Bandsaw guides - alternative techniques to cool blocks and roller bearings

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Forum topic by camps764 posted 08-18-2013 01:35 PM 3505 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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867 posts in 2388 days

08-18-2013 01:35 PM

I’m not sure if this is the right part of the forum or not, so please feel free to correct me :)

Thanks to another member’s post about adding a riser block kit to their harbor freight bandsaw, I decided to purchase the kit and add some more re-saw capacity to my old 14” bandsaw. At $29.00 I’m pretty excited for the kit to arrive.

In anticipation, I’ve started thinking about other additions I need to make to the saw.

Outside of ordering a wood slicer, I decided that I needed to update my old guide blocks. Before ordering a set of cool blocks or roller bearings, I wanted to see if there were other alternatives out on the net.

I came across this thread at Sawmill Creek: Thread

You can check it out, but what it amounts to is creating blocks out of end grain of hard woods like Oak or Lignum Vitae, maybe Ebony, and saturating them in heated mineral oil.

Anyone ever tried anything like this?

As always, perspectives and experiences are appreciated :)

-- Steve

12 replies so far

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10546 posts in 3457 days

#1 posted 08-18-2013 01:52 PM

I’ve long used oak, soaked for a couple days in used motor oil. I’d guess that nearly any hard hardwood would suffice. Oak soaks up the oil pretty well, though.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2475 days

#2 posted 08-18-2013 01:58 PM

I have used oak as my guide blocks using the soaking method,it does work for a while but after a few times of loosening and tightening the set screws,the blocks developed indentations which guided the screws to the them which meant I couldn’t push them any closer to the blade if I needed to.

It is wiser to cut a few sets of these blocks and keep them handy .
I ended up buying a set of cool blocks,it’s been a while in use and so far so good.

I must add,if your original metal blocks are in good shape ,there’s no reason to change them or upgrade to cool blocks.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2388 days

#3 posted 08-18-2013 02:03 PM

Thanks for the perspectives guys!

Distrbd – That’s really interesting to hear about the indentations – thought this might be the case. Unfortunately my old metal blocks aren’t in very good shape. I think I’m going to try and get them flat/90 again, but think the oak blocks would be a cool alternative. Sounds like it might be a good idea to make a big batch of them and keep them on hand.

-- Steve

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10546 posts in 3457 days

#4 posted 08-18-2013 02:22 PM

I’ve had the indentation problem as well. My holding castings are square so I can just flip it 1/4 turn or turn it end for end. But heck, I cut and soaked a bunch…probably enough to last a lifetime…. It’s easy to just pop in a new one.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View fredj's profile


186 posts in 1846 days

#5 posted 08-18-2013 03:23 PM

Hard maple should work very well. After you have cut them to size “cook” them in light machine oil, like a 20 weight. I used to make chain guides for industrial machines. After being machined on a CNC router the hard maple “wear strips” were totally submerged in 20 weight oil. The oil was then heated to 198 F, then allowed to cool back down overnight. Taking them out while still warm would cause them to bleed oil back out and pull air back in. What is being done is replacing the air in the wood with oil. Or you could buy some UHMW and make them out of it.

-- Fredj

View Sanding2day's profile


1013 posts in 1875 days

#6 posted 08-18-2013 03:31 PM

Well good fun… Thanks for sharing the info, have the blocks set up well for now, but have succeded in cutting one of them pretty decent sparks should not happen Got it :P Will likely give this a try when the time comes to replace them…

-- Dan

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10546 posts in 3457 days

#7 posted 08-18-2013 03:49 PM

The first set I made, I heated in the shop microwave then dropped them in the oil. The subsequent bunch just got an overnight soak.
There was probably a difference but not one I could notice.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View MrRon's profile


4797 posts in 3272 days

#8 posted 08-18-2013 04:40 PM

I use rollers on the upper guides and cool blocks on the lower guides. The reason for using two types of guides is: if you cut a sliver off the wood and it falls down through the table slot, it can get jambed between the blade and a roller, but not with a solid block. This has happened to me and the result was a damaged lower guide bracket.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3676 days

#9 posted 08-18-2013 04:43 PM

Wood blocks can work pretty well. The main issue is the
thumbscrews or grub screws on the guide castings have
a tendency to put a dent in the side of the block
which makes them hard to adjust finely after the dent
is established. I’ve stuck a piece of metal in between
the wood block and the screw. Inlaying a wear
strip would be better.

Check out the inside of the guide block castings and
if needed go over them with a file to make them
as accurate as possible so the wood block travels
laterally and won’t be pulled down by the blade
motion due to excess vertical play in the relationship
between the size of the block and the size of the

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2212 days

#10 posted 08-18-2013 05:08 PM

It seems to me oil-impregnated bronze bars/rods would be a better option, and they’re not expensive. Better wear, no problems with indenting the guide, and self-lubricating.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


4770 posts in 2379 days

#11 posted 08-18-2013 06:19 PM

All these ideas are great and work no doubt, but cool blocks are cheap, about $15. They last a really long time, I bought mine 30 years ago and still going strong. It is just not worth my time to make my own.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View mchuray's profile


81 posts in 3026 days

#12 posted 08-18-2013 09:18 PM

Ditto on Cool Blocks. I made a set of maple & mineral oil blocks while waiting for them to arrive when I got my saw, but I really don’t see the need to spend my time to build a another set of maple ones when Cool Blocks are not that expense. You can even get knock-offs on Ebay cheaper.

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