Originally posted 16 June 2013
I have an 18-inch RIkon bandsaw – model 10-345. After the junk bandsaws that I owned previously, I am very happy with it. I bought it because I wanted the ability to round bowl blanks of more than 6 inches thickness. I purchased a wood-slicer blade for it from Highland Woodworking and have been absolutely amazed what it can do as far a slicing off a piece of wood at vernier thickness. And, that is with the standard fence, which if one reads the reviews on this saw, is deemed useless by common consent.
However, all is not perfect in this bandsaw paradise. The table insert for the blade on any bandsaw is prone to abuse. The table insert for this bandsaw seems to be particularly weak as the designer has placed a lot of holes in it – presumably for sawdust removal.
So on my last trip to the local Woodcraft store, I asked whether they carried the insert, and was pleased to find that they do. The price is $3.99 plus tax, which for this insert is a reasonable price. I can find them online for ~$16 for a pack of four, which does not include shipping.
However, based on the short life of the one that came with the saw, I am skeptical of the expected lifespan of the insert, and I am not impressed with the design, so I decided to try to make some from scrap stock.
First I had to determine the dimensions.
Thickness measures out to 0.191 inch – 3/16 is 0.1875 inch.
Diameter of the Rikon Insert is 2.761 inches.
I was a little leery of these dimensions (especially the diameter), so I thought it wise to measure the hole in the bandsaw table.
The diameter of the hole actually measured out to 2.75 inches.
And after a bit of finicky work – I had to loosen the blade a bit and open the covers – I determined that the depth of the counterbore is indeed about 0.193 inch.
Now that we have determined the dimensions, it’s time to start making the inserts, I had a piece of maple stock that a friend had salvaged form a pallet.
Slicing 0.200 off the stock made it almost perfectly square, so slice we did. Notice the use of the stock fence. Also, I am using the 1/2-inch Woodslicer blade here.
0.300 inch thickness off the bandsaw gives us plenty of thickness to work with – so on to the thickness planer.
It came off the thickness planer at 0.187. This is right at the limit of what my thickness planer will do.
Once I got the stock to the correct thickness, I used the actual Rikon insert to trace an oversized shape onto the stock.
I cut them out on my Craftsman bandsaw that I keep in the basement shop. This could easily be done on the Rikon as well. For me to do it effectively do it on the Rikon I would need to change blades, which is a bit of a task.
To round the inserts, I placed a waste block into the jaws of the scroll chuck on my Grizzly lathe, then drilled a hole for a screw in the center of the waste block.
I took one of the rough cutout inserts, and carefully found a center point and marked it. This only needs to be done with one of roughed out inserts, as once it is turned (rounded) it can b used as a pattern for the remainder of them. Then I drilled a hole through it and…
…and used a pan-head sheet metal screw to screw it to the wasteblock. The picture above shows two inserts being rounded at once. I only did one the first time, partly because, as I said above, you will want to use the first one as a pattern to mark the center for the remainder of them.
Also, the screw and inserts may not appear to be perfectly centered on the lathe. That’s OK, because the purpose in this step is to make the insert perfectly round and the correct size – not to have the hole perfectly centered. You will find later that the hole pretty much disappears, anyway.
I use a skew chisel to round the inserts, taking off a little and measuring repeatedly until they are at the correct size.
Again, I used the Rikon insert as a pattern to mark the insert. For the slot, I marked it so the the grain runs across the slit made for the bandsaw blade. One thing worth noting, here, I did not extend the slot as far back into the insert as the standard Rikon insert. This saw will accept a wider blade than the 3/4 inch blade that is on it, so you can cut the depth of the slot to fit the blade you are using.
For convenience sake, I sawed these out on the craftsman bandsaw. I sawed the line and then sawed a second pass right beside it to effectively make a double-width kerf to give the bandsaw blade a little room to work.
Now, all that is left is to the the newly made insert out and try it. I had made some of these for a saw that I had owned previously in which the blade did not run very close to the center of the insert. I was a little concerned about where the blade would run in these. After I put the first one in and turned the saw on, I could hear the blade running against the side of it. I flipped it over and it was clearing the blade. Even if I needed to saw another kerf down the insert, it is still a much narrower gap than the Rikon insert.
If your blade runs well off the the side of the center of the hole in the table, you can cut the insert as you install it into the table. Turn on the saw and CAREFULLY align the insert with the hole and move it back into the moving blade. Once the insert is in place you can use it with the slot toward the rear of the hole in the table. If the insert is not stepped, once the slot if cut, you can flip it over and put the slot toward the front of the table.
In the picture above, the slack is off the bandsaw blade, when the slack was removed and the blade started to run, it moved back into the slot some distance.
So – how much is your time worth – a couple hours on a Saturday morning, and I have 6 inserts ready for use.
We’ll see how they hold up in actual use.
Updated 2 January 2017
These table inserts as described above lasted OK. After I used them up, I made some more from hickory. I made the hickory ones end grain, as opposed to face grain, and made them a little thicker. I turned a step in them so the thicker part fits down further into the table. The one that is in the saw is holding up very well.