Another Gil-Bilt 10" Tilting Tablesaw built from a kit

I found another email lost in my inbox with a great photo and details of a homemade 10" tilting blade table saw built from Gilliom MFG plans and Gil-Bilt components. 


Scott…saw your blog about Gil-Bilt …enjoyed reading the articles! 

I’ve got my Dad’s table saw which he built back in the early fifties (he actually used it to build his first house I remember him telling me)….he used solid oak for the top, and has held up well over the years.  Matter of fact,  I still use the saw to this day…works great! (see attached picture you can use if you’d like)

Did you ever get current contact information for Rodger or Gilliom Mfg, or does it no longer exist?  I know the 500 Boone’s Lick address is no longer valid, as there’s some law firm there now.

I’d like to get a set of original Table Saw plans, as well their catalog, as I’m thinking of building some of their other tools to pass down to my kids and grandkids someday.

Thanks for any info.
Bob Schuster
Olathe, KS

So glad to hear she is still performing well and thanks for sharing!  Scott

A beautiful 18" Bandsaw built from a Gilliom MFG plan and Gil-Bilt components

I received the following email and photos from Dave Dietz, who offered to share some details from his Gil-Bilt bandsaw build: 

Hi Scott,
I found your blog when I was perusing the internet to find out if Gilliom Manufacturing even still exists. I bought one of the bandsaw kits back about 1982 or 1983. I had read many reviews and the main complaint folks had was the flexibility of the frame being made out of common 2 x 4 lumber and plywood. The suggestion was to use 4 x 4 hardwood with the plywood.

At the time I worked for The Boeing Company, and they had a great surplus sales store. They sold all kinds of excess aluminum, so I decided to make my frame from aluminum plate and a 4-inch square tube for the column. I did also make my own two-speed pulley drive so I had the normal speed for wood and plastic, and then a slower speed for metals.

I started my construction right away, but stopped at the point where I was to make the table. I didn't like their design, so I figured out a new one, and then life happens and kids came along, and I just never got around to finishing it. Fast forward 25 years, and I finally had time to get back to it. Believe it or not, through two house moves I still had all the original parts and plans. Out they came and I finally finished up the saw. It works perfectly and is as stiff and true running as any commercial saw I have used.

Of course, the old original rubber tires had rotted out, so I just bought some urethane ones cheap via eBay and man do they work great.

I thought you would like to see pictures, so I have attached a bunch.

Enjoy!

Dave Dietz (D2)

Well done, Dave!  
























Gilliom "Gil-Bilt" tools featured in Boat Joinery & Cabinetmaking Simplified book

I can't believe that I haven't mentioned this before, but the book "Boat Joinery & Cabinetmaking Simplified" has an entire chapter dedicated to Gilliom Manufacturing's "Gil-Bilt" kit tools! It's available new and used in hardback and softcover from Amazon and eBay:

Buy Boat Joinery & Cabinetmaking Simplified from Amazon

Buy Boat Joinery & Cabinetmaking Simplified from eBay

Gilliom MFG Gil-Bilt 6" Belt Sander

I just purchased a NOS (New, Old Stock) Gil-Gilt belt sander on eBay for $82.55 total, including shipping. A tad more than I had hoped to pay but I'm thrilled to finally have one on the way.

Stay tuned for the build.

Who makes great woodworking tools? With Gilliom kits the answer is "You do!"

I've been racking my brain trying to recall when I first saw an ad for Gil-Bilt tools from Gilliom Manufacturing. I'm fairly certain it was in High School when I used to spend hours in the library during study hall reading through smelly old back-issues of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines. I knew I was interested in woodworking, and seeing that I was soon to lose my access to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base's hobby shop as soon as I moved out of my parent's home, I needed to move into tool-ownership and fast. By the time I turned 18 I had a folder full of Xerox articles on tools, jigs and plans and among the collection was several ads from Gilliom for home-made tools. Home-made tools? Seriously?

As the years went by I went the Dayton-made Shopsmith route and put the folder of articles away in a box.

And the years went by.

