How to Restore a Band Saw

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Howdy, i'm Dave from Parts and Restoration and today, were gonna fully restore an old band saw! LETS GET TO IT!!

Step 1: ACQUIRE a BAND SAW

To restore a band saw, you first need a band saw worth restoring! Chances are, sombody in a 10 mile radius of you is selling one! Keep an eye to Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, Craigslist, and eBay. Also, machinery auctions (bidspotter.com) and estate sales (auctionzip.com) are great places to find quality used machinery!

Things to look for:

-CAST IRON! Old machines were built well! They were made with heavy castings that cut down on vibration and flexibility! Old castings are smooth, they were cast in clay, modern castings are made with sand and are rough. avoid modern

-Big Heavy Table - Also cast iron, you want the band saw table to be ground flat and made of cast iron. For me, a band saw with a stamped or light weight table is trash.

-Signs of AGE - If its made primarily with plastic, avoid it. Get something made well back when old tools were made with the workman in mind, not with SHAREHOLDERS in mind!

Step 2: Take Your Machine Apart!

This is the fun part! Its gonna get dirty so do this somewhere like a garage or outside. Band saws hold TONS of sawdust inside their wheel guards. If you are lucky enough to find a band saw with a metal cutting gear reduction, you will find TONS of oil and grease inside too!

*VERY IMPORTANT* I would highly recommend video taping yourself disassembling your machine with your cell phones camera. This will come in handy later when you cant remember where some random grub screw was supposed to go!

Keep your parts organized! Keep parts from each sub assembly in a separate box or container. You don't want your screws getting mixed up! Take photos of complicated parts before you disassemble them so you know what they looked like before you started fiddling with them.

Magnetic parts holders are great for keeping track of small screws and parts as long as they are ferrous metals (steel).

Step 3: Determine What Needs to Be Replaced

Chances are, an old machine may be missing parts or have broken pieces from its years of service. Check out www.vintagemachinery.org and search for your band saw by manufacturer to find reprinted PDF manuals and parts lists of common old machines. Ebay is a good source for replacement parts (though they are expensive) and local used machinery dealers may have parts for vintage machinery in stock.

Band saws have some consumable parts in them as well. Check the following:

Bandsaw Tires - The rubber "tires" are the surface of the wheel the saw blade rides on. The old rubber tires may be dry rotted and if so, consider replacing them

Bearings - The wheels have bearings pressed into them. Additionally, bandsaws use ball bearings to help guide the saw blade as well. If they dont spin freely, now is the time to replace them. Industrial suppliers like Granger and local Bearing Distributors can help you replace your bearings if you bring them the originals

Blade Blocks - The band saw blade is guided by metal "blade blocks" that keep the blade straight while you cut. These wear out. A modern blade block called "Cool Blocks" are made of a fiberous material and they are excellent!

The Motor - How does it sound? Does the shaft and pulley spin freely? Its it under powered (some old machines often didnt come with a motor, the buyer supplied whatever motor he had, or could afford)

The Blade - Buy some new blades!

Step 4: CLEAN EVERYTHING

Time to strap on some kitchen gloves and get dirty!

First things first, safety. PPE (personal protective equipment) it essential! Protect you eyes with ANZI approved safety glasses and consider lab style goggles if splash is a concern. Wear gloves when using chemicals. Hospital style gloves are great, and wear chemical resistant gloves when using paint stripper. Respiratory protection is important when sanding or other processes that create dust. PROTECT YOUR BODY!

Step 1. Remove DRY Dirt and Debris First!

Band saws hold TONS of saw dust inside the wheel guards. Be sure to remove all the dry debris out of the machine first before applying any wet cleaning chemicals. Vacuums or air blowers are great ways to remove this stuff. If you don't have a good shop vac or a compressor air gun, PC duster works well too.

