Thursday, June 3, 2010

#19 - Setting your bandsaw blade to track properly.

Let’s talk a little more about the bandsaw this week.

Bandsaws can do things that table saws can only dream of, which makes them pretty much a necessity in a shop; however, they need to be set up properly and to do that one needs to keep a few things in mind.

Just to start with a proper definition, bandsaw “wheels” are the spoked or solid items/wheels that are mounted on the axles. Bandsaw “tires” are the rubber, or urethane, coatings on the rim of the wheels, that the blade actually rides on. Typically, the tires can be removed from the wheels.

Most good bandsaws use a wheel/tire combination that is ‘crowned’. In other words, where the blade rides, the surface has a distinct ‘hump’ in it. This hump/crown allows the blade to be tracked (def: - centered on the tire) with much more precision than if the tire/wheel were simply flat. On the Delta 14” bandsaws that I am most familiar with, the wheel itself had the crown machined into it and the rubber tire was just flat rubber. When the tire was installed, it conformed to the crown of the wheel.

There are some ‘bandsaw guys’ that say the crown gives the operator the ability to adjust the blade to compensate for blade drift (our last week’s discussion), but in over 25 years, I never saw that as a workable option.
Setting up the blade tracking is not really a difficult thing, but like most adjustable items, one can wind up chasing their tail if they aren’t careful.

Tracking the blade first requires that you center the blade on the bottom tire and the top tire. Once you have the blade centered, blade tension should be applied. I like to start out with only ½ to ¾ of full tension, until the tracking gets fully set. Ok, the blade is on, the tension is set at ½ and the blade is centered on the tires. At this point, roll the wheels and see if the blade stays centered on the tires. If it does, go ahead and apply full tension and roll the wheels again. If the blade stays on and centered, you are probably good to go.

If your initial testing shows the blade trying to creep towards the edge of the wheel, you will need to use the saw’s tracking adjustment to coax the blade back towards the center of the tire. When the blade stays close to the center of the tires, the saw should do its job just fine.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.
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