34 comments on “Setting up a Bandsaw

  1. Great stuff.

    I have a 14 inch bandsaw but I never use the fence for straight rips as I can never seem to get a parallel cut. There is so much conflicting information on the Internet about the reasons behind this that I just gave up trying to fix it and now I use a pencil line and try my best to cut straight along it.

    Maybe your common sense approach (and the fact that you’re not trying to sell me anything) will help me out.

    • If you follow the general istructions detailed in the video, you really cannot go wrong. Accuracy is really important. When it is stated 90 degrees, it means 90, not 89 or 91. Tension plays a big part to stop wandering.

      The other thing you could look at is the blade its self, is it sharp, has it got a kink in it. only use good quality blades, they last longer, that some of the cheaper blades. for re-sawing wide, long boards, I would recommend using a 1″ or 1¼” blade or the widest blade you saw can safely take.

      I regularly cut 12″ wide 1/16″ veneers on my saw, but I am using a carbide toothed blades, they last me about 5 years, expensive £150.00, but the quality is second to none and they can be resharpened.

        • @TIMMYTIPTOES Paul showed how to adjust where the blade rides on the wheel, front to back. Have you ever explored whether changing this affects whether you get a parallel cut, i.e., removes the drift? First, you’d make sure your fence was square, as shown, and then see if small changes to centering the blade affects your drift. It does on my saw and it only takes a small change in centering. Double check that the thrust bearing (behind the blade) is set properly, as demonstrated and double check that the tension is right. I’ve gotten good resawing with the Woodslicer blade from HIghland Woodworking and even with an inexpensive Starrett blade. You need a large toothed blade so that the sawdust can collect in the tooth and be swept away rather than deflect the blade.

          • @Ed Thanks for the tips. Do you run the centre of the blade on the crown or the edge of the gullets? I guess I can try both and see what happens. I have not got a new blade to hand at the moment but I have a reasonably sharp 1/2 inch one to Tey out some setups.

          • @TIMMYTIPTOES I start with the bottom of the gullet at the center of the tire. My saw will take up to 3/4″ wide blades. For the wide blades, I think I need to start further forward and it looks more like the blade is just centered. 1/2″ should be fine although, for resawing, a key thing is having the largest teeth as possible. Is your 1/2″ blade around 3 teeth? By the way, on my saw, I adjust blade centering on the top wheel, but I get whatever I get on the bottom. I don’t worry about it at all or even look.

    • Spot on Tim,my experience too. The bandsaw that Paul is using looks Brand new & top end, & should be reasonably accurate. Some of us, I suspect most of us have far inferior equipment. Where I appreciate the accent on safety during the demonstration a lot of the time the guards etc. get in the way and are a hazard to the safe operation of the machine. I do understand that Paul has to always err on the safety aspect,but certainly in my case experience & due care & attention prevents most accidents.

    • Just to reinforce what a few others have said, here are a few comments from Paul:

      This is a problem that occurs periodically and should be corrected as you go. My experience with the bandsaw is that the optimum condition is when the blade is as sharp as it can possibly be, which is when they are new. Unfortunately, as soon as you begin to use them they are no longer as sharp as they can be, so you really want a blade that’s designed to have good edge retention to the teeth. In other words you have to buy a decent quality blade. There are many influences on bandsaw blades.

      If you’re cutting pine, pine is especially difficult because of the hard and soft aspects to the growth rings. These growth rings tend to take the blade off track. Hardwoods on the other hand are much easier to cut. I plan to cover this either in video or on my blog in the near future and hopefully this will bring total clarity to this issue.

    • I have a Delta Band saw and had the same problem. until somebody asked me if I had checked the squareness of the miter guide slot to the band saw blade. On a table saw that is second nature to align the table to the blade. So I took a sliding try square and checked that adjustment. just set it into the miter guide slot and touch the blade. I was out about 1.5 mm on my widest blade. (used it for a larger gage ) to adjust it you need to loosen the trunnes on the table (underneath , either 6 or 4 bolts) and square up the table to the blade and tighten them up. Mine were not very tight was my problem. the table can come out of alignment when you try to move the saw and you grab the table to move it. DON’T DO THAT. There is plenty machine to grab to move it. you move the saw using the table and you may as well readjust it. After I made the adjustment the saw if now one of my favorite power tools to use.

  2. Thank you Paul for your clear descriptions of setting and adjusting a bandsaw. I have a 14″ that I bought a few years ago and I use the same process you described for set up when changing blades. I also have been frustrated with the inability to get my vertical spacing of the guide arm to an acceptable location when I am making a narrow cut on thinner stock because of the clearance with the bottom of the guide arm hitting the fence. You have now solved that problem for us and I will be building a jig when I get to my shop today. I always “loved” my bandsaw but even more so now. PS: I am a CSP (Certified Safety Professional) which is why this issue has always bothered me.

    Thanks so much.
    David

  3. Like Tim, above, I have a 14″ bandsaw and had problems cutting a parallel line while resawing denser woods such as oak. Softer woods seemed to work out better. I had made all the adjustments during setup as Paul had mentioned. But I was using a cheaper blade. I decided to pony up for a high quality blade and the problem was solved.

  4. Thanks. Really helpful video.
    A couple of quick questions.
    Could you say something about exactly how you align the blade on the top wheel?
    Some say the bottom of the gullet of the blade should be aligned with the midpoint of the wheel but I have also heard that the midpoint of the whole width of the blade should be aligned with the midpoint of the wheel.
    How do you adjust the side bearings in relation to the front/back position of the blade?

