Series – Around the Workshop: The Bandsaw

I’ve been wanting to share info about some of my tools and things in my shop, and with the major upgrade to the bandsaw complete I thought I would start this series here.

My bandsaw is a Central Machinery (Harbor Freight) model 65795. I purchased it mid-January 2011. I had searched for several months on Craigslist for a decent used saw, but either prices were too high or the saws were a disaster. I looked at one Delta that was so rusted, the guy cut the rusted blade off so I could take a look at the rusted table. No thanks. Thanks to their generous coupons, I was able to get the saw at near what I was going to pay for a used saw.

Assembly was fairly straightforward, and accomplished in a couple hours. The hardest part was attaching the motor and getting it lined up. I assembled it by myself, and anyone in decent shape or with a hoist could easily do it. Those with back problems would be advised to ask for help. I used a link belt (also from HF) to ease vibration. Shortly after assembly, I added cool blocks, a guide pin and zero clearance insert. I was thinking about a wheel brush, but they thoughtfully included one with the saw.

It stayed like this for a year, even with the included HF blade. It was no great shakes, but it did what I asked it to do, which was mostly errata and playing around. I had decided a good 6-8 months ago to add a riser block to the saw, but had been putting off ordering it from HF. For those that don’t know, a 14″ bandsaw has 14″ of cutting capacity between the blade and the post, it doesn’t refer to how thick of stock you can cut. Those are limited to 6″ for these saws. Adding a 6″ riser block therefore doubles the height capacity and lets the saw be better able to resaw (split thickness) boards. For example, a 8/4 (~2″) board could be resawn to two boards each just under 1″ each. A couple of months ago I made a fence for the saw from plans found in a magazine. It’s not fantastic, but it will serve my purposes for now until I modify it, or purchase something.

At the Atlanta Woodworking show, a unique opportunity presented itself to purchase a riser kit for a Powermatic saw. Powermatic is a well-respected tool brand, and the PM 14″ bandsaws are quite nice. The Powermatic kit was only $50, which was much cheaper than even buying the HF kit, the cheapest I knew of. I knew that it would be a risk, because of the potential it might not fit correctly, but I could have potentially resold it. After a few days, I was able to acquire the tools (socket and wrench sizes I didn’t have) and attempted the assembly. To my shock, the kit was an exact fit. In fact, the only way you can tell it didn’t come from HF is the the Powermatic gold contrasting with the Central Machinery green. Guess it’s a Green Bay saw. It went together in a matter of minutes, and now I have a saw with 12″ resaw capacity, and a 105″ Powermatic blade. I can’t say if the blade is any good. I’ll be purchasing an assortment of good blades in a few months when the budget allows. I’ll want to get a good resawing blade, plus a couple of general purpose ones.

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