Maximizing bandsaw blade life will help to save time and money, and proper blade maintenance is paramount to effective output.
Quality bandsaw blades are essential when high-volume metal cutting — yet even the highest quality bandsaw blades aren’t designed to last forever.
At some point the blade will fail due to wear.
Common problems that result from dull and improperly set blades include inaccurate cuts, stripping, worn out teeth, and if abused, blade breakage.
The reason for these issues is that neglect of important bandsaw blade use rules are in effect.
Things like incorrect blade installation, improper wheel alignment, incorrect feed and speed rates, and incorrectly set guides.
Ways to lengthen bandsaw blade life and maintain their efficiency include the following:
- Proper saw blade break in
- Uniform shape and tooth spacing
Break in is important yet often overlooked. Running the new saw blade at 50% of the normal speed and feed rates for several minutes and then slowly increasing the speed and feed to the recommended material guideline settings is all it takes to assure longevity.
- Apply tension
The purpose is to remove unbalanced force distribution on the table. Tension stretches the inner area of the blade to compensate for expansion due to heat build-up during cutting. A blade with proper tension will produce straight cuts and help avoid breakage.
Many saws come with a gauge that will indicate correct tension based on blade width. Inaccuracies do occur when relying solely on the gauge, though. Tighten the blade and then pluck it like a guitar string, listening for a clear tone rather than a dull thud.
- Check blade deflection
Slightly over-tension the blade to correct cutting problems. A blade can withstand extra tension despite what the gauge suggests, but it isn’t a good idea to apply too much tension. This will cause the bearings to fail.
If the bandsaw sits idle for a long time, the possibility for tire flat spots increases, resulting in vibration and erratic cut. Decreasing tension at the end of each work day will eliminate the problem.
- Periodic sharpening of saw blades
Turn off the bandsaw and gently rub a sharpening stone along both sides of the saw blade. Run the stone at recommended speed. If the pressure is too high or uneven, blade damage will occur. Correct stone thickness is important for proper sharpening. Ideal is around one-half the length of the tooth pitch.
Sharpening saw blades is a timely and technical process with the slightest miscue causing blade damage. The operator knows the machine best, and that instinctive experience will help to extend blade life.
Having an adequate supply of new blades on hand is also a good idea.
The blades are an important element in bandsaw efficiency in any application. Proper bandsaw maintenance will prolong their lifespan.