blade tensioning spring. I would also perform any modifications in such a way to be able to quickly and easily return the saws back to completely stock form. I would also purchase an extended warranty from the store.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View dschlic1's profile


471 posts in 2739 days

#5 posted 05-24-2017 05:29 PM

First off I would question if you really need a 1” wide blade. I have re-sawn 7 1/2” yellow pine with a 1/2” blade.

Second if you need more power, I would suggest getting a larger electric motor instead of a gasoline motor. Probably cost less and be more useful.

View Moose842's profile


4 posts in 1137 days

#6 posted 05-24-2017 05:51 PM

Why would an electric motor be more useful? Not really concerned with fuel cost; as i said it will promarily be used for ripping. Planning to use it in long batch runs, plowing through logs into lumber, and resawing some of the lumber I currently have.

I have Mathias Wandel’s plans for his bandsaws, just trying to save a bit of work. I can pick up a 14” saw for about 300, (roughly the cost of building one myself).

Yeti, why would you not worry about modding the frame? Wouldn’t it twist with the increased tension?? I understand the need for a heavier tension spring though.

View AZWoody's profile


1477 posts in 1994 days

#7 posted 05-24-2017 05:55 PM

I don’t see a problem as long as everything is reinforced. The bearings shouldn’t be a problem as long as your revolutions are close to the same. You don’t need to go faster than what it already does. The extra horsepower will just keep it from bogging down on the larger stock you resaw.

The only problem I see are the spring, which would have to be changed because the stock one will not be designed to tension a wider band, which you already know. Also, the wheels are only going to be wide enough to handle at most a 3/4” blade. Trying to run a blade that is too wide for the wheels could cause big tracking issues, which would lead to bad cuts at the least and blades flying or breaking at the worst.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4418 days

#8 posted 05-24-2017 06:26 PM

The wheels on 14” band saws aren’t really
wide enough for 1” blades. European
style wheels on larger saws are both wider
and flat. 14” saw wheels are usually crowned.

You can buy 1/2” or 5/8” blade stock
and solder up your own. Modifying the
frame shouldn’t be needed.

View bigblockyeti's profile


6575 posts in 2490 days

#9 posted 05-24-2017 06:36 PM

I would get a thin body blade so as to not need the force required for tensioning a full body carbon steel blade (0.042”) would be ~ 945lbs. whereas a thin body (0.035”) would only be ~ 788lbs. I’m not sure the saw frame would need to be reinforced, but it would establish a need before assuming it would by measuring frame deflection with the desired blade installed and properly tensioned.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Moose842's profile


4 posts in 1137 days

#10 posted 05-24-2017 06:57 PM

You guys make a good point about the wheels. What if I were to take from Wandel’s designs and make new, wider 14” wheels, reusing the bearings from the existing ones? I don’t want to use thinner blades for fear of overheating the thinner material. I will be using the the saw from really thick (8-12+ inches) stock and logs.
Is there any particular disadvantage to using a gas emgine rather than electric motor?

View Wildwood's profile


2864 posts in 2904 days

#11 posted 05-24-2017 07:48 PM

Looked at Matthis Wandel’s band saw and you would have to modify those plans to get depth of cut you want. Reengineering plans to fit your needs is an arduous task fraught with danger.

Home Depot & Sears can sell you a WEN band saw that will meet your cutting requirement for less than $500. There are other saw costing less than that would not bother with! Rather see you go with Grizzly G0555 version with riser kit than those bandsaws. There are other alternatives made by Laguna and Rikon that sell for way less than $1,500 which might prove more reliable without riser kits.

Best blade for a 14” band saw are 1/2” wide, some folks do get wider blades on their bandsaws but they are few and far between.

Electric motor versus gas motor for a bandsaw all about safety when resawaing! Handy on & off or even a floor switch really nice to have. Dust created by a bandsaw not really good for any motor so would rather have electric over gas any day.

Don’t know or care about where you live but might be worth checking out older bigger bandsaws for sale in your area.

-- Bill

View magaoitin's profile


249 posts in 1719 days

#12 posted 05-24-2017 09:51 PM

Let me be the first to offer to hold your beer (and a camera) when you pull the chord on your franken-saw for the first time. I’ll even dial 911 and be poised on pressing the call button if need be. Not to dissuade you in the least, as I really want to see your blog on building this and running the first log through it, but there has to be a better way, right?

How about building an Alaskan Saw Mill and using a chainsaw for rough cutting boards, then running stuff through a joiner or planner? I think that Wandel also did a build on a horizontal bandsaw for large logs, that had mixed results.

Depending on what state you are in (not mental, I think we all have a guess on that one :) ) you might want to check the local Government Surplus auction sites. The one in Washington State (for me at least) regularly auctions off saws from all of the local school districts and technical colleges. Down side is that it is most often 3 phase, but for less than $150 you can get a VFD and run it off from 240v power.

4 months ago, through a State Surplus Auction, I bought a 20” Rockwell (3 phase) for $370, then got a Teco FM50 VFD for $130. 10 minutes to rewire the motor from 480v to 240v and I have an amazing old school, american built monster of a saw for $500

It has a barcode on it from a local School District and then a VocTech School.

Might be worth a look. Here is the website I bought my saw from:

On the Right hand side, under “Browse auctions within area” Click on “Select Region” and pick your State. Then click on the left hand side for “industrial Equipment” and it will list everything that every state and school district has up for auction.

As an example, right now there is a 36” DoAll bandsaw at $300 that no one has bid on.
Obviously it is not for resawing, but is an example of what is out there on at any time

The University of Idaho has a Powermatic 143 that is currently at $250

Roanoke County Public School in VA has a Powermatic 141 (?) that just got listed today for $50

I think it’s worth checking out every couple of weeks. Maybe I have gotten incredibly lucky, but I have bid on and won about a dozen pieces of equipment over the last 2 years and all of them have been great.

Obviously some of it is in non working condition, but you sound mechanically inclined so that probably is not a down side. My saw was listed as “could not test due to plug” and I bought sight unseen, so I lucked out in a big way that it works so well. Disclaimer: Your results may vary.

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5791 posts in 3079 days

#13 posted 05-25-2017 02:51 AM

For Moose842

Maybe something like this (Making a wooden band saw)

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4138 days

#14 posted 05-25-2017 03:00 AM

Sounds more like you want a small band mill instead of a band saw. Weld up a frame and use a couple trailor wheels and tires and just build a band mill to cut your logs and larger lumber!

View Moose842's profile


4 posts in 1137 days

#15 posted 05-25-2017 11:17 AM

Now that you mention it, that may actually be the easier route. After looking into proper wheel sizes for wider blades, a modified cheap saw would just not be up to the task. Thanks everyone for your responses, if I decide to do it just for the heck of it I will definitely post up a project blog.

showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics