anyone had success with homeade bandsaw tyres?

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


21 Feb 2017
Reaction score
Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere, I couldn't find anything definitive.

I made a spur of the moment (doing a lot of that lately - grumpy old man retail therapy) purchase of a Ferm FLZ -275 bandsaw for £30 on Gumtree. Nice fellow, honest chap, no issues at all with the buy.

Got it home, tinkered/cleaned it the next day, and the upper tyre disintegrated. A few days later the bottom tyre, which had been resolutely fine, followed suit. It was a shed workshop item, and I've brought indoors so I guess the warmth expanded the pulleys, which coupled with old unelastic tyres meant they split.

So - as far as I can see, tyres are way overpriced at £15-20 or so each, and I may as well have bought a new saw at that price. I fiddled with a vacuum cleaner drive belt, which would have been perfect if longer and wider, but they aren't sold by dimension, and in any case are unlikely to come big enough. Checked out loads of flat fan/pump/car drive belts, several look like good candidates, but again no clear dimensions.

I might try a motor factor, but I suspect they'll snort. The next option is an inner tube. Anyone tried a glued on strip of bike inner tube? I've seen a full split inner tube used on big wheels on the internet, but these are only 8" diameter or so, and the tube will need to be a cut strip, rather than the full circumference. How do you make a perfect join, and do you need more than one layer? and what glue?

Then I have also seen insulating tape used. Seems very temporary, but again how many layers, how precise does it have to be? Ditto with masking tape (seems the worst option to me).

Anyone had success with a diy fix that isn't silly money?

Without the right tyres, you are unlikely to get good results that will last. Have you tried to google for spares, although the age of the maching may be against you.
Did a quick Google, apparently it is a clone of a Clarke CBS 190 (or perhaps the clarke is the clone of the ferm), so you may be able to get spares from Clarke.
Just a suggestion.

Thanks. Yes, I had checked Ferm's site, they list only the manual to download on their spares site for that machine. I suspect the tyres are generic, provided that they are correctly sized. But cost is the issue, for a speculative buy of an old used machine (albeit in good condition).

(And value of course. I can't be the only person who feels it can't cost more than a couple of quid to manufacture a rubber/plastic ring... )

Just seen your post Robert. I'll look, thank you
Ebay pops up with an American listing for a tyre for the Clarke, @ £23 each, + £11 postage! The pulley wheel looks different in any case?

Not found it elsewhere
Thank you. I am familiar with most of those, in particular. But he uses a continuous circle of inner tube over a wooden wheel, rather than strips. Having said which, I caught his video about reconditioning a cheap small bandsaw not dissimilar to mine, where he uses the electrical tape I mentioned. But as he says, he doesn't plan on using it much at all (it's his third or fourth, and the worst one - how many bandsaws does a man need?!), and I wasn't convinced that it was a viable solution for a machine that is intended to be used properly He's also rather precise/fussy about how he puts it on (which perhaps is his style and background, rather than necessary) and that is why I was wondering what others' experiences were.

Having said all of which, I have now found a board asking a similar question to mine, and although there do seem to be tricks to getting it right (scarf joints etc?) it does seem successful even for heavy regular use.

There's even a group using silicone rubber (as per bathroom sealant) but that seems awfully messy and unbalanced, not to mention crowning issues, but they claim reliable success.

I think at least that I am convinced it can be done reliably on the cheap (silly cheap) I just need to sort out if there are particular tricks that ensure it is successful with a metal wheel, rather than the possibly more forgiving large homemade wooden wheels.
You've evidently done your research -- welcome, incidentally -- and I'm not terribly surprised at what you've found out.

I don't think it's as complex a problem as many woodworkers worry that it is.

The wheels need to be crowned, because that means the blade positioning is self-correcting and they are stable when they run (assuming they are properly set up in the first place). The crown doesn't need to be too severe as that wouldn't work either. Most small bandsaws I've seen (from China) have a very similar design: the crown is built into the wheel, either cast or machined into the rim. The tyre is rectangular in cross-section. Record 350s and similar are different because the wheels are pressed from sheet material.

Then the two wheels are different: the bottom one is driven and pulls the blade through the stock. The other one is only there to align and tension the blade. It follows that the driven wheel gets more wear (and that is obvious, on my bandsaw, at least).

There's also no law that says they need to be identical in dimensions, although that is obviously the most common arrangement.

So what can you deduce from these things?

Firstly, the material you use at top and bottom doesn't have to be the same.

