Newer vs. older USA-made Delta 14" band saw - which one to keep?

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Forum topic by Spelcher posted 06-01-2016 03:00 PM 2398 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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150 posts in 999 days

06-01-2016 03:00 PM

I have suddenly found myself with two Delta 14” American-made bandsaws, a late 1990s version, and a 1954 version, both with open steel bases. The 90s (I think around 1999 or so) is wood only, and the 1954 one is wood/metal. I don’t think I would cut much, if any, metal on it.

I picked up the 1950s one on a whim yesterday, and am trying to decide which one to keep… I originally bought the old one yesterday for the more compact open steel base as I was about to build a more compact base for the newer saw. But I like the idea of older tools.

I’ve had the 1990s one for a couple months and almost have it tuned (about to order tires, spinner etc. from Iturra, installed a new spring, got wheels aligned). It is in fairly immaculate condition except that the spring had never been untensioned. I also added a Grizzly riser kit to it, and put a 1.5hp motor on the saw.

The 1954 model is definitely in rougher condition, but looks like it will clean up nicely. I noticed the wood (not gearbox driving) pulley and motor pulley are much bigger than those on the 1990s saw. The big pulley on the bottom wheel shaft is quite warped and will need replacing. The motor pulley is a single pulley, so I think it has been replaced. To set it up for the gearbox drive, I think I would need to source the stacked motor pulley. The saw has no pulley cover and it’s missing the table pin (that goes in the blade removal slot). The gearbox probably hasn’t had the oil changed for 50 years.

Can anyone enlighten me of any potential advantages/disadvantages to keeping either one. So far I have:

Keep old saw
-Have to unscrew and remove front covers to change blades
-More work to clean and tune
-Pulleys might be hard to find
-Hex guidepost harder to mike fine adjustments on
+Seems like heavier castings (=less vibration?)
+hex guidepost keeps settings better
+Cool factor of old saw

Keep newer saw but put it on old stand
+almost ready to go
+more convenient hinged front covers for blade changes
-maybe lighter castings
-Though the saw is US-made, it came with hokier looking Taiwanese bearings etc.

I only have a couple crappy pics of the old saw, I’ll try to get to the shop in the next couple days to put up better ones:

and crappy pics of the 90’s saw:
with pulley cover removed

before adding Grizzly riser block

-- Jason

17 replies so far

View UpstateNYdude's profile


917 posts in 2131 days

#1 posted 06-01-2016 04:16 PM

If it were me and this is coming from a guy who usually buys all the latest and newest gadgets and tools, I still like the older Delta bandsaws, I was actually looking for one to go with my big Grizzly 19” I had for quicker intricate work, but then I just sold it and bought a newer Laguna 14”. Get some Carter guides and clean that beast up, those older ones are tanks and you get a good motor and some new pulleys along with new tires and then you can mod it anyway you want.

My buddy modded his with LED lights and new black paint job and he also rigged up a new door so he doesn’t have to unscrew it, thing cuts like a champ.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View Redoak49's profile


3532 posts in 2137 days

#2 posted 06-01-2016 05:36 PM

I have a 1950s Delta Homecraft 10” bandsaw. It weighs a ton. I recently put new tires and guide blocks on it. I also have a motor from that era to run it. It cuts great and smooth. The only drawback is that the bearings need oiling and the thrust bearings. I have not been able to find replacements for the thrust bearings. Mine are OK so far.

I have a similar issue as I have this old bandsaw and a new 10” Rikon. I need to get rid of one. I also have a 16” Jet for resawing.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5229 posts in 1869 days

#3 posted 06-01-2016 08:30 PM

The older one all the way!

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Clarkie's profile


455 posts in 1989 days

#4 posted 06-01-2016 09:49 PM

I had a 1938 Delta wood/metal cutting band saw. It had the cast iron base cover, the stand and the machine weighed in at around 250lbs. While I never cut any metal say other than some aluminum, the machine was the very best piece of equipment in the shop. Take the table pin from the newer band saw and keep the older machine, you won’t be sorry. Besides when that older saw sold new, it cost over 1 thousand dollars. Have fun, make some dust.

View MrRon's profile


5089 posts in 3392 days

#5 posted 06-01-2016 09:54 PM

I would keep the older one. Parts are usually available from Delta for their older machines. Being “made in the USA” is the deal maker. I don’t know where the newer Delta’s are made, but some or all of it may be made in China; something I would avoid. I have a Delta drill press circa 1937 that is still going strong. These older machines were made to last practically forever, something I can’t vouch for with the newer machines.

