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Bandsaw Blade Choices


jammy
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I'm going to invest in some good blades for my bandsaw soon, and was looking for some advice...

My bandsaw is a record power BS350, 2hp motor, 103" blade length, and can take 1/4" to 3/4" blades. I'm looking to get three high quality blades for it. One general purpose, for roughing out bodies and other every day tasks. A second, resaw blade, for long rips and cutting larger stock (I'm expecting to have to spend the most on this one?). And a third, small blade with a small set, for making kerfed linings.

So what do you guys think with regards to TPI/widths for each of the blades? And what manufacturers should I be looking out for?

Cheers

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For resawing (like drop tops and back & side sets) I like the Woodslicer from Highland Woodworking. I use a 3/4" 2-3 TPI hook tooth, the blade is about 0.03" thick and the kerf (when sharp) works out to ~0.07.

The only thing I'm not crazy about is that it seems to lose its sharpness fairly quickly. I was able to cut ~10 bf of black limba backs & sides no problem (~30% waste), and then switched over and cut ~8 bf of ziricote sets. The first 5 bf of the ziricote went super smooth with only ~30% waste, then the blade started to wander significantly in the cut during the last ~3 bf and the waste factor went up to ~40%. Planning on something like this, I had cut all the back sets first, then the side sets....otherwise the waste probably would have been higher.

I calculate the waste factor by measuring the difference in board feet between what I start out with, and what I finish with (after sawing and sanding/planing off the saw marks).

(hoping Rich will chime in here...)...I don't know if this is typical, but it would be nice to find a good resaw blade that has a similar or maybe slightly wider kerf, but stays sharp longer when cutting hard exotics.

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From experience you first have to have a band saw which has enough HP and a way to tension the blade properly, Yeah a $3000 plus saw. With that I find the blade brand less of a concern other than how many teeth are in the cut at one time. So blade size is determined by TPI and blade shape, raker skip tooth, Blah Blah blah.. The bigger the piece the less teeth and generally the larger the blade. For linings I would look for a thin blade with many teeth more of a metal style blade. For a typical resaw I use a carbide blade which costs more than some band saws. For anything under 1/2" I buy a cheap ebay blade coil 100ft (brand names) and weld my own on a equally cheap HF blade welder to save bucks. You don't need a very hard blade to do general band saw work in wood.Also don't believe all the hype you read about blades.

So the answer is blade and machine, just having a great blade does not make up for a cheap band saw and under tensioned blades.

There are blade sites with more technical information about TPI and cut depth as well as blade shape. If I could remember one I would post a link. But no one is in agreement as to which is best for what so you will get many answers and will generally have to figure it out for yourself.

See I am no help either.

Edited by Woodenspoke
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From experience you first have to have a band saw which has enough HP and a way to tension the blade properly, Yeah a $3000 plus saw.

Bah humbug!

$1000 got me a Rikon 18" bandsaw, a utility 1/4" blade and three 3/4" Woodslicers. I've cut 9" wide brazilian rosewood, 8-1/2" mac ebony, 10" wide bubinga and 12-1/2" wide mahogany and black limba without breaking a sweat. You have to know what you're doing regarding setup and lead angle, but after that....you've still got $2000 in your pocket. :D

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Jammy,

Look at the advise from guys like Larry, Bob C. and such over at the OLF those guys run plenty of material and know there stuff. I have run a fair bit of material on my two machines, one being a 14" with a riser and the other being an 18". I will offer suggestions from my experience on each (and I have run the very hard woods in very wide widths on each machine, so I can also speak to how to improve cutting on each).

14"- Blades, you will have trouble getting good tension with a blade bigger than 1/2" (a 3/4" thin blade like a woodslicer is possible, but you should get a high rate spring and max it out, as it will push the limit of the machine), and keep in mind the advantage of 3/4" over half in terms of tracking is minimal at best. Low loss blades are the way to go on this size machine, because you are actually putting less demand on the tool(it cuts less material). Tricky part to using low loss is that you are bringing the tooth set closer and this can be problematic as the cut is more sensative to material building up in the cut and making the blade wander to one side or the other. Slow your cuts down a bit to allow the material to clear more effectively. With a 14" you must have your machine dialed in very well. The straighter the cut the less it will tax the machine. Another thing to note on most 14's is that the machines are going to be more sensative to going out of tune, because the parts are just not as tuff. Go slow, clean your blade very often, use good vaccume,check your machines settings often.

