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How to Determine Blade Choice

When it comes to making the right bandsaw blade choice, there are several factors to determine prior to purchasing any blade, and depending on the materials being cut.

Determine the bandsaw’s condition and the type of band used.

Each bandsaw is equipped with wheels that will only accommodate one saw blade width. Bandsaw sizes are unique and commonly referenced as an operator working on a 1.0 or  a .75 saw.

It is impossible for one blade to cut all materials.

Materials being cut and how they will be cut determine Blade Type.

The three main saw blade variables are width, teeth-per-inch (TPI), and the set. Knowing and understanding these variables will help to make the right bandsaw blade purchase.

Blade width will determine cutting radius.

A very fine .125” (1/8”) wide blade suits intricate scroll work with very tight curves. Attempting a straight line cut, particularly along the grain, will cause the blade to wander.

A 1.0″ wide blade will rip accurately along the length of a board and track reasonably well, but with little success at cutting a small radius.

One of the main causes of blade breakage is due to the attempt to cut a too tight radius using the wrong blade.

TPI will determine bandsaw efficiency.

Less teeth generally provide better results when cutting gentle contours that run with the grain or for ripping. The debris created is better able to clear itself away, and having fewer teeth means a faster but rougher cut.

For cross-grain and intricate cuts where blade orientation to the grain is constantly changing, more teeth are better.

The more blade teeth, the smoother the finish.

Tooth set refers to angles that allow for cut clearance, preventing  blade binding.

A light set will give a smooth cut but is less effective on tight curves — the blade tends to bind as it turns on the cut radius.

A heavier set creates more clearance for the blade to turn, but with a coarser finish that leaves a more pronounced corrugated mark.

Blade choice for general-purpose work means selecting a blade width of 1.2”, or 3/8” with a 4-6 TPI. This is a good starting point.

Consider the following:

  1. Blade material — Carbon, Bi-metal, or Carbide Tipped
  2. Blade Width and Thickness — depend on wheel size and kerf desirability
  3. Blade length — depends on the bandsaw machine being used
  4. TPI or tooth pitch — depend on the size and type of material being cut

Cost is not affected by the number of teeth per inch or tooth pitch, style, or set. Width, length, and blade type determined cost.

When it comes to bandsaw blade choice:

  • Know the right blade dimensions — check the machine’s user’s manual
  • Know the cut application on materials to be cut
  • Will bundling be involved or is it single piece work
  • Bundles require a coarser tooth pitch
  • Know the material dimensions
  • Finer tooth pitch offers longer blade life and a better finish
  • Incorrect TPI will shorten blade life

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