Do roller guides for band saws make a big difference?

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Forum topic by Alan72 posted 08-08-2013 03:38 AM 2341 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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210 posts in 2032 days

08-08-2013 03:38 AM

I was throwing around the idea of getting roller guides for my Jet 14” band saw. Do roller guides make a big difference on how well the saw runs and cuts? I just want to make sure it’s worth spending the money for the guides or should I just stay with my cool blocks. I look forward to reading your responses, thanks Alan

8 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile


6714 posts in 2198 days

#1 posted 08-08-2013 03:49 AM

Check out this review by Jim Mattson over at The Woodworkers Gazette:

His conclusion was basically:

”most woodworkers with durable, tool steel blade guides needn’t lose any sleep over having any of these bearing replacements. If there are any advantages to the bearings, I couldn’t see them unless the bearings are quieter. I really didn’t notice.”


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View knothead's profile


163 posts in 3947 days

#2 posted 08-08-2013 04:11 AM


YES! Read On

I also have the Jet 14” bandsaw and immediately added the “COOL BLOCKS” and the 6” riser block to it the day I bought it, I have tried and tried to tune it and tweak it and had only moderate success, I have used it to resaw many linear feet of lumber and veneers and even though it worked OK I always thought the saw was capable of better and since I didn’t seem able to get it to work as well as it should I started to question it’s quality and suitability for my shop, to that end I had started to research bandsaws with an eye on replacing the Jet with a larger more expensive saw. The saws I was finding were much more expensive and that slowed me down on the quest to find a replacement.

After a lot of thought and vacillating I chose instead to pull the trigger for the Carter Micro Adjust roller guide system at just a shade over $200.00 rather than invest $1,500 – $2,800in a new saw. I received the roller guides quickly and installed them easily. When I re-assembled the saw and tweaked it in again the difference was like night and day! The saw runs quieter, more true, and even though it always did an adequate job of resawing I am now able to resaw veneers as thin as 1/16” smooth and straight with no trouble at all.

This upgrade, for me has been one of those ”MAN! Why didn’t I do that before now?” kind of things. I think ALL bandsaws should come equipped with these guides when you purchase the saw. The research I had been doing on a larger saw was starting to come down to a much more expensive saw that came with this system installed from the factory. I spent $200.00 and saved $2,000. My 14” Jet bandsaw will now serve me for many more years to come. After this upgrade I also added the Carter Tensioning system as well and couldn’t be happier.

Just my opinion but I think you will be happy if you decide to make the upgrade, I know I am!

-- So Much Wood - So Little Time! --

View Loren's profile


10396 posts in 3647 days

#3 posted 08-08-2013 04:41 AM

They are more forgiving in some ways. If guide blocks are
set very tight at one height, usually if the height setting
is changed, the blocks will need readjustment as well since
the upper guide column seldom travels in “perfect” linear
alignment with the blade under tension. Thus the
temptation is to set the guides a bit wider to allow
for more flexibility in changing the height. These looser
settings also allow more side to side wavering of the

View MrRon's profile


4769 posts in 3242 days

#4 posted 08-08-2013 08:14 PM

I use ball bearing guides on the top guide only and cool blocks on the lower guides. The reason is: if you cut off small slivers of wood, the small slivers get wedged between the roller and the blade in the lower guide. Cool blocks prevent this.

View JAAune's profile


1799 posts in 2316 days

#5 posted 08-09-2013 03:30 AM

A cheap bandsaw with ordinary square blocks can easily be tuned to the point where it can resaw 1/32” thick veneers 6” wide. The people I personally know that have used roller guides (myself included) never liked them and favor the old-fashioned guide blocks. Those roller bearings are constantly failing, squealing and don’t seem to like the sawdust heavy environment.

I’d say save the money on the roller guide upgrade, learn how to tune up and adjust the saw then spend the money on good blades instead. Make sure the weld joints on those blades are good. I’d hazard a guess that more people have issues with their blades than their guides.

I set my guide blocks tight to about .001” clearance. That’s how tight they need to be to do their job properly.

In the not too distant future, I even plan to replace my cool blocks with some brass or even steel to eliminate the constant need to redress the blocks flat. Cool blocks are a little too soft for my liking. They’re good to have if you’ve got bad welds on the blades and need to reduce friction but bad blades should be replaced anyway.

-- See my work at and

View Tom Coster's profile

Tom Coster

120 posts in 2837 days

#6 posted 08-09-2013 04:20 AM

Thanks for posting this topic. I too have wondered about bearing guides. I agree with the necessity of keeping the saw in adjustment. My time in the shop is short. Would bearings cut down on the constant adjustment? Cool blocks do need to be trued pretty often.

-- Tom, MI, SC

View Loren's profile


10396 posts in 3647 days

#7 posted 08-09-2013 04:37 AM

The upper bearing functions as a fulcrum, an additional
wheel, if needed. This way they forgive the inconsistencies
in upper guide bar travel. Metal blocks don’t and the
friction when they are asked to function as a
fulcrum makes noise and heats the blade. Cool
blocks almost melt away under this pressure, which
makes them useful in a way, and quiet.

You might want to try the ceramic blocks. They
are cheap, hard wearing and I think they are supposed
to run cooler than metal blocks. A lot of the old
pros used blocks made of hard maple, ebony, or
whatever was hard and dense on hand.

View ArtistryinWood's profile


107 posts in 3686 days

#8 posted 08-09-2013 04:48 AM

You could also try these. Not used them myself but some love them.

-- It seem's to me i could live my life, a lot better than i think i am. Andrew, Midland, Ont.

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