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Rikon Bandsaw Guide Bearings and Motor Upgrade

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  • Rikon Bandsaw Guide Bearings and Motor Upgrade

    This post will take you through my experience with upgrading my Rikon 10-325 bandsaw with the Rikon #13-926 DVR (Digital Variable Reluctance) Motor made by Teknatool/Straitech for Rikon.

    So just what is a DVR motor? This will explain it easier than I can.

    There are no rare earth metals, no magnets, and no brushes in these motors. These motors are being developed to power hybrid trucks that will run much the same as diesel-electric locomotives have for over 50 years. Frankly I don't know why no one came out with a hybrid drive train for trucks long before this.

    I bought the DVR Motor upgrade made by Teknatool/Straitech for Rikon. I've had my Rikon 10-325 bandsaw for about 10 years now I think. I got it (actually was a birthday gift from my Wife, thank you very much) not long before I got the Unisaw which was in 2010, but I don't remember exactly when, some time in 2008 IIRC.

    Update: I asked Rikon what the manufacture date was on my saw and they said 2006, day 324 (Tuesday, Nov 20th). It was the 99th saw built that day out of 164. So based on that I am going to say I got the saw in 2007 for my birthday, not 2008 as stated above.

    Anyway, it is an early model 10-325, and that comes into play here as I was to find out just yesterday.

    The motor upgrade kit arrived Monday. I unpacked it and looked at the new motor. It is larger in diameter than the original motor. If it were any larger it would not fit on the saw. The length of the motor is slightly less. Weight seems about the same but that's just by heft, I did not put them on a scale. The motor has only two short cables connected to it, one has a 6 pin Molex connector and the other is a DB-9 connector, no power cord. AC power goes to the controller unit which gets mounted to the side of the frame.

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    You see how clean that lower wheel cabinet is, I didn't have to clean it out, the dust collection on this saw is very good for a bandsaw. I check it again and again but the only time there is a buildup of sawdust is when I forget to turn the dust collector on. DOH ! But having said that I found plenty of 'holes' that impact dust collection performance.

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    Here's an example (above) of what I'm talking about. This hole is about 2 inches in diameter. It's in the bottom of the saw base which is bolted to the stand (the green sheet metal in the photo). When I turn on the dust collector and put my hand up to this hole I can feel the air being pulled in. So what you say, air has to come from somewhere to replace that being sucked out. Yes, but I don't want it being drawn out of the storage cabinet when it could be taken from the area around the lower guide bearings below the table.

    Then there is the new 'hole' (or leak I guess would be a better term for it) created by the motor upgrade and removing the plate where the old power cords entered the frame. That section of the frame is under vacuum too, so the response I got from Rikon when I asked about why there was no blank supplied to cover this opening didn't sit too well with me. They told me to take the old plate and remove the cords and install it back on the frame. But that would leave two 3/4" holes where the strain reliefs are fastened to the plate. While two 3/4" holes is better than one 2x4 inch opening I wasn't happy. So I will make a blank for this opening and paint it to match the frame.

    There is significant leakage around the cabinet doors too, mostly on the hinge side of the door. The other three sides seal off pretty good but the hinge side has a 1/8" gap for the height of the door which is about 16 inches so that's roughly equal to a 2 square inch opening. I closed off the 2 inch hole with some tape.

    In the lower wheel cabinet there is a 1 inch hole (not visible in any of the photos) that leads to the frame section. From there it goes up to the upper wheel cabinet and there is another hole there which means that the saw is pulling air from this space too. I don't see the need for this but I haven't blocked it off as yet until I figure out if it's needed or not.

    But closing off as many of these leaks as I could I increased the air drawn out of the lower cabinet and it just made dust collection even better. One area that has improved is just below the table around the lower blade guides. Since most of the air entering the cabinet now comes from this opening there is a decent negative pressure just under the table in the area of the blade. So as the blade exits the workpiece still carrying sawdust in the gullets of the teeth and comes below the table the sawdust gets sucked up before it even hits the bottom of the cabinet. Seems to be working quite well.

