Craftsman bandsaw repair fail

A guy who follows my website offered to give me his old bandsaw. He just wanted to get rid of it. It vibrated far too much, and he had already bought a better one.

I figured, no harm in it. If I can build a bandsaw, there shouldn't be a bandsaw that I couldn't fix!

This one is an interesting design, with a tilting head. Unfortunately, the tilting head makes for a rather large machine, even though it only has 12" wheels.


Turning it on, it made an awful racket. Turning the wheels by hand was also quite noisy.

At first I figured the bearings must be shot, but then I removed the motor (which was really difficult to get at) and the wheels turned without making much noise.

I knew I'd have to take the saw apart some more to be able to get the motor back on. So I unbolted the back table, only to find that the whole saw was attached to that, and there was no way to get it out because the shaft for the tilt-crank tied it to the front panel, and there wasn't a good way to take that out.


In desperation, I checked the manual and realized the whole top of the saw is meant to come off the base.


The motor mounts to this bracket with four bolts, which are awkward to get at with wrenches and too hard to turn with fingers. Awful to work on!


I saw that the pulley was quite loose on the motor. Taking it off and measuring it, it was clear that it had been loose for some time, because the hole had worn about 0.20" (half a millimeter) larger than the motor's shaft!

I spent a few hours trying to shim it with aluminium from soft drink cans, but I never got it straight to my satisfaction. But at some point I decided it was good enough.


Before putting the belt back on, I spun the lower wheel, only to see that the other pulley also had a major wobble to it. Also worn from being loose. So I shimmed that one as well.

I was questioning whether this saw was worth fixing. But I put it back together and ran it. It was less loud, though there was still a lot of vibration from uneven thickness tires on the wheels. But as I experimented further, the noise coming from the motor got louder. The motor pulley was working its way loose again.

Considering how difficult it was to get the motor on and off, and how difficult it was to shim that pulley, I realized this bandsaw might not be worth the trouble.


It was never a very good bandsaw to begin with. The frame, being made of thin cast aluminium, has far too much flex to it. Twice as much as my old cast iron bandsaw, and that one is not a very stiff one to begin with. Also this saw is only 12", whereas my cast iron bandsaw is 14".

And the plastic gear that activated the tilt mechanism had already lost a tooth. I had little faith that this would last.

Fixing this bandsaw right would be more work and way more frustrating than building a new one. Checking the Sears website, it indicated that the pulleys for this saw were no longer available. And even if I managed to fix it, it's still not a very good saw.

I felt like smashing the saw!


I thought about it some time, then thought of a more creative way of destroying it. I saved the motor, power cord and switch (which I figured I could use for something else). The wheels could have potentially been used to build another bandsaw, but bandsaw wheels are not that hard to make, and these are only 12", so not worth reusing.

I hoisted the saw up onto my tall scaffold, which I had used to paint the shop and fix the lights.


I then perched the saw on top and tipped it off, from 14' (4.25 meter) up, straight down onto the concrete floor.


It took four drops before the frame broke apart.


Quite tiring hosting it up the scaffold, so I finished the job with a sledgehammer, breaking it into small pieces that nicely fit into a cardboard box.


This bandsaw will not be giving me any more trouble. And now that it's completely smashed, I won't be tempted to waste more time trying to fix it later.

I cut my losses.

One regret - I wish I had already had my big tractor back then. That would have been fun to use on the bandsaw!


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