Rebuilding A Johnson Model B Horizontal Band Saw

This saw was purchased at the 2010 CAMS Yard Sale to replace my Chinese 4X6 band saw, which also found a new owner at the Yard Sale. The Clarke saw was a valuable tool around the shop, used almost every day, but was just a little too small for my needs. For the money, the saws sold at Harbor Freight or Tractor Supply are the best buys around. They all need work to get them working but will get the job done (with varying results) for a minimal amount of cash.
The saw I bought has a much larger cutting capacity, listed as 5X10, but will actually cut 5X13. This added capacity will really help me out, because most of the scrap I get exceeds the 4X6 range.
The saw was built in March of 1957, and by the looks of it was complete with all the parts it left the factory with (except the shut-off linkage). I’m partial to old American tools, as you can rebuild them, and parts are not special order from China.
When I got the saw home, I wanted to just power wash it, install a new blade, and maybe give it a quick spray can paint job. The power wash just drove home the fact that this treasure was just uglier than a bucket of scrotums. I lost control when I rolled in the shop, and about an hour later it was scattered across my bench. Heres a shot of it coming of the truck at the Yard Sale (thats me in the truck), and a

couple of shots of it before the cleanup.





As you can see, its not real pretty, but upon closer inspection the only problems that were real obvious were a bad blade and blade guide bearings, and a pretty nasty gash in the table where the blade dropped (repeatedly, by the looks of it). I figured there must be more problems, so apart it came.

Heres the cut in the table, not effecting function; just ugly.

The first step after cleaning and inspection (no other problems were found) was to strip the thing for paint. It was pretty much down to the last nut and bolt, so this was not a big deal. The bigger parts were just sanded and painted (Rustoleum Smoke Grey). I like this because its pretty durable, and can be brushed or sprayed on, and is easy to touch up.

This is a shot of the repaired cut in the table that looked so nasty. This was welded with a mig welder, with standard mild steel wire. I followed Val Sander’s tips on welding cast iron, and it worked like a charm. The pic shows every flaw, it doesn’t look that bad in real life. About this point, I got tired of using my old Sony Mavica, and bought a great Kodak point and shoot. I’m still getting used to it.

The first thing to do was to assemble all the base parts that had been painted, just to get them off the bench and give me some room to work on the sub-assemblies. While I had the saw on its back, I fabricated some linkage for the auto shut off switch, which was missing (no shots of that at this point).

Here, I had to use a Porta-Power to spread the frame to insert the upper body hinge pin in the frame. I’m assuming this is how the factory did it.

This is the offset center on the frame pivot pin. It is rotated to raise and lower (level) the blade at the cutting point. To some degree, it will adjust the vertical angle. Tough to explain, you gotta see it.

The base assembled. Good to have my bench back (kinda). Now on to the sub-assemblies. First the drive wheel transmission. Just couldn’t resist taking it apart once I located some seals.

Cleaned up, assembled, and ready for the new seals.

This is how the wheels looked before the bead blasting; rusty, but smooth and un-grooved.

Heres the front wheel, with adjuster. This is so much better than the Chinese deal its not funny. Really easy to adjust.

With the working parts hung, I needed to get on the drive system (the motor). Anyone who has owned ANY Chinese power tool knows that the horses that they use to rate the horsepower on their motors are much smaller than those on American motors. Sometimes, the horses in their motors don’t survive the trip from China to the US. If you’ve plugged in a Chinese tool and watched the armature of one of their motors drip out of the housing, and onto the floor, you will know what I mean. I was hoping the Doerr 1/2 horse motor on the saw was going to be usable. Despite the stiff bearings and the mouse nest; it was.

I think this pic is the best way to explain Chinese Horsepower compared to Domestic HP. The Chinese motor is on the left.

Here it is after a new set of bearings and a good cleaning, running smooth.

