Bandsaw Drift is not my friend

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Forum topic by David Grimes posted 10-20-2011 04:55 PM 2113 views 2 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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David Grimes

2078 posts in 2667 days

10-20-2011 04:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bandsaw drift

Everything came together on the new saw, the new blade, the table with fence, the link belt, the casters, etc. I had been eye-balling cuts before I got the fence, but now that I have tried to cut with the fence it is evident that I have drift. The drift is towards the fence (back) consistently.

The usual items are dialed in correctly… blade tracking centered, tires are new with no humps or bumps, I have increased and decreased tension to check that as a variable, guides top and bottom set with the dollar bill AND just behind the teeth of the blade, guide bearings are set to spec, etc.

Is this something that is usual and customary ? Do I just need to define the variation and allow for it when using the fence ?

Please… your thoughts are welcome.


-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

17 replies so far

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3171 days

#1 posted 10-20-2011 05:00 PM

You don’t want my thoughts… You want Bob Simmons’ thoughts!

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2667 days

#2 posted 10-20-2011 05:18 PM

Thanks, nailbanger2… but I’ve already seen that. I would hope to NOT have to use a crooked (shimmed) fence all the time. My drift has a 1:12 pitch if that makes any sense.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View YBNORMAL's profile


47 posts in 2458 days

#3 posted 10-20-2011 05:20 PM

Here is another link to an article on correcting drift, All bandsaws do, just some more than others.


View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3025 days

#4 posted 10-20-2011 08:33 PM

Before you jump in and do a lot of changes, do the easy one first. Try a different blade. Some will just drift on their own. They might have slightly unbalanced set to the teeth or something. Maybe even just a change in temper of the blade when welded. Odd things happen.

There really are only two other variables: The tension and the alignment of the guides. If it were the wheels, the blade would fall off. If it were the table, it would be consistently wrong.

Also don’t discount operator variables. You might be feeding it too fast (for the wood and tooth geometry) or the gullets might not be clearing out sawdust fast enough. Some wood is just nasty that way. Sap, changes in density or moisture.

My favorite resaw blade is the Timberwolf. I have had consistent good luck with them sawing even nasty stuff. I tried one of the Woodslicers from Highland Hardware and was not happy with it. Other people have liked them and I might just have had a problem child.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2595 days

#5 posted 10-21-2011 12:38 AM

A few months ago I basically restored my central machine 14” bandsaw. My dad has had it and it was in some need of repair. I put a new switch and cleaned up the rust, added a home made fence, new belt etc, etc, but I couldn’t get it to re-saw. Then I bought new tires, a new tension spring, shimmed the top wheel, bought new guide blocks and a good 3 tpi hooked blade. I’ve been re-sawing nicely ever since, ..... until today. I wanted to cut down a few small pieces of walnut to make some business card holders. What a fiasco.

to make a long story short (to late maybe?) I went back with another piece, a little more patience and a slow steady speed, and it cut nice. This was the first piece of walnut I’ve resawn, so I’m not sure if its walnut, the particular piece I had, grain direction or what, but it seemed to pull the wood through. I had to hold the piece back (or so it seems in recollection) to keep the piece from feeding itself through and wandering off to make a nice wide shim.

I think there’s a moral to the story. The saw needs to be right, but the operator needs to be right too. After 20 years of using this bandsaw, I’m still learning how.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

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David Grimes

2078 posts in 2667 days

#6 posted 10-21-2011 01:20 AM

Thanks, guys.

@ David Kirtley, My blade is a Viking (same as Timberwolf).

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View patcollins's profile


1685 posts in 2893 days

#7 posted 10-21-2011 01:50 AM

I saw a bandsaw demonstration at one of the woodworking shows this past year given by the Carter bandsaw accessry guy (forget his name). He said you dont center the blade on the wheels, center the teeth of the blade on the wheel. I did this and it seemed to make the blade track better on mine. It makes sense because the tooth is what makes the cut, not the back/mid part of the blade thats just along for the ride.

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2589 days

#8 posted 10-21-2011 03:17 AM

I am EXTREMELY new at bandsaws, but everything I’ve read has said drift is very common with all BS’s, as stated above, some just do it more than others. This is why BS fences pivot at one end, so you can adjust it for drift. My Tauton’s Press book “Complete Guide to Bandsaws” tells how to adjust.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Alongiron's profile


648 posts in 2721 days

#9 posted 10-21-2011 03:46 AM

I have a grizzly ultimate bandsaw and the blade that came with the saw had a lot of drift. I purchased a Highland Woodworking 3/8” woodslicer blade mounted the blade as tight as I could and I get no drift at all using my fence. Their web site has a good piece to download on how to setup fl
our bandsaw. You pay a bit more for the blades but it will make all the difference.