Step 2. Cleaning and De-greasing:

I am a huge fan of Krud Kutter for degreasing old machinery although any de greaser will work! Spray on your de greaser and use scrub brushes to work it down into the surfaces. Large faced brushes work well for open, flat surfaces and small brushes (old toothbrushs work great) are excellent for complicated surfaces to get into the nooks and crannys. This step can take a while!

For large parts, especially really nasty ones, put the part in a big plastic tote and pour some de greaser in the bottom and scrub away!

For small parts, place them in a jar or pot of de greaser and allow them to soak. Later, scrub them clean with a small brush.


Once each part is clean de greased, wipe them with warm water to get the de greaser off and pat dry.

Step 5: To Repaint or Not to Repaint?

Right now, you should be staring at a huge pile of squeaky clean cast and machined band saw parts. Years of cigarette tar, saw dust, oil, grease and dirt are a distant memory. Now is the time to ask yourself a few questions. How do your parts look? Are they rusty? Is the paint flaking? Do repairs need to be made? Do you like the color?

If your machine was just dirty, but is in great shape, skip ahead to Step 9 - Reassembly.

Here are my thoughts. You've come this far. If the machine was in great shape, you probably wouldn't be reading this instructable!

If the paint is flaking, repaint.

If you hate the color OR would like your saw to match other machinery in your shop, paint it!

If some jerk painted it a stupid color years ago, Paint it!

Over all, if your gonna restore a machine, PAINT IT!

Step 6: Strip the Old Paint

Uh oh! Time to bust out the nastiest chemical in the shop, paint stripper! I prefer Jasco brand paint stripping gel.

Move your parts to a well ventilated area and don your PPE. Minimum requirement for this job are lab goggles, closed toed shoes (yes I wore shop flops for my restoration and it was dumb!), long sleeves and long pants, and chemical resistant gloves. Get a bowl to pour some stripping gel into and a paint brush. Apply a thick coat of stripper to the surfaces. The paint should quickly absorb the stripper and begin to wrinkle. When, after a minute or so, I see dry spots forming where I applied stripper, I apply some more. Let the stripper work for 15-20 minutes or as directed. Using a metal scraper, scrape away the old paint and discard of it right away, it should scrape up easily. Do this until the bulk of the paint is gone. Use chem resistant plastic brushes to scrub away the remaining paint. Remove any remaining stripper with paper towels. Repeat as necessary until all the paint is gone.

To fully remove the stripper, apply denatured alcohol or acetone to the surfaces and wipe clean. Repeat this until your paper towels are coming up clean.

Congratulations! You are the first person to see this machine in the raw in probably 60 years or whenever it was making its way down the production line!

Step 7: Rust Removal

Now that we are down to bare metal, lets get the rust (if any) off! Your options are to use mechanical abrasive methods (best for large parts) or chemical methods (limited to smaller parts usually). For a run down on mechanical rust removal, check out my down and dirty rust removal video

For small parts, there are some great chemical options! Evapo-Rust is an inexpensive and safe rust removal chemical. You soak your rusty parts in a cup of Evapo-Rust and take it out a few hours later. The rust is gone and a black oxide coating is left in its place that can be brushed to a shine with a wire brush or wheel.

For large parts like castings, I recommend using a wire wheel on a grinder (angle or bench) to remove the rust. Sand paper is an effective alternative if you don't own a grinder. Additionally, Evapo-Rust Gel can be painted onto large parts to chemically remove rust without submersion.

Step 8: Prime and Paint

To allow the paint to adhere properly to bare metal, you need to apply primer to your parts.

Step 1. Before applying any primer, be sure to prepare the clean metal surfaces for priming. Wear clean latex hospital gloves and wipe each part of your machine down with acetone. This will remove any oils from the surfaces prior to primer application.

Step 2. Once the surfaces are clean and oil free, use masking tape to cover up any parts you don't want painted. Some examples are the table top, holes for bearings, any mating surfaces, any machined surfaces that will be sliding or bearing on moving parts or places you expect will be oiled or experience wear.

