From the Carter Era – Without the Carter Guides

If I didn’t work for a woodworking magazine, I’d probably consider a career in “tomb plundering” or perhaps “professional trespassing.” Ever since I was a boy, I’ve always thrilled at going places I shouldn’t go: sub-basements, condemned hotels, abandoned factories are just a few places I’d frequent as an adolescent.

And then there was the incident on top of the watertower in high school that involved a very full bladder.

In any case, I’ve always liked that tight feeling in the stomach as I turn the corner into the dark unknown in an old building. That’s the exact same feeling I got on Friday as I sliced open a corrugated box that had been sealed in Tupelo, Miss., about 27 years ago.
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Inside was the base to a Rockwell/Delta 28-200 band saw that had never been sold, set up or turned on. The tape and cardboard didn’t give up easily, despite its age. But when it finally revealed its contents it was like looking back at the world when I was 11 years old. The base was perfect. Not a scratch.

The top of the band saw wasn’t so lucky. It was stored in this Chicago hardware store’s warehouse unboxed. So the cast iron table had a thin coat of rust. The upper wheel guard had a few odd streaks of rust. But all-in-all, the saw was, for lack of a better word, new.

Slav Jelesijevich, a tool collector and seller, had found the saw and knew I had been looking for a solid vintage Delta band saw. The band saw is probably the machine that I use the most, more than the table saw even. And I’ve always wanted a nice Tupelo-made Delta machine since I started working at Popular Woodworking in 1996. That saw was the first nice band saw I’d ever worked on. It ran as smooth as silk, and every control and adjustment was rock-solid. We ended up selling the saw sometime in the 1990s, and I’ve always regretted not trying to buy one for myself.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be putting the saw back in order and back into operation, posting photos and entries here as I go. This weekend I went through all the original paperwork that came with the saw (it’s all here, even the plastic pouch and the instruction sheet for mounting the plastic pouch to the steel base). And I’ve been digging through the archives of the Old Wood-Working Machines site , a wealth of knowledge, photos, articles and manuals.

I’m still not sure if this saw will live up to my expectations, but there’s only one way to find out. And if things don’t work out, I wonder if the warranty is still in effect. After all, I’m the first owner and I bought it from an authorized Delta dealer.

, Christopher Schwarz