-- Measure twice and cut once.....sneak up on it! Steve Lien

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3164 days

#10 posted 10-21-2011 04:25 AM

The guy that does the band saw demos at the Carter’s booth at the woodworking show (maybe you’ve seen the video of him making a reindeer) does not worry about drift. As I recall his recommendations from last year’s show:
0. Make sure your wheels and bearings are clear of sawdust. Blow/brush/wipe off as necessary.
1. Use a good blade.
2. Adjust the tracking so that the bottom of the gullets are dead center in the wheel. I actually have a line down the center of my top tire to make this easier to see.
3. Tension the blade appropriately. Avoid using a completely inappropriate tension is usually good enough.
4. Adjust the bearings appropriately.
5, In his case he slapped down the Carter’s magnetic fence so that it ran sorta kinda parallel to the blade. Not critical at all.
6. Make your cut. Use a slow feed rate. He said that if you go too fast such that the gullets cannot clear the sawdust, the excess sawdust flows to one side of the blade and causes drift.

It is my understanding that David Marks has very different recommendations when resawing veneer. But I’m not in his league. I set up according to the above recommendations and I get pretty good results. It kinda makes sense to me that the band saw ought to be able to track a straight cut so long as the feed direction is not at a severe angle to the “best” feed direction.

Oops, now that I’m reading all the previous posts I see patcollins beat me to this. So +1 on what he said.

I’ve also noticed that sometimes I get better results the second or third time I try something even though I think I’m doing everything exactly as I did the first time. I had some tracking issues after I first set my saw up for resawing. I pulled the blade and then went through the entire process a second time and things worked better.

-- Greg D.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3164 days

#11 posted 10-21-2011 04:29 AM

BTW, my saw is a 14” Rikon. Supposedly it can handle a 3/4” blade. However, when I asked, the Highland Woodworking guy recommended using a 1/2” Woodslicer blade because it would definitely fit the saw and the 3/4” might be pushing things. The extra blade width, he thought, wasn’t likely to offer significant advantage given the type of resawing I was likely to do (12” depth of cut or less). 1/2” should be perfectly adequate for that.

-- Greg D.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3164 days

#12 posted 10-21-2011 04:32 AM

And even though I bought the Carter bearings for my saw, they are still in the box. The Carter advice worked great for me even though I was using the stock bearings.

-- Greg D.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2718 days

#13 posted 10-21-2011 04:41 AM

In my experience blade drift is variable between blades. I get the least with my 1” resaw blades and the most with my 1/8 and 1/4” blades. I don’t use my fence for anything but resawing. Also make sure you have your upper guides dropped as close to the workpiece as possible. I’m of the opinion that drift is in the ‘nature of the beast’ and we just have to learn to deal with it as we don’t seem to be able to eliminate it. If someone else has a surefire cure for drift, please chime in!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3715 days

#14 posted 10-21-2011 05:45 AM

The Carter demo reps’ name is Alex : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2667 days

#15 posted 10-21-2011 06:37 AM

Thank you all for the great amount of info in such a short time. I spent some time with the saw tonight and here’s what I have come up with: If I leave the fence out of the equation and just cut a line by “eye” the results are amazing versus the old blade. It’s when I put the fence into play that I experience the drift. I never expected that at all. I just assumed that when I made the table with the fence and had everything all squared up and adjusted correctly that I could run lumber along the fence through the blade almost as if it were my table saw. I probably don’t have any more than is usual, but again I was not expecting ANY ! So the some was a surprise to me.

The drift is towards the back, so when the fence is used, it will pull the wood away from the fence after the blade. The drift is the same top and bottom, but it want to cut that drifted angle. I have now run many more feet of thick pine (5 1/4” tall) and maple (5 1/2” tall) through it and found that as long as I force it against the fence (both ends) that I can cut it as thin as I please. I also canted the feed end of the fence back about 3/4” versus the after-blade end and it cuts straight on the wood without having to press it into the fence. Now that looks funny, but it works.

BTW, the guides top and bottom are just behind the kerfs and are dollar bill gapped… the roller bearings do not move until you get into the blade with the wood… the top guides are lowered to 1/4” above the cut piece each time… the blade back side of the kerfs is now centered on the wheel (before the blade was centered) and that does not make any difference… I have both increased and decreased the blade tension and found I was good where I was (at the 1/2” setting) and more or less did not affect the drift.

So, I will use this brand new (Vinking / Timberwolf) blade until such time that it no longer cuts well. Then I will try a Woodslicer or other quality blade and see/learn if that makes a difference.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

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