For metal that still has rust pits that you cant remove or that is still corroded, use a spray on rust converting primer. This stuff will chemically halt the corrosion and convert it into a paintable surface. For clean bare metal, use a Self Etching primer. I personally like Rustoleum products.

Step 3. Apply a 2-3 light coats of primer to your parts or follow the instructions on the can.

Step 4. Once the primer is dry, apply your paint! I recommend using the same brand paint and primer to avoid compatibility issues. I painted my bandsaw with Rustoleum Coastal Grey - Satin.

Be sure to consider applying a clear coat to your paint to seal the surface and give it a more durable finish.

Step 9: Reassemble!

Now that everything has received your TLC and been repainted, its time to put your band saw back together!

Here is where that video you made earlier really comes in handy! Work your way back from the end of your video and try to reinstall parts in reverse order.

Hopefully, you kept all of your parts and hardware organized throughout cleaning and painting. If so, you should have no trouble getting everything back together without having any "spare parts" at the end!

Be sure to lubricate moving parts or places where you expect wear might occur (screw threads, moving parts, parts that touch or slider past each other, etc). Refer to www.vintagemachinery.org to find the manual for your saw!

Step 10: Sit Back and Admire!

Congratulations!! You just rebuilt a heritage band saw! Most people would have been satisfied with a piece of cheap junk from China, but not you! You know quality when you see it! You're likely exhausted from this journey. It has been a labor of love bringing this old gal back to life. Take a few minutes to relax and find comfort in knowing that this machine, built so carefully decades ago by American hands, WILL outlive you, and thats a good thing! Thanks to your labor, your children and THEIR children will be able to make whatever they desire on this, what is now a family heirloom tool that you cared about enough to restore! We are but custodians of these beautiful iron beasts! I hope this guide was helpful for you, and congratulations again for your hard work!

Be sure to check out my youtube channel! www.youtube.com/partsrestorationphilly

Check out my daily photos of my workshop happenings on Instagram! www.instagram.com/partsandrestoration

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    22 Discussions

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    takomaW

    Tip 3 months ago

    I like using a piece of plastic screening as you would get to fix a window screen to remove grease with a degreaser, it works great for thick grease and is gentle enough not to usually stratch metal or paint

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    PartsAndRestorationtakomaW

    Reply 3 months ago

    Holy crap! That’s such an incredible idea, I never would have though of that. Definitely wanna give that a try ASAP and I have just the job for it too!! Thanks for sharing!!

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    Galt

    3 months ago

    As a fellow lover of old iron I applaud anyone working to keep old, quality tools and equipment viable. I myself have a pair of old SCM bandsaws that purchased from an estate where the seller had no interest in anything but quick cash from his deceased grandfather's shop (drug habit I surmised), so I paid $450 for a 2 hp Mini Max S45, AND a 4.8 hp MM24. Then, as I was loading them and a bunch of other great steals up, the guy offered me an old Grizzly that had had water dripping on it for a while. He asked for $200, I countered with $50, and that's all it took. Turned out the water had only gotten into the table and trunnions (which is bad enough) but a little electrolysis in a RubberMaid tote, using sodium hydroxide (lye) and a manual battery charger uncovered amazingly pit free iron underneath. There was some very minor blemishing, but overall I can only surmise that the water damage was all fairly recent.

    I would strongly urge that anyone considering a repaint avoid the chemical strippers altogether, as they are the worst of the worst in terms of dangerous chemicals that are available from home centers and hardware stores (although probably not for long). There are a variety of media recycling blast-type alternatives that can be employed that won't destroy the metal underneath and put you at risk of growing tumors for your trouble.

    As happy as I was with my rehabbing of three 1990's era saws, they were nothing compared to what I discovered in a new neighbor's shop a few weeks later. He had a 1929 I think it was, Tannewitz 36" bandsaw, and it was simply amazing to behold. His is still being used almost daily, and still sports the original paint! This is not his, but the only image I could find. It's a beast, but standing before this nearly 100 year old machine, it is truly something to behold.

