Bandsaw Not Tracking Correctly

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Forum topic by Joel J posted 01-04-2015 04:32 PM 1167 views 2 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Joel J

45 posts in 1902 days

01-04-2015 04:32 PM

I recently changed out my Jet 14” bandsaw with bearing guides. I set up the bearings with the clearance of a piece of paper between the bearing and the blade per the instructions. Now the saw “drifts” to the left. In cross cutting a 6” wide board with my mitre gauge, the blade “drifts” a 1/4-3/8” to the left. Before I start randomly making adjustments to the bearings, does anyone have any input on what is going on and how to fix the problem? If it matters, I do have the riser blocks installed on the saw as well. Thanks.

-- Joel, Denver, CO

12 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile


2860 posts in 2135 days

#1 posted 01-04-2015 04:38 PM

Try a different blade first. Blade drift usually is caused by the blade. Dull, set different on one side from the other.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Picklehead's profile


1041 posts in 1892 days

#2 posted 01-04-2015 05:36 PM

Also make sure that the deepest part of the gullets between the teeth is in the center of the top wheel (ala Snodgrass), as opposed to the whole blade being centered. This supposedly supports the teeth better and prevents drift (unless, as Bruce said, your blade is dull on one side).

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

View Kelly's profile


1994 posts in 2907 days

#3 posted 01-04-2015 06:05 PM

Anytime my saw drifts, it, usually, comes back to my set up. As such, all the tips given above can change your results instantly.

Include in the mix of solutions given above, adding more tension. Blades stretch and quality between blades can be vastly different. One 1/2” blade might give good performance with the tentioner set to 1/5”, another might need 3/4” and so on.

Finally, there is the matter of speed of feed. Push even a properly set up, good blade too hard and it’s going to look for the path of least resistance. That is, it want’s to follow the grain. So, you may have to slow down and give it a little more chance to cut.

I used to worry about having an adjustable fence, to compensate for wander. Now, I focus on set up and feed for good results from my stock fence.

View JAAune's profile


1786 posts in 2279 days

#4 posted 01-04-2015 07:43 PM

It’s improper tracking or a bad blade. Try centering the blade on the upper wheel before doing anything else. Perfection isn’t necessary here and close will do the trick.

Also, your blade guides are too far from the blade if you used regular paper to set the gap. You want minimal gap which would be around .001” between the guides and the blade. Just enough gap so the blade passes through without binding but not enough for the gap to be visible.

If the blade has a bad weld, you won’t be able to keep the guides in as close as they should be.

-- See my work at and

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2647 posts in 2885 days

#5 posted 01-04-2015 08:42 PM

need a sharp blade. Dull blades drift.

-- Website is

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4901 posts in 3923 days

#6 posted 01-04-2015 09:13 PM

Most often, the original blade that comes with any BS is basically “crap”. Don’t know why the mfgrs. keep doing such, but a better quality blade used before initial setup will make your life much easier.
Just my observations.


View Joel J's profile

Joel J

45 posts in 1902 days

#7 posted 01-05-2015 08:19 PM

Thanks everyone for your input. I will let you know what I discovered the problem was once I get out to the garage and try out all the ideas. Just hoping it warms up a little this week so I can still feel my fingers when I’m done!

-- Joel, Denver, CO

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2249 days

#8 posted 01-06-2015 09:11 AM

Every time I see someone say “center the blade on” whatever wheel… usually top… it kinda ticks me off. Don’t do that. You’ll only aggravate yourself. It should be running close to centered, but don’t bother centering it. Is it close? Good, let’s move on…

First make sure you have proper tension on the blade and the guides are set properly.

Now get the fence out of the way if you have one on there. Take a nice straight board like a 1×4 or 1×6, about 18 inches long. Don’t measure the darn thing! It’s just gonna get all sliced up anyways. Decent, straight board. Got it?
Now mark a straight line parallel to one edge. Maybe a half inch from the edge. Don’t measure the darn thing. Just make it straight and parallel to one edge.

Turn on the saw and start cutting that line. NO FENCE!!! You’re setting up the saw, not the fence. So get the fence out of the way. As you cut the line, do you find you need to move the end of the board closest to you to the left to stay on the line?
If yes, your blade is too far forward on the wheels. Adjust it back.
If you have to move the end of the board to the right to stay on the line then your blade is too far back. Adjust it forward.
Mark another line and try again if you need to, but the point is that once you can cut that line and not have to fishtail the end of that board left or right, your tracking is on.

OK, now look where the blade is on the top wheel. Is it centered? My guess is… probably not. Know what? Who cares? You’re tracking straight and THAT’s what the adjustment is for. To be tracking straight. NOT to be centered on the wheel. Now, in truth, that blade should be on the rubber and not touching the metal rim of the wheel. If you have to adjust it so the blade is hanging off the wheel to get it tracking straight, then you have a problem and need to start checking if the top and bottom wheel are co-planer, if bearings are kinda shot, or whatever. But overall…. it’s a TRACKING adjustment. Not a CENTERED ON THE WHEEL adjustment.

So if someone says, “Center the blade on the top wheel to start off”.... that’s ok. It’s a starting point.
If they say, “Get the blade centered on the top wheel”, then they’re missing the point of a tracking adjustment and I’ll bet they’ve figured out a fancy way to have an adjustable angled face on their fence to account for “drift”. A properly tracking bandsaw DOES NOT HAVE DRIFT.


View Joel J's profile

Joel J

45 posts in 1902 days

#9 posted 01-06-2015 03:31 PM

Great post…..can’t wait to try out your method and let everyone know!

-- Joel, Denver, CO

View JAAune's profile


1786 posts in 2279 days

#10 posted 01-07-2015 02:34 AM

If the blade isn’t tracking properly when it’s centered, then the table is rotated out of position. Loosen the bolts holding the table and straighten it out. It’s much easier to get to the root of the problem than to compensate for it later.

Once all the settings are correct, changing blades is very quick and adjustments are seldom needed.

-- See my work at and

View gwilki's profile


195 posts in 1436 days

#11 posted 01-07-2015 03:01 AM

I strongly recommend that you watch the Cary Snodgrass video on youtube. If you search on Snodgrass, you will find one entitled bandsaw clinic.

-- Grant Wilkinson, Ottawa ON

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2647 posts in 2885 days

#12 posted 01-07-2015 01:44 PM

I strongly recommend that you watch the Cary Snodgrass video on youtube. If you search on Snodgrass, you will find one entitled bandsaw clinic.

- gwilki

Excellent advice! It is the blade! My saw does not drift at all. I use a fence all the time when re-sawing..

-- Website is

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