Setting up the Powermatic 1791216K PWBS-14CS Bandsaw and Riser


I am posting to share my experience in selection and set up of the Powermatic 1791216K PWBS-14CS Bandsaw because there was not much info to be found when I was researching. I spent a lot of time (as you probably have) choosing which saw to buy and I hope the information helps you in making your decision (or setting up your saw).
I bought the bandsaw and riser in February 2006. It was a good decision for me and I am going to tell you why.
I choose the PM because of the features:
Larger 1 1/2 HP motor Same hp as the Delta X5
Larger table: 15 x 15 tiltable table with 5x15 fixed wing
Flat Poly Belt ( not a V Belt but a flat belt w/ Ribs- Quieter, Less Vibration
Carter Quick Blade Tension Release
Roller Bearing Guides
Frame mounted gooseneck light fixture
Cast Iron Wheels (not aluminum)
Cast Iron Table Trunnion
Chip Blower (small compressor on motor)
Included fence and miter gauge
At the time of purchase, the PM cost about the same as Delta X5 (The Delta X5 weighs in at 280 lbs compared to PM at 208 lbs. I would guess that the extra weight is in the frame- a Plus for Delta).
Powermatic is on my short list because of the well-known-to-the-manufacturer problem of the riser block not fitting correctly and requiring the purchaser to do apendectomy in the field, and the sleep I lost before installing it. PM should be ashamed and the parties involved in the chain of decisions resulting in the problem should be reprimanded, IMHO. More on that later.
Arrival of the saw.: The saw arrived in three boxes, on a pallet. The saw itself was in one box, the base in other and a small box with the riser kit. Saw was very well packaged. Wheels were pretty flat and true. Tables were very flat as well. Saw aligned very well and easily passed the nickel test (for 20 mins) in the end. Here is how it went:
First, a short discussion on the riser block. I read on amazon about having to cut off the guide pins on one end of the block. That has proven to be to be correct. Before setting up the saw, I called PowerMatic and asked and they confirmed that the block would probably not be aligned correctly. The tech actually told me " go ahead and try it the way it is, maybe you'll get lucky". He also said that the pins should be able to be pulled out with vise grips. He said to cut off both the pins in the riser and the pins in the base. That is not necessary. I recommend to NOT cut pins on the base- only cut the ones on the riser. To keep from loosing your ball bearing when you install the new guide post, DO NOT REMOVE THE OLD ONE. Simply line up the new post on the TOP of the old post and "push" the old post through.
The pins will not pull out. The pins could not be pulled out with normal shop tools like bench vises and monster vise grips. I cut them off the riser with a hacksaw and ground the stubs flush as another user advised. After aligning the saw, sure enough, the riser was just a little cock-eyed. But no major big deal. The saw did align well.
To keep from loosing your ball bearing when you install the new guide post supplied with the riser kit, DO NOT REMOVE THE OLD ONE. Simply line up the new post on the TOP of the old post and "push" the old post through.
Assembly and alignment summary: Assembly was pretty straightforward. The base is heavy duty, single piece, open bottom, welded with door already assembled. Motor was pre-mounted. The riser instructions call for a 26mm socket (I used a crescent) and a 15/16" wrench. The 15/16 called out was not quite the exact size needed, but I used it anyway- it worked. You might want to double-check the nut and the bolt head sizes against your wrenches before starting to install the saw with riser.
Some data on Saw Serial Number 05125833; With blade tensioned: Runout on the front face of top wheel: .008 " total (+/- .004) Runout on outside circumference of top wheel: 005" total (+/- .0025)
Runout on the front face of bottom wheel: .006 " total (+/- .003) Runout on outside circumference of bottom wheel: .003" total (+/- .0015)
Suspect it might have been closer if I had smoothed the finish (paint) first.
End result, the wheels aligned within .005" top to bottom and top outside edge to opposite bottom edge. I used a .005 (paper) feeler gauge and when finished, .005 was a no-go fit everywhere, indicating a better than .005 alignment. To obtain this, I did have to use the blade tracking adjustment to parallel the two wheels, and I did it with the blade tensioned. And it did take some time.
Motor mounting/ belt tension:. The manual suggests pulling the motor downward to tighten the belt. That did not go so swift. However, because the way the motor mounts, you can move the motor forward and backward using the bottom welded bracket, which will tighten and loosen the belt. This is likely the motor mounting design-intent- but the manual did not describe it this way (but that's the way I adjusted belt tension and it- worked great). You will see when you set up your saw. Pulley alignment was straight forward- cut the $hit out of my finger on the razor sharp key-way slot on the motor shaft. Its filed not-so sharp now.
Mounting the table; Instructions not so swift. Pretty straight forward with a few SNAFUs in the manual:
First, Step 16 is missing a step (mounting the fixed table): installing the thick, black painted, metal plate to the saw frame using the spacers provided: DON'T GO TO THE HARDWARE STORE AND BUY WASHERS to install the black powder coated plate to the saw frame (p.14 #16 ...through the spacers). The parts assembly breakdown does not show washers, because if you use them, the table will not fit on the mount.
You will have to align the non-tilting part of the table to the tilting part. You have to do this AFTER the tilting table 90 degree stop is set (table adjust 90 degrees to the blade). If you follow the instructions, you will have to level the fixed table twice, like I did, and it took a long time the first time.
Leveling the table: The tilting table should be adjusted exactly 90 degrees to the blade first (using the stop). Next, level the fixed table to the tilting table. The design for leveling the fixed table is pretty good. I will say this- move from screw to screw gradually getting closer and closer to level. When you start to tighten down the socket head cap screws (start with them loose), do it gradually and keep moving from screw to screw, adjusting as you are tightening the cap screws. When you think you are done, and you finally tighten the jam-nut on the hex adjustment screw, do it gradually. You will still be making allowance/ adjustments as the jam nut is tightened- if you are using a very long very straight edge (I used a 9848 HH 48" Johnson) you can see the effect of tightening the jam nuts. Its only a few .001" s but it will change the alignment if you are not compensating for it with the adjustment screw as you tighten.
Table Flatness: Using a .004" feeler, the feeler would "go" at only one small area of the table. Using .008" was a no-go. At no point on the surface, corner to corner, front to back etc. could I pass the .008 shim under the big Johnson. So based on the paper shim, the PM table is flat to better than .008". The big Johnson has some tolerance too- I did not include the Johnson tolerance.
I probably spent around 8 hours on adjustment and leveling of the wheels, motor, table and guide system. The machine would not pass the nickel test when I tried it about the middle of the process. I found out near the end, with everything tight and aligned, that tightening the trunnion lock knobs very tight eliminated almost all vibration. After assembly, after every thing was level and tight, and the saw was on level concrete, with a tensioned saw blade, the saw passed the nickel test with flying colors. I ran 2 nickels for 20 minutes before shutting it down. I couldn't even see them move. Saw is very quiet when fully assembled.
Alignment of the roller guides was easy, however, the bottom of the blade guard was interfering with the guide assembly, so I ground about 1/16" off the bottom of the blade guard. When the guide post is moved to a higher position, the blade guides need to be rejusted. According to the Bandsaw Books, the guide post grove, used to maintain alignment when raising or lowering the post, is not perfectly straight. Hummmm..that and possibly a few other things- like the casting is a few .001" s off. Its only changes about 1/16" so I wont complain.
The PM blades were shelved and a Timberwolf, ordered from Suffolk Machinery Corp. was installed (http://www.suffolkmachinery.com/ ). I believe Suffolk has a running special for first time buyers- buy 3 get 4th free- see the web site. Blade change was simple enough.
Great saw, great features, shabby instructions. I made a good decision when I bought this saw, although I was not so sure during the assembly and alignment.
The saw with the TW blades cut wood like it was butter. I've only cut one piece so far- I plan on re-sawing some 8" thk Black Walnut logs soon. My first cut was a heart, from cedar, for my wife.
--
KB
Saint Charles County, MO