    I was looking at the manual for the 10-353 (shown below), the big brother to my saw (10-325), and the lower cabinet dust collection is very different. It gave me some ideas on something I want to try on my saw. There is a metal plate that surrounds the lower guide bearing assembly. It runs at an ~60? angle from the top of the cabinet diagonally then breaks over toward the side wall of the cabinet just below the 4 inch dust port. There is a small opening for the blade to pass through. This arrangement looks like it would grab almost all the sawdust before it had a chance to get near the lower wheel. This helps keep the tire on the lower wheel much cleaner. Sawdust that carries over with the blade can get imbedded in the tire especially if the tire is hot as it will heat up the rubber tire increasing the likelihood it will absorb sawdust. So I am going to try and fabricate a baffle plate similar to this to try to deflect as much sawdust away from the lower wheel as possible. My dust port is in a different location but it still can help. The way it is now sawdust can get in the grooves of the pulleys as well as tire on the lower wheel.

    10-353 Lower Wheel Cabinet
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    I only point out what I have done to my saw as you may be able to implement some of these ideas on your own bandsaw and improve you dust collection with just a little observation and some tape. The reason to eliminate the sawdust is for the performance of the saw not just for my comfort. When sawdust gets on the wheels and the blade passes over it can get pressed into the blade. How can that happen you ask? Well when your blade is moving through a piece of wood at a couple thousand feet per minute it can get very hot, especially when resawing hardwoods.

    When changing the motor it helped to place a couple wedges under the motor to provide support and keep it from rolling. Not sure what I will do with the 1.5 HP motor I took off, there's nothing wrong with it, but I don't have a use right off I can think of.

    * Not running due to missing parts so nothing to list so far.
    * You can run the saw at super slow speed 50 RPM, which is nice for checking your blade guide adjustments AFTER you make the adjustments not while. But it lets you run the blade super slow and see how it's tracking and if bearings are hitting the blade.

    [I know this list is long, but hey I have nothing to do until the missing cables show up, so it's their fault. :-) ]

    I connected the controller to the motor directly without the extension cables so I could do a little testing, but I haven't tried making any cuts as yet. You can't access the motor controls with the short cables, so not safe to be operating the saw in that configuration. But for testing the setup I felt it wasn't an issue.


    * No list of included parts so you have no way to know up front is you have everything you should. Only way to know is read through the manual and make sure you have it all. I read it a couple times but because of the wording I didn't pick up that there should be two separate cables which connect between the motor cables and the control unit. So I am dead in the water (can't run the saw with the control unit mounted) until the missing cables arrive (they're on their way already).

    * No soft start, well, I guess really there is a soft start but it ramps up so fast you might as well say it's not there. From zero to 4000 FPM in about 2 seconds is not a 'soft' start in my book. A user defined setting within a range of say 2 to 6 seconds would be nice.

    * Mounting bracket does not fit my early model saw. I contacted Rikon and I'm waiting for a replacement that is supposed to be drilled to match the tapped holes my frame. My serial number is 00099 so I'm thinking mine is a very early model.

    * Mounting bracket is the new Rikon blue, not green like Rikon tools were up until a couple years ago. I think the bracket should have been black so it would have fit in with either the old green (my saw) or the new blue Rikon color schemes. I can paint it black yes, and I may do that, because the blue looks like crap on a green saw.

    * AC Power cord is only about 1 meter long (~39 inches), WAY TOO SHORT. I wonder if it even meets code requirements. The cord on the original motor is close to 7 feet long.

    * Controller does not save last mode or configuration information. When you power it down completely, not just turn off the motor, any settings you had selected are gone. So if you power it down/unplug from the wall to change a blade or make an adjustment to guide bearings, you have to remember to select whatever mode you were last using. The danger here is that the controller powers up in WOOD #1 - RESAW mode which is full speed (2160 RPM/4000 FPM) which may not be appropriate for the blade installed or your intended cutting operation such as cutting metals which all use much lower blade speeds. NOTE: As you cycle through the 16 presets, if you had customized or changed any of them when you come back to that preset your settings will be gone.

