Hahaha, holy freakin’ crap! I’m so ridiculously pleased that I have to write about this. Shall we start from the beginning? I suppose….
I ordered an Olson bandsaw blade a couple weeks ago. 1/4”, 4tpi skip. Until now, I’ve been using the stock blade that came with my Ridgid 14”, and it did well enough (I thought) that I wasn’t in any hurry to replace it. After all, lately I’ve been doing mostly straight cuts and a little resawing, and a 3/8” blade seemed like it would be better for that kinda work. Today I finally got around to taking that old blade off, and while it was off, I decided to do a little wheel balancing to kick some of the vibration. Hours later, with some solder (hey, it was handy) wrapped around a few spokes on each wheel—and some masking tape around it to keep it in place—I was barely satisfied. No, scratch that. I was still unsatisfied, but at least now I was frustrated too. Always a bonus, right? So now that I was frustrated with my off-balance, off round wheels, I decided to put that Olson blade on and call it quits. Actually, I decided, “To hell with this, I’m just gonna put that f@$%#$& blade on this f&%&*$+ piece of s@#+ and be done with the g&%d@#$ thing before I decide to f$^@#$& beat it to death with a baseball bat.” I include this in the interest of accuracy only. Sorry about the swears.
Fuming, and hating my once-favorite tool, I set to work. Pulleys: “Why can’t I ever find a [expletive] decent straightedge around here? [Expletive], I guess I’ll just get it close. Maybe out a little bit? [Expletive]! That’s worse! Okay, that looks good enough, at least for these [expletive] wheels.”
V-belt: “Get on there, you bugger, or so help me….”
Blade: Actually, putting the blade on, tensioning, and tracking it was easy enough. No swearing necessary here.
Thrust bearings: “Ah hell, that’s good enough.”
Top cool blocks: “You little bugger, what’s your problem? Bloody hell. Ah well, we’ll just shim you. Okay, that’s a bit better.”
Bottom cool blocks: “Er, what? Umm….[expletive].” For some reason, I can’t move the bottom guide blocks back behind the blade gullets on this narrower blade. I think the whole assembly was mounted too far forward on the saw’s frame, and I couldn’t get a wrench on the mounting bolts without more effort than I wanted to put in. There’s just no more room on the adjustment knob. Weird. Very ticked indeed, I moved the cool blocks away from the blade to avoid tooth damage, and gave the tension another quarter turn to make myself feel better. I threw up my hands, put the throat plate back in the table, and resolved to kill two birds with one stone and run over the saw with my car next time I pulled into the garage.
This is where it gets good. I should have told you before that you could skip this entire blog until right here. Ha, suckered you into reading the whole thing, didn’t I? Take that, doppelganger! Er, ahem. Back to the story. Ready for the good bit? Here it is: I flipped the switch. Wait, that’s not the good bit yet, because the blade seems to be kinda wobbling/weaving left to right. [Expletive]! Oh well, I decided. I’ll fix it tomorrow. But I figured I better make a cut to see how much the blade wandered and whether it cupped. Okay, here’s the good bit: I ran a bit of 6/4 pine scrap into it, and BY GOD, THAT CUT LIKE A LASER! NO, A LAZER, WITH A “Z”! Straight, true, and with a kerf that would have to go on steroids and start hitting the gym for four hours a day just to get half as big as the stock blade’s kerf. And the saw marks! Oh, Lord, the saw marks. Don’t even get me started on the saw marks, because there dern near ain’t any! That cut was the smoothest off-the-saw cut I have ever, ever gotten off my bandsaw. Actually, it was better than cuts right off my tablesaw. It was glassy, man. Ready for 150 grit sanding, at least. Just for the heck of it, I clamped on my little shop-made fence and resawed a chunk of that pine. Freakin’ amazing, uniform, smooth cut. That’s about when I started giggling. Just for fun, I crosscut that scrap as fast as I could feed it, really, really forcing the cut. Yeah, there were some sawmarks. But with the old blade, I’d have to feed it at about an inch per year to get a cut that nice. I ripped the scrap, again forcing it as much as I could (I fed that sucker FAST!), and once again, I got a nice smooth cut with shallow sawmarks. So until I get a WoodSlicer or a Timberwolf 1/2”, or a wider Olson, I’ve got a 1/4” blade that’ll rip, crosscut, resaw, and cut curves about a thousand times better than what I was using before. That’s nearly a metric pantload of betterness, from a blade that I expected to use only for curves and crosscutting. Did I mention freakin’ sweet?
Did anyone read all that? Really? I’m impressed. I would have skimmed the first paragraph and then clicked over to Projects. I really feel an apology is due for anyone who read that whole thing, ‘cause you’re not getting that ten minutes back. For future reference, I mostly write these for me, so don’t feel obligated to read my pages-long rants about this or that. But if you do read them, I’ll give you candy. Promise. :)
-- I hate finishing. I never manage to quit while I'm ahead. --Chris