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Bandsaw Tune-Up

Correct bandsaw tune-up is important to achieve optimum performance as well as to preserve the condition of the machine and saw blades.

Whether a new bandsaw is purchased or the blades on an existing saw need replacing, spending a little time to make sure all of the adjustable parts are correctly aligned is important to the success of any cutting procedure. It will also guarantee a longer, more productive life of both the machine and the blades used.

There are three simple adjustments that will help to keep the saw cut true. It is a good idea to check these adjustments each time the bandsaw is used or when replacing a saw blade.

  • Tension the blade

When installing a bandsaw blade, the first thing to consider tension and applying enough to keep the blade in place. Then to tighten or increase blade tension until the blade moves side to side, about 6 mm from its vertical position, or by plucking it like a guitar string. The blade should sound clear rather than dull.

While it is true that blades and bandsaw can handle increased tension, it is not a good idea to apply too much tension. This may cause sooner than expected wear-out. On the other hand, too loose blade tension will have the same effect but also cause it to wander as it cuts.

  • Track the blade

If the blade runs on the middle of the wheel, then the saw is tracking correctly. If not, adjust the tracking by tilting the top wheel in relation to the bottom wheels. A knob behind the upper wheel housing controls this adjustment.

Spin the machine by hand and adjust the tracking control until the saw blade is running in the middle of the wheel. Lock the control in this position, replace the cover, and plug in the bandsaw at its power source. Turn the switch on and off to check for bumps in the tracking. The blades should maintain position.

Do this same procedure several times before running the saw at full speed.

  • Adjust the guides

Set the rear bearings first, both top and bottom. Move them forward until they almost touch the blade. Leave about a 1/32” gap between the blade and the bearing, then set the guide blocks on the side bearings. When all of the bearings are in place, lock them.

The bandsaw should be ready to run at this point.

If there are still problems with the way the saw cuts, then a more involved adjustment is required.

Check wheel alignment and balance the wheels, adjusting the drive train.

Check blade teeth, the chips being produced, and the work itself. These can indicate whether the saw is properly tuned.

Damaged teeth can occur from improper break-in or pitch, excessive feed/speed, or improper coolant flow.

Chips that form a good quality curl indicate the correct blade performance at the right speed and feed. Excessive speeds and/or feeds tend to cause the work piece and chips to overheat and turn blue. If smoke is produced, then excessive heat is most likely being generated.

A proper bandsaw tune-up should produce a cut with minimal vibration, noise, and chatter.

A high-pitch sound suggests there is a problem with chip generation; usually caused by too high a speed/feed rate or improper blade pitch. A low-pitch humming may mean that the guides are set too far apart, blade tension is too low, or the pitch is incorrect.  A clicking sound may indicate a problem with the blade itself; possibly tooth damage or a crack in the blade.

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