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Sharpen your bandsaw blade

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Blog entry by stefang posted 03-06-2018 06:18 PM 850 reads 4 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Not my idea
I saw a Youtube video about sharpening bandsaw blades with a chainsaw sharpening machine here. I found one of these machines for close to the price it costs me for a new bandsaw blade, so I thought it might be a good investment if I could get more mileage out of my blades.

The sharpening machine
All of these chainsaw sharpening machines are probably made in the same factory in China and while there may be some small differences between them, you can likely get them all to work. The vice on mine had a center tightening lever plus a screw on each end. There were two washers between the jaws where the screws were. I removed the washers and put them on the outsides so I can reinsert them when I sharpen my chainsaw. The jaws can’t come close tight enough to grip the thin bandsaw blade when the washers are between the jaws. I left the screws just tight enough for the blade to fit between the jaws and left them that way. I used only the lever after that to tight/loosen the jaws holding the blade.

Easy Set-up
This is my set-up. Other than removing the washers, no other modifications to the sharpening machine were necessary except mounting it to a small platter to allow clamping it to my workbench. That took 5 minutes. Ideally you would want your whole blade to be the same level as the holding vice to keep the blade level in the jaws. My leveling set-up wasn’t too good, but it worked out ok anyway.

Machine adjustments
It’s important to adjust the ratchet stop snug against the face of the tooth to hold the blade in the correct position for the sharpening wheel to hit the right spot on the back of the next tooth. Adjusting the depth of the sharpening cut is done with the knob on the upper right as shown in the video.

Be aware
Sharpening the tip at the back top of each tooth isn’t the professional way to do the job. Proper sharpening includes doing the the tooth faces, backs, and gullets and is normally done with an expensive machine that is either handcranked to advance the blade or fully automatic. Professional sharpening is usually the way bandsaw sawmill operators sharpen their blades. For hobby woodworkers this simpler method will do just fine and allow for a 3 or 4 sharpenings if you don’t grind too much off the teeth each time. Many do this operation with handheld Dremel rotary tools by hand and get good results. I didn’t feel I would be steady enough with my Dremel and doing the 710 teeth on my blades would be very tiring and that is why I opted for this method which is very controlled and easy. I just loosen the vice with a half turn of the center lever, pull up the ratchet and advance the blade one tooth. Each advancement takes about 5 seconds.

The shiny tips show the result
As you can see from the shine on the tip of every tooth in this magnifyed view, very little steel was removed and the sharpened portion on each tooth was pretty consistent in length, and hence depth.

Cleaning the blade
The blade I sharpened was the first blade I bought for my bandsaw and I used it for about 4 years before replacing it. It was very dull and had a lot of hardened pitch on it. I cleaned the blade before sharpening. Instead of soaking it, I sprayed a little WD40 to small areas working my way around the blade. I used a sharp 1/4” chisel to gently push the pitch off the teeth and under the teeth. That worked very well and went pretty fast. I’m not recommending this method, but it worked for me. I first tried some ethanol, but the DW40 worked a lot better and I didn’t have to use a whole lot either.

How does it cut?
Very happy with the test cuts shown below. It seems to cut a lot easier than when it was new. I don’t know how long it will stay that way, but time will tell. I was too tired to hunt for some more appropriate boards for the test, but these were Rubber tree and some Linden that I had and they both cut very well.

My take
Setting up the sharpening machine and the actual sharpening was a lot easier than I thought it would be and I’m very happy with the results. Before sharpening I took the time to give my bandsaw a good cleaning an readjusted everything while I was at it. I even took the bandsaw table off to get everything well cleaned and the lower guides well adjusted. I’m pretty sure that table weights at least 50 lbs and that’s why I was so tired after getting my newly sharpened blade mounted! I hope you will give it a try.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.



17 comments so far

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2075 posts in 1248 days


#1 posted 03-06-2018 06:57 PM

Looks like it may be worth a try Mike.