    • Asked Paul and here is his answer: The goal is to have the blade on the centre of both the bottom and top wheel, however, this is much exaggerated because it takes time and practise to get both wheels aligned to that degree. If the blade is centred on the bottom wheel, you can adjust the top wheel by turning the adjustment knob on the back of the top wheel (outside the casing).

      To check alignment, you must spin the top wheel a few revolutions to see if the blade moves forwards/backwards. If for instance the blade moves backwards, tweak the knob slightly and see if the blade is moving backwards or forwards and change direction on the adjustment knob based on the direction you want to go.

      Once you have tensioned the blade between the wheels, slacken the two side bearings by whatever method they have and slide the bearings to the side of the blade, making sure that the blade is in a position where the bearings don’t rub on the teeth. The bearings are against the side of the blade, move them away from the blade by a paper thickness and lock the bearing in place. The bearings are not intended to press against the side of the blade, they’re just there for when you make cuts to stop the blade from deviation.

  5. Paul, the one thing you skipped over is how to know the proper tension of the blade. You mentioned the 1/4 ” offset but that obviously depends on how much blade is exposed etc. How do you determine what the proper tension should be without having the years of experience that you do.

  6. Hi Paul really enjoyed this post. The bandsaw is my favorite machine. It has to be one of the safest machine out there, especially as there is no kick back as the wood is supported on the bed with the downward thrust of the blade , as with all machines common sense and and safety is important.
    In saying that when I was an apprentice filmmaker old school we had a bandsaw. which nicknamed the death machine, it was certainly not set up correctly every body used to try. When you started it up it use to scream I hate you. Bit disconcerting when you are 15 yrs old. Larry.

  7. With all due respect Paul, I believe the order of the adjustments you showed is incorrect. The blade guides need to be backed off so they are not touching the blade before you test and adjust the tracking of the blade on the wheels. Otherwise, the guides can affect the tracking if they are not set right for that blade. You noted that one of the rear thrust bearings was incorrectly touching the blade when you were adjusting the tracking (the bearing turned when you turned the wheel). This was probably because the new blade was wider than the old. It could well have caused the blade to not track correctly on the lower wheel since the blade was being pushed by the thrust bearing. As a result adjustments made to track the blade may have been incorrect for when the thrust bearing was finally adjusted so it no longer touched the blade.. I would appreciate your comments.

    • I would agree with this. I learned that any time a blade is changed the very next operation after removal of the first blade is to back off all the bearings so that no interference with setting up the tracking and tension on new blade is possible. Once the tracking and tension is set then the guide bearings should all be adjusted to just not touch the blade as Paul does. Now, does it matter which order you proceed with on the bearings? I have heard to first adjust the upper and lower thrust then the sides. Others just do the top then the bottom. Not sure it really matters much. But it has been 30 years since I touched a bandsaw. I am currently in the market for one.

  8. I bought a new Rikon 14″ bandsaw last year so I could start resawing my own stock, I watched tons of vidieos & read alot about the subject, I tried almost every type & brand of blades for resawing I couldn’t cut a straigh1/8″ veneer until I bought the resaw king carbide blade by laguna, it is Amazing blade, But you also must be shure that the back of the blade is 90° to the table, it took me quite a while to really fine tune my setup, do not overlook anything.

  9. Beautifully done video, as usual, Paul! You covered the topic superbly.

    When I began watching the first video, I was wondering about the fence height. It obviously is great for resawing wide stock but a problem for most stock sizes. I was delighted that you covered that issue so well, even showing that a little personal initiative and ingenuity are sometimes needed. I was surprised to observe that the fence in its upright position showed an obvious gap between its bottom and the table top. Although no one should be cutting thin stock with the tall fence, if they did so it seemed to me that there might be a problem of stock catching under the fence. If one had to adjust that gap out, how would you recommend doing so?

    Thank your an excellent video!

  10. When moving the thrust bearing back this way would this not lead to a reduction of tension and hence a need to redo the tension adjustment?

    Also I would be grateful to hear Paul’s recommendation regarding adjustments to the the fence angle to compensate for any blade drift that may or may or may not be present be present.

  11. I wish we could see what Paul is seeing, especially on the bearing adjustments. Phil, I don’t suppose you’d be able to talk Paul into some kind of Go-Pro or small glasses cam for the true first person experience? I expect, aside from being awkward, that it would be hard to match the video quality that you strive for. Still, it could be very helpful for a windowed shot.
    Thanks for all your excellent work.

  12. I was taught that the side bearings should rest behind the gullets as the bearings will wear down any set in the teeth.

    I’m curious as to why Paul rests the bearings directly on the gullets.

  13. Paul, I haven’t read all the previous comments so I hope I am not repeating others.
    When changing blades with ones of differing widths it has been my experience that the first step after removing the previously installed blade is to back both upper and lower guide bearings away from where they would be in contact with a blade. The reason for this is the guide bearings should not be involved with the blade tracking. The purpose of the guide bearings is not to guide the blade but only to support it during cutting. After the new blade is installed, and tensioned somewhat, adjust the upper wheel as necessary for the blade to track in the center of both wheels while rotating it by hand. Now adjust blade tension to recommended tension for the blade width, turn saw on briefly to insure proper tracking and make any small adjustments required. Before repositioning the guide bearings I make sure the blade is running perpendicular to the table. Adjust table if necessary. Now the guide bearings can be adjusted to support the blade. The blade should not be spinning the back support bearings unless cutting. The inside bearings, once positioned to support the blade, will not need to be repositioned for blades of different thickness. The outside bearings will need to be adjusted for blades of varying thickness.

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