Band Saw Tension

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Forum topic by UncleStumpy posted 08-14-2015 04:47 AM 1064 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View UncleStumpy's profile


707 posts in 1734 days

08-14-2015 04:47 AM

Topic tags/keywords: bandsaw tension blade

I just changed the tires on my band saw and I thought this would be a good time to ask about something that has been bothering me.

Do you loosen the tension a bit at night and then tighten it back up when you are ready to use the saw?
Does this actually help with the life of the tires, blade and the machine?
Or is this just some old wives tale?

If it is worth it, then I will have to get into the habit of actually doing it. Maybe a sign on the band saw?

Any and all opinions will be welcome. Thank you, Uncle Stumpy

-- "They don't want it perfect - they want it SPECIAL"

23 replies so far

View BilltheDiver's profile


250 posts in 2307 days

#1 posted 08-14-2015 04:51 AM

I always release the tension with the attachment I got from Carters for my Jet bandsaw.

-- "Measure twice, cut once, count fingers"

View TheFridge's profile


5676 posts in 907 days

#2 posted 08-14-2015 05:07 AM

All I know is there is no way it couldn’t hurt. Metal fatigues. May be a drop in the bucket but it’s peace of mind.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 598 days

#3 posted 08-14-2015 09:50 AM

I release the tension if I remember to. I have not noticed any problems with leaving by bandsaw tensioned for several days. Since I have a lever tensioning system it is easy to tension / untension it. If I had one of those with the small knob that requires a lot of turning I might leave it tensioned.

Recalling my engineering classes (almost 40 years ago) prolonged tension on a piece of metal can cause the metal to weaken and if around a curved surface cause the metal to want to conform to that curve. This could reduce the lifetime of the blade and increase flutter.

I can’t recall any studies of how profound this is in real life.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 813 days

#4 posted 08-14-2015 11:25 AM

I’ve been an electronics geek for much longer than I’ve been a newbie LJ.

Any electronics geek can tell you that one of the most persistent truisms (not sure if it has ever been adequately tested and proven, but “everybody knows” ) is that electronics last longer if you just leave them on all the time instead of turning them off when not in use. The theory is that all of that heating up and cooling down results in thermal expansion and contraction which, over time, weakens various things like solder connections and wire bonds inside the chips etc.

My thought when I hear this notion of “relaxing” and retensioning a bandsaw is that it would be more likely to work-harden some components and friction-wear others.

Plus it would be a pain in the backside.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View UncleStumpy's profile


707 posts in 1734 days

#5 posted 08-14-2015 11:44 AM

I figured there would be arguments on both sides.

Constant relaxing and retentioning – metal fatigue. Check
Constant tension around a curved surface might cause the metal to conform to that shape. Check

Since I don’t have a tension release mechanism on my Porter Cable machine it might be a pain in the neck.
BUT I just changed the tires and it was a MAJOR hassle. I watched videos on how to do it and after almost killing myself, I took the wheels off of the band saw and anchored them to my workbench. Still a hassle but do-able.

So in order to save wear and tear on my tires, I think a compromise might work – not releasing all the tension between uses but loosen it a little. Might help save the tires and blade and not be such a huge pain.
Anyone think that might work?

Thanks for all of the input guys! I knew some LJ’s would have some excellent answers. Happy sawdust!

-- "They don't want it perfect - they want it SPECIAL"

View Puffball's profile


42 posts in 633 days

#6 posted 08-14-2015 11:46 AM

I was under the impression the other reason for releasing the tension when it is not in use is to avoid flattening the tires.

To remind myself, I always just place the unplugged cord near the tensioning knob to remind myself that I undid the tension

View distrbd's profile


2220 posts in 1867 days

#7 posted 08-14-2015 12:37 PM

I did(releasing the tension in the bandsaw) 3-4 time, 7 years ago but then I decided to leave the bandsaw, tensioned and ready to use all the time,I figured the blades are going to get dull and get thrown away before the metal fatigue makes them unusable.
As far as saving the new tire I just put on , the last set was on the saw for more than 10 years so I guess for me changing the tires every 7 to 10 years is acceptable .
The bottom line: if you can get into the habit of doing this tensioning it in the morning/releasing it at the end of the day, as others mentioned, go ahead and do it since you won’t hurt anything and it gives you peace of mind.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View johnstoneb's profile


2105 posts in 1594 days

#8 posted 08-14-2015 12:51 PM

I had a 12” Sears for 15 years still have it. Never loosened the blade to big a pain put new tires on it about a year ago.
I now also have a 14” Jet that I put the Carter detensioning attachment on Use it when I remember. Several times I have forgotten to retension the blade when I use it. That is even with a big red ball right in front of me.
I really don’t think it matters you will dull the blade before damaging anything.
dstrbd says it best.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Robert Brown's profile

Robert Brown

143 posts in 2112 days

#9 posted 08-14-2015 01:24 PM

I detension mine. But mine is a 14 inch with a riser. Also it may be a month or more between uses.

For a band saw that sees almost daily use, I don’t think nightly detension is necessary.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16804 posts in 2527 days

#10 posted 08-14-2015 01:34 PM

My Grizzly G0555 has a lever to drop the tension but personally, I use that saw so much I have never dropped the tension in the 10 yrs I had it and there are no ill effects. The thing is that with my memory as bad as it is, I would more likely forget to put the tension back on and then run with low tension much of the time.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

615 posts in 3687 days

#11 posted 08-14-2015 01:42 PM

Ah, one of my favorite topics. First off, I’m sure you are all right. However, I have had my Craftsman 12” band saw since 1972, and I have never changed the tires- and I have never de-tensioned the blade. Well, not exactly correct: I de-tensioned it once and then forgot to re-tension it later and the blade went cater-wampus and scared the you know what out of me.
My Jet 14” was only 10 years old when I had to replace the tires because they literally blew off the wheels. I put on the urethane tires and have had no problems since then. It has also never been de-tensioned.
My blades probably last as long anybody’s blades- as mentioned, they will get dull before they break, most of the time.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View Julian's profile


1010 posts in 2111 days

#12 posted 08-14-2015 02:16 PM

I made a small sign on a magnetic backing that I keep at the start button to help me remember to re-tension the blade. A tensioning lever makes the process of loosening the blade much quicker. I also had one incident before making my small sign when I started the bandsaw and the blade came off. It can scare the poop out of you.

-- Julian

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 757 days

#13 posted 08-14-2015 02:25 PM

Never detensioned on my 14” Delta because it was a hassle. Always detension on my Grizzly 17” because it’s easy to do. In terms of wear and tear on the Delta, no clue because it always cut crappy until just before I sold it I actually set it up right in preparation for selling it to a fellow woodworker. And then it cut really well, which made me sort of regret getting the Grizzly until I had to resaw 11” walnut and then my regrets disappeared into pure joy. I’m going to jump on the bandwagon that if you use it regularly, detensioning is unnecessary. Based on science? No. But heck. I’m entitled to my own opinion goshdarnit. ;)

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View jumbojack's profile


1667 posts in 2045 days

#14 posted 08-14-2015 02:48 PM

I de-tension mine and as others have stated it is a PITA. I acquired a box of tools at a yard sale and there were three braces in the box. I already had two so I put some flats on the rod that goes to the tensioner and voila. I have since cut the top of the brace off so just the middle handle is there WORKS LIKE A CHARM.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4407 posts in 3381 days

#15 posted 08-14-2015 02:52 PM

I de-tension at the end of every day. Put the lock in the switch to remind me to tension. Just a habit, and the way I was taught years ago.


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