    839tb13.jpg
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    PartsAndRestorationGalt

    Reply 3 months ago

    That’s an amazing saw!! Great story!! Thanks for sharing!! Keep rescuing that old iron!!

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    ArthurS18

    3 months ago

    Almost any high quality power tool can be rebuilt, and that started out as a very nice bandsaw. It wasn't mentioned, but I'll bet that saw still worked fine despite the battered appearance.

    I found an old Craftsman bandsaw beside a dumpster and rebuilt it last summer. Mine is nothing like the professional level quality of that big Delta saw, but the mechanisms are all very similar. In my case some savage had tried and failed to fix it several times so there was a mishmash of missing and incorrectly assembled parts. My saw is 30-40 years old but I was still able to find a manual online. There is probably a manual available for that big Delta too. The parts diagram in the manual was crucial for me to figure out how the washers and bearings on the drive axle were originally stacked. Otherwise a bandsaw is a simple machine, so cleaning and greasing are the biggest parts of the overhaul job.

    All bandsaws do have consumables and wear parts. The blades and rubber tires will be specific to the guide wheels of individual saws, but those parts are specific to the guide wheels—NOT the brand. Any 14" wheel will use a commonly available 14" tire. The same is true of the little guide blocks that keep the blade aligned at the cutting area. Likewise, I could read the bearing numbers and order more of the same bearing sets. That Delta saw looks like it was built in the 1940s-1950s and I'm sure all of its wear parts are commonly available.

    I've overhauled quite a few power tools so I have an estimate of the cost and savings in doing so. Start by looking at the current price for something of equal quality. It's tough to compare a 70 year old saw, but depending on features that one might be worth up to $2800 new. Suppose you don't need a $2800 saw. A $1200 saw is still really nice. It typically costs 1/3 of the new price for me to overhaul a power tool. I would aim at $400-500 in total cost, meanwhile hoping to get $2800 worth of saw even though I'd be perfectly happy with a $1200 saw. If that Delta saw has all new wear components, wire and motor it is worth $1200 regardless of its age.

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    PartsAndRestorationArthurS18

    Reply 3 months ago

    Aurther,

    Thanks for leaving such an insightful post! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    You would be surprised to know that thensaw didn’t run in thrncondition purchased. Thisnsaw was used exclusively for metal work (it has back gears) and the gearbox was frozen solid as well as all of the bearings.

    She’s a real champ now though!! Thanks again for your comments!!

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    billbillt

    3 months ago on Step 10

    GREAT JOB!!.. MY KIND OF PROJECT: "USE IT UP, WEAR IT OUT, MAKE IT DO, OUR DO WITHOUT"...

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    ShelS2

    3 months ago

    Like the MythBusters say, I am an expert, but don’t try this yourself at home.

    your instructable is a complete roadmap of how to do things and in the correct order. Despite that I think that the person who follows these instructions successfully, already has the tools and experience to do this on his own. Band saws being the simple things that they are, can be disassembled and restored with your guidance alone, but the parts list is major support element. Since the original home shop bandsaw design has not changed since the Tool was invented, almost any technical information from traditional band saws will work. Newer makers like Rikon and Laguna have introduced improvements and refinements that do not relate to what rehabilitation requires.

    while the roadmap covers the steps, the inexperienced needs detailed instructions on how to replace the tires and to pull of bearings and replace them. If constrained in how many pages or words can be in the instructable, leave out the details of cleaning, derusting, degreasing and painting. No offense to you or your readers, but even Homer Simpson & Krusty the Klown can figure that out.

    All in all, good work.

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    PartsAndRestorationShelS2

    Reply 3 months ago

    Shel,

    Thanks for the compliment, the sale turned out really nice and I’m proud of the work!

    I’ll take your commentsinto consideration, however, if you watch the included bandsaw videos, I think inexperienced folks will have all of their questions answered. I didn’t use pullers and I show how to replace a tire. Check out the vid, not only will you see my point, but I think you’ll enjoy watching it!