    * When you remove the old motor, the power cord from the switch to the wall receptacle and the power cord from the switch to the motor both run through a metal plate which covers an opening in the frame so the cables can be run inside up to the switch. It was a nice detail (running the cables inside the frame) that cleaned up the looks of the saw and eliminated the possibility of damaging the cords. When you remove the motor and switch (no longer needed) you have to take this plate off. The upgrade kit does not give you a cover plate for this hole, and the new cables are not routed through the frame as before. You're expected to remove the two power cords from the plate and then use the old plate to close the opening in the frame, but you're still left with two 3/4" holes in the plate where the strain reliefs for the two cords were. Yes, I can get some plugs to close these holes up but I shouldn't have to. I paid ~$550 for this 'upgrade' kit, and that was on sale, it's normally ~$650, which is about what my saw costs back in 2007 when I got it, this is a significant upgrade as far as dollars.

    * My motor, even though the manual said it was limited to a max RPM of 2160, was configured for 4000 RPM when I first powered it up. With the drive belt positioned on the high speed pulley as instructed in the manual a 4000 RPM motor speed is a crazy fast blade speed. The controller was never programmed for a MAX RPM as stated in the manual. But besides that even if it had been you user can apparently go into the setup menu and set the max RPM to whatever they wish within the range of the motor's capabilities.

    * USB port on front of control unit used for upgrading the software is not covered. It will be full of sawdust in no time. I put a piece of electrical tape over it so if it looks like it disappeared in other photos that's what happened to it. Only needed for software upgrades so I covered it up, but Straitech could have easily used a USB port with a dust cover, they're available but probably cost a couple pennies more. I would have preferred they put the USB port on the bottom of the box and put an light indicating when the motor is running where the USB port is.

    My recommendations for improvement:

    * When mounting the motor rotate it so that the cables are on the right side at 45 or 90 clockwise, this will give you a little more cable length. The instructions don't give any required orientation/position for the motor, it's sorta up to you. The new motor frame has 8 mounting holes at 45 degrees apart, the old motor had 4 holes at 90 degrees. The frame only has four bolt holes. I put mine on top as shown in the instruction sheet, but there is no specific orientation called for in the instructions. I rotated my motor to 90? before I installed the new belt. I think this is safer for the cables connecting to the motor. If something should get dropped and it fell on the motor it would strike the cables first and they could be damaged. With the motor rotated so the cables are toward the rear of the saw that potential is reduced.

    * Rikon should revise the mounting bracket so the control unit is at a 45 degree angle to the operator. Currently the face of the control unit is facing the same direction as the front of the saw. This makes it difficult to read and operate. You can't see the display when standing in front of the saw where you normally would to cut. To make an adjustment you'd have to move to your left and maybe even back up a little to see the display, UNSAT.

    * Teknatool/Straitech should add a dual color LED to show if the saw is running (motor power ON) or not. Currently there is nothing on the display that indicates the saw is running. Adding a dual-color Red/Green LED to the top of the control unit would instantly tell the operator the motor is running or if pushing the soft button (it's a membrane type button) had turned the saw motor off. There is no physical switch to throw or button to push in, no physical indication of machine status, UNSAFE in my book.

    * There is no E-stop button. The option to use electronic braking which stops the blade very fast is OFF by default. But having an E-Stop button programmed to use the brake whether electronic braking is enabled in setup or not would allow bringing the blade to a halt in less than 5 seconds, much faster than waiting for the blade to spin down which takes over 30 seconds. Teknatool/Straitech should add an E-Stop button to the control unit. This button could incorporate a status indicator as is commonly used on industrial equipment in which case the LED status indicator might redundant and not required.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Bob D.; 08-28-2019, 06:08 AM.
    "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006


  • #2
    Some more photos.

    I put some painters tape over the hole in the frame from the old power cables. I will make a plate and paint to match later.

