Who makes good bearings?

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Forum topic by tvrgeek posted 08-01-2021 10:07 PM 515 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2259 posts in 2862 days

08-01-2021 10:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question bandsaw

The guide bearings ( 608 and 689) bearings on my band saw lasted a few hundred feet. Pretty sad when they rarely kiss the blade, but cheap bearings are cheap bearings.

These are very generic size and available from many sources. Don’t think I need ceramics as it is low speed, just not crap. Any brands that are decent? I have been told, even the Amazon $9 for 20 are probably better then the OEM.

I don’t like the thrust bearings are in shells that are chrome plated, so the chrome fails and you get grooves. Thinking of modifying so the outer race which should be stainless, is the bearing surface. I don’t know why they are made the way they are. I also am thinking of going to ceramics. At least for the thrust.

Somehow, I get the feeling no one has perfected guides yet. These are easy to adjust though. ( Harvey C-14)

16 replies so far

View Woodnmetal's profile


116 posts in 58 days

#1 posted 08-01-2021 10:54 PM

I will just throw this out here, I’m sure many guys here have much more experience with the inner/outer diameters of bandsaw bearings and what works well.

Having said that, I have only had my little 9” 2.8A WEN bandsaw for a short time, I have made some adjustments to what came set-up out of the box. So far, everything is working really well. For now…

I’m a huge Timken Bearing guy. I use them on all the automated equipment I build, including my older street and strip cars. They are my go to bearing manufacturer.
Not sure if they have bearings for bandsaws, however, when the day comes, I will be looking at them first.

I would also be interested to see what others have switched to after the originals need replacing.
Gary & Christine

-- I haven't changed... but I know I'm not the same.

View jkm312's profile


104 posts in 616 days

#2 posted 08-01-2021 10:58 PM

I changed to Carter guides and bearings on my Grizzley 555 last fall. The Carters took a reasonably good bandsaw to the next level. Night and day difference. I didn’t see Harvey listed on Carter’s website, from my experience they would be worth a phone call to see if they have something that will fit your saw.

View Rich's profile


7348 posts in 1802 days

#3 posted 08-01-2021 11:33 PM

You don’t mention specifically how they failed, but mine have frozen before and it’s an easy fix if your bearings are double sealed. Just pop the seals off, clean and lube and replace the seals.

Again, this is based on my experience with my saw and may not be applicable to your situation.

I also bought some Dayton double sealed replacements from Grainger just to have around in case I get a real failure.

Good luck.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Barkley's profile


93 posts in 815 days

#4 posted 08-01-2021 11:45 PM

Don’t forget SKF bearings. I think Timken sold, but I haven’t heard of any complaints. They’re still one of the best. Some of no name bearings from overseas are just bearing shaped turds.

-- Thin the herd

View Aj2's profile


4029 posts in 3011 days

#5 posted 08-01-2021 11:46 PM

When I had a bandsaw with the bearing guides I would just clean them when they got sticky.
Just like Rich mentions
I didn’t like them spinning when I used the saw so it didn’t bother me too much when they got stiff.

-- Aj

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4859 posts in 2707 days

#6 posted 08-02-2021 12:03 AM

+1 Band saw bearings pick up crude quickly, and need to be cleaned and relubed.

Got tired of constantly changing dirty BS bearings. Tried using sealed bearings, but they still pick up crud and need regular maintenance regardless. On my BS tend to use shielded bearings, and spray them with Bostick Bearing Lube to clean and lube for next session. Since these bearings are not running at high speeds or heavy loads; not having heavy grease as lube is acceptable trade off for me. Spray/Spin, wipe off the excess; and keep machining wood. YMMV

FWIW – decent bearings?

Picking good bearings is challenge. There have been so many corporate mergers, and companies partnering with Chinese mfg; that it can hard to know where your bearing was made, and if it is decent quality.

All kinds of examples: While NTN made in Japan are decent brand, NTN-NIDEC are made in China and are not same quality. FAG in Germany bought KBC, and now sells FAG-KBC as lower priced alternative. Favorite search engine can show you many more such examples.

Another challenge is fake branded bearings. There are massive amounts of counterfeit branded bearings being sold. There have been reports that over 50% of the bearings sold online via Fleabay or Amazon are fake? And the bearings that are not fake, tend to be NOS that has been sitting in warehouse for 5+ years are sold at discount for good reason. These old bearings have grease has already aged significantly, and they have shorter life span.

TBH – I stopped buying any bearings online, unless I can definitively see they are being sold as fresh stock from mfg. Have a local bearing house (Bearing, Belt, and Chain of AZ) that supplies 90% of all the bearings I use, even automotive wheel bearings as the Chinese crap bearings are common with Autozone/O-Reilly private labels. Best part is their prices are competitive with most anyone selling the same brands online.

My long list of bearing companies that I use: American (Timken), Japan (NSK, Koyo, Nachi, NTN, IKO), Sweden (SKF), German (FAG, INA), or S. Korean (SBC, FAG-KBC). My short list is Koyo, Nachi, Timken, and SKF. I find the bearings made in Japan to be best overall value. They are cheaper than top of line Timken, or SKF; and generally last 8-10 years in my electric motor rebuilds.