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K. B. wrote:

I'll just say that getting the 2 tables balls-on level was a major PITA, and pretty much the only time consuming portion of getting my PM up and running. The remainder of the setup went uneventfully. Not sure we had the same instructions, or maybe I didn't scrutinize them as you did.
BTW, here's a tip for you: the fastest way to install the belt is to lock the motor down where you guess it needs to be for proper tension, and just roll the belt on. I got it right on on the second try, after struggling mightily with trying to pull the motor down with the belt attached.
I have the riser, but it sits in a drawer. Until I get a drum sander, I don't need the riser (can't make veneer the way I'd like). If installing it requires all the machinations you mentioned, I'm glad I didn't put it on. Besides, I'm cheap and don't want to buy all new blades. :)
Dave
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You might consider writing down the date you bought that riser block. I dont know when the riser problem started, but looking at amazon.com, I didn't see any complaints about it before January 2006. Based on amazon feedback I think it is a recent problem. PM knows all about it so it might be good to know when you bought it. Maybe your block will not have the current problem.
On the instructions- the washer deal was actually my fault...I wanted lock washers on my bolts by-God so I added them, thinking it was a PM error.
And thanks for the motor tip. I read PM bandsaw post earlier- I believe you wrote. So how long have you had your saw, and how are you liking it? Want my PM blades? Brand new!
--
Karl Borum
Saint Charles County, MO
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I had my Powermatic a year or so now, works fine. When I got mine, they didn,t ship the block for the blade tension release. I used the saw without it for 3 months. The dealer and myself trying to get them to send the block, on back-order. They had no extra ones, and i had to wait till the were in production again. Dealing with oversea`s people. Anyway, after 3 months I got it n installed it, worked great. Wasn,t happy at first, but i did get a good price at the woodworking show, and the saw runs like a sewing machine. I didn,t get the riser, from what I hear i,m glad i didn`t. Don,t do veneer much. But I have a "woodslicer" blade from Highland Hardware; and it works great for re-sawing. Also use a 1/4 Timberwolf for general cutting, a good blade. I put a HTC mobile base on it, easier to move around for cleaning purpose. For what I use it for, it should last me a long time. -- GB Lapeer County, MI.

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