    Photo shows how short the cables are without the extensions. I don't understand whay they just didn't make the cables a foot longer and forget the extension cables. You would eliminate four connectors which are a potential connection issue and cost more than a foot cable does.

    You can see the USB port on the lower right fully exposed to whatever debris is flying around in the shop. Crazy. I put a piece of black electrical tape over it to keep dust out. IT blends right in and you don't even know it's there.

    In the last photo you can see the Molex connector on the left, moving to the right is the DB-9 jack, a fuse, the overload reset switch, and the AC power cord.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Bob D.; 08-28-2019, 06:11 AM.
    "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006



    • #3
      I upgraded my caution sign too. What do you do with fridge magnets you
      get with someone's business card on it or advertisements for various things.

      I save them for stuff just like this. I used to have a hastily scribbled note on
      the saw to check the blade tension before turning the saw on. The need for that
      nudge was that I forgot to do so a couple times and trashed a blade each time.
      You would think after the first time I would have learned but about a year later
      I did it again.

      So the signs made their way to my bandsaws. But they were not as big or as bold
      as these are. I used one of those fridge magnets that came with the phone book
      a couple years ago. It's been stuck to the inside of the shop door all this time and
      I finally got around to printing out a caution sign on some bright yellow paper and
      sticking it to the magnet with some spray adhesive. Not that I need to take it off
      with any frequency if at all but hey if I upgrade to a bigger bandsaw I can just
      pull the magnet and stick it on the next saw. :-)

      And I was sorta forced into a new sign because the control unit for the DVR motor
      was going to cover up my old sticky note sign. The old switch had to be removed too.

      While I was at it I put one on the old Craftsman saw too as I still do use that from time to time.

      You might also notice I used a piece of painters tape to make a rough scale indicating blade guard height.
      IT doesn't have to be dead on, just close. And it's now easier to adjust on the fly when cutting.

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      My old caution sign
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      Last edited by Bob D.; 08-26-2019, 06:55 PM.
      "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006



      • #4
        Since I don't have the parts to finish the install of the new motor I thought I would work on the guide bearing upgrade today.

        The stock guide bearings that came on my 10-325 10 years ago were poor. After about a year I upgraded them to the Carter guide bearings which do a much better job as far as guiding the blade but they are also not the easiest to adjust and not tool less.

        So Rikon came out with an upgrade kit for the guide bearings about 2 years ago. I've been thinking of getting them because after watching the videos I found on YT and reading some reviews I couldn't really find a review that was negative. SO I found them at a good price from Highland Woodworking and ordered them. That was last Friday. The bearing kit arrived Wednesday but I have been holding off until the motor upgrade was finished. One thing at a time and all that.

        I thought since I have some down time how long can it take to swap out the guide bearing assemblies. I watched the YT videos and it's pretty easy and takes maybe 30 minutes tops including adjusting.

        Boy was I wrong.. :-(

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        This tiny 4mm SHCS is expected to hold the entire lower guide
        bearing assembly in place AND NOT ALLOW IT TO MOVE.

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        This bent bracket that mounts the guide bearing assembly below the table is not square. You can
        see the gap next to the CNC machined square that is wrapped around the bracket. It's not much,
        only 0.020" (Side C) but the 20 thousandths is almost 1 degree (Angle C) as measured across the
        width of the bracket which is 1.350" (Side B).

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        More to follow. Right now I want to throw up.

        If I was Rikon I would be embarrassed to send out a kit like this.

        I should just pack it up and be done with it and stick with the Carter guide bearings, it's that bad.

        So what's the big deal, it's only 0.020". Yes, but that 0.020" or .8488 deg. makes the side bearings unopposed, so their forces are not exactly opposite each other. This can cause the blade (a 1/4" blade is only 0.025" thick) to flex as it passes between the two bearings, causing heat buildup and an early failure of the blade. In affect the blade is being asked to navigate a tight S turn while under tension and running at speeds up to 4000 FPM.
        Last edited by Bob D.; 08-28-2019, 06:15 AM.
        "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006



        • #5
          So after posting those photos yesterday about the bearing assemblies as showing you what they look like installed right out of the box I went back and looked at them again. That small bracket (Rikon refers to it as the 'connecting plate') is not square as shown previously, and it seems they are aware and don't care because the photo on the cover of the installation instructions (below) shows the lower guide assembly clearly not square to the blade.

