Bandsaw: Bearings or cool blocks?

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Forum topic by ChuckC posted 11-17-2010 11:43 PM 20285 views 2 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ChuckC's profile


828 posts in 2962 days

11-17-2010 11:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bandsaw question

My Powermatic 14” BS came with bearings. What’s the general consensus regarding one over the other (bearings/cool blocks). I find that if I use an 1/8” blade it can sometimes slip out of between the bearings.

30 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5441 posts in 3690 days

#1 posted 11-18-2010 12:00 AM

I had a Craftsman with bearings … was OK until the bearings went bad and started squealing like crazy. Sold it and bought a Jet 14” that came with blocks … no problems yet, and the blocks do seem to be quieter.

I picked up a spare set of blocks (Olson Cool Blocks from Rockler) just to have them on hand, but so far haven’t seen any significant wear.

If your PM has the Quick Release, keep an eye on the blade and guide bearings when you re-apply tension. I installed a Carter QR on my Jet and when I release tension, the blade slips out of the guide blocks. Not a problem so long as I remember to slip the blade back in between the guides before re-applying tension.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3489 days

#2 posted 11-18-2010 12:12 AM

I put a full set of Carters on my Delta/Rockwell a few years ago and havent look back. they are wonderful

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View dbhost's profile


5726 posts in 3259 days

#3 posted 11-18-2010 12:32 AM

I had a set of Accura rollers on my HF band saw, yanked them off and replaced them with Cool blocks on the OEM mounts. MUCH better tracking…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3201 days

#4 posted 11-18-2010 12:37 AM

I pulled the bearings off my Grizzly G0555X and went with Cool Blocks … spaced about 0.02 to 0.04 away from the blade.

Quieter, better tracking, and—in theory—better blade life.

I remember checking in Mark Duginske’s “The Band Saw Handbook.” He’s a fan of Cool Blocks (vs. bearings), too.

FWIW, I also bought (cheap !) a set of the ceramic guide blocks for my saw, BUT … they’re 12.66mm diameter, and my saw takes 12mm diameter. I don’t think there’s any way to sand down the ceramic, and am not particularly interested in reaming out the guide block holders.

My only option may be to order yet another set of guide block holders, ream THEM out, and give the ceramics a try.

-- -- Neil

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3087 days

#5 posted 11-18-2010 02:34 AM

Any small blades MUST use cool blocks or else they will not track properly.

SO that is 1/8, 3/16, 1/4

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3297 days

#6 posted 11-18-2010 03:06 AM

I always use bearings. If you do not maintain the cool blocks they can wear crooked and allow the blade to drift. I have also seen some of the vinyl ones melt on to the blade and discolor or burn into the wood. Just my opinion….Technically though, I think either work well if you maintain the saw correctly.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View hairy's profile


2720 posts in 3559 days

#7 posted 11-18-2010 03:18 AM

I like cool blocks.

You can make your own out of wood, lignum vitae or hard maple.

My Jet bandsaw had plastic cool blocks in it when I bought it used. Don’t go that way.

-- My reality check bounced...

View ward63's profile


351 posts in 3114 days

#8 posted 11-18-2010 05:36 PM

Lignum works great for me, never a problem From 1/8” to 2”.

View DrAllred's profile


137 posts in 2850 days

#9 posted 11-18-2010 06:22 PM

Carter sells a special roller bearing for small blades, Band Saw Stabilizer, I have seen it work very well with 1/8” blades doing scroll work.

-- David, Mesa Arizona

View Pete Mohr's profile

Pete Mohr

75 posts in 3115 days

#10 posted 11-18-2010 08:03 PM

Neil – What did you use to convert from roller bearings to Cool Blocks? Did you find round cool blocks or ???


-- "Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another." -Anatole France

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3201 days

#11 posted 11-18-2010 08:31 PM

I did, Pete.

Cool Blocks part #CB50055BL
12mm in diameter
3/4” long

It’s a plug-and-play swap for the “upgraded” guide block holders that Grizzly sells. For my G0555X, though, I DID have to buy about $20 worth of Grizzly bits to make the switch. That info can be found …. on this thread’s comments….

-- -- Neil

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3075 days

#12 posted 11-18-2010 09:12 PM

I am a cool black kind of a guy,,they are inexpensive, the last ans they work very well.
I just wish I could buy a longer length of it that I would cut as needed

-- Bert

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3201 days

#13 posted 11-18-2010 09:27 PM

Bert wrote:

”I am a cool black kind of a guy,”

You can’t tell from that picture of you ;-)

-- -- Neil

View Domer's profile


252 posts in 3393 days

#14 posted 11-19-2010 05:36 PM

The Carter DVD on bandsaw tune ups recommends bearings. Their reasoning was that the cool blocks wear out and unless you constantly adjust them, they will not track as well.

I have the Carter bearing for the small blades and it does work well.


View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3201 days

#15 posted 11-19-2010 05:48 PM

Domer wrote:

”The Carter DVD on bandsaw tune ups recommends bearings. Their reasoning was that the cool blocks wear out and unless you constantly adjust them, they will not track as well.”

But … in all fairness … Carter sells LOTS of bearing-equipped stabilizers/guides, right, and … nothing like Cool Blocks.

I’m more moved when a company praises its competitors products than I am when they “put them down.”

I’m not sure EITHER is a bad way to go. I think Duginske’s take—my words, not his—was more that … the Cool Blocks do a darned good job, at a fraction of the price of decent bearings.

And “a darned good job” may well be all that needs to be done.

With blocks or bearings—including thrust—a few thousandths from the blade—it’s going to track straight.

And I think that’s 95% of what needs to be done.

Just my $0.02. YMMV. ;-)

-- -- Neil

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