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My bandsaw miracle

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Blog entry by stefang posted 03-09-2018 06:27 PM 1064 reads 5 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Best Bandsaw advice?
There is a lot of bandsaw information out there. Many ‘experts’ and lots of contradicting advice. Why is that? Well, I think it is mainly because most of us who own and use bandsaws are generally not all that satisfied with the results we get with them. This blog is more philosophical than tutorial, but it might provide some insight if you are frustrated with the quality of your bandsaw cuts.

So what do most ‘experts’ agree on?
  1. Everyone seems to agree about how the blade guides should be set. Many argue that the back bearings are more important than the side bearings and I agree with that proposition since the back bearings keep the blade straight up and down and prevent the teeth from being pushed in between the side bearings and being ground up and/or the set being flattened.
  2. The blade should be centered on the upper wheel, that is, the blade gullets should be centered on the wheel. That last detail is rarely stated by the ‘experts’
  3. The blade needs to be 90 degrees to the table from the sides of the blade and the front/back too.
  4. The Fence needs to be 90 degrees to the table to ensure a straight cut vertically.
  5. The side guide bearings should be slightly behind the bottom edge of the gullets.
  6. The back bearing should be barely behind the back edge of the blade
Where is there disagreement?
  1. The need for the upper and lower wheels to be coplanar: Most ‘experts’ seem to agree with this, with one notable exception. In this video Alex Snodgrass expresses an opposing view.
  2. Blade tension: Some say resawing requires extra high tension and others not. Snodgrass covers that question in his video.
  3. Fence adjustment for blade drift, i:e; the blade doesn’t saw a straight line because of the manufacturing process which leaves one side of the cutting edge more aggressive or ‘leading’. This is a toss-up. Some believe it and some don’t. I don’t.

So who is right?
While some might be wrong about some aspects of proper bandsaw adjustments, in my opinion the sum of adjustments by any one group in agreement of what is needed will get you where you want to go. They might be adjusting a problem that is non-existent, but actually compensating for some other problem which they have failed to address. Either way, it works. Personally, I have followed the advice given by Alex Snodgrass in his video. I found that whether right or wrong, doing it his way worked better for me than any other way I have tried.

My own experience
My first bandsaw was a 10” Delta (seen in the background in photo below) and I always used a 1/4” (6mm) blade in it. I read about bandsaws and tuned it the best I could (due to my lack of know-how), but I never got good results with resawing unless the board being cut was very narrow (held vertically against the fence). That said, it was a very useful tool for cutting stuff flat on the table including turning blanks, scroll work, circles, etc.

I bought a 2hp 18” bandsaw about 8 years ago. It was a Woodfast brand which was a time honored quality brand from Australia that had been sold to the Chinese. The quality changed a lot of course and the basic design and construction too, but the price was far below other name brands, which incidentally were also now being made in China. I could point out many quality differences, but my experience has been mainly positive with this bandsaw so I do not want to knock it down. Some of the disappointments I’ve had with it are due to my own ignorance and some due to the factory. Here is my laundry list which might be helpful to others:

  1. My first transgression was to overtighten one of the guidblock screws thereby stripping it (yikes!). The guideblock assemblies were made from cast metal (pot metal). I fixed it by drilling it out and re-threading it with a larger screw. No big deal.
  2. I centered the blade on the upper wheel, but not the gullets. I still got good resaw cuts and even pretty accurate veneer cuts. Good enough that it wasn’t and issue after normal sanding.
  3. My upper and lower wheels were not coplanar. The bottom wheel was further in than the top wheel and so I adjusted outward a bit. No difference in the cuts was detected afterward.
  4. I found that while my blade was 90degrees to the table on the the sides, that the leading edges were not. The bottom edge stuck out further than the top edge. I thought that this had something to do with not being coplanar, but that adjustment made no difference. This meant that the teeth on the bottom would emerge first from a cut. Not usually a problem with the work I do. While tuning up my bandsaw after sharpening an old blade a couple of days ago I discovered that the table tilted downward in front of the cutting edge of the blade. I was able to put shims in the table mount to correct this.
  5. I adjusted my fence to the miter slot and not at an angle to compensate for blade drift.
  6. I am using a 5TPI 5/8” blade. It is a good all around blade. I can cut fairly tight curves and still resaw accurately with it, although it’s probably a bit slower than a resaw blade might be. It does leave a nice surface that a couple of light passes through my drum sander leaves a smooth surface.
  7. I adjusted all the guides as outlined above. I even removed the table to get better access to lower guides, although I will probably never do this again because the table is so heavy (50 or 60lbs) If I do I will get someone to help me with it. The difficulty was mainly getting it back on while lining up the bolt holes and trying to keep the out of balance table steady at the same time.