Now, if you know anything about me from my other blogs, I am a DIY'er to the bone and I love to build weird stuff. Like what? How about a world-class belt sander racer, a six cheese fountain, a wooden lathe, a box-joint saw, a pencil-post bed with giant pencils for the posts, animated wooden lobsters, wooden wheels for a 1924 Ford Model T Fire engine and hundreds of jigs and fixtures.

Recently while digging through boxes in my shop I came across the folder of articles and after an evening of walking down memory lane I found myself obsessing about home-made tools once again. A quick Googling and low and behold I learned that Gilliom Manufacturing is alive and well!

FYI: One of these articles was titled "Save Money With Tools You Build From Kits", which is from th
e December 1983 issue of The Family Handyman magazine.


More in the next post. Click on ad to Biggie-size it.

An incredible Gilliom Manufacturing Gil-Bilt bandsaw

Gilliom-Gil-Bilt-Tool-Hunter.blogspot.com
Lincoln East High School Gil-Bilt Crescent Bandsaaw, Front
At the 2015 AWFS woodworking show the power tool company "RIKON Power Tools" sponsored the display of a spectacular student-made bandsaw that was built to mimic an old Crescent bandsaw.  The beautiful saw was built utilizing a donated Gilliom Manufacturing Gil-Bilt bandsaw kit! (Click pics to Biggie-Size)

Tim Montague, a junior at Lincoln East High School in Lincoln, Nebraska entered an impressive replica 1919 Crescent band saw into the 2015 Fresh Wood student woodworking competition. “This was a first for us,” said AWFS Assistant Education Director Adria Torrez, “since we have been running the Fresh Wood competition, we have never seen a student-made woodworking tool or machine! It was a unique entry that focused on different aspects of the woodworking industry; typically we see examples of traditional or production woodworking, but this also embraced the training involved in building woodworking machinery.”

Gilliom-Gil-Bilt-Tool-Hunter.blogspot.com
Lincoln East High School Gil-Bilt Crescent Bandsaw, Back
However, the band saw was not selected by the Fresh Wood judges as a finalist to be on display at the
AWFS Fair with the Fresh Wood exhibit. That’s when RIKON Power Tools stepped in. Says RIKON President Jack Bransfield, “This was an opportunity we couldn’t resist.  As a leader in woodworking power tools, with band saws being an integral product for us, we were impressed to see a student endeavor to build one and consequently learn about the history of the machine and the intricacies involved in the process of duplicating the machine in wood.”

The Lincoln East High School program is run by instructor Jeff McCabe, a long time WoodLINKS instructor and current Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA) Evaluator.

“The Crescent” began as a kit of parts donated by a benefactor and was built by seven students over a two-year period. “It was a culmination of efforts with a lot of R&D last year and the mechanical, electrical, finishing (execution) this year,” says McCabe.

Gilliom-Gil-Bilt-Tool-Hunter.blogspot.com
Lincoln East High School Gil-Bilt Crescent Bandsaw tracking mechanism
The group of student builders voted on designs and agreed that the 1919 crescent was the best one. Since the original had very little guarding, the students developed new guards to meet modern-day safety standards. The students used AutoCAD and EnRoute with a CNC router to nest and cut the shapes from maple plywood.  The students sprayed the plywood with texture paint to make it look like cast iron like the original. A vacuum bag process was used for the decorative patterns.

I have to tell you that I stood and admired this saw over several days of working and walking the show, and the students and their teacher deserve all the recognition that they get with this lovely saw.  Well done everyone! 

“The Crescent” was on display in the Rikon booth at the AWFS Fair, July 22 25 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

To learn more about the Woodwork Career Alliance, go to www.woodworkcareer.org

Gil-Bilt bandsaw kit box opening video

My son and I have a Youtube channel devoted to random nonsense and in a recent episode I opened an eBay purchase of a Gil-Bilt bandsaw kit. FF to the 6:30 mark.


New Gilliom Tool Yahoo Users Group!


UPDATE: In October 2019, Yahoo announced that, in December 14, 2019, all content that had been posted to Yahoo Groups would be deleted.