    Take care!!

    Dave

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    GFire

    3 months ago

    Nice Job, I have an older model of the Delta band saw that was my grandfathers. I'm hoping to clean it up as well. Luckily for me its in pretty good shape.

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    PartsAndRestorationGFire

    Reply 3 months ago

    Awesome! It’s great to get a tool that just needs a little love to run strong again! Good luck!!

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    rmelchiori

    3 months ago

    I have this exact model. It also has a 6" riser block installed. I acquired it in working condition about 20 years ago for $100 along with an Atlas floor standing drill press, also for $100. Both were owned by a machinist The bandsaw needs new tires. Where did you source yours?

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    PartsAndRestorationrmelchiori

    Reply 3 months ago

    Hey, thanks for chiming In !! I got new tires for mine on amazon. There were a ton of similar deals on eBay as well.

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    steve.oakley.10rmelchiori

    Reply 3 months ago

    you can find them at the usual places from rockler, woodcraft, amazon or ebay. I got tires and a full set of bearings on ebay. there is a guy who specializes in woodworking machine parts for rebuilds.

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    mf70

    3 months ago

    She does look good. What would your "Don't buy this" warning signs be on an old power tool?

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    PartsAndRestorationmf70

    Reply 3 months ago

    Excellent question! I look for signs of abuse or misuse! Broken cast iron parts are very difficult for anything but an expert to repair. Those are total deal breakers for me (I’m learning to fix them now, it ain’t easy). I look for broken gear teeth, I look for seized bearings. I look for signs that it’s been dropped or damaged by other machinery (forklift forks etc). You can check for wear on ground (grind-ed) surfaces with a straight edge by laying it across what should be a perfectly flat surface and looking for a gradual wallowing out of that flat edge from years of wear. This is especially important on the “ways” or the sliding tracks of lathes and other precision tools but is important on any precision ground surface WHERE IMPORTANT PARTS SLIDE ACROSS ONE ANOTHER. I look for rust in critical components. I’ve got to say it again - I check bearings! Bearings are the doughnut shaped doo dads that spinning shafts rest in contact with. If you have a machine or tool that has bad bearings, it’s may be shot. Some old machinery has cast in place bearings that are not easily replaceable. If you aren’t sure, and if doesn’t spin well, don’t by it! Pass on machines with major major corrosion that have been living outside for decades. Odd on stuff with sketchy electrical unless you are comfortable rewiring. It goes without saying, but try and test out the machine before you buy it. I feel like generally common sense prevails with this stuff. Trust your instincts! If you feel like somethings not right, walk away! This is a very general list and I could go into the weeds with different machines but this is all I’ve got for now. Hope this helps!

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    EcoExpatMike

    3 months ago

    This is so cool. The question I always have when looking at stuff like this is I don't know how much I should be willing to pay for it. So, a used machine like yours (bascially in good shape, but old) should cost about the same as a new cheapo import? Half as much?

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    Hey mike, thanks for reaching out! These old machines are build as a band Saw should be, without any cost cutting, cheap parts, or engineered failure points :) That said, their value is subjective. If you needed a Cadillac bandsaw for your business, paying 600-2000 bucks for a fully restored golden age bandsaw would be money well spent. If you were a home gamer who wanted a primo 12-14” delta bandsaw for your shop that was in fair condition and running, I’d say 3-500 bucks is a fair price. If you’re me looking for a project, I’d pay between 150-250 for a machine like mine and be thrilled at the deal I found. My first bandsaw was a 12” craftsman plastic fantastic that I paid 50 bucks for. The going rate on that saw is 100-200 bucks. The deal are out there but patience is key.

    Good luck!!

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    Cool. I was just wondering how you decided where the cut off is. And the reason that stuff like this is no longer made in the US to top standards is because it is expensive to build stuff well, with fairly paid workers.