Hot Rodding a Harbor Freight Bandsaw. #1: Background, and ideas.

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 10-16-2009 05:15 PM 12632 reads 11 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Hot Rodding a Harbor Freight Bandsaw. series Part 2: All the pieces parts for the tension assembly are in, almost... »

As you may or may not know I am in the process of hot rodding as it were, my Harbor Freight 32208 14” band saw. The work so far has been..

#1. Harbor Freight Universal Mobile Base. #2. Craftsman Professional Universal Band Saw Fence. (functional, but certainly NOT great, planning on picking up some small HF C clamps to help it out. The clamps this thing somes with are garbage.) #3. Harbor Freight riser block kit. Priceless add on for this saw. #4. Accura Micro Adjustable Roller Bearing Blade guides. #5. Acculink link belts. #6. Timberwolf blades.

These mods have been done for quite a while now, and I have been picking up the design ideas, bits and pieces to move forward with bigger mods. The biggest is my Grizzly tension release lever.

Due to some comments in the Grizzly Tension Release on a HF bandsaw thread, there has been some confusion to which parts to order for the tension release. I have double and triple checked the part #s against the Grizzly G0555 parts list.

33 P0555033A 1 Blade Adj. Screw Assy 7”
131A P0555131A 1 Fixed Spacer A.
131B P0555131B 1 Fixed Spacer B.
133 P0555133 1 Lever Rod
135 P0555135 1 Bushing
137 P0555137 1 Bracket
140 P0555140 2 Support Plate
141 P0555141 1 Fixed Base

Now the rest of this stuff SHOULD be findable at your local hardware store for a LOT less money than Grizzly sells it.
If you are wanting to go with the Metric to be 100% up to speed with Grizzly, the parts are…
130A PSS05M 1 Setscrew M5-.8×10. (Required to get this size, the Grizz parts are threaded for it!)
130B PSS07M 1 Setscrew M5-.8×5. (Required to get this size, the Grizz parts are threaded for it!)
132 PW04M 1 Flat Washer 10mm
134, PW01M 6 Flat Washer 8MM
136, PSB82M 1 Button Cap Screw M8-1.25×20
138, PB15M 2 Hex Bolt M8-1.25×40
139, P0555139 2 Nylon Nut M8-1.25
142, PLW04M 2 Lock Washer 8MM
143, PB09M 1 Hex Bolt M8-1.25×20

Per the original instructions, if you have SAE tap / die set, you can substitute SAE hardware for the metric stuff. Those components are…
2 5/16-18 bolts 1 1/2"
5/15-18 bolts 3/4”
1 5/16-18 button cap screw 3/4"
5/16 flat washers
2 5/16 lock washers
5/16-18 nylon locking nuts

All of the parts for my Grizzly tension release lever from Grizzly are in. I figure since I will be into the bandsaw for this conversion, I am making a couple of other mods at the same time. One of them related to the conversion.

#1. Replace the OEM tension spring with a Carter Cobra Coil. (On order from Woodcraft). Woodcraft item #14497. #2. Return OEM guide assemblies fitted with cool blocks. The micro adjust on the roller guides is nice and all, but has been a hassle adjustment wise over time. I am wishing I hadn’t done this particular mod. Cool Blocks Woodcraft Item #49H02. #3. “Enhanced lower blade guide dust port” made from 4” S&D, pine, screws, and adhesive sealant. The DC will come into a 4×4x2.5 wye, the 2.5” will go up to the upper blade guide. I have tested the idea by bungee cording the hoses where I want them, and it works GREAT, I just want to set up a more proper mounting / hood system.

Not coming in quite yet, but planned for the next round of upgrades. #1. Add Harbor Freight #90766 75 Watt Magnetic Base Light. (This will be moved from tool to tool as needed. I rarely need it for the bandsaw, but find lighting around the lathe to be pretty lousy…) #2. Carter Urethane bandsaw tires. Woodcraft item #144969. #3. Carter Clean Sweep wheel brush. Yes I can shop build one, but for the cost, I would be more money and LOTS more effort into a shop built brush. #4. Rockler Safety shut off switch. I have hated the OEM switch mount location of my saw. Always felt it was unsafe. I want to move the switch to the frame, AND provide a large paddle STOP mechanism for the saw. (See the Steel City 14” band saw for ideas). I am planning on not plugging in as other members here have done, but actually wiring the switch to the motor in proper fashion, and eliminating the OEM switch. This will leave a switch plate hole in the stand. No biggie. Home Depot sells metal block off plates, simply use the threaded insert of a wall box spacer to back up the block off plate. Not sure if I can color match the stand, so chances are it will get a couple of coats of gloss black paint and then a couple of coats of clear.

Now I KNOW that if I try to sell it, I will never get out of this saw what I have in it. That’s not the point. Unless something major happens to the frame, table, or trunion, I have no intention of getting rid of this saw. It’s a good cutting machine, and has been very accepting of the various mods.

For those that are going to ask why not just buy a saw like a Grizz GO555 with the mods already done in the first place. Well aside from the blade guides, fence, and of course the tension release, the Grizzly would need the same mods. Now on sale, with the 20% off coupon, the 32208 runs just under half of what the Grizz does. Not to mention in all honesty, I like tinkering with machines too.

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5 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3576 days

#1 posted 10-16-2009 05:23 PM

Good luck with your hot rodding

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3727 days

#2 posted 10-16-2009 09:03 PM

As I was reading your blog I was worried about posting a question for fear that you might take it as a sarcastic comment. Then I got to your last paragraph and you answered my question. I don’t think this work would be for me, but if you enjoy it and save some money at the same time, that makes a lot more sense. I’m about to try a jointer refurb. That will be my first stab at any type of work on machinery. I look forward to it, but I don’t think I’m naturally inclined to do this stuff like you seem to be. Best of luck.

View dbhost's profile


5711 posts in 3231 days

#3 posted 10-16-2009 09:22 PM

Yeah, well my first career was as an auto / diesel mechanic. I worked on a lot of high end import stuff where parts weren’t always available, and even the manuals would tell you, use component XYZ from another model, and modify this way before fittment to vehicle… The Italians were the worst about that…

I am honestly, on the prowl for an 8” jointer to refurb, but the price has to be right…

And I agree, this is NOT a project that will appeal to a lot of folks. For those that don’t want to tinker with their saws, the Powermatic 14” with riser block (installed by your dealer) is probably your best bet… Maybe the Steel City 14”...

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View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3047 days

#4 posted 02-19-2010 05:36 PM

Question: I read on another forum about a HF fence made for this saw.
Do you have any information about it?
I cannot find anything about this HF fence
Thank you.

-- Bert

View dbhost's profile


5711 posts in 3231 days

#5 posted 02-19-2010 05:49 PM

From what I can tell, both models of band saw fences have dropped out of the Harbor Freight catalog. They used to make a real basic fence, which I have seen a few of, and a “Precision Fence” with micro adjuster and all…

In all honesty, if it weren’t for the miserable mounting configuration of the Craftsman, it’s not a terrible fence, But… I think you could do the same thing with a piece of angle aluminum and 2 bar clamps….

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