One challenge I find occasionally: Very common, used in high volume, generally small bearings like those used in skateboards or conveyor rollers; are not usually available from top bearing companies mentioned above. When you do find them, the price compared to Chinese bearing is 10-20x higher. My local shop doesn’t even carry the expensive US/Japan small bearings, and only offers NTN-NIDEC brand, as no will pay ~$10 for bearing when the cheap one is less than 75 cents or less.

Bearings are FUM, Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

425 posts in 1988 days

#7 posted 08-02-2021 12:12 AM

Good bearings are available, ask for them when you buy. Japanese, American, German etc.
I use 2RS bearings double rubber seals.

View tvrgeek's profile


2259 posts in 2862 days

#8 posted 08-02-2021 12:43 AM

The OEM crap are RS. Uppers are not a big deal and could go shield or even open as one could douse them every time, but the lowers are a pain. My hand won’t even fit to grab the thrust lock without tilting the table. If all I did was resaw, I could just pull the lowers back completely, but I do other work and kind of need them. To pull the lower bearings required removal of the entire block assembly. I will omit the limit set-screws and I think I can slip them out without the alignment issues of removing the block assembly.

No to Carter, as carters are to replace solid guides with the roller bearings as Harvey supplied. Might ask them what brand bearings they use though.

The smaller are skateboard size, so one can get 20 for $9. Probably as bad as supplied. High end SB bearings are designed for high impact and ultra low friction, neither of which are concerns with this application. The NTK I found were $11 each rather than 50 cents. I fid it amazing they can build them for $11 actually.

Hard to remove the rubber seal and reinstall without damage. 2 stiff, 1 seized, the rest “notchy”. Sealed bearings should last WAY longer than this even in really harsh environments. That is why the have a seal! Seriously only resawed a couple hundred feet and a few odd jobs. No excuse for them to gunk up that fast.

I was thinking SpaceAge may have a ceramic round of the same size. Their usual are square but for different method of adjustment than the nifty eccentric Harvey uses. I will call them Monday.

Fakes. Great. Heck, I even bought some 2n2222a transistors once that were fakes. Who fakes a 5 cent part?

I remember a problem we had in failure analysis. Our rebuilt reel motors started giving us ESD issues. Rebulder had switched to NTN bearings and they were so good as to insulate the armature causing ESD discharge through the grease film. We added a drain contact and kept the good bearings.

SFK and NTN seem to come up on the top of most lists for small deep groove bearings.

View Madmark2's profile


3057 posts in 1801 days

#9 posted 08-02-2021 01:14 AM

-ZZ suffix on bearing P/N generally indicates double sealed. Bearings have ID, OD, and thickness. Any with same #s should work, material is up to you. Buying direct from a local supplier is better, faster, easier, and generally cheaper than OEM. Did this with bike bearings all the time. Always bought Timken.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View tvrgeek's profile


2259 posts in 2862 days

#10 posted 08-02-2021 09:21 AM

ZZ. That is what I should look for. I think there is a supplier in Raleigh somewhere.

View tvrgeek's profile


2259 posts in 2862 days

#11 posted 08-02-2021 09:37 AM

No, double shield is not sealed. Looks like 2RS is my only option.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7185 posts in 3706 days

#12 posted 08-02-2021 11:48 AM

If you have a local power transmission dealer or an industrial bearing supplier, I’d just ask them to give you what you need and trust they are quality bearings. These places cater to industry and selling poor quality means they die quickly.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View tvrgeek's profile


2259 posts in 2862 days

#13 posted 08-02-2021 01:25 PM

Got the assemblies all apart. The bearings are so cheap, they don’t even have a manufacturer on them. Seals are molded in, so no way to really flush, but soaking got a couple to spin, poorly. The small 689 was actually a shielded bearing so I was able to flush it a little, but of course only put oil in it m not grease.

There is a suppler about 40 miles away and there is an app to verify serial numbers have not been used before.

I want to see what Harvey says when I call them later today ( Pacific time). At least with a small mod, I can get the lower side bearings out without the entire bearing block. ( backed out the limit retaining screws.)

View splintergroup's profile


5732 posts in 2435 days

#14 posted 08-02-2021 04:02 PM

I experience the highest rates of bearing failure in my bandsaw guides. It’s always related to gunk getting past the seals. More often than not I can pop the seal off as mentioned, clean/regrease and they are good for a while longer.
Given the time involved however, I’ve switched to low priced bulk packs and just toss them when they seize.

It all seem related to seal failure so I’m keeping an eye peeled for some creative seal design that prevents this problem.

As to quality, I’m also a Timken fan (or SKF/Nachi, other non-Chinese mfg.) There is the issue raised by the Captain however. I recently bought some Timkens to replace the wheel bearings on my truck. The box stated these were made in Mexico.

When I ordered them (Rock Auto), a choice of brand was offered. The price ranged from $1.69 to about $6 each.
I’m glad to see this choice offered (it’s been around awhile in the machine tooling industry) and they mention that generally the cheap option is to get the car fixed for the least $$ so you can sell it or use the higher priced option if you intend to keep it for a while.

Used to be any bearing you bought was generally good quality, Then came the Eastern European imports offering a cheaper alternative, but often sketchy quality. Now with the flood of Chinese bearings, most any other brand/country of origin at least helps in deciding which bearing not to choose.

View Woodknack's profile


13584 posts in 3593 days

#15 posted 08-02-2021 05:24 PM

Timken / Fafnir
Koyo (JTEKT)

-- Rick M,

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