Ten or twelve years ago, living in a tiny basement apartment with my then infant son, I bought my first power tool. The cheapest band saw they had down at the home improvement store. A “Tool Shop” bench top model. At $85 it was a major purchase for me, and to date the most I’ve ever spent on a single tool, at least all at once.
My reasoning was that a band saw was versatile, compact, and relatively quiet. For the next decade the little saw that could served me admirably, so imagine my dismay and heartache when I opened her up to replace a broken blade and see the wheel hanging down at a cockeyed angle and a snapped off piece of pot metal from the bracket thingy that supports it.
But no matter, being overly sentimental is a detriment to avoid, and no doubt I’ve got more than my moneys worth out of her. Off to price bench top saws. Turns out there are exactly three different models available with dozens of different brand stickers and colors to chose from. Craftsman, Harbor Freight, Powertec, and several others sell one model, Black and Decker, Delta and I think Skill sell a second model, and Rockwell, Ryobi even Jet! (though I think only in Europe) sell MY SAW. Of the three and only three models of saw in this class that are sold today, the piece of junk I own is the premium model!!!
I know my saw, and while it is a well designed saw it is made out of the cheapest, chintziest lightest duty materials Scrooge himself could source. (Actually to its credit there is very little stamped sheet metal, but a lot of cast pot metal, the lesser of two evils I suppose.) My $50 Harbor Freight drill press appears to be heavy duty industrial serious tool when sitting next to it! So if it’s the premium model, NO WAY am I buying a cheaper model nor am I paying nearly $200 for the model I’ve been using.
Through some cobbling, a search through the junk drawer, and some epoxy, I’ve managed to get my saw back up and running.
Which just leaves me with the problem of my broken blade. I’ve been reading up on band saw blade repair and decided to give hard silver soldering my blade back together a try. On the cheap of course. No acetylene, or $10 a pop baby oxygen bottles or $50 torch heads here. I don’t think they even make real MAPP gas anymore.
Broken Band saw blade? Check
File to form scarf joint? Check
$8 butane pencil torch? Check
$3 bottle of butane? Check
$4 box of borax from the laundry aisle to us as flux? Check
Silver Solder….....hmm…....I could buy a lot of blades for the cost of that….....who’d have guessed silver to be so expensive…........Eureka!! I’ve got it. One half of a pair of “weighted”silver candle sticks from Goodwill destroyed. (think resin candle stick covered in silver foil) Lifetime supply of silver solder foil. Okay, so the silver content of my solder might be a bit high I think sterling is only around 90% silver and I might be better off with closer to 50% silver, but it’s what I’ve got.
The little butane pencil torch heats the thin steel blade nicely and has no problem melting the silver
The 20 Mule team borax seems to work fine as a flux
My second attempt seems to have created strong serviceable joint. (I think more care filing the scarf joint was key)
Blade is now too short to fit on band saw
I’m almost looking forward to snapping a blade now so I can try again. It’s only a matter of time. The blades always seem to snap at the factory weld.