From The Shop: Replacing a Table Saw Motor, Craftsman 152.221240   14 comments

The saw has certainly earned its keep. After I purchased what was then the most expensive tool that I’d ever purchased – at about $1,000 – I’ve built everything on this saw from our kitchen cabinets to my office desk to, oh, a few thousand cutting boards.

Here’s my office desk … can you tell that I’m a reader?

Busy, I am.

I bought the saw in 2004. All was well until a couple of months ago, when the saw started, uh, not starting.

I would hit the switch, and the saw would just sit there, hum, and blow the breaker.

For the uninitiated, when a major tool chooses to blow the breaker rather than starting the motor, it is a bad thing. A very bad thing.

Most of the time, the saw started, albeit slowly. (ed. note: I start slowly, these days, too. Just sayin’.) If the blade didn’t turn at all, I could quickly turn the saw off, rotate the blade by hand, turn the saw back on, and it would usually start. Eventually. It was in that condition that I limped along while I figured out what to do. I didn’t really want to buy a new table saw, not really. The new saw I had my eye on – which would be a huge upgrade – would require me to rewire the garage woodshop, and spend several times what my original saw cost on the new model. Great idea, but the bank account said now was not the time to spend that kind of money.

I reached out to some wise people, and they agreed that I probably needed a new motor for my saw, or at least a rebuilt one. No problem, there was a motor shop locally that was recommended … but they would not touch Craftsman tools.

No problem, I just went to, and researched a replacement motor. Called customer service, who told me the motor was discontinued.

Sears Craftsman Professional Tablesaw, 152.221240.

I turned on the Google machine to search the interweb, and eventually found that this Sears “Craftsman Professional” Table saw, model 152.221240, was actually built by a company called Steel City. They were out of business.

Except, maybe they weren’t, as I continued my searches. Some indicated they were in business, but were operating out of Canada exclusively (and that’s out of business?). I called Steel City, and found that they had the replacement for my saw’s original motor in stock. Happy to ship. Fabulous!

(Editor’s Note, 2020: it appears Steel City inventory was sold to another company. Some parts, at least, are available in 2020 from Normand Tools. )

So, $400 later, the new motor was on the way. I scheduled the Engineer to come help me do the install, and hoped the old motor would see me through in the meantime.

It did. The big day finally arrived, and I cleaned the shop in anticipation of some big doings.

The biggest problem was that we had no idea what we were doing. There were no instructions from Sears other than “discontinued.” Steel City had no instructions. You Tube. Google. You name it, no one had instructions on how to change the motor on this cabinet saw. There were plenty of videos for other saws, but this one … no.

I did reach out to a woodworker on one of the forums I monitor who had posted about replacing his motor, and asked if he had any tips, and he was most helpful. So, with the original owner’s manual describing the original assembly, and as much knowledge as I could gather from the web, we set off to install the new motor. Here are the step-by-step instructions, as accurate as I could make them. Your mileage may vary.

1. Unplug the saw from the power source. Unplug the saw motor from the power cord inside the cabinet.

2. Remove the blade, blade insert, blade guard, miter gauge and rip fence. Set them aside.

3. Set up a folding table so you have plenty of space to put the parts as you remove them from the table saw.

4. Get cups, plastic bags or whatever so you can place hardware into labeled containers so you can easily keep each set of screws, bolts, nuts & washers separate and identifiable. You will thank me later.

5. Remove the on/off switch from the front rail, and then remove the Guide Tube (it’s what you lock the rip fence to).

6. Remove the Outfeed Table.

7. Remove the Rear Rail. Be careful with the laminated “Accessory Biesemeyer Extension Table,” which is only held on by 2 bolts through each of the Rails.

8. Remove the Front Rail.

9. Remove the Extension Wings. Label them “Right Wing” and “Left Wing.” Avoid political discussions at this stage, though we did observe that we were Making the Table Saw Great Again.

