Help me pick new bandsaw guides!

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by Ripthorn posted 02-26-2012 10:51 PM 2846 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ripthorn's profile


1458 posts in 2984 days

02-26-2012 10:51 PM

My wife surprised me by giving me permission to spend a little bit of tax return money on getting my bandsaw in proper shape. It really needs it: the thing is about 30 years old, most of which it was not cared for as well as possibly needed. The tension spring is toast, I think (original spring, kept with tension on it a lot of the time) and there are a few other things it needs. The only one I’m not fully decided on is the guide situation.

The problem with the guides is this: right now I just have plastic guide blocks, but they get constantly shredded even though I put the thrust bearing barely back from the blade and keep the guide blacks just behind the tooth set and almost touching side to side. Whenever I make a curved cut, the teeth end up tearing into the guide blocks, which in turn makes them much less effective. I attribute some of this to the old spring, as I don’t feel I get the necessary tension on the blade (is this a correct assumption?).

Now for the real question. I am contemplating cool blocks to replace the plastic guide blocks, but I am also heavily contemplating the Carter stabilizer. I mainly build guitars, so lots of curved cutting. I typically use a 1/4” blade (max size for the Carter). I would keep my thrust bearings and guide block setups on hand in case I needed them, but I am not sure which would work better. I have heard nothing but good things to say about both guide setups, but I am nervous about getting the cool blocks and shredding them to pieces. Alternatively, if I can save $50, I would obviously like to do that. So what are your opinions? Anyone use both of them and have any feedback? Thanks.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

12 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4930 posts in 3960 days

#1 posted 02-26-2012 11:05 PM

I’ve had Cool Block on my saw for years with good results.


View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2311 days

#2 posted 02-26-2012 11:16 PM

Try the cool blocks first.

There is a thrid method, someone sells a little bearing kit that kits right into the space your factory blocks would sit in. I have those installed, I would not buy them again, I can not recommend them. They are an improvement over factory blocks.

I’ve heard much good about the Carter setup. big bucks tho, ain’t it!

-- Dan V. in Indy

View Popsnsons's profile


387 posts in 2981 days

#3 posted 02-26-2012 11:28 PM

I use block guides for straight cuts or long radius curve cuts. If you ever have a need to make a small radius curve cut there is no comparison to the Carter Stabilizer. It was $80 when I got mine and have never regretted it once. They’re easy enough to switch from one to the other. I thought about the Carter bearing guides to replace the block guides but that will have to be in the future. $$. Nothing but good reviews on the Carter Products though.

-- Pops ~ In So Cal...

View AlaskaGuy's profile


4136 posts in 2308 days

#4 posted 02-27-2012 01:03 AM

What kind of band saw??

I have a carter stabilizer for my old 16’’ walker turner band saw. Works great cutting curves with small blades.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2447 days

#5 posted 02-27-2012 01:17 AM

I run bronze blocks, work great. Heck, I think they may even be original to my bandsaw, which is a Walker-Turner from the late 30’s.

As for “wearing the blade”, I really doubt it. They only ride on the back of the blade where it’s flat, and bronze has been used for bushings in a number of applications for hundreds of years, mainly because it’s a sort of self-lubricating metal that wears very well.
Anyway, consider this: Laguna runs ceramic guides on it’s saws, and nobody complains of blade wear from them that I’ve heard. And ceramic is a LOT harder than bronze.

I do have a set I made from Lignum-Vitae that I use when I run my 1/8” blade, and those things are just awesome! They’ve barely even worn at all, and I’ve used them a fair amount too. Since Lignum-Vitae is self-lubricating, it doesn’t seem to add a lot of friction.

If you have the money for a good stabilizer for thin blades, I’d do that. But as for all the fancy blocks and bearings on wider blades, they’re just not needed. The plastic should go, I’ll agree there. But I’d stuff bronze back in their place if it were me. It’s what was used before everything was “cheapened” and manufacturers went to plastic crap.

-- Kenny

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2447 days

#6 posted 02-27-2012 01:23 AM

Also, replace the spring. Set the thrust bearing so it will touch the blade before the teeth hit the blocks. It’s a bearing, the blade rubbing on it isn’t going to hurt it, that’s why it’s there.

Running bronze like I do, if my blade’s teeth hit the guides I’d surely know it. But I’ve never had any issues. I run the bearing about .005” back from the blade (set with a feeler gauge), and the guides about .003 off each side of the blade, sometimes tighter. As long as the blade isn’t binding anywhere when you turn it, tight to the blade is better in my eyes. And my saw has done a lot of cutting, and it’s not had any issues yet.

-- Kenny

View JAAune's profile


1799 posts in 2316 days

#7 posted 02-27-2012 01:42 AM

Bronze should work well though I’ve not used it personally. I know someone that uses steel blocks with good results and steel isn’t as good a bearing surface as bronze. Cool blocks work well. They are a little on the soft side in my opinion but that only means they need a little touch up on a sander occasionally. Ceramic blocks would likely be much more durable but I haven’t used them or known anyone who has. I think I’d probably run steel blocks if they came with my saw but cool blocks were supplied instead.

I personally don’t care for having blade stabilizers with roller bearings. All of the ones I’ve had experience with seize up over time and need to be replaced or lubricated on a regular basis to eliminate squealing. I’ve not used the Carter setup, just the ones Powermatic has been putting on their saws over the years. With the right tuning, ordinary guide blocks have always given me flawless results without the maintenance and noise issues.

Guide blocks on my saw are set as close as I can get them without actually gripping the blade. A good blade without any funny weld defects is a necessity too.

-- See my work at and

View Ripthorn's profile


1458 posts in 2984 days

#8 posted 02-27-2012 02:36 AM

The bandsaw is an old taiwan import (same as the Grizzly 1019, but made in 1983). I must admit that, though I have used bandsaws for years, this is the first one that I have owned and had to maintain myself, so there are some things regarding the tuning and such that I need to learn. I’ve never seen bronze guides before. My only real concern regarding the cool blocks is if my blade’s teeth contact it, will it get all mangled? I also need to replace my upper thrust bearing if I don’t go the stabilizer route.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View JAAune's profile


1799 posts in 2316 days

#9 posted 02-27-2012 05:36 AM

Replacing the thrust bearing is a cheap enough fix.

Cool blocks won’t mangle the teeth. They are quite soft. However, on a properly tuned bandsaw the teeth should never, ever come into contact with the teeth of the blade.

This article by Michael Fortune should get you up to speed on bandsaw tuning. I don’t know if you’re signed up on Fine Woodworking but you can use the free trial option if you want to see that article.

-- See my work at and

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2803 days

#10 posted 02-27-2012 08:44 PM

I’ve got bearings on my Powermatic. A good buddy o mine has cool blocks on his Delta. We are both happy. Scott Philips likes cool blocks, Jo Smo likes bearings. I think either one you get will be better than what you have. If you really like the saw, get what you think is best…......... how’s that for a political answer…..... I even confused myself. sorry, but, good luck with your decision

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View waho6o9's profile


8191 posts in 2576 days

#11 posted 02-27-2012 09:40 PM

View Loren's profile (online now)


10396 posts in 3647 days

#12 posted 02-27-2012 09:48 PM

One advantage of cool blocks is the block gives and the teeth
don’t get wrecked. The block can be refaced. The cool blocks
do wear quicker than hardwood blocks and much faster than
metal blocks.

In practice, your blade teeth should not be tearing into the
guide blocks at all. Your rear thrust bearings should be set so
the teeth are prevented from contacting the side blocks at
all. Only the body of the blade should be allowed to run
against the guide blocks.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics