(Note: updated with tension spring info at the end)
The saw is assembled and ready for adjusting all the parts that matter (to me!).
Everything on the saw needs to be adjusted with respect to the blade. The table needs to be square to the blade, the guide bar needs to be square to the blade, the blade guides need to be set to the blade, etc.
Step 1: Get the blade installed
First thing is to install a blade. The saw had a 1/4” blade in good condition so I looped this over the wheels and cranked up the tension on the tension adjustment wheel.
This thing turns smooth…..! Originally the wheel was much harder to turn. The greasing during assembly really did it’s job.
Minor gripe This wheel takes a lot of turns to tension the blade, it would be nice if it had a spinner handle!
I get the blade up to tension, but the tension spring is fully compressed. Given that this saw should be able to handle a much wider blade I can only assume the spring is shot. Not surprising given that the saw is over 50 years old and chances are it never was de-tensioned after use. None of the aftermarket springs I can find are correct. The closest, for a Jet 14”, is the correct length (3”), but appears to fit around a 3/8” tension adjust shaft. The Powermatic measures in at 1/2”. eReplacement parts shows the correct dimensioned spring, but lists it as a ‘spring clip’. The price also indicates that what I see is not what I’ll get. $8 will buy a $0.50 hardware store item from them, but not a spring.
I’m going to try anyway, at least the picture associated with the part number and price all agree.
Back to the blade install: With the blade under tension I can spin the wheel and adjust the top wheel tilt tracking to keep the blade centered. The tracking is exceptionally touchy, I’ll probably have to crown the tire if I continue to use a narrow blade.
Blade is installed and running without drift, I can proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Square the table
This assures that the miter slot is running parallel to the blade. I feel a good way to get this reliably set is to use a straight edge and assume that if the blade is running on the wheels without drift, it is where it will be when cutting wood.
Here you can see I have a straight edge aligned with the back of the blade on both sides of the wheel. This cast iron frame allows for nice access like this!. I can now use a square and align the miter slot by twisting the table. Once the square says everything is perfect, I can tighten up the trunion bolts on the bottom of the table.
Step 3: Zero the table tilt
99% of my bandsaw use is with the table flat. This saw (and I assume most others) have a stop for setting the table at 0 degrees. I placed a square on the table (aligned with the blade) and tilted the table until all was good. At this point I locked down the tilt levers and set the table stop bolt.
I should now have a table set for a nice square edge and a miter slot that should have the same squareness on a cross cut.
Next up is the guide bar.
Step 4: Square the guide bar
The guide bar should run exactly parallel to the blade as it is raised and lowered. If it is not parallel, I’ll have to readjust the upper blade guide bearings every time I raise/lower the bar. Not fun!
On this saw the bar slides in a cast iron ‘box’ that is bolted to the saw frame though some slightly oversized holes.
Alignment (to the table which is now square to the blade) is by setting the bar position and tightening the bolts.
The problem is the bar moves slightly as the bolts are tightened. Eventually I compensated enough to get everything to fall into alignment with the bolts secure.
Step 5: Crown the tire
I was hoping to avoid this since everything I read about crowning rubber tires involved some tedious setups and sand paper. Referring to the tire manufactures web site, I found that they recommended crowning for narrow blades and only doing it on the top wheel (only one wheel, half the work I had anticipated 8^).
They also said to use tape! This makes total sense, a layer of tape around the center of the wheel will raise a crown.
Instructions were to run a ring of duct tape 1/4” wide around the wheel
Easy enough! A full width wrap of tape and then I used a razor blade to trim it to 1/4” wide.
Next, another layer twice as wide (same method)
I re-stretched the tire over the wheel without disturbing the tape (again, fairly easy) and behold! A slight crown in the upper tire that takes the ’touchiness’ out of the tracking adjust (nice!).
Step 6: The Guides
Part of any blade install. I had the guides removed while I aligned everything and it turns out that the lower guides really should be installed with the table removed. I had the trunions secure so I could just tilt the table out of the way, but it ended up being easy enough to get the lower guide mount installed without disturbing anything. The lower guides are much like the steel blocks on other saws except these are angled. I kind of like this since it keeps things further out of the way and kind of acts like a scraper. One side of each guide was worn so I just flipped them over. Replacements from eReplacementParts are $80 each (ouch!) so I’ll baby these. At least they should be easy to regrind when needed.
This whole process was much easier and faster than these kind of things usually go! All the bearing presses and pulley/wheel removal/install went easy without the typical binding or something breaking. Everything other than tires, springs, and bearings was in good shape, no bad surprises. The entire process went quick, just three weekends and I still had time to attend to other issues during the days.
I’m sure I’ll find more things as I use this saw, but what I consider ’bad’ are ergonomic factors. Mainly these are just gripes. The tension knob takes a lot of turns and there is no way to speed up this process. The guides are a pain to adjust, everything involved uses a different sized hex wrench and/or box wrench. The start/stop switch is in a ridiculous location. I could move it to the column, but I’m not in a hurry 8^).
How this saw looked before I began!
Figure out some dust collection, make some table inserts, keep an eye out for a ‘real’ motor.
Total costs for the parts was minimal:
Power switch $14
Paint and stripper $25
Bearings (with 6 extra guide bearings) $45
Bearing Part No.
6203 2NSENR (upper spindle)
6204 2RSNR (lower spindle)
“Mini-Me’s” new (old) little brother
Thanks for following along!
The original blade tension spring would collapse before proper tension could be applied to a 1/4” blade. The spring acts as a shock absorber and allows for slight eccentricities in the wheels so it really needs to stay in it’s linear region.
You can see the original has taken a set compared to the new factory spring.
With the new spring installed and the blade fully tensioned, you can see the spring is not fully compressed
Replacement choices for this saw are limited. The spring needs a 1/2” inside diameter to clear the tension rod. Most other 14” saws only use 3/8” rods so their springs would not fit.
I have mixed opinions about this place. The good thing is they have a lot of parts, right down to washers and nuts. The part searches are based upon manufacturer parts diagrams so if you know where the part you need is located on the machine, chances are good you can reference it in the parts diagram and located the replacement. The web site also provides pictures of most parts, placed upon a 1” gridded background for size information.
The bad thing is their prices can get downright scary-high.
Back to the spring. Iturra Designs makes a nice replacement spring (out of stock when I looked) for $16. eReplacementParts charges around $30 for a similar tension spring on other common 14” saws. The listing for the Powermatic spring was under $9!
They have the part listed as a “spring clip” even though the picture shows the complete tension spring. Since they charge about that much for a retaining clip, I suspect the part is mislabeled. To my luck, I ordered the part and what I received was exactly what I needed.