A few weeks ago I got an email from a fellow named Harry, who wanted to invite me to join a new Yahoo group that he just started dedicated to Gilliom tools! I thought, what the heck, so I joined. Now, I don't know if you are a member of a Yahoo Group, but I'm a member of 33 of them, and when you join a group one of the options that you get to choose from is if you want to receive every message as an individual email or a daily digest. Knowing that there wouldn't be much action I clicked the individual email box and submitted my membership request. Harry welcomed me and said that along with the owner of Gilliom tools, Roger, the group was now up to three members! Well, that was then... two weeks later the group now had 55 members and as of this evening I've switched my profile to daily digest! What an awesome start Harry!

Please join in at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Gilliombuilders

Here's a neat Gilliom Gil-Bilt bandsaw

I just received an email from a fellow named Steve, who just purchase the Gil-Bilt bandsaw shown in the photos. He was looking for a motor for another tool in his shop, and he figured that he couldn't go wrong for $40! Uh, yeah, I'd say you did OK Steve!

The second photo is a nice close-up of the Gil-Bilt tension/tracking mechanism, which is used on both versions of the bandsaw and also on the 6" belt sander.

This particular bandsaw is about as text-book as they come. A lot of folks purchase the plans and a few of the major components; assuming that they can find the balance locally for a reduced price. I suspect that a lot of these partial kits are still partial kits covered with dust under the workbench. This saw looks to be a complete kit, and as I mentioned, it appears to have been built without modification. The builder even proudly stamped his name on the side: Paul M. Berry, we salute you!

If you click on the pictures you can see some of the details, including the Gilliom Mfg wooden rule attached to the wheel cover.

One modification that most Gil-Bilt bandsaw owners quickly adopt is some sort of dust passage under or behind the lower wheel. This saw is missing this mod, and without it the sawdust builds-up quite quickly. Steve, you might think about cutting a hole through the back, low and to the left of the pulley. You could then attach a dust collector or Shopvac which would keep the saw clean as a whistle. On second thought, there might be a slot there after all...

The bottom pic is also a great shot of the table tilt trunnion. I've seen several Gilliom bandsaws which were simplified with a fixed table. That's not a bad idea, seeing that 95% of the cuts made on a bandsaw are at 90 degrees.

Source for Lathe Accessories for Gilliom Gil-Bilt Lathe/Drill Press

The Gil-Bilt combo Lathe/Drill Press is a handy tool; assuming that you have the drill chuck and lathe spindles. The great news is that the spindle on this tool is a 5/8" spindle, just like the one on the Shopsmith Mark V and other Shop-Smith 5-in-1 tools.

Click this link for Shopsmith chucks faceplates and other lathe accessories for sale that fit the Gil-Bilt Drill Press/Lathe.

What could possibly inspire someone to make their own bandsaw, tablesaw or any other machine for that matter?

That’s actually a very good question. I suspect the answer was different in the 1940’s when Lyle Gilliom designed his first woodworking machine kits.

Back then the concept of DIY was alien to just about everyone but farmers. Sure, every man had a handsaw or two, a nail apron and hammer, and an assortment of hand tools, but large power tools?


Nope.


Craftsmen tools in the 1940’s were built for the professional craftsman, and the average hobbyist just couldn’t justify the price.


Enter Shopsmith, Delta Home Craft, and AMT. These tools were down-sized and down-featured from their professional cousins. 18”- 24” bandsaws, 10” - 12” table saws and 1/2”-3/4” arbor shapers were common in the cabinet shop, but unheard of in the home shop. Home-grade bandsaws had 8” - 10” wheels; tablesaws had 6” – 8” blades and routers and shapers just weren’t available.


That is of course until Gilliom’s Gil-Bilt tools. These tools were truly professional sized. 12” & 18” bandsaws, a 8” & a 10” table saw, and so on could be made from a clever set of plans and a kit of custom made hardware.