But the bottom one must grip and not allow the blade to scuff or slip significantly. I'm fairly sure that is one reason why there is a drive belt tensioner fitted, usually: scuffing at the bottom would wreck the tyre pretty fast, so it's far better that the drive belt slips if the saw is overloaded. So it's the driven wheel to pay attention to.

The wheels need to be as circular as possible. For the top wheel, certainly, you don't need to scarf the join, because there's really no reason why a well made butt join would cause problems, So you might use inner tube, carefully opened out, and then cut to length. Synthetic rubber takes superglue (cyanoacrylate) very well, and there are specific glues for it found in bike puncture repair kits.

I think you could make up a slitter, using mounted Stanley knife blades and probably wooden dowels as rollers, so that you could get a flat-ish strip from the outer part of a bike inner tube. It's elastic, so if you can get one for a wheel slightly smaller than your bandsaw wheels, you're golden as the join will have been made for you already. You probably need less than 1/3 the circumference of a bike inner tube for the bandsaw. That said, using a bigger tyre will give you a flatter strip. You'll have to experiment.

I'd start by carefully cutting the valve away, and squash the entire tube flat when you slit it. This gives you a reasonably constant fold you can reference against whilst you slit. I wouldn't open it out to single thickness first. You can lubricate the blades, too (washing up liquid, possibly).

I won't be trying the same thing in the near future, as I have spare tyres to last me a while, but I don't see why it shouldn't work. I think you could do the same on the bottom tyre, too.

Back in the days of tape recorders, the raw material was very expensive. But tape came in imperial widths, each one usually double or half the width of its nearest neighbours. 1/4" tape was the standard general purpose tape, for mono or stereo use. A very enterprising colleague of mine made a slitter, allowing him to recycle 1" and 3/4" video tape* for audio use (as 1/4"). And that was a very high precision application.

So I am confident it can be done - and then you can sell homebrew tyres to all those frustrated Ferm users out there!

And if your tyres don't last very long, it doesn't matter if you have a ready supply of replacements from the local bike shop.


* 2" videotape was an obvious candidate, but a failure. Slitting it worked well mechanically, but you couldn't use it as the magneic domains were aligned the wrong way, so the resulting tape was far too hissy for audio use. Audio multitrack tape did work however, but we didn't have a ready supply of that :-(
Some early bandsaws used cork on the band wheels. Not all bandsaws have crowned wheels by the way, some have plain wheels and some just have the top wheel crowned.
Considering the electrical tape method will probably cost a matter of pennies, why not give it a try?
Hi. Thank you all. Both wheels are crowned, metal, 20cm diameter to the rims (about 19.6 crown to crown).

Tried a motor factor today, Promising, but the belts were non elastic, and wouldn't stretch over the rim. He was actually patient with me, I think he enjoyed the hunt.

Got home and tried that old vacuum cleaner belt. It stretched (and took quite some force to get it on) and is perfect apart from being too narrow. That's tomorrow's hunt. It seems to be the ideal solution, if I can get the right width, or two side by side.

Failing that it's the inner tube. I have an intact car inner tube, and a cross section slice would give me a ring, though probably uneven thickness. They don't make bike inner tubes small enough (I have numerous defunct old adult bike tubes that I will try God willing if the other options fail). I'm wary of the strips of inner tube, because no doubt they'll find an excuse to peel off. I actually have some thin cork sheet somewhere, no idea why. I actually like that idea better (gluing rubber to metal - meh, But superglue sounds interesting, thanks Eric)

I like and dislike the insulating tape idea. I'm sure it would grip well. But I don't think it'll be thick enough to absorb set teeth on the blade, which means either they'll unset (unlikely?), or more likely push the blade up to ride higher on the wheel at the toothed edge, which I'm sure will muck up stability or tracking, or stretch the blade more at the toothed edge than the back edge.

Eric, I agree. I have a son who's guitar mad, which means I have to be knowledgeable (note - not competent). There's a lot of voodoo hocus pocus mentality with guitars. If it doesn't say fender, built in the 60's and wasn't beaten up like X, Y, or Z's guitars, then it can't possibly be any good etc etc. I suspect the same mythology is true of bandsaw tyres. Must be just so, or else, etc.

(Your tape story reminded me. Many years ago, just as hard discs came in, I was given a huge roll of defunct computer tape. The sort of spool you saw on the computers in the old bond movies. 18 inch diameter, weighed a ton, and an inch wide. It must have cost a fortune back in the day when money was real. My plan was to splice it just as you describe - I had youthful images of a fancy diy reel to reel machine. Except of course tape was going out, cd's coming in, and floppy and hard discs the order of the day. There was never any reason to splice, and it sat in my old room at my parents' until it was thrown away in the house clear out after they died many years ago.) I doubt inner tube needs such accurate slicing, and I'll probably just use the metal rim as the cutting guide. It's a smooth join that exercises my mind, if the vacuum belt plan fails.

