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I recently purchased a 1940's Craftsman table saw off Craigslist, I think it's a model 103.0213 (manual here). I've been stripping the rust off of it, revamping the electrical for the switch, all sorts of stuff to make it safer and usable, and I've come to the blade. Here's a picture of it:
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The blade looks like it's 7.5", and not in terrible shape (but I'd still love to replace it with a new one). From what I've read online, some people have trouble getting new blades to fit. I'll be honest though, I get kinda lost in the lingo of their descriptions. I apologize for my helplessness on that. Would somebody please explain to me in plain English how to put a newer saw blade on? And obviously I'm looking for safe(r) and new, but at the same time I'm just a weekend hobbyist so I'm also looking for fairly economical.

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    Oh, I'd add that while that blade isn't in "bad shape" in that it hasn't rusted through, I'd guess that it would cut like butter through a hot knife (not like a hot knife through butter). It may be salvageable by cleaning the rust off and attempting to sharpen it yourself, but personally, I'd only use it as a learning exercise. – FreeMan Jul 25 at 14:25
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    Thank you! Your answer was perfect and I've already purchased a new blade and a handful of the mcmaster adaptor's you linked. – Joe Crozier Jul 25 at 15:30
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    The manual for that saw indicates it's 8": manualslib.com/manual/1189180/Craftsman-103-0213.html#manual – Dave D Jul 25 at 16:20
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    Ooh! Good find, @DaveD! – FreeMan Jul 25 at 16:47
  • Joe, I know you're on the path to replacing the saw blade but just to mention, it's rarely/never, a good idea to try to salvage an old blade like this because saw technology has come a long, long way since the 1940s. Plus, sharpening them well is a skill that takes some practice, and doing it poorly results in poor cuts at minimum, and could add stress to a mechanism that doesn't it (age, unknown amount of previous use). As noted you might keep the old blade as a memento/possible future sale item, but the steel itself has potential uses as a raw material, e.g. for scrapers or scratch stocks. – Graphus Jul 26 at 5:14
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To define the lingo:

  • Arbor is the threaded shaft that comes out of the motor onto which the saw blade is mounted.
  • Arbor Washer goes around the arbor, just like the saw blade does, but is much smaller in diameter than the blade and doesn't have any teeth. Some saws have a washer on each side of the blade, some only have one on the "outside" of the blade (away from the motor).
  • Arbor Nut goes onto the arbor after the blade and washer have gone on. This gets tightened down (often is a reverse, or left-hand thread) to hold the blade in place. Do note: It's been a while since I've changed a table saw blade, so I may be confusing that with my miter saw arbor nut threading.
    • Since you seem to have a good view of the threads, look to see if they if they're regular or reverse thread. If they're reverse, you'll drive yourself nuts trying to loosen with "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" since it would be "lefty-tighty, righty-loosey.
  • Blade that's the sharp, round, spinny thing that separates fingers from hands. (Said tongue-in-cheek - but if you didn't know that, please step away from the saw, now.)

At the link you provided, it looks like the major issue is that this saw has a 1/2" arbor and most modern 7 1/4" circular saw blades (which is probably what you'd need to use - you'd probably have to search long and hard to find 7 1/2" blades, if that is actually the measurement) are designed for a 5/8" arbor. If you put a modern blade on there, it'll be a sloppy fit with that extra 1/8" of play. Sure, you could crank the arbor nut down in an attempt to hold the blade in place, but with the torque applied to the blade when it hits wood, I wouldn't count on it holding safely. Even if it did, I wouldn't count on a nice, true cut from it. And, when you put the blade on, all the extra 1/8" of room would be at the bottom since gravity will be on and it will pull the blade down so the arbor hole sits on the arbor itself. Once you've got it tightened down, you fire up the saw and the blade bounces as it spins out of round - not exactly a safe situation, either.

Therefore, you'll need an adapter to accommodate a modern blade with a 5/8" arbor. I hit up my favorite internet search engine with

saw arbor adapter 1/2 5/8

and came up with a variety of options.

There was this post at the Bob Vila forum (from 2005) that has several on-line references and a recommendation to cut a thin piece of copper tubing to use as a bushing. (I'm not sure I'd go with that one, see cautions above).

There were a wide variety of arbor adapters to allow blades with a 1" arbor to work on a 5/8" arbor - make sure you avoid those, that's not the adaptation you're after.

Many of the adapters I found seem to be for hole saws and angle grinders, so without making any recommendation (and at the risk of being down-voted for providing shopping info) I'll list a couple of options, just to ensure you're on the right track:

  • McMaster-Carr
    • this one is a ring that fits within the saw blade itself (makes the copper pipe adapter seem more reasonable, though this one is steel).
    • you'd need a handful for different blades, or to carefully transfer this one to each different blade you're going to use.
  • Amazon
    • This one threads onto the arbor and gives you a new arbor diameter with new threads for a different arbor nut.
    • A new arbor nut should be fairly easy to find as that seems to be the modern standard. I'd suggest taking your adapter in to your local hardware store and ask to borrow the arbor nut off of one or two of their table saws to ensure the threading is correct, then purchase a replacement arbor nut from them.
    • Keep the old one off your Craftsman as a souvenir/for authenticity (you never know when it'll become a collector's item).
    • If I went with an adapter like this, I'd put some thread locker on between the old arbor and the adapter, just to help keep it in place while tightening and loosening the arbor nut. Essentially, it becomes part of the tool.
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  • Nice one! +2 if I could. – Graphus Jul 26 at 4:55
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    "and at the risk of being down-voted for providing shopping info" FWIW I've never noticed downvotes for providing shopping options (and I certainly don't do it myself). Different to asking for them which is frowned upon generally, and against community rules of course. – Graphus Jul 26 at 5:03
  • Thanks for the reassurance, @Graphus, and for fixing my typos. – FreeMan Jul 26 at 14:44
  • Go with the bushing. The adapter from Amazon is for hole saws, not table saws. Table saw arbors typically have ACME threads, not the triangular threads that the Amazon adapter appears to have, so a) it might not thread onto the saw, and b) if it does, a normal 5/8" arbor nut won't fit. Adapter bushings only cost a few bucks each, so they won't be a big expense even if you buy one for every blade you have plus a few extra. – Caleb Aug 18 at 1:54

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