So that’s the way it WAS. Today we have readily available at the local Big Lots, Harbor Freight, Woodcraft, Rockler, Lowes, Home Depot, and even Sears have Chinese and Taiwanese knock-off’s of the classic Delta/Rockwell 14” Bandsaw for as low as $299! Want a 10” table saw? No problem. $299 will get ya a cast iron contractor-style saw too.


My grandfather would have LOVED to have tools this cheap! Or would he?

Both of my grandfather’s were absolute geniuses when it came to building tools or pushing the tools that they had to their extreme. If my dad’s father needed greater accuracy he would build a jig or fixture with the skill and speed that most guys change socks. If my mom’s dad needed a tool he was just as likely to build one from an old washing machine and parts from a Model-T than to buy it. It is from these men that I get my drive to build my own tools.


When you build your own tool you can make it a little taller of lower than anything on the market to fit your needs. Want an extra 6” of table behind the saw blade? You got it. And how many woodworkers do you know who make their own power tools? No, nothing beats the pride in accomplishment that comes from a tool that you made coming to life at the flip of a switch.

What does a shop-made toolmaker look like?

  • Woodworkers like us don’t just wish we could make a grandfathers clock, crib or gazebo; we’re the guy who actually makes one.

  • We used to buy Wood Smith magazine just for the two pages called “Shop Notes”, now we have the entire collection of Shop Notes magazine. (In binders no less)

  • We drive VW’s, JEEPS, SUV’s, Harley’s, boats, snowmobiles, etc, because we actually like the idea that we will occasionally get our hands dirty.

  • When our son says “Hey Dad, I want us to build a six cheese nacho cheese fountain for my wedding reception” we smile with pride and anticipation and simply say: “Only six?”

  • We prefer charcoal grills, and have the biggest one on the block; but we’ll own a gas grill if we want because you can’t put a label on us.

  • We don't talk about building tools to most folks because "The Others" don't and won't get it.

  • Many of us own some Shopsmith tools and actually like the time it takes to do "changeovers". They are engineering marvels and how could more time touching a power tool be a bad thing anyway?


No, making a woodworking machine isn’t for everyone. And that’s another reason we do it.

So here's what you get from Gilliom Mfg when you order a set of plans

I mentioned that I called Gilliom Mfg and ordered a current catalog. After a great conversation with Mr. Thompson I decided to go ahead and order a set of tablesaw plans. I doubt I'll be making the tablesaw next, but I just had to see how Mr. Gilliom solved some of the problems that I was having in my mind as I tried to conceive of a shop-made tilting arbor table saw. The photo (click to Biggie-Size) shows everything that I received:
  • A catalog of all the Gilliom Woodworking Machine Kits
  • A parts catalog
  • A reprint of a Workbench Magazine article on building a bandsaw from a Gilliom kit
  • A catalog of shaper cutters, saw blades, lathe tools, etc.
  • The fold-out plans for the saw, full-size template for the most critical parts, and a upper saw guard supplement
I have to say that I'm impressed. Mr. Gilliom's plans are absolutely genius. Before seeing these I couldn't figure-out how the motor wouldn't be too high when the blade was set for a shallow cut or how the blade could possible stay centered in the saw slot as the arbor tilted. How would dado blades be accommodated and how would dust be managed?

Once again I highly recommend that you at least get a copy of the catalog and parts list. Shopsmith Mark V owners should know that the Gilliom lathe spindle parts will fit the Mark V, so if you need a new spur drive or a face plate you have someone with whom to compare prices.

A conversation with Gilliom Manufacturing

UPDATE: 3/11/2020 After repeated attempts to contact the good folks at Gilliom MFG I have come to the conclusion that they are now out of business. Parts, kits and plans continue to pop-up on eBay, so the name will live on, but it looks like the company has come to an end.

So today (1/27/09) I had a great conversation with the current owner of Gilliom Manufacturing, Roger Thompson. Roger told be the story of how Lyle Gilliom conceived concept of build-it-yourself tools while he was stationed in the south Pacific during WWII. As he shared his ideas with his comrades they said that if he ever had plans made-up that they would like to purchase a set. Upon returning to the USA Lyle put his ideas to paper and then to wood and proved that the idea was sound.

