Bandsaws are effective for cutting unusual shapes or resawing lumber into thinner boards. They are also useful for smooth cuts on wood, plastic and metal. The key to excellent performance is choosing the correct bandsaw blade, which is categorized by teeth per inch (TPI), thickness, length, and width. Here's a deeper look at what you should focus on when selecting the right bandsaw blade for your needs.
The material of the stock and the type of cut you want to make are the most important factors in choosing the right bandsaw blade. Thin metals and plastics require a fine-toothed blade, while a coarse blade must be used for resawing thick wood. A typical coarse blade has 2 or 3 TPI, whereas a fine toothed blade has 18-32 TPI.
If you plan to cut curves, consider the blade width and the radius of cuts. Smaller bandsaw blade widths work best for small curves, while larger blade widths are more effective for large curves. Large blade widths are also effective for resawing or cutting straight lines. It's appropriate, for example, to use a 3/4 inch blade width to make a 5.5 inch radius cut, whereas a 1/8 inch blade width is more suitable for producing a 3/16 inch radius cut.
The desired effect of your cut is also important to take into consideration. For smoother cuts, you need a blade with higher TPI, whereas you'll need lower TPI for coarse cutting. For the straightest cuts, it's best to use wide bandsaw blades.
Keep in mind that ideal bandsaw blade sizes vary between machines, but generally, the size of bandsaw wheels determines optimal blade thickness and width. Smaller bandsaws with 12 inch or under wheels require thinner blades. Larger bandsaws are able to accommodate thicker and wider blades.
Bandsaw blades offer four different tooth configurations: regular, skip, hook, and variable. A regular tooth blade uses high TPI for smooth cuts. A skip tooth blade has a zero-degree rake angle with more widely spaced teeth, ideal for resawing. A hook tooth blade also features widely spaced teeth, and it has a ten-degree rake angle, which is useful for cutting harder wood. The variable tooth type of bandsaw blade has inconsistent spacing between teeth, which allows for more teeth than a regular or hook blade.
Whenever you switch bandsaw blades, you must reset the tracking, tension, and blade guides, which can take up to a half hour. After you've installed the blade, ensure that it doesn't vibrate. If it does, you will need to increase the tension.
If you dislike making these adjustments but want to perform a wide range of work, the most universal bandsaw blade is 3/8 inches with 4 TPI. This blade can even be used for resawing, though it's not practical for tight curves.
The user's manual, published by the manufacturer, is a vital resource for determining proper bandsaw blade length. If you have misplaced the manual, contact a the manufacturer and provide the model number of your saw.
Choosing the proper bandsaw blade for your needs will make a big difference in performance and final results. A bandsaw professional will help guide you toward choosing the best blade for a particular project. For more information about your bandsaw blade, contact Echols Saw and Supply at 602-278-3918. We are located in Phoenix, Arizona and can ship to just about anywhere.