Last Monday I bought an 18” Woodfast bandsaw and I had to tell you folks about it because you will understand how glad I am to get it and you will appreciate how many more cool things I can now do with my woodworking because of it. The first part is about getting it into the shop. I thought you might enjoy seeing the hoops I had to jump through, especially if you have been through it yourself. The 2nd part is about blade drift which may be a little controversial, but I will do my best to win you over.
I’ve had a 12” Delta BS for about 13 years. It has been a great saw, but of course it lacks the capacity of a larger saw. I have wanted desperately to be able to resaw and cut my own veneers up to 12” widths which I can in turn use nicely with my scrollsaw for inlay, marquetry and other work plus box making. My Delta did resawing ok up to a 6” width board. this is actually too narrow for the top of the box sizes I want to make. I never tried veneer on it.
Making the rain
We’ve hardly had any rain all spring and summer so far. I arranged to have the new BS delivered last Tuesday thinking it would be the same dry weather. Think again, it rained all day! The delivery guy helped me get it loaded onto my dolly and we moved it to the back terrace next to the double doors on the side of my shop. It was too high with the packing crate and the skids to move through the shop doors and I couldn’t unpack it in the rain, so I had to put tarp over it and wait until the next day as pictured below. Ergo, the blog title.
Getting it into the shop
The next day I was able to unpack it. I removed the table and other things to be mounted. This reduced the weight quite a bit and made the machine a whole lot easier to move. Important because everybody is on holiday, so no help there. My wife kept an eye on me and did a little light holding (she’s still using a crutch) just to keep it balanced while I removed the skids and bottom of the crate to reduce the height enough. After that, again with the wife keeping it balanced I was able to drag it into shop as seen below. It took about 1-1/2 hours from start to finish. Almost all the time was used to carefully remove the crate and most of that was used to remove the skids and the crate bottom. So here it is in the shop at last! Those of you who have put one of these monsters in your basement workshops has my utmost respect!
Modifying the shop to fit the saw
Next I mounted the wheels on the machine and the towing bar. Next came the really heavy table, the fence and a couple of other small things. The one problem I should have anticipated was that I couldn’t get the machine close enough to the wall because unlike almost every other BS of this size the on/off switch is located outboard of the column. I couldn’t live with this because the machine is right across from my lathe and I need all the room I can get to pass between them, which I have to do constantly. My solution was to cut a hole in the wall to house the contact plug which would allow me to get the wheels up to the wall. Sounds simple, but real life rarely is. I checked for studs, but obviously not very well as you can see below.
Too bad, as I had already made a nice mitered frame to fit the imagined hole. I had to reduce the opening and do some cutting so I could later put a frame around as shown in the 2nd picture below.
And finally I got it fitted the way I wanted it. Hooray, a happy sailor!
A better method to eliminate blade drift, and some adjustment details
The first thing I did was to align the fence parallel with the miter gauge as shown in the first pic. (heresy, right?) And I squared up the fence with the 90 degrees to the table. This fence looks light but believe me it’s really heavy gauge stuff.
Now it was time to get the machine set-up. The first this I did was to replace the pretend stock blade with a real one. I’m trying a 16mm blade which I hope will work well for resawing and curved work. The 16mm is one size down from 19mm or 3/4”. I had previously loosened up all the guides and thrust bearings.
Centering the blade
I then tensioned the blade enough for it ride without slippage on the wheels. Then I measured the width of the upper wheel with my calipers as shown below.
Then I did these amazing bit of arithmetic: Wheel width 44mm minus blade width 16mm = 28mm divided by 2 = wheel width 14mm on each side of the blade. This was confirmed again with the calipers. The result was a perfectly centered blade (as perfect as my eyesight anyway). Please note that my calipers aren’t rusty, it’s just a reflection!
After getting the blade centered I brought it to full tension and adjusted the guides and thrust bearings using paper for spacing between the guide and the blades and eyeing in the thrust bearing clearance which I hope was somewhere between 1/64th” and 1/32”.
So what has this got to do with blade drift?
I read an article in a FWW mag from the 2004 Dec. issue 173 by Michael Fortune about getting more out of your bandsaw. In the article he made 5 important points about which are summarized below:
1. A single blade can handle most tasks
2. High blade tension is not necessary
3. Blade drift can be eliminated by proper blade tracking, ie; centering th blade on the wheel.
4. Guides should last many years if adjusted properly. He uses cigarette paper, not dollar bills.
5. Good dust collection is essential to keep your saw running well (read accurately).
Are these claims believable ?
Many of these claims are astounding considering all the famous woodworkers who have been telling me the opposite for so many years. However, Michael Fortune is one of Canada’s best professional woodworkers. He has been at it for around 40 years, and he does a whole lot of resawing for his bent lamination work which he is particularly noted for. This last fact convinced me to give it a try with my Delta BS back in 2004. It Worked!! How could this be? Well, the article explain it all. If you don’t have the FWW mag. issue, you can find it on the FWW website in PDF format. I think you need a membership to view it.
All the five points are necessary to get good resaws, but centered blade is the main point Fortune mentioned that the wheel tires are slightly crowned. A relatively small off center position of the blade will therefore cause a fairly large tracking problem because it changes the angle of the blade.
Now I suppose many of you will not believe Fortune’s claim and think me stupid because I do. But believe me, my opinion is based on almost 6 years of experience. Regardless, I felt obligated to prove such a heretical claim with the sincere hope that you might get try it yourself and get the same benefits.
In the photo below you will see that the fence is aligned parallel to the miter slot and there is a pine board there that I will saw a 1/32” veneer from with no further adjustment to the fence. We all know pine is soft and relatively easy to cut, but this about accurate thickness, not feed rate speed.
I made the first cut and it thinned out a bit at the end. Otherwise ok. I checked the cut surface and found it flat, then I check the unsawed other side of the board and found out there was quite a lot of cupping. I decided that since the sawed side was flat that I could use that surface against the fence for the 2nd try which turned out perfect. I confirmed this by checking it with my calipers in several places all along the length of both edges. Here is the result: pics 1 and 2 of the same veneer.
I hope you found this blog a little interesting and that it wasn’t too long or boring. I look forward to hearing your opinion about what you have read here positive or negative. Meanwhile I hope you have a nice weekend and the opportunity to get into the shop (maybe to readjust your bandsaw, ha ha).
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.