I have several 1-1/4” resaw blades that are dull as a rock. I used a Dremel tool on one and got reasonable results, but it was a chore to try and get consistent angles.
Heck, I could even use the tool on my box full of dull chain saw blades 8^)

View patron's profile

patron

13607 posts in 3367 days


#2 posted 03-06-2018 06:58 PM

sweet idea mike

will have to try it myself
been thinking of getting a sharpener for my 2 chainsaws

this will seal the deal

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

117119 posts in 3603 days


#3 posted 03-06-2018 08:34 PM

Very interesting Mike thanks for the great blog, I don’t know if I have the patience to do it myself but I’m sure other folks will.

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos wood crafting & woodworking classes

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18290 posts in 3701 days


#4 posted 03-06-2018 11:40 PM

Good post Mike, Glad to see you out and about again.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Druid's profile

Druid

1769 posts in 2821 days


#5 posted 03-06-2018 11:53 PM

Hi Mike, this is an interesting post. Unfortunately, the local sharpening service in town was sold a while ago, and the new owner is no longer sharpening bandsaw blades. :(
All I need now is your mailing address and price list per blade size/type. ;)
Thanks for the idea. :)

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View tyvekboy's profile

tyvekboy

1766 posts in 3039 days


#6 posted 03-07-2018 01:11 AM

Great Post and Suggestions. Might have to try it sometime.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View doubleDD's profile

doubleDD

7440 posts in 2069 days


#7 posted 03-07-2018 04:32 AM

I had thought about getting one of those harbor freight sharpening machines many times. They seem easy to use and are cheap to buy. Sounds like you are getting good results with the bandsaw blade. This sparked my interest and will have to look into it further. Thanks Mike.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View bushmaster's profile

bushmaster

3101 posts in 2308 days


#8 posted 03-07-2018 06:22 AM

I bought one of those units cheap from Harbor Freight with the idea to sharpen the blades, I never figured out how to do it. from what I can see you are grinding the top of the teeth, I made a unit with a 6 inch grinder and works for me, takes about 1 second per tooth, Glad to figure out how to use the machine to do the job, I gave mine to a friend for sharpening his chainsaw.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View stefang's profile

stefang

15881 posts in 3360 days


#9 posted 03-07-2018 12:03 PM

Good to hear from all of you. My woodworking is pretty sporadic these days due to my health problems, but the interest is still there.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Bobsboxes's profile

Bobsboxes

1367 posts in 2690 days


#10 posted 03-07-2018 02:28 PM

Great to hear from you Mike, good sharpening ideas.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View Arif DALKIRAN's profile

Arif DALKIRAN

118 posts in 127 days


#11 posted 03-07-2018 06:48 PM

Çok iyi

-- Arif Dalkıran, Marmara sea, Buyukada, Istanbul, Turkiye, https://arifdalkiran.com/

View Schwieb's profile

Schwieb

1858 posts in 3487 days


#12 posted 03-07-2018 08:29 PM

Like others that have posted, I appreciate the diligence and patience this would take and not sure I want to do that. Maybe when I retire I will have more time. LOL Good post Mike.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Rob Drown's profile

Rob Drown

789 posts in 3859 days


#13 posted 03-08-2018 12:48 PM

HI Mike,
So glad your feeling better!

Did you sharpen the back of the tooth like the video or did you sharpen the front and the gullet?

-- The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. Confucius, 经过艰苦的努力的梦想可以成真

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

5099 posts in 2230 days


#14 posted 03-08-2018 10:23 PM

Hello Mike!

Interesting information there.
I have similar grinder I use for sharpening chain saw blades.
I never thought to use it on band saw blades.
an unusual process of which I thought was incorrect (in relation to the method used to sharpen a router bit) but not its an uncommon method after I did some resesrch.
So next dull band saw blade I will give it a try for sure.

As with all good results you need to put in the effort.

When I do chain saw blades I need a magnifying glass, my glasses and a torch and I can then see the results

-- Regards Rob

View stefang's profile

stefang

15881 posts in 3360 days


#15 posted 03-09-2018 03:20 PM

Rob Thanks. I sharpened the back top of each tooth just taking a very small amount off. This machine cannot sharpen the faces of the teeth because the sharpening is angled. This angle doesn’t matter when taking a little off the top back of the teeth, but the faces of the teeth are at 90 degrees, so it couldn’t work there.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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