Here we are with the shrouds installed test running the transmission. I hung the hydralic downfeed piston, too. I didn’t take this apart, it wasn’t leaking, and worked well. Maybe I’ll get some seals for it later if I can locate them. I had replaced all the electrical parts, and installed a good heavy 20 foot power chord. The old saw had a chord that was about 4 feet long, major inconvenience. I let the motor spin the transmission (no load) for about an hour. The motor heated to 110 degrees, but when it ran the next night it ran at about 90 degrees, just warm to the touch. Not bad for a 53 year old motor.
At this point, all I had to do was rebuild the blade guides, and install a blade, and I got so stoked being this close to making a cut, I didn’t take any pics. I had been without a saw for two weeks, and the guides just needed a bead blasting and new bearings, so this part didn’t get too much documentation. Here it is making it’s first cuts after a few adjustments to insure a straight, square cut.

1st cut, on medium speed.

A few wafers at varying thicknesses. Good square cuts. A few more adjustments……

Showing off. This cut was in the high speed pulley, and was .020 inch thick. This cut took less than a minute, and was a joy to watch. It was a 3 1/2″ blank of 4140 steel, cut with a 10-14 tooth Irwin bi-metal blade. The blades for this saw cost almost three times what I paid for the blades for the Clarke saw, but judgeing from how well the saw works with a few preliminary adjustments, I will be very happy with it. I’ve got a few more things to do to it (install the shut-off linkage, and make a stop for repeating cut length), but right now I’m just getting caught up on cutting stuff up. I’ll take some more shots of it when I get the final steps done, and get it out in the sunshine.

Please have a look at the and let provide your special maintenance and tool needs..

32 replies
« Older CommentsNewer Comments »
  1. admin
    admin says:


    I had planned on milling a 1/4″ slot where the blade dropped, but was in a hurry to get the saw running and just let it fly. The blade tracks straight enough so that i now have a nice clean blade line in the base. I guess I’ll deal with it in another 30 or 40 years. Sounds like your plan for a sacrificial insert might be the way to go.


  2. Jim Bishop
    Jim Bishop says:

    Very nice job on the saw, and thank you for posting the manual. I also just picked up a Model B over the weekend. Looking at mine, I think there is supposed to be a trough where those ugly cuts were that you welded. It’s needed to allow the frame to drop through the cut and work the shutoff. Mine has a couple stray cuts, but the factory machined trough is visible. Mine also has a Doerr 1/2 HP motor, single phase, which leads me to think they were OEM.

  3. admin
    admin says:

    Thanks Jim. I think you are right about the trough for the blade. You can see that there was no evidence of what was there when it left the factory. I just let my blade cut a new slot, and I’ll deal with it when I rebuild the saw again in another 40 or 50 years. I’ve heard from quite a few owners with Doerr motors, and think they must have been OEM.


  4. monkers
    monkers says:

    Do you happen to have any close up photos of the “sliding weight” system? Mine is missing and I would like to know how to make one up for it. Also, how is your motor mounted” Mine is cobbed up and Id like to see the original set up if possible. Thank you,

  5. admin
    admin says:


    I have to drag the saw out to make a rolling base for my new welder (probably this weekend), and will try to get some shots of it then.




  7. admin
    admin says:


    The four rollers that ride on the side of the blade are Fafnir ND 3201 metal shielded bearings (quantity 4), and the rollers that ride on the back of the blade are 200 KDD (also metal shielded, quantity 2). I bought mine through Motion Industries, but they should be available through any small electric motor shop.
    I haven’t addressed my hydraulic cylinder yet, but I think the kits are available at Dake/Johnson. Download the manual here:

    You will find all the part numbers for the parts you need. They might be a little pricey, though.


  8. Bill
    Bill says:

    Just picked up a Johnson model B that looked like it has been rode hard and put away wet, BUT, I squared the blade to the vice, and it cuts perfect. What I am looking for is a manual. I checked the link on this site, but get a 403 error, not allowed on the server. Help, I will be restoring this saw, but I intend to use it for a while before I do.


« Older CommentsNewer Comments »

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply