By Martin Supply •
Getting the Most from Your Bandsaw Blade
- Clean your bandsaw’s table surface, fence and mitre slots. Apply a good paste wax to keep friction to a minimum.
- Round the back of your blades with a file or honing stone. This removes any manufacturing imperfections and prevents scouring of the thrust bearings and binding when cutting curves.
- Keep the blade lubricated, no matter what material you are cutting.
- Clear away sawdust buildup on the blade guide bearings and drive components.
- Clear sawdust and debris from the table insert blade guide.
- Always release blade tension at the end of the day.
The objective with flutter setting is to set the correct tension in a more dynamic way, while the bandsaw is running. The manufacturer’s suggested settings and adjustments are a great place to start, but often the need to be tweaked in order to fully eliminate vibration and achieve optimum performance.
Flutter testing is essentially the same for all machines. To begin:
- Check the V-belt tension on the motor. Replace if loose.
- Remove the blade guides. This is important!
- Check the bandsaw tires. Ensure they are in good condition.
- Mount blade and apply manufacturer’s recommended tension.
- CLOSE ALL COVERS FOR SAFETY!
- Start the machine and engage highest cutting speed.
On Spring Tension/Turn Screw Machines:
- Stand at the head of the machine. Very slowly start de-tensioning, half a turn of the turn screw at a time, while keeping an eye on the blade.
- When you see the bandsaw blade start to wobble or flutter, stop there. That’s your zero point.
- Now, go the other way and start adding tension, a quarter turn at a time, until the flutter stops and the blade stabilizes again.
- Then add 1/8 ~ 1/4 of a turn.
On Hydraulic Tension Machines:
- Run the test as above except de-tension by 20-25 pounds at a time. When re-tensioning, after you remove the flutter, add an extra 50 pounds of pressure.
On Air Bag Tension Machines:
- Again, run the test as above but de-tension by 15 pounds at a time. After flutter has been removed, add an additional 15 pounds.
Once you’ve adjusted the tension, shut off the machine, reinstall the guides and start sawing.
De-Tension After Use
De-tensioning is a key component of ensuring blade reliability and maximizing the blades life. Blades will get hot from cutting, causing them to expand and contract and, over time, can even over tension themselves. Leaving your blade under tension, strapped around the drive wheels, will create a memory in the steel that could lead to premature failure from metal fatigue. If the band is left tight on the saw also distorts the crown and flattens the drive tires, making them very hard. Tension also stresses the motor, shaft V-belt and drive pulleys.
So make sure to release blade tension at the end of each day. Keep track of how many turns you use to release tension so that you won’t have to perform the flutter test every time you want to use the saw.
Ensure Proper Lubrication
Coolants, Lubricants, and Cutting Fluids are necessary in order to prevent saw blades from overheating or distorting. If the cutting fluid isn’t working to cool the saw blade’s teeth, then the teeth will soften and become dull. If the cutting fluid is only distributed to one side of the saw blade, then the opposite side of that blade will become dull. This results in having the blade move toward the side that has the most cutting fluid, resulting in a crooked cut.
The chips are supposed to lodge in the small space between the saw’s teeth and be carried smoothly out of the cut. Without the proper use of cutting fluids, two issues will arise:
One, the unwanted formation of an unbalanced saw blade happens when the chips become welded to the teeth, resulting in a change in the shape of the teeth, which will change the amount of force needed to cut using that blade.
Two, a crooked cut and dull blade also result because the chips will end up being wedged into the cut. Since the chip is now work-hardened (harder than the stock from which it came), the blade will cut into the stock beside the chips.
Martin Supply offers our customers the expertise to make sure that they choose the right product for their application and that they are used properly. Click here to learn more about Martin, or contact us to get a consultation setup today!