Then the miracle happened!
I made some resaw cuts, this time with some white oak and I got the most accurate cut I will probably ever get. Veneer thickness cuts and they were within a couple of a thousandth of an inch top to bottom.

Sorry, I didn’t take a photo. I didn’t know I would be doing this blog at the time.

I hope you find something interesting here. Thanks for reading.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.



19 comments so far

View sras's profile

sras

4874 posts in 3248 days


#1 posted 03-09-2018 06:48 PM

Nice write up Mike! Always good to read a refresher course on bandsaws.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

117203 posts in 3696 days


#2 posted 03-09-2018 06:50 PM

Very good Blog Mike ,I pretty much agree with the Snodgrass approach , I’ve never bothered to check for coplanar adjustment and have always had good luck with normal saw use and resawing.

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

View stefang's profile

stefang

15881 posts in 3453 days


#3 posted 03-09-2018 07:17 PM

Steve and Jim Thanks for reading. I’m not adding anything new, but folks sometimes don’t find the good videos on Youtube and I think the Snodgrass video is really the best one I’ve seen. One thing I failed to mention is that I now prefer cutting veneer and general resawing on the side of the workpiece away from the fence. I didn’t do this before, but I saw a video where a thin cut tablesaw jig was used as a stop on the outside to make fence adjustments easy after each cut. I guess a featherboard could work ok for that purpose too. Probably no big advantage, but I feel I get a little better result.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View doubleDD's profile

doubleDD

7645 posts in 2162 days


#4 posted 03-09-2018 07:33 PM

I think you summed it up well Mike. With all the different views out there, it’s hard for someone to believe which one is right. I also started with Snodgrass and have been getting great results. Next we will be waiting for the video to see you tackle putting the table back on. Haha. Thanks for sharing.

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

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

1224 posts in 693 days


#5 posted 03-09-2018 08:26 PM

So far I have seen Alex face to face at a “thee Woodworking Show” and he is as impressive for Q&A as there is, he gives situational answers a lot too, as in it’s not all just Black and White.

The other guy I have seen face to face is Michael Fortune, and it was after 2 days with 2 classes from him at a Woodworking in America that I finally left behind any “issues” with a bandsaw, not just my bandsaw, but any bandsaw. If I were to suggest a path to follow it would be his.

That said he and Alex are both talking from the same prayer book. Fortune just moves some ideas Alex has, and also talks about the quality of the parts you put on the bandsaw. I’ve found I had it right, and therefore I didn’t have major issues, but using better quality blades and guides I have jumped forward quite a few spaces. So my easy answer is it’s all about the blade.

Make, manufacture (the weld), tooth count, gullet depth, rake, and several others, and for me there isn’t a good one sold on a blister pack, or in a pre-folded box, already set on a stores shelf, they are hand made to specific requirements, and the welds are handmade on excellent blade stock. Biggest plus is a custom made blade really is only pennies more than a boxed blade where “some guy” decides what you need, without knowing what it is you are doing, or on which saw.

Somebody needs to write a book…....... Until then call any of the well regarded blade makers and talk to them on the phone, it really is the next best thing. Read the rest of the thoughts here, the OP has a great start on important stuff about the saw itself, it really must be set up correctly, or even the best blade can’t do it’s work.

-- Think safe, be safe

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

1224 posts in 693 days


#6 posted 03-09-2018 08:46 PM

Alex Snodgrass at his finest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGbZqWac0jU

“Michael Fortune on resawing, he uses a Delta 14 clonesaw

-- Think safe, be safe

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

1228 posts in 722 days


#7 posted 03-09-2018 08:48 PM

Just retired my old Central Machinery BS and bought a new Laguna 14-12 in search of the Snodgrass unicorn. I was skeptical but I found it. Perfect ripping and re-sawing without any adjustment right out of the box. Snodgrass always says there is no such thing as drift. He is right, with the MAJOR caveat that you need a good machine to start with. No amount of Snodgrass tuning got my old BS up to zero drift snuff. There are so many interdependent variables in setting up a BS that one variable can screw up 3 others.

Agreed. Centering of the blade gulletts is a non issue. It would be impossible to center the gulletts of a 3/4” Resaw King on the wheel anyway. Centering the blade on the wheel with both the 3/4” and 1/2” blades works perfectly.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View madts's profile

madts

1869 posts in 2458 days


#8 posted 03-09-2018 08:51 PM

I have found that I do not have good luck using the same blade for resawing and GP use. I have a 40 year old Rockwell 14” saw. So I now have dedicated blades for resawing and GP use. Seems to work much better.

