Hot Rodding a Harbor Freight Bandsaw. #3: The tension release, tension spring, and cool blocks are on!

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 10-23-2009 03:15 AM 8295 reads 4 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: All the pieces parts for the tension assembly are in, almost... Part 3 of Hot Rodding a Harbor Freight Bandsaw. series Part 4: Dust port mods, mostly complete... »

Okay boys and girls, the tension release, cool blocks, and Cobra Coil are done.

All the pieces and parts required for the upgrade.

The set of cool blocks in the OEM blade guide assemblies replaces the aftermarket Accura blade guide assemblies. The Accuras were nice, but were a pain to reset every time I swapped blades.

The completed tension release assembly in the released position.

The completed tension release assembly in the tensioned position.

The tension release assembly was pretty straight forward just following the originally linked Photo HOWTO and using the Grizzly parts list as a guide as to how it should go together.

The hardest part of the entire process was adjusting it once it went together…

One step that I feel is VERY important that the originator of this mod did not mention in the tutorial, is that once you find the centers of where you want your holes, you really MUST center punch the spot you want your bit to drill to prevent the drill bit from skating on you.

Operation of the tensioner is far smoother than I would have expected, and it has not yet wanted to back off on me which is very nice.

I believe next is the work light and dust collection upgrades….

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11 comments so far

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3132 days

#1 posted 10-23-2009 05:06 AM

I just ordered new pulleys and a link belt for the TS. No question about it, I like to tinker with the machines…. I have some plans for the TS including dust collection, a very novel power switch, guard, and splitter. We’ll see how it goes, not what everybody else has done. I do not find any joy in throwing a lot of money into first class machines, I would rather tinker with the…....handicapped ones (-:

Working on the benchtop downdraft table, gad….it is tough to drill mediocre oak ply, even with a fortsner bit. Likes to chip out. Not important fortunately. I will fill it in and cover it with black goo. Just using left overs and reclaimed wood for a good share of the project. Will try to make it look pretty for its pictures, little spit on the hair, sit it up straight, get it to smile….....

I am going to have to try Grizzly, Harbor Freight or such for my band saw upgrade when that comes….....hopefully a long time from now, no time to tinker with it now… I am watching you very closely…..... you are under surveillance.

Thanks for the blog…..........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3280 days

#2 posted 10-23-2009 01:01 PM

Dbhost- I have a Central Machinery bandsaw left to me from my dad. I will have to back up and review your upgrade from the beginning. I hardly ever use the thing for two reasons. One, it screeches terribly when I turn it on, so it is probably way out of adjustment. Two, I have practically nil knowledge of how to use or adjust a bandsaw.

Maybe this winter once I get my front section of the shop squared away I can get back into the room with the bandsaw and try and learn a little about it, so thanks for posting this blog it will prove helpful to me I am sure. Plus now I know someone that I can pester with questions!! Sorry dude you are it!!

View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3199 days

#3 posted 10-23-2009 02:38 PM


Go to Wood Magazine’s Wood Vision (videos) Bandsaw Tips and Techniques. There are some great videos there to show you what to do with your band saw.

The screeching concerns me though. If this thing is pretty old, it may have dry bearings. Lubing the bearings should help, if that is the issue….

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View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3199 days

#4 posted 10-23-2009 03:48 PM

Oh yeah, for what it’s worth, for those that might not recall… This is what a HF bandsaw looks like from behind WITHOUT the Grizz Tensioner…
Stock HF Bandsaw rear view.

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View ironhat's profile


3 posts in 3011 days

#5 posted 01-26-2010 02:38 AM

Hey db, I too understand your reasoning for souping up your saw. I bought a Ridgid at a Cummins Tool sale. They were certified re-sellers of their re-furbished equipiment and I got it for $150, so, there was some room to spend on the upgrades. The tension release is the next on my list. I can’t tell from the picture how it mounts. Would you please let me know what the critical points are and the critical measurement/s that would my saw would be required to match? BTW, Griz didn’t even direct me to the part (I stated that I couldn’t find it) but said that they couldn’t guarantee fit because the saws are made by a different manufacturer. Oh well, when and if you have time let me know by PM, post here or e-mail.

-- Later, Chiz

View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3199 days

#6 posted 01-26-2010 06:02 AM

I went with measurements from a posting on that appears to be a dead link now… I will have to go out and measure it up… I will get the info to you as soon as I can…

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View Eternal's profile


1 post in 1621 days

#7 posted 11-15-2013 01:50 AM

Is there any way to get the pictures back up on this? I am very interested in doing this to my HF saw but would really like to see what has been done. Thanks for sharing!

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3733 days

#8 posted 11-15-2013 02:25 AM

Try sending the OP a PM. I’m sure he’ll do what he can to get the images to you.

View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3199 days

#9 posted 11-15-2013 04:28 AM

I had the images on Webshots before they went bad.. it will take a week or so to find them, please stand by.

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View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3199 days

#10 posted 11-21-2013 03:38 PM


I haven’t forgotten about the photos. I am still digging through old hard disks. Probably have to host the images on Google or something…

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View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3199 days

#11 posted 12-13-2013 08:56 PM

I still haven’t forgotten. I am just having trouble finding the files…

Aside from the pieces / parts photo, which is the one I think I know how to find, I can retake them, but my shop is a disaster right now and I won’t have an opportunity to try until at least after Jan 1…

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