Buying and Maintaining a 20 Year Old Bandsaw




Introduction: Buying and Maintaining a 20 Year Old Bandsaw

I recently bought my first bandsaw. Like many people, I sourced one second hand after a lot of searching online. I purchased the unit from an old guy who it serviced well for its entire life.

The unit was manufactured in 1996 by Leda in Australia. It is a 14 inch unit with a 'riser' block in increase the height of cut by around 125mm / 5inches. The unit, including some of the casting is very similar to a current 14 inch Powermatic unit. The 2016 Powermatic obviously has several advantages. One glaring advantage of the second hand Leda unit however - it was $200 and has eight blades. The Powermatic unit is listed at over $1600 [Carbatec].

I used the unit for a few weeks and in that time I had the bolt holding the lower wheel on come loose and fall out and found that the unit would randomly not start. If I turned the motor by hand half a rotation it would start fine.

In this Instructable, I will go through everything I have learned and hope to help others buy, maintain, repair and calibrate a small bandsaw.....

Step 1: Things to Look For...

It is important to be very specific when looking over a potential purchase. I made the choice to purchase my saw with several small things (and one big thing) that needing fixing. I am comfortable to fix any of this. I also have a good handful of tools to be able to do the work.




Inspect to see if all bolts are present or in other words - look for holes that you think should have bolts. Open all covers and grab, prod and poke anything and everything. If it looks like it should move, see if it does. If it looks like it should be rigid, make sure it is.

Table and Trunions

Take a steel ruler or straight edge with you - with the table fixed in place, sit the edge of the ruler on the top of the table and check for flat. Also, tilt the table up and inspect the Trunions (half-round things the table rotates on - shown in pics). Leda spare parts rep said this style of cast aluminium trunion is notorious for cracking. Replaced both for under $40.


Look at the blade guides - top and bottom. Bearing should spin freely and without any grinding feeling under your fingers. As you see, the bearing on mine have a lot of damage, one is very stiff and the other one is seized. Also inspect all the cast aluminium around the guides for cracks or signs of fatigue.

Wheels and Rubbers

Check the rubber on the wheels - look for tears and cracks. Turn wheels by hand and inspect thoroughly. My saw has no joins in the rubber and I assume this to be normal practice - a join would cause the blade to skip or bump every rotation.


Drive Pulleys and Belts

Check the drive belt tension and alignment. In the pic it shows the belt on mine out of alignment, and loose. If I tightened this up, I expect the belt would skip off and it would overheat plus cause a 'parasitic' load on the motor drawing more current and generating more heat in the motor.


Read the information / name plate and understand it. The current Australian Standard is 230 Volt (V) single phase and 400 V three phase. It is still entirely normal to see 240 V and 415 V respectively. Any 240V single phase machine OVER 10 Amps (A) will need a dedicated power point. This is an important thing to check and understand - it is not uncommon to see a 15A machine with a 10A plug on it. This is a a very bad practice.


Check the leads thoroughly for any damage or if the outer sheath is pulled out of plugs or boxes like shown in the pictures. If the leads inner colourd wires (cores) are exposed it could mean there is further damage - pulling on a cable too hard can cause damage to terminals and exposed cores is a possible indicator.


Look for cracks on the buttons or housings. Give the buttons a good press - they should return to their normal spot easily and do not 'grab' when being operated. Don't want a machine that can turn on easily but is a prick to turn off!


For the motor itself, look for discoloring on the frame or case. I have seen equipment before that turned freely by hand and operated but when run on a circuit with a safety switch, it continually tripped. This was down to a problem inside the motor due to past overheating.

TEST Running

When you want to power the machine up, turn the band saw on and off 10 or more times - give it enough time to fully stop before re-starting. Stupid thing to say but make sure the motor turns the right direction - it should be running the blade downwards where it cuts.

Step 2: Maintenance Mode: Remove Everything That Isn't Needed

Take any covers off for:

  1. Top wheel;
  2. Bottom wheel;
  3. Both sides of the stand, and;
  4. Drive belt

Remove the bolt from the side of the table.

Loosen tension off top wheel and take the saw blade off.

This is a good time to give the saw a good brush and vacuum before we start...

Step 3: Maintenance Mode: Table Trunions and Clean Wheels

In this step, we'll take the table off and inspect the trunions then clean the rubber rims on the wheels.

  1. Remove knobs under trunions.
  2. Remove Table.
  3. Inspect trunions and mounts for cracks
    This is important especially if your tables trunions are cast aluminium.
  4. If the trunions are stuffed contact the manufacturer, importer or re-seller and grab some replacements.
  5. Fit them on and hey presto:

    While looking at this part of the table, give the fence and 'T' a good inspection. I found a cople of loose screws.