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          I thought I should check to see if my saw was still level. I had leveled it and bolted it to the floor when I first set it up but that was 10 years ago. I used a plumb line back then to get the wheels plumb then set the table level to the blade. Some 3/8" Hilti drop-in anchors and 3/8 HH Bolts with Unistrut square washers and also some thinner fender washers were used as shims at each corner of the saw to level it out.

          On checking today I found that the saw was no longer level (as measured with the plumb line on the wheels) so I set about releveling it. This required only one more fender washer under each front mounting bolt. I wanted to be sure the bandsaw wheels were plumb so I could use a plumb line to check that the guides and wheels were all aligned without the blade installed. Being able to hang a plumb line off the top wheel was much easier and safer than working around an installed blade. Yes, this will only get me close because there is no blade and it's not tensioned I understand that. But it gets me a lot closer than their way of doing it which is to just guess and hope for the best, then tear it all down and adjust if it's out.

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          Here is the plumb line passing through the table. You can see the lower thrust
          bearing and also the slot in the table (out of focus) for inserting the blade.

          After shimming the lower guide bearing assembly the blade will now run fairly
          straight across the thrust bearing and not diagonally which I think would tend
          to try to walk the blade off to one side whenever the back of the blade comes
          in contact with the thrust bearing.

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          The plumb line is just kissing the lower wheel, not resting on it.

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          So I figured out a way to get this squared up without modifying or damaging any parts. I put some metal tape (three layers) which I measured at just under 0.010" thick under the one side of the connection plate (left side in the photo) to shim the assembly square when it is bolted up tight. It looks much better now.

          Lower Guide Bearing Assembly
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          Now the string runs straight across the thrust bearing and pretty much straight through
          the slot in the guide assembly. That slot is where the back side of wider blades will be.

          Next is what to do about the upper guide assembly. The blade (string) is not even close to
          centered on the thrust bearing or the guide assembly, and there is no adjustment to easily
          shift the assembly left or right to center it up.

          Upper Guide Bearing Assembly
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          I found at the very end of the instructions a section on adjustments which
          on first read appears to be where I can correct for this misalignment but I
          will have to get into that later.

          For comparison here is a photo showing the Carter upper guide bearing assembly
          sitting on the table and the new Rikon upper bearing assembly mounted in the saw.
          You can see how much larger the Rikon bearings are compared to the Carter which
          are the same size as the original Rikon bearings.

          New Rikon bearing mounted and my old Carter bearings sitting on table
          Click image for larger version  Name:	Checking Top to Bottom Bearing Alignment With Wheels 08.jpg Views:	0 Size:	258.4 KB ID:	740872
          Last edited by Bob D.; 09-10-2019, 03:27 AM.
          "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006



          • #6
            Need to come back and read this more carefully, beautiful shop,
            Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
            "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
            attributed to Samuel Johnson
            PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.


            • #7
              Thanks BHD.
              Can't really see much of it though in these photos.
              But I'll post a couple.

              1985 - My basement shop in my first house. Still have the workbench (foreground),
              15" drill press (out of view to the left of the toolbox), RAS (on far right), and 12" bandsaw
              (out of view behind the brick column).

              Oh, I still have that B&D Workmate on the right next to the trash can. It's the one I mounted
              the router table top to the other day. At the time this photo was taken (~1984/85) it was about
              7 years old. Now it's 42 years old and still working just fine. :-)
              You plumbers might notice the 4" CI rain leader coming through the coursed rubble foundation wall
              on the right behind the Workmate. You can see the hub against the wall with an 1/8 bend coming
              out of the wall. It's ties into the main drain which is in the basement floor. All eight rain leaders from
              the main roof come down the outside of the house then pass through the foundation into the basement.
              There is a cleanout at floor level where it enters the floor. All the houses built around this time in town
              were built the same way, and all that rain water gets dumped into the sewer and processed at the city's
              sewage plant. I'm talking a couple hundred houses so a significant volume of water during a heavy rain.