18"-The max. blade size will depend on the machine. Mine happens to have dual springs and I seem to be able to tension a 1" Carbide with no problems, I have heard others mention they have difficulty tensioning anything bigger than a 3/4" carbide on their 18's. I really see little need to go wider than a 1" for my cutting, and am just fine with 3/4" also. One good thing to do with your machine that has dual skateboard sized bearings, is to replace your bearing with a wider single bearing, and possibly a second smaller bearing(acts only as a spacer as your blade will never touch it even if your using a 1-1/4" blade). Some machines have two bearing, some have two with a steel spacer from the factory. These bearings wobble and the difference in performance between a wider single and smaller bearings is night and day. You are probably wondering why the factories would not just use a single wide bearing, I figure it is because of cost. A single bearing will run you about $25 each, and smaller bearings around $3-4 each(this is about a $120 dollar upgrade, but well worth it IMO). An 18" will generally hold its tune better, because the parts are tuffer(generally speaking). The extra power does improve the machines ability to keep up the blade speed, and this improves clearing. For general purpose cutting(not resawing), you will get a lot of life from a bi-metal or regular carbon steel blade (disposable blades). Teeth per. inch totally relates to the thickness of the material you are cutting(it is all about clearing the cut), although it should be kept in mind that for a special application where very thin wood, and small cuts are made higher teeth counts will reduce tear out a bit (keep in mind you can slow down your cutting and get a similar effect, the number of teeth that make the cut is all about feed). You can get less aggresive tooth angles that can also offer advantages on finer work. For resaw you generally do well to use very few TPI, because you can take advantage of large gullets that can hold and clear more material without causing binding or deflection. I run 1.2 to 2/3 TPI blades for wide resaw. More TPI can provide a little smoother cut, but it will translate to higher risk in terms of clogging and deflection. A wider tooth set offers better ability for the blade to tolerate a little clogging(improves reliability), but eats more material. You have to strike a balance between speed, smoothness, reliability, and kerf loss. Woodslicer or bladerunners are the higher risk blades, but offer low loss(blade thickness-.025" ish kerf in the neighborhood of .035"-light blade scratch). Wide set or even common set teeth will cost you more material, but will improve feed rates and stability(blade thickness between .035-.042", and kerf in the .055-.07" range-heavier blade scratch). A great middle ground are blades like the lennox trimaster which fall inbetween(up to 1" blades-.035" blade, kerf in the .055" range- light blade scratch). The blade scratch can require up to .060" to clean, my experience with very smooth cutting blades has shown you can get that down to about 1/3 the loss(keep in mind you have to have sanding equipment that can allow you to smooth in a very controlled fasion to take advantage of this). The advantage of the wider kerf (maybe .030" going to extreams) is nothing compaired to losses if your blade is traveling straight. Even the slightest wander can eat up a lot of material, my choice is weighted 80% reliability and 10% smoothness/10% kerf. CLEAN your blade often, not only does it make the blade seem duller, but it significantly reduces the blades ability to remove material, and can cause big issues with your guides(mis-aligning your blades travel).

My top picks for blades-

Resaw-

Lenox Trimaster for durability, reliability, light surfacing, fair speed.(spendy, but worth it if you need speed)

Lenox Woodmaster for durability, reliability, med. surfacing, great speed.(30% less cost than a Trimaster, and outstanding on softwoods that like to clog the blade, min. size 1" Carbide).

Woodslicer 1/2"-3/4"- Low loss potential, extreamly light surfacing, low speed.(risky to use but can improve yeilds if you can control it).

Non Resaw-

I like Timberwolf bimetal, I also have a variety of AllPro and other carbon steel blades. For non-resaw apps, these blades very rarely wear out (but you have to clean them!!!).

Did I mention how important I think cleaning your blades and guides is.

Peace,Rich

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