It's frustrating. They make hundreds of different size rubber belts for umpteen consumer goods, for peanuts, and several of the precise right dimensions I'm sure - but none are specified or searchable by dimensions, just by part number and model. I'm hoping tomorrow I'll find a back street repair shop with a wall full of different size belts to try.
"I'm hoping tomorrow I'll find a back street repair shop with a wall full of different size belts to try."

Maybe you should take trip to Greece or Turkey. I'm seem to remember a lot of shops like that when I used to go sailing round the Med. I don't think there are many left in the UK.

Seriously, I'd try the inner tube idea. With the right glue, I think it would work out.
I know its always a great feeling to achieve something like this, but I have to question how much your "cheap" fix is going to work out at.
How much fuel are you using driving around to all these shops?
How much are you going to spend on "cheap" parts that dont actually fit?
How many hours are you going to spend/

My approach would be that having saved a fortune on the machine, it would be well in order to buy some proper tyres and then get on and make stuff?

Even the posh blue silicone ones, which you would never have to adjust, replace, repair, fiddle or tweek with in the future.

I dont charge myself for my labour, but the older I get the more my hours are precious to me.
Success! In fact he only had 5 belts to choose from, was quite enthusiastic helping/trying them out. Old fashioned human contact and interaction, and building up good will for the future.

So that's a Vax belt, tightly stretched. a couple of mm gap, but that hasn't seemed to affect anything, and so far the blade runs dead central. £5 for the pair.

So - excellent tracking, some slight vibration. A Silverline (yes I know, but this is meant to be on the cheap remember, until I find out how it all goes) blade at 6 tpi will cut me an even 1mm wafer, crosscut off a 50mm lump of soft wood. Hardly a stress test, but a good start. We'll see how it all holds together...

Not that it's been plain sailing - had to buy a gear puller to get the drive wheel off, sheared off the drive wheel nut replacing it, had to use a screw extractor etc, and the guide setup on this thing is a faff. But to be honest, I get more fun out of tinkering, provided God willing I succeed, than I do from actually using it.

(Now it's on to the above table router lift... far more elegant methinks than Wendell's clunky plywood frame and gears etc under the table)

Thanks to all of you for your advice and support.

PS SunnyBob - just completed this post when yours arrived. You may be right, but it's horses for courses I guess. I like the challenge of repairing something on the cheap, working out what to do outside the box etc. That's a substantial part of the hobby for me. If I'm counting my time, then I may as well buy a brand new fancy machine and be done with it. If it was my career I certainly wouldn't be faffing around like this.
I'm glad you fixed it.
I also am a great tinkerer, and have made some truly appaling lash ups in the past for the sake of saving a penny or two but as the years go by, I am getting less and less interested in sorting through scrap bins. What it is to finally have some disposable income.

Let us know how long the "S" word belt lasts.
I'm given to understand that bandsaw tyres can be quite difficult to fit at times. I guess this is because they need to be a tight fit?
I've only done it once, but it was far easier than I expected. A bit of thin galv wire to hook under the old belt (side to side) and run round the wheel, then it came off like a bicycle tyre (you can, of course, just cut across it with a knife, but I didn't want to leave anything sharp like a score mark under the new tyre).

I don't think I bothered to glue the new one into place - it didn't seem necessary on the upper wheel. I have to do the lower one this time (probably in the next couple of weeks), so I'll let the team know how it goes, if it's any different.

FWIW, xylene is good for dissolving impact adhesives such as spray on glue, but after it evaporates it does leave a sticky mess. Same with acetone. You do have to wipe down thoroughly, as the solvents do nothing more than liquefy the glue for a short time.

As I said though, I'm not sure if glue was originally used. My saw has crowned aluminium wheels, and the tyres are rectangular cross-section: the wheels give them the crown, and the rims help to keep the tyres in place.

There are many variations on this theme.

I made new tyres for my Multico B600 bandsaw. I used 3mm thick insertion rubber strip which I glued to the rim with a simple butt joint I didnt use a scarf joint as I though the thin end might start to peel away. 5 plus years later and they are still working fine. You can buy 5 metres on fleabay for less than £6. I think the key issue is that insertion rubber is quite hard I think inner tubes are much to soft and would quickly shred