Swap your old school V Drive belt for a Link v-belt for instant benefits
One of the easiest upgrades you can perform on a belt-driven shop tool (table saw, drill press, etc.) is the removal of the OEM style V drive belt(s), and replace it with a correctly sized “link belt.” You will see and immediate drop in vibration created by the mechanical connection to the motor – some say by as much as 35%. Why does this matter? Two words: Accuracy and efficiency. Vibration transmitted to the blade(s) ends up as being ‘wobble’ which makes cuts less than accurate and efficiency drops off because the tool is vibrating instead performing its designed task.
Regardless of the quality of an traditional drive belt, they can stretch and deform over time. This creates vibration as they rotate. Link belts are simple, made of separate links that are a twist fit together. These interlocking segments are made of polyurethane elastomer and multiple plies of polyester fabric. They retain their original shape, thereby reducing vibration. To get any particular size needed, the basic design of the link belt permits easy adding or subtracting of links. The links can be assembled by hand, but using a needle nose pliers makes the job easier on the fingers. Threading a belt around pulleys, and then joining the ends, is often simpler than any other method of belt installation.
- Replaces the standard 1/2″ V-belt on most machines
- Can be adjusted by removing links
- High-performance V-belt reduces vibration
- Sold by the foot
If you own massive cast-iron base tools you may not notice the vibration caused by running an old-school V-belt, but here’s one way to determine if using a link belt will be beneficial. First run the tool and remember what it sounds like. Then remove the drive belt, and start the tool. Most times, the the motor by itself is very quiet. If the motor runs quiet with no belt and no load, then any vibration issues originate through some mechanical connection (belt, pulley, or bearing). The simplest check is belt replacement. If vibration remains low after the belt is exchanged you are good to go.
If vibration and/or noise return, then further trouble-shooting is required.
Remove the blade, and restart the motor. If the saw vibrates a lot with no blade, and with a link belt, then the problem is at the arbor or arbor bearing. Check the arbor for run-out (see our Woodworking Tip: Table Saw Tune-up). If that proves to be OK, then replace the arbor bearings. If the manufacturer of your saw doesn’t carry the bearings any longer, check with a local bearing supply house. Most bearings used in tool construction are standard sizes, and are easily found at such suppliers — usually at lower cost than the tool manufacturer may give you. It is often possible to get a step or two up in bearing quality at very low cost.
For other tools, look to the bearings.
Where to buy Link Belts
Generally, not an item stocked at the local hardware store – ordering online is far more convenient.