Trunion Problem Fixed.

Grab a couple of old brushes or some sandpaper, hold against the rubber on the wheels and turn the wheels by hand. Just enough to get the sawdust off - not damage the rubber.

Wheels Cleaned.

On my band saw - The trunions were both cracked and caused a dangerous situation. I was rip sawing a 300mm diameter hardwood log about 600 long. When I got almost all the way through, a trunion gave out. The log rolled off, grabbing and snapping the big ripping blade. As the log fell, the blade was ripped out of the saw and tore my shirt quite badly.

When replaced, my table now sits about 12 mm to the right of where it did before. No difference other than the blade does not sit in the center of the big hole in the table. Frankly - this has not detrimental effect in any way on the tables operation. If anything - I now have almost a half inch more cutting width!

Step 4: Maintenance Mode: Saw Guides

Top guides:

Rear Bearing is stuffed but side guide bearings are fine.

With mine I had a small clip to remove then I used an old flat blade screw driver and the rubber mallet to drive the bearing off the rod. Drop the rod through a hole in a piece of timber, sit it in a vice, or over a hole in your bench like I did and gently knock the pin out. Reverse to put the new bearing on the old pin.

Repeat for the bottom bearing...

Note: I found drilling a hole through my timber bench a very good way to sit the bearing flat and knock the pins both out and in. Could have done it by putting two saw horses next to each other or by opening the jaws of a vise and sitting over the gap. If you are going to use a metal hammer, put a piece of soft wood on the surface you are striking with the hammer.

Step 5: Setup: Calibrating the Wheels for Straight Cuts

Long story short - there are a lot of videos and and guides on setting and calibrating a band saw.

For me and my band saw it is a simple process.

  1. Put blade on loose.- tension to about 75% of 'tight' as per the manufacturers manual
  2. Adjust calibration knob and turn top wheel (fairly quickly) by hand.
  4. Tension to 100% of manufacturers recommendations
  5. Check calibration - make fine adjustment if necessary.


Note: Whether I am setting up for cutting across or with the grain or re-sawing larger stock to make planks, I set it up the same way and it works for me and my saw.

Step 6: Electrical

The saw is 20 years old and has never had any electrical maintenance that I am aware of.

For all the electrical steps, the only real specialist tool I used was a digital multi-meter.

When I got me saw home, I found that it would occasionally not start. This would be maybe 3 in every 10 times I'd try and turn the machine on. To get it to start, I would have to turn either wheel by maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of a turn and it would work fine.

There are a few different types of single phase motors found in bandsaw;.

  • Capacitor Run type
  • Capacitor Start type
  • Capacitor Start Capacitor Run type

It is fairly easy to tell them apart by either the sound or a good visual inspection. For this instructable, I will focus on the Capacitor Start type motor. For me the easiest way to check if I had a cap start motor was to listen when I turned it off. I did this with the drive belt taken off.

  1. Turn the motor on and let it get to full speed.
  2. Turn motor off and listen carefully.
  3. At around 30% speed, (if you have a cap start motor) you should hear a fairly obvious 'click' followed by a constant scraping sound - the scraping sound is normal.

Step 7: Electrical Step 1: Cleaning and Fixing Stop/Start

I can not stress this enough: Do not attempt electrical work if you are not suitably qualified and/or capable of performing the task.

Visual inspection: When I removed the start/stop button the space inside had a massive amount of finely powdered sawdust. A good vacuum with the shop-vac fixed this.

  3. Loosen cable clamps and pull through some slack
  4. Remove start/stop buttons
  5. Clean out buttons and vacuum out any dust
  6. Make sure earth lug is on securely
  7. Refit Start / Stop button
  8. Pull back slack cable and tighten up clamps

Seriously - my saw had so bloody much sawdust in the switch. I was blown away.

Step 8: Electrical Step 2: Clean and Check Motor

I can not stress this enough: Do not attempt electrical work if you are not suitably qualified and/or capable of performing the task.

In this step, I cleaned the motor terminals and checked the capacitor.

  3. Remove motor from machine
  4. Open and clean terminal box
  5. Remove capacitor
  7. Remove one wire off the capacitor
  8. Check for a reading
    1. The capacitor might need several seconds before it will show up a reading on the multi-meter - especially if you're using a cheap meter.

If your saw is failing to start - there is a good chance the capacitor is blown. If the cap is dead, make sure not to get any of the oily residue on your fingers if you need to change it.

Step 9: Electrical Step 3: Cleaning Centrifugal Switch

I can not stress this enough: Do not attempt electrical work if you are not suitably qualified and/or capable of performing the task.

In this step, I realign the pulley and clean the contacts on the centrifugal switch - This DOES require an understanding and respect of electricity and it's consequences.

