Jon Faine

I BOUGHT a bandsaw a few years ago. Old one. Cheap. Like everything else in the shed… Somehow I pretend that I can find a bargain. Nothing more true though than the ancient wisdom of the tribal elders : You get what you pay for. My vintage bandsaw served me adequately for the first exercise it was given. It was very good at cutting soft timber somewhere in the rough vicinity of the line along which it was supposed to cut. Most bandsaws have guides, rollers and precision adjustments to make sure you can do the task you set out to do. No, not an approximation of the task, but the actual job. Not my band saw though. No, the roller guides were cactus, the bracket holding them had worn, there was play in every dimension of adjustment, the table wobbled, the blade wandered and nothing could be tightened. So eventually the bandsaw broke. The company that made it had gone broke too. Because they made crappy bandsaws probably. It broke because I was trying to improve the accuracy of the cut by adjusting the roller guides. They are held in place by a cast alloy bracket that was almost certainly a left over from the war. The Crimean war. I first slackened the nuts that allow lateral sliding adjustment. The bracket they are embedded in instantly broke away, the alloy crumbling into my hand. I rang around for a replacement part. The hilarity with which I was greeted is commendable. I suggest to each retailer that I phoned that their staff take a spot at the Comedy Festival. Laugh – I nearly cried. So what next? I turn to the internet, assuming that an obscure treasure trove of bandsaw adjusting brackets must exist somewhere on the planet and the interweb will reveal the secret location. Nil. Nix. Nothing. Not a sausage. Hours and hours later – time that could well have been spent productively working on making the car frame I want to build – my beloved suggested disturbing the moths in my wallet and buying a new band saw. No, I intoned, no need. I can fix this old one and make it like new again. So, having set the challenge I estimate I have now invested about two weeks on the bloody thing. First, I found a mob in the UK who sell a band saw upgrade kit that seemed – by the photos – to match. A week later, the kit arrived. It didn’t fit. The new laser cut bracket did not match the housing, and the new gleaming roller bearing adjusters that replace mine did not fit their mounting plate either . After hours more staring, cursing, filing and drilling I found a way to adapt the adaptor to an adaption of the adaptor that would allow the adaptor to adopt my old saw. Then the lower guides need similar surgery, and finally all seems to fit. I go to turn it on in order to triumphantly invite said beloved to witness the resurrection, in order to prove my virility and capacity to overcome the greatest adversity – and the drive belt immediately splits and wraps itself around the motor pulley. A week of ringing around, getting the same Comedy Festival auditions every time I mention the brand and inquire if a spare belt can be supplied and I am eventually introduced to a charming and eccentric business that can make any belt to order. We count the grooves, estimate [or guess] the length and deliberate about the different materials on offer. A choice is made, an order is placed. After only three reminder phone calls, a replacement belt arrives. Eureka – it fits. I finally connect the belt, attempt to adjust the tension setting… And the adjuster knob breaks. After much cursing of the knob gods, I rummage around the shed. I happen to have a similar knob in my “bits of crap” bucket – slightly too long in the shaft but suitable and not a bad match. I take it over to the belt sander to shorten the shaft so it fits the band saw. I turn on the sander… And the tension adjuster on the sander breaks. I hand file the band saw button shaft until it fits. I spend a very pleasant afternoon playing with the lathe turning a piece of scrap brass into a new adjuster for the sander as well. My beloved visits the shed and says something about a knob making knobs. I smile politely.