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Six years ago my neighbor and friend Dave gave me his vintage Sears Craftsman 12 inch band saw. I love this machine and use it a lot. Sears made these saws and sold them mainly to hobbyists and amateur carpenters, but they shouldn’t be ignored by serious carpenters; this machine is quite reliable and can work well especially with narrow blades.
Over the years I have expanded the saw and its stand. In this entry, I will explain what and how I improved its capabilities and turned it into a well-tuned piece of equipment. My ideas can be useful to anyone who has such a saw or uses other woodworking machines with open metal bases.
Blade guide screws
Most saw blade guides and bearings are locked into place with hex socket head screws or set screws requiring you to locate the appropriate wrench for whenever something needs to be adjusted. I found this to be quite annoying, so I replaced the set screws with cheap thumb screws. I ordered brass thumb screws, but steel screws will work just as well.
Mobility is priceless in a small shop, so I decided to install the wheels on the base of my saw. The sole of the metal legs can be fitted with 3 “or 4” wheels with threaded steel stem. I recommend fully lockable wheels where the mechanism can be stopped from rolling and turning at will.
By connecting your saw to a small dust collector or a reused vacuum cleaner, your cutting environment will be much healthier. You will see clearer saw lines and breathe air and not dust. My saw came with a dust port but was missing the original outlet bracket that connected it to a vacuum hose. Since I needed to hook it up to my 5 gallon vacuum cleaner, I visited a hardware store and bought a plumber elbow. Wrapping it with masking tape to make up for the missing thickness, I was able to secure it in place.
Additional storage space
One of the best ways to upgrade a steel-based machine without shelves is to build one. But the challenge may be to create a support that allows the shelf to extend between the four legs spread apart.
First I milled a grooved trapezoidal strip to use as a shelf frame. The front angle of the trapezoidal profile should be equal to the angle of the leg (see drawings). The stop must match the thickness of the shelf material.
Next time I will show you why and how I decided to divide the shelf into three separate strips and how I made a second, and very convenient, shelf for the miter.
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