Band wheels provide tracking and support bandsaw blade tension. The wheel supports the blade in order for the blade to cut the material straight.
Incorrect band wheel usage may result in cutting operation complications.
Bandsaw machines run with two wheels: the idler wheel and the drive wheel. The idler wheel transfers the motion or guide and supports the drive wheel while the drive is the portion of a bandsaw’s pulley-like drive system that propels the blade forward. These two wheels revolve continuously inside a bandsaw machine to help keep the cutting operation in progress.
If not properly maintained, band wheels will cause problems.
These wheels control and provide band tension that helps the blade stay firm in operation. Proper tension is essential and is required to obtain maximum accuracy and efficiency.
Improper blade tension may cause blade wobble and also create vibration. Improper and over-tension will lead to breakage.
Another major use of the wheels is proper blade tracking.
If not aligned properly, the blade will travel over the wheels with a twist or a bend. A properly aligned blade offers a straight and more smooth cut while also assuring in longer blade life.
Most bandsaw machines have two wheels, but there are some with three.
A three-wheel bandsaw provides greater throat depth but also decreased blade life. A two-wheel bandsaw is easier to handle and blade life is longer since blades change direction only twice.
Band wheels may not be a vital part of the machine, but proper maintenance is essential since it may cause major problems later on.
The upper wheels perform two important functions:
- -Adjust vertically to provide blade tension or to release tension for blade changes
- -Allow for adjustment of wheel angle to keep the saw blade tracking properly.
The bandsaw’s motor powers the lower wheel either directly or by a V-belt/pulley system.
Bandsaw wheels are typically made of cast iron, although, to keep costs down, some bandsaws have aluminum wheels.
Woodworkers prefer iron wheels for their weight, but acknowledge that if properly balanced, aluminum wheels also work well.
To operate satisfactorily, the bandsaw needs to be accurately adjusted. It is wrong to assume that the bandsaw arrives from the factory already adjusted and ready for serious use.
Learning how to align and adjust the wheels does not require special tools but only a bit of time and patience.