10. Remove the Motor Cover (the big, red plastic thing on the right side of the saw).

11. Remove the “Table Surface,” as it’s referred to on page 15 of the Owner’s Manual. It’s the center table top. It’s held on by 4 bolts, 2 of which are outside of the cabinet on the left side, and 2 of which are the center-most just inside of the right side of the cabinet. BE CAREFUL. There are shims between the cabinet and the table surface that are easily misplaced. Save them in their original positions. Use masking tape to secure them so they don’t move.

12. The motor is mounted to a bracket on a spring-loaded hinge pivot. The weight of the motor keeps tension on the belt; you can lift the motor to remove the belt.

13. Lucky 13. You can now remove the motor from the cabinet. 4 bolts. We lifted the motor with ropes around both sides of the motor to take the weight, and then removed the bolts.

14. Note the position of the pulley on the motor shaft. Dimensions are important: the pulley most be directly parallel to the Arbor Pulley for the belt to track properly. Remove the hex set screw from the pulley. Gently pry the pulley off the motor shaft, and remove the key from the shaft.

15. Seize the moment and fully clean and lubricate the trunnions and gears that control the tilt and height of the blade.

16. Install the pulley on the new motor’s shaft using the key and hex set screw.

17. Install the motor on the bracket on the spring-loaded hinge pivot.

18. Install the belt. Check the alignment of the pulleys to ensure proper tracking. Adjust as necessary.

19. Re-install the Table Surface, making sure that the shims are in the proper place once the masking tape is removed.

20. Re-install the blade, blade insert, blade guard and miter gauge. Reconnect the motor to the switch and the saw to the power. Adjust the blade to be vertical from the table. Do a test cut to make sure the blade and table have the right orientation to each other.

21. Unplug the saw.

22. Reassemble the table saw, doing steps 10 – 5 in reverse order.

We got it right the first time, fortunately. Test cuts were perfect. The saw now sounds great. I can’t wait to rip some 8/4 Hard Maple to see how my famously under-powered table saw performs with its brand new motor.

14 responses to “From The Shop: Replacing a Table Saw Motor, Craftsman 152.221240

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  1. Wow!!!! I am surprised that there wasn’t an easier way to replace the motor!!! Sounds like poor “engineering “!😊😊😊😊😊

    Sent from my I- Phone

    Steven Harbstreit
  2. Thanks for the pics. They really helped me take the motor out of my craftsman table saw (same model i think). I did it by myself using a stack of wood under the motor. I raised the motor slightly, then lowered onto the wood so I could remove the motor by myself. It worked just fine. My motor is out for repair now. I think the culprit is the motor starting capacitor.

  3. Hello! Glad to hear there are still parts for this workhorse. Any chance you can point me in the direction of a replacement drive belt for this old guy? I have not found any belts that work. Thanks!

    • I have no source, but I assume you could go to Steel City in Canada, the original manufacturer. That’s where I got the motor; I bet they have belts as well.

  4. I just replaced my motor on the same saw.
    Since I don’t have an engineering degree or an engineer available, I replaced my motor by going through the door for the bottom
    Took three hours and was back sawing

    • If you found a better way, that’s a good thing. My saw doesn’t have a door on the bottom, though. A different model, perhaps?

  5. Kind of late to the party here. Did you consider getting a SawStop. Yeah they’re pricey and they don’t stop kickback but now I can save a finger. But I have had it trigger several times because of inattention to the cross cut fence. But no blades have been completely ruined/bent. Usually a tooth is taken off. The blade can still be used it just doesn’t cut as smooth in some cases. In other cases I can’t tell a difference.

    • A SawStop is on the wish list … just takes $$$. About 15x what this motor replacement cost to get what I want … a 3hp with 30″ fence, above table dust collection, mobile base….

  6. Any recollection or documentation on how much that motor weighs? I’m trying to avoid removing the table after using spray foam to caulk a majority of the air (sawdust) leaks. Thinking about rigging up a mini-engine lift and going through the side access. Wood blocks will be my back-up plan.

    • I would guess about 60 pounds. That is a total guess. I think you need to take the table top route, but maybe you can make the side access work!

  7. The starting capacitor in the original motor was probably bad. Did you test it ? A $30 part buried inside the long hump on the motor. it’s the main cause of most motor failures,

  8. Pingback: craftsman table saw how to change blade - Saw Tool

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