First thing - a centrifugal switch is inside the motor. The purpose of the switch is to be closed when the motor is starting and to be open when the motor is at speed. It generally opens up somewhere around 30% of rated speed (after what is sometimes called 'pull up torque' is reached).

This kind of motor has good string starting torque. The windings in the motor for starting are 'removed' during full speed operation by opening a switch, the windings don't have to handle current all the time. As a result, the windings can be driven a lot harder than they could hand at 100% duty cycle. Down side - the switch is mechanical so it has bits that wear out and bits that need servicing. If you do not set the centrifugal weights right at the end and the switch does not open, it will burn out the windings or burn out the capacitor.

These contacts were the cause of my machine randomly not starting. A buildup of carbon on the contacts meant that the start capacitor was not always operating.

  3. Setting the Pulley
    1. Remove fan cover from motor
    2. Remove fan from motor
    3. Lightly thump the pulley on to set it properly
      1. Make sure to use a rubber mallet or use an extra bit of wood if you are using a steel mallet.
      2. Use a bit of wood with a hole in it to 'pad' the pulley Loosen grub screw from pulley Stand motor on fan end (on a bit of old wood)
  4. Cleaning the Centrifugal Switch contacts
    1. Remove centrifugal weights from motor shaft
      1. Make a good note of how far on the shaft these are so you put them back later in the right spot - very important!!
    2. Get access to Centrifugal switch contact
      1. Using 400 (or higher) grit sandpaper, give the contacts a light clean.
      2. Use a fine brush to clean out any carbon buildup.
    3. Re mount the switch assembly.
    4. Re mount the centrifugal weights
      1. Note: When tight and in place, make sure to operate by hand and watch the contacts open and close. This can also be checked using your multi-meter.
    5. Put the fan back on
    6. Put the fan cover back on
  5. Reassembling
    1. Mount the motor back in the saw
    2. Align, tension and tighten the motor and belt in place.
    3. Turn by hand and inspect closely.
    4. Turn by the start / stop switch and see how it goes.

My process: This whole bit took me about 45 mins. The capacitor had around 60V DC in it - I short out the capacitors terminals using my pliers. It did make a small spark - expect it if you do this.. Checked the voltage again and it was zero so good to go. The vibration and noise produced by the band saw was considerably less after all this.

    Step 10: Bastard Problem: Plumb the Guide and Blade

    After doing everything else I tried to tackle another, substantially annoying problem. The saw guide is not square with the saw blade. Specifically I mean the lifting rod the guides are mounted on is the problem. When the guides are lifted or lowered, they also go left or right. If I rise the guides they also go right, if I lower the guides they also go left. The problem was big enough that if I moved the guides maybe 150mm, the blade would be pushed enough that it would rub on the guides under the table.

    My saw has no sideways movement in either top or bottom saw wheels and the guide rod goes through a machined / drilled hole in the cast iron so it has no calibration either. Inspection of the riser block shows that the top and bottom have locator pins that does not allow for any movement there either.

    After several drinks, a few crap drawings and catching some Pokemon with my daughter, I decided to go to my local machinery shop and see them. They were no help at they could not understand what I meant - even when I pointed it out on a very similarly constructed new 2016 band saw (demo floor stock).

    After some experimentation using old hack saw blades as shims, I figured that proper shimming of the riser block would be my best (non-destructive) solution.

    So I picked up a pack of Assorted Shim Steel Sheets and got into it.

    • Process to Alight Guide to Saw Blade.
      1. Loosen off the saw blade.
      2. Loosen the bolt that holds the top cast iron arm to the bottom of the saw.
        In my case, this is also where the riser block is located.
      3. I cut and insert 1 x 0.25mm length of shim steel at BOTH the top and bottom of the riser block.
      4. Tighten up the big bolt, tighten up the saw blade.
      5. Check the guides for parallel movement to the saw blade.
      6. Repeat until you are satisfied.
        I had to do this about 8 or 9 times to get it right. Ended up with a total of 1.75 mm of shim steel.
      7. This all in all took me roughly 1.5 hours to get it right.

    Standing back it does look very slightly different to normal - I had to re-adjust the Zero Degree stop bolt and the saw guides under the table when I was done. The shimming has caused the throat of the saw to open up a tiny bit and the blade is now about 4mm to the left of center in the table.

    I would much rather have to re calibrate the table and the lower guides once than the adjust the saw guides every time I raise or loser the blade guides 100mm.

    I cant really show it in the photos but I now have less than the thickness of a sawblade difference from top to bottom. I could remove this if I wanted and probably will in the coming weeks but in the process of this fix, I put a piece of shim steel through pluggers (flip flops) and into my foot. Shim steel is proper sharp after it is cut with old tin snips.