Mr. Gilliom went into production of not only plans but ultimately the harder to find machined parts that tool builders would need to build his tools.

After almost 40 years in the 1980's Lyle Gilliom entered into negotiations with Roger Thompson and though unfortunately Mr. Gilliom passed-away before the deal was signed, his widow completed the deal. To this day Roger and his bride personally man the phones at Gilliom where they fulfill orders for the entire Gilliom tool range.

What's in the range? Table saws, Bandsaws, a Lathe, a Belt Sander and more!

I asked Mr. Thompson about why he doesn't have a web presence he sincerely replied that while it is true that the web is a bit intimidating for folks of his age, more importantly they enjoy talking directly to their customers. What a sweet man, and truly a unique company.

Please support the Thompson's with an order of a catalog, and how about an order for at least a set of plans? And tell him Scott sent ya.

Roger Thompson
Gilliom Manufacturing Incorporated
500 Boonslick Rd
St Charles, MO 63301-2461
Phone: (636) 724-1812

UPDATE: I tried several times in October 2015 to reach anyone at Gilliom MFG and have been greeted by a message saying "The mailbox you are trying to reach is full".  If you have any success making contact I would appriciate a comment below.  Thanks. 

The photo is of a completed Gilliom 18" Bandsaw that was posted online and sold several years ago.

Gilliom Power Tool MFG Co. ad

I believe that the gentleman in the photo with the lathe/drill press is Mr. Gilliom himself. This is an old ad, so be aware that the prices are not current.

Click ad to Biggie Size it.

R. J. De Cristoforo builds a Gilliom 18" Bandsaw

In 1970 Popular Science ran an article by one of my favorite woodworking authors; R. J. De Cristoforo. Among Shopsmith owners he is best know as the author of the "Shopsmith Bible" "Power Tool Woodworking For Everyone" This article was a brief review of Mr. De Cristoforo's building of the Gilliom 18" woodworking bandsaw. Click the image to Biggie-Size the article or view the Google scan here.

Gilliom Gil-Bilt tools can be found on eBay

Every now and then (and it is rare) a Gil-Bilt tool or kit will come up for sale on eBay, like the 12" bandsaw shown here. Usually they must be picked-up and often they are in bad shape due to poor storage; but it is possible to get a good deal if you are patient. Click here to search eBay for Gilliom Gil-Bilt tools for sale.

One of the best books for Shopbuilt Woodworking Tools

One of my favorite books on shop-made tools is Making and Modifying Machines (from the pages of Fine Woodworking Magazine) This book features shop-built tablesaws, bandsaws, lathes and many more; and even includes a great summery of suggestions from builders of Gilliom tools. Click the link to see new and used copies fro sale on Amazon

A Gilliom Gil-Bilt 18" Bandsaw with a fixed table

Here's a Gilliom Gil-Bilt 18" Bandsaw that the builder modified by making the table fixed. This makes sense seeing that the vast majority of the cuts we make are with the table 90 degrees to the blade. This photo is from Greg Wandless' Shop blog from Sterling, VA. I assume Greg built it himself, but don't know this for sure.

Very nice job!

Click Pic to Biggie-Size

Gilliom Gil-Bilt 18" Bandsaw built from a kit

Workbench magazine did a great article in 1963 on building a bandsaw from a Gilliom Gil-Bilt kit. This one is an 18" saw.
Click on Pic to "Biggie-Size" it.

Got photo's of your Gilliom tool? We'd love to share it!

We'd love to see your Gilliom tool photos and share your story.
Please email us at aristocob@gmail.com
Scott

Click the ad to Biggie Size it. This is an old ad and the prices are not current.

Here's a great FREE site that will keep you informed if anything new gets posted!

You can be the first to know if something new is added to this blog (Or any other site of interest for that matter). Visit http://www.watchthatpage.com/ and sign up for a free account. You can then add any url to your personal list and you'll be emailed should anything change. I've used this site for several years to keep track of changes on one of my favorite sites: http://www.woodshopdemos.com/ which is a site that rarely changes. Test it out with our blog and you'll be the first to know if anything changes!