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Thread: Davis-Wells bandsaw guide question?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Palm Springs, Ca

    Davis-Wells bandsaw guide question?

    I posted a question relating to my central machine bandsaw on the tool section but i have been writing about the Davis-Wells bandsaw i got at a sale and ran into a few questions or problems.
    Ive been in contact with Louis Iturra about the restoration and buying some new parts when im ready.
    Today i took off the blade and tires on the upper and lower part of the bandsaw and what a job that was to do. They must have used expoy long ago to put the tires on...LOL kidding.....but i got the tires off and then i used chemical finish stripper i had laying around to get off the old glue from the wheels. Using a razor blade and elbow greese i got them clean as new.
    I took off the upper and lower guides and soaked them in a chemical degreeser. UPPER GUIDE - I am sure the upper is shot - cuts deep in the front of the thrust bearing and it does not turn freely at all, blocks on this old machine were made of metal and still in good shape. the thurst bearing in mounted in a metal housing with a nut in the center.
    Lower guide seems to be in good shape and spins freely-both are incased in a metal housing.
    From what i have been able to learn i can buy new upper and lower guides (Carter makes replacements for Davis-Wells old machines) from Iturra along with my Belts...........anybody else have any ideas that may be a better way to go ?
    From what ive read Carter replacements will bolt right on with no modification needed

    If all goes like i want tomm i will be seeing for the first time if the motor is any good as im going to wire it up.....220, bought 8ga wire for the whole thing, 220 switch etc- (i know 10g would work but i have a friend in the electrical supply buss so i went with the 8ga),new boxes and ill post pics and update....sure hope the motor still works it will save me money....LOL and thatnks for the help in advance........Dan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    I have a suggesting. Fix what you have if at all possible. Not just because they are original to machine, but that is a good reason. Original guides are next to impossible to find!!

    Those look like good guides. Yea they don't look as sexy as new Carters but they have a lot of metal there and they offer a lot of support to the blade. Better than most new ones. I have an American 30" I am restoring and I don't have a lower guide for it. I am trying to find something for it now.

    For the cost of a new guide, I bet you can have the existing thrust bearing repaired. GOOD guides are not cheap! You might be able to find a replacement bearing that will fit too. I know a couple of sources. is where you should start though.

    Don't go with ball bearing guides. The metal blocks offer 100 times more support on the blade

    Now, if you have to replace them. I would go with a Wright Guide, not cheap but they are made with steel jaws and commercial quality. I have them one on the upper guide of my American and I think I am just going to bit the bullet and order one for the lower guide and get this one finished. Here is a source for them. Wood Workers Tool Works There web site is awful but they these guys deal with industry mostly and have an excellent reputation for knowing big machines.

    Welcome to the world of Old Arn. Here is the saw I am restoring. You can see some before photos here.

    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.

    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    San Diego

    Davis & Wells guides

    I have the D&W 20", too, and it is the best machine in my shop. I tried the Carter guides and they are vastly inferior to the originals! They are still in a drawer in the shop. The mounting system that allows the same guides to be used on dozens of saws is weak and flexes. Also, the original guides support the blade both above and below the thrust bearing, making it very stable. If you need parts may I suggest you call Davis & Wells in Lynwood (near L.A.). (323) 636-0621. Talk to Dan there about your saw and lots of other old machines, too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    Like the others here, i would encourage you to get a new thrust bearing for your upper guide if at all possible. Even if you need to wait a while for the replacement, you can still use the saw with the worn out bearing in place. It will still take the thrust, but will act more like a block thrust bearing than the bearing design. Keep in mind that under very heavy loads the block thrust bearings do build up heat. Just don't do any serious resawing until you have a replacement installed.
    One thing that most people don't mention about the Carter guides is that they are lousy when sawing a lot of pitchy wood, like most pines. The side bearings collect the pitch and dust on their surface and begin to pinch the blade. If the build up is uneven (which it mostly is), your blade starts moving around enough to make your cut surface rough.
    The guideblocks on the side don't collect the pitch on the face that guides the blade. Additionally, they will act to scrape pitch buildup off of the blade instead of compacting it onto the blade like the Carter guides do.
    I think Carter guides are fine, but don't think that they're ideal.

    If you strike out looking for a replacement bearing from Darra James, you may have some luck from Black Diamond guides. They used to be called Wright guides and are the same basic configuration as your Darra James guides. Perhaps their thrust bearing might fit your saw without needing to change the entire guide. I've got a mid 1930's Crescent 20" band saw with the original Wright guides on it. They work quite well. If my guides needed replacement, i think i'd buy the new Black Diamond guides instead of the Carters.

    My other band saw's lower guide has roller bearings for the thrust and side guides. It's no more or less trouble free, accurate, or easy to adjust than the upper guide which uses all guide blocks.

    Have fun with the saw. My small saw (17" bench mount) is an old C-frame. You just can't overstate the "cool factor" of having that sitting in the shop and running from time to time.

    Paul Hubbman

  5. #5
    I am a new just-joined-member, and have an old Davis-Well band saw. Until a few days ago, never heard of the brand, as I am primarily a metal sculptor, but now bitten by the bow making bug and hang out on where there are more with similar addictions to this wooden bow thing.

    My new acquisition isn't a 20", though. It is a 14", and has 7'7" on the upper part of the casting of the saw. I guess this is the blade size? It is a heavy saw, but perfect for my bow making compared to my current band saw (have a JET drop arm metal cutting band saw that is being ruined cutting wood, and I'm breaking blades - I believe from sawdust buildup on the drive wheels - no rubber tire!!).

    Problem is, there is no bottom guide, and the top guide is a little worn, but not knowing much about real bandsaws, I don't know if this needs replacement or not. I intend to call Dan over at Davis-wells that Rick suggested, but just wanted to post my first post here.

    I see no place where a bottom guide went,and reading posts, maybe I don't need one after all, but I have a lathe and mill and could make something that would accommodate one. I need fairly precision cuts when profiling a bow, but very accurate when I slice the tips to slats for the re-curves.

    I have discovered my early love for working wood again, and not just handles on my knives over the past 20 years, but something alive and responsive like a bow that is flinging arrows towards a distant target!!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    Welcome to the group. I earned my archery merit badge on a home made recurve way back when. It was laminations of wood (don't know the species) and fiberglass. That thing was a bear for young arms - really stiff.
    At any rate, i would recommend just about any of the band saw books available at your local Rockler or Woodcraft stores. They'll all give the basics for tune up, adjustment, and use. My personal checklist when getting an old saw going again is something like this:
    Make sure all parts are there. Replace anything that's missing
    Clean it up. Degreaser and rust remover work wonders here.
    Clean out the motor - degreaser on the outside and compressed air through the inside
    Fix any broken parts
    There's no better time for a fresh paint job than while it's apart for a good cleaning.
    Replace any worn out parts like bearings, tires, electrical wiring, etc.
    Reassemble and lubricate
    Balance the wheels
    Make final adjustments - make sure wheels are co-planer, the table is square to the blade, and that the guides are dialed in.
    Start making dust.

    have fun with it. I wouldn't worry too much about your other saw. I'd just clean it up and not use it for wood anymore.

    Paul Hubbman

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    Just looking for an update on your BS project. This is a nice machine - i'm looking forward to the "after" pics and threads in future years showing work that uses this saw.
    Paul Hubbman

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