    There are a heap of videos, guides, tutorials and probably a couple of instructables for setting the saw blade but none I can find for getting the guide to be plumb with the blade - I hope this helps someone...

    Step 11: Make It Quiet

    Last thing I did was go round with some 2 part epoxy and bits of rubber. Put some packing around a few bits and removed a lot of the vibration and noise from the saw.

    After what was realistically six hours of work and fluffing around, I am totally happy with my saw. It cuts well, is not noisy, does not vibrate and I know it well. It is now grounded, the belt is better than finger tight and the pulleys are straight. It starts every time and the switches aren't full of powdered sawdust.

    I hope this can help someone else out.

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      6 years ago

      Cool article. As for those worn out guides, you should check out Space Age Ceramics. They produce replacement parts (guide blocks and thrust bearings).


      6 years ago

      I just bought a used band saw that had not been used in several years. I turned it on to be sure it ran, and it was very noisy. The first thing I did was look up the owner's manual on the internet and download it. I can't stress enough how important this is. It gave all the measurements for setting the machine up as though you were unpacking it as a new machine. Every one of the adjustments on my machine were wrong. I set up each adjustment according to the manual, and cleaned out all the sawdust as I went. After I was finished, when I turned it on, you could hardly hear it run, it was so quiet! The manual also told me how to tension each size blade and other general operating tips. There are several sites that offer these manuals free. Do yourself a favor and download the one for your machine.


      Reply 6 years ago

      Yeah - I like the instruction manual with mine. That said, It had nothing on servicing the motor's centrifugal switch, what to look for buying second hand and how to get the blade plumb with the guides.

      It did however have something for the tension but realistically I don't look. You are right to check the manual - I just enjoyed doing this.


      6 years ago

      Great instructable! I have two of the same bandsaws, both need refurbishing, they each have pluses and minuses and trying to decide which is the best to keep! Where would you recommend to drill the hole for dust collection as I was wanting to do this on mine. I would have thought somewhere near the perimeter of the wheel directly under the table.


      Reply 6 years ago

      The last owner of mine used a 100mm (4") stormwater downpipe fitting in the centre of the lower wheel cover - this is gloriously useless.

      I have since put a 90mm downpipe with elbow up the right side of the bottom cover. Works wonderfully but limits the ability to tilt the table. I do not tilt the table very often and have just set it up with wing nuts so for those few cuts I just have no dust extraction. I'll add something in another instructable over the next couple of weeks.


      6 years ago

      re. Step 8.8 Check of a reading - why would there be a voltage reading when one terminal of the capacitor is disconnected?


      Reply 6 years ago

      you use the multimeter +side(red) on the cap and the -side(black)on the wire that came off turning it into a short circuit that can be read out with the multimeter


      Reply 6 years ago

      Thanks for the comment - Looking back at the image I see how it could be confusing. I'll try and clear it up.

      The positive probe is indeed touching the connector on the end of the wire - That is because the connector is still connected to one terminal the capacitor. In effect, the red probe is touching both the lug on the end of the wire *and the terminal on the capacitor.

      The other [black] probe is on the other terminal of the capacitor - granted it is out of sight in the photo. I assure you that I have both probes in contact with the capacitor terminals.

      One wire needs to be removed to ensure that I do not have a parallel circuit through the run and start windings of the motor.

      Hope that clears things up.


      6 years ago

      Excellent! Thank you. Very informative.


      6 years ago

      My personal thanks for an excellent tutorial on a job I badly need to tackle.


      Reply 6 years ago

      No worries mate. Have fun with it. I was blown away by how much dust was in the start/stop switch and frankly by the earthing wire not even being bolted on - looking back, I can't see that the earth wire had been on at any point in the last 20 years - bad, bad, not good....


      6 years ago

      I had a similar design bandsaw, likely made at the same factory but for the U.S. market. The centrifugal switch was bad also, and I replaced it with a solid state type, far better performance and also built in fault protection. If it did not reach proper speed within microseconds of actuation, it would time out and wait for the operator to discover why before a restart would be initiated- made the motor just about bullet proof.

      I wish we had 240 volts as standard mains here in the states, so much more efficient than 120.


      Reply 6 years ago

      Yeah - I get the 120Volt thing. A 2kW output motor running at around 80% efficiency draws something like 10 amps (off the top of my head). At half the voltage, a 120V rated motor would pull roughly twice the current... makes sense to me anyway.

      Problem lies with copper loss which is heat in the motor windings developed due to the current 'pushing' through the copper. The heat produced is 'proportional to the change in current squared' so - double the current, quadruple the heat produced.

      This is in a perfect world though where both motors have the same construction which they obviously won't due to the voltage rating. anyway, enough ranting.