Band Saw Restoration
Restoring a 60-year-old band saw had its challenges.

SHOP OWNER: Gene Mendes
Caldwell, ID

    I found this Craftsman 12-inch Band Saw (model 103.0103) in a dumpster in Fairbanks, Alaska. It was accompanied by its 1/3-horse Delco motor, two pillow blocks and a 14-inch-long 5/8-inch diameter shaft. Everything was dirty and it was still bolted to a table, which looked just as bad. It was -30F that day so I proceeded to get the major parts into my car quickly and later appraise the situation.

    Sometime later I found the following problems:
Band Saw Restoration
Motor -- (1) needed a new capacitor, (2) needed new power cord, (3) bearings needed oiling, and (4) needed to be cleaned and repainted properly. With these items properly instituted the motor runs perfectly. Today's replacement cost is approximately $187.00. My investment was about $40.00!
Band Saw Restoration
Band Saw -- original cost of this saw in or around 1950 was $69.50. Replacement cost today would start somewhere around $800.00 and the materials would be far inferior to the cast iron frame of this saw. However, having said this, someone still managed to abuse this machine, although repairable. The lower wheel casting was broken, bearings needed to be replaced, tires on the upper and lower wheels needed replacing, the lower wheel drive shaft needed to be replaced, lower wheel thrust bearing was missing, bronze saw guide pins simply needed re-surfacing, the covers needed cleaning, buffing, repainting and have the Craftsman logo reapplied.
Band Saw Restoration
    I had the bottom casting repaired (welded) by a reputable local machine shop. I also had them fabricate a new set of thrust guides (one was missing) and a new lower wheel shaft, which is too short to properly mount the drive pulley (looks like someone was making modifications of some sort). I think they were trying to incorporate a system for allowing the saw to cut both wood and metal. By making this shaft longer I believe I can accomplish this by mounting two pulleys of different sizes on the drive shaft. One for wood and one for metal.
Band Saw Restoration
    The "tires" of the upper and lower wheels are an interesting subject resolved in a very inexpensive and simple manner. I noticed that the material on my wheels was simply a black sticky cloth tape that can be found at any plumbing supply or home store. I applied two wraps around each wheel and it allows the blade to grip perfectly and not slip!
    The bearings (roller type originally) have been replaced with sealed bearings to avoid the need for manual lubrication. I bought my bearings from O'Reilly Auto for $3.17 each.
Band Saw Restoration
    Unfortunately I removed the original "Craftsman" lettering when I stripped the old paint off the covers. To restore them as close to original as I could I went to Michaels Hobby Store and purchased "Like" fonts. Once applied I sprayed clear lacquer over the letters to protect them from future dirt and wear. The original "Roller Bearing" decal located at the bottom of the cover was able to be saved simply by cleaning and protecting it with a clear lacquer coat too.
Band Saw Restoration
    This saw was made sometime between 1946 and 1950 and sold for $69.50 through Sears and Roebuck Co. I found it in a dumpster, renovated it back to original status with a few tweaks. My cost towards this project is approximately $500. However, the time and fun invested and gained has been worth much more plus I now have a saw of high quality for my projects. I was also able to restore the missing user manual thanks to the Old Woodworking Machines Website data bases and people like me who have a historical interest in such things.
. . . Gene Mendes


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