              I took this photo using B&W Polaroid sheet film in a old Graflex 4x5 press camera with
              a Polaroid film back installed.
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              2004 - Same workbench, looking at it from the opposite side though.
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              2006 - TS-3650 in the foreground and my old Craftsman 12" BS in the back. Still have that saw,
              it's down in the basement shop now.
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              2015 - Mounting new vise on workbench. Craftsman BS and TS-3650 are gone, replaced by
              Rikon 10-325 14" BS and Delta 3HP Unisaw. Same bench, but new quick release vise added.
              Click image for larger version  Name:	20151226_203525 (Medium).jpg Views:	8 Size:	231.7 KB ID:	740903

              I figured out how to fix the upper guide bearing alignment issue.

              These four 10mm HH Cap Screws on the back side of the saw are what secures
              the upper blade guard to the saw frame. The knob you see here is to lock the
              guard at the height you choose.

              If you look close you can see the four screws running through slots not holes in
              the frame and thereby allow for the blade guard to be moved in or out to center
              the blade guide bearings behind the blade.

              Click image for larger version  Name:	20190824_072019.jpg Views:	0 Size:	1.37 MB ID:	740893

              On the opposite side inside the upper wheel cabinet are four set screws that
              can be used to get the guard to hang plumb and to set the side bearings so
              their faces are parallel to the sides of the blade. You can see one of them in
              the photo below behind the worm gear. You need to loosen (only slightly)
              the mounting bolts on the outside to be able to adjust these four screws.

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              Click image for larger version  Name:	20190824_163257.jpg Views:	0 Size:	1.80 MB ID:	740892

              Above I have elongated the hole in the lower blade guard as per the instructions because I could not move the thrust bearing forward enough to contact the rear of the blade. The lower blade guard is attached to the guide bearing assembly. When you bring the lower thrust bearing toward the blade it contacts the lower blade guard and you can't make a proper adjustment. It's only plastic so I used a rat tail file and had it fixed in a minute or two. It's easiest to remove and reinstall the lower blade guard through the opening in the table with the insert removed. Unscrew the one SHCS which holds the guard in place and you can lift it up and out.
              Last edited by Bob D.; 09-15-2019, 09:30 AM.
              "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006





              • #8
                So what are the red marks on the bearings for?
                You might have noticed in the photo above (post #5) the Carter bearings on the table and that you can see a red Sharpie mark on the edge of each bearing. This is something I started doing to my bandsaw bearings years ago. It helps me with adjusting the bearings to get them close but not touching (or touched) the blade when it's rotating but not cutting.

                Click image for larger version

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                Ideally you want all 6 bearings (3 upper, 3 lower) to be as close as possible but when you rotate the blade they are not dragged by the blade. The thrust bearings behind the blade should engage with the slightest pressure applied to the front or teeth of the blade, and the side bearings should be positioned so they are behind the gullet of the teeth by about 1/16" of an inch, maybe a little less for 1/4" and smaller blades.
                To be able to set the bearings properly with out looking intently at them these red marks make it simple to spot a bearing in motion. So before you adjust you tension the blade correctly then position the red bearing witness marks so they are at 12 o'clock or right next to the blade or wherever it's easiest for you to keep track of them. Then when you manually spin the blade (saw is unplugged of course when setting guides) you will know instantly if the blade is dragging on a bearing. Works for the thrust bearings too.

                Once you have the bearings tweaked just right, THEN you plug the saw in and check again with the saw running. Now is again when those red marks will make it easy to know if a bearing is moving or not.


                Sorry for the interference at the end of the video, I was using a handheld LED light to throw some additional light in the lower cabinet and the camera didn't like it.
                Last edited by Bob D.; 09-15-2019, 09:34 AM.
                "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006