—Madts.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Druid's profile

Druid

1827 posts in 2914 days


#9 posted 03-09-2018 08:53 PM

Very timely Mike. I just picked up some hardware yesterday for a modification on my bandsaw, so I will be trying your setup as I put things back together. What I have been doing in the past has not been radically different from your setup, but I’ll soon find out if I have any preference. Thanks for posting.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Steve's profile

Steve

605 posts in 701 days


#10 posted 03-09-2018 09:27 PM

Going to bookmark this thread as I just bought a 10-326 Rikon today. Anxious to get it set up and put to work.

View stefang's profile

stefang

15881 posts in 3453 days


#11 posted 03-09-2018 11:17 PM

Interesting comments from all you guys and I think you are all correct too. Special thanks to Andybb for the word ‘drift’. I couldn’t remember it while writing the blog and called it ‘blade deflection’ instead, even though I knew it was incorrect. it’s now corrected in the blog (love that edit feature). I also kinda agree that the best bandsaw size for a home shop would be a 14” with a 12” cutting height. My 18” saw is a little clumsy for my little shop, but I do like the 2hp motor which about maxs out my shop wiring.

Yes, good blades are important as pointed out by therealSteveN and Madts, but if I wanted one I would have to import it from to Norway with accompanying freight and import duties. While the blades I get here are not ideal for resawing, they are good quality and stay sharp a long time. I don’t often cut veneers and my resawing is normally with relatively narrow stock, so my 5tpi blades work well enough for me and at $56 a pop they aren’t cheap either.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4206 posts in 3283 days


#12 posted 03-10-2018 12:02 AM

Hey Mike, you are on a bandsaw “tear”...

I watched the Snodgrass video, and basically followed his advice using the nearly identical BS. I got a 14” saw that was pretty compact, because that was all I could fit in my shop. I thought I would buy something bigger, but got to measuring, and figured out that it was unworkable. I use a special resaw blade, a “Wood Slicer”, as I recall (since I am not at home), and got good results. There was no “drift”. I don’t have much else to say because my experience is minimal, but I avoided a lot of issues using the Snodgrass video…I suspect.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

1224 posts in 693 days


#13 posted 03-10-2018 05:53 AM


Just retired my old Central Machinery BS and bought a new Laguna 14-12 in search of the Snodgrass unicorn. I was skeptical but I found it. Perfect ripping and re-sawing without any adjustment right out of the box. Snodgrass always says there is no such thing as drift. He is right, with the MAJOR caveat that you need a good machine to start with. No amount of Snodgrass tuning got my old BS up to zero drift snuff. There are so many interdependent variables in setting up a BS that one variable can screw up 3 others.

Agreed. Centering of the blade gulletts is a non issue. It would be impossible to center the gulletts of a 3/4” Resaw King on the wheel anyway. Centering the blade on the wheel with both the 3/4” and 1/2” blades works perfectly.

- Andybb

I have a HF 14” clonesaw with a riser, and I can cut veneer or slabs off very nicely with it. I’ll reiterate, proper set up, and a very good blade. Since I’ve gotten a Rikon 18” for resaw, and mostly use the HF for small blades, and curved cutting, and keep the Rikon set up just for resaw. It makes for a best of both world scenarios for me.

Since using the HF 14” for curves only I let Alex sell me one of their small blade guides, and if any of you guys are thinking that is gimmecky, or were on the fence thinking it’s just because Alex is so good with them. I can assure you if you have a curves saw, or just don’t do resaw, and it’s all about curves those Carter Small Blade Stabilizer's are very nice Not cheap, but they do steer a small blade into very tight curves with the upmost control.

-- Think safe, be safe

View stefang's profile

stefang

15881 posts in 3453 days


#14 posted 03-10-2018 10:07 AM

I use my bandsaw mainly for resawing, but I do have 1/4” blade in case I need it. I find that if the wood isn’t overly thick I can cut curved work quite well on my scrollsaw and I can also use thicker blades on it if needed.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View htl's profile

htl

4059 posts in 1278 days


#15 posted 03-10-2018 11:41 PM


Going to bookmark this thread as I just bought a 10-326 Rikon today. Anxious to get it set up and put to work.

- bndawgs

bnda I have one of these and really like it, BUT!!!
They come with very cheap guide bearing so get some ordered and change them out fairly quickly, before the bottom thrust bearing goes and heats up the blade and bing it’s history.
And be sure to keep then oiled till your new bearings get there.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs here on Lumber Jocks.. http://lumberjocks.com/htl/blog/116729

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