View johnstoneb's profile


3014 posts in 2321 days

#6 posted 06-01-2016 10:22 PM

Keep both. Put a riser on one and dedicate it to resaw and you don’t have to mess with changing blades so much.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Spelcher's profile


150 posts in 999 days

#7 posted 06-01-2016 10:37 PM

Thanks guys, I’ve been leaning toward keeping the older one. I would love to keep both and just put the riser on one, but I picked up the older one for the base because I am moving into a very small shop space and couldn’t fit both. My 6” jointer is trembling with fear because it knows it has a 50% chance of getting sold off to make room…

Nick, that’s good to hear your buddy was able to mod the doors of the older model so they don’t have to come off completely to change the blades – that’s the only real drawback I see to the older one right now, other than needing to source pulleys and bearings, and a fear of what I may find in cleaning out the gearbox…

-- Jason

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


6948 posts in 2347 days

#8 posted 06-01-2016 11:03 PM

Be aware that there were three (four?) different variants to the wood/metal setup over the years. Once you get into it, check over at OWWM and the Vintagemachinery site to figure out which one you have and get the proper manual and parts diagram for it – Each has it’s own particular quirk regarding assembly/disassembly, and you don’t want to break anything in the process because you were looking at the wrong diagram!

There wasn’t a lot of changes made on that saw over the decades they were produced, and most were simply cosmetic rather than functional. However, the ones produced while under ownership of Rockwell (up until ~1984) were considered the more robust and better built models. Things started changing after being sold off to Pentair, more for cost reduction than anything else, so you start seeing stuff like a lot more plastic and thinner sheet metal.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Spelcher's profile


150 posts in 999 days

#9 posted 06-01-2016 11:16 PM

Thanks Brad! That’s awesome advice. I’ll do my homework when it comes time to dig into the gearbox. The shaft directly on the bottom wheel seems to move very smoothly, but it feels like there might be a bad bearing in the shaft going into the gearbox.

-- Jason

View loiblb's profile


143 posts in 1204 days

#10 posted 06-02-2016 02:03 AM

I was thinking I could get the old 14” Delta I bought for $150 and have a maybe OK saw.
I use my 17” Grizzly for bigger stuff.

It turned out the old Delta is a very good saw. Only issue is no belt guard.

View TheFridge's profile


10353 posts in 1634 days

#11 posted 06-02-2016 02:27 AM

Well bud, sounds like you have a guard to build.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Gentile's profile


311 posts in 1967 days

#12 posted 06-03-2016 02:52 AM

Tough choice Spelcher, I like the idea of the versatility of being able to cut metal and wood. You never know when it’ll be needed to cut metal. The idea of keeping the old “Arn” appeals to me too.
When cutting metal, will you need to squirt oil on the metal as its being cut?
That could be a messy hassle when going back to cutting wood. I gave my SIL my old Chiwanese band saw, he asked if it was ok to use it to cut meat…
As far as chasing down parts for the older one, I found that to be fun when I’ve refurbished some of the stuff of mine.
Some will say it’s better to get into production rather than fix old machines…

My Dad recently gave me his 70s era Delta Rockwell . I thought I would have no use for it, but what someone said earlier, it is a nice addition to my bigger bandsaw. I too, have a small shop, that’s why my stuff is on wheels.
I don’t think I am of much help,eh?
Having two of the same size, makes it a difficult decision…

-- "I cut it twice and it's still too short"

View Spelcher's profile


150 posts in 999 days

#13 posted 06-03-2016 06:06 AM

Yep, the production vs. fixing old machines is a tough one too… And definitely love old
arn… I really don’t see myself using the saw for metal, though I think I may as well tune up the metal cutting gearbox etc.

Had time for a five minute stop by the shop today for some better pictures:

Do these wheels look right for the era? They look a lot less substantial than those on the 1990s saw..

Lovely rough old arn

The joint between top and bottom parts looks a bit crooked, I wonder if the alignment pins are missing… I haven’t had a chance to check the wheel for alignment yet.

Unortunately one of the previous owners wasn’t afraid to put screws into the back of the saw to attach a mickey mouse lamp mount.

Here’s the newer USA made machine it looks like it will be replacing:

Does anyone have a line on pulleys for the older saws? The 8” bottom wheel drive pulley is very warped, and the saw is missing the stepped gearbox shaft pulley (that’s the motor pulley on the gearbox in the picture). No luck finding the stepped pulley on ebay…

The outer rims of the wheels on the old saw have a bit of wobble to them, I’m hoping when the grungy old tires get removed, the centres of the wheels run straight. Right now the tires are very bumpy. It would seem a shame to put the 1990s wheels on the 1950s saw.

-- Jason

View Spelcher's profile


150 posts in 999 days

#14 posted 06-05-2016 09:02 PM

Took the tires off to see if the unevenness was coming from the tires or the wheels and found my answer. I don’t know much about band saws, but I don’t imagine taking a bunch of meat off right under the contact point with the blade is the best way to balance a wheel.

I guess I’ll be swapping the wheels for those on the 1990s saw…

-- Jason

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


6948 posts in 2347 days

#15 posted 06-05-2016 09:22 PM

That’s where they drill them, and usually it doesn’t cause problems. That wheel looks like it was pretty out of balance and they drilled more than usual. If it’s causing issues, just fill ‘em in with bondo.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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