As with all shop tools there are procedures that if followed will extend the life of both your band saw and the cutting blade. Proper tension, feed pressure, regular cleaning, and lubrication are all required to get the most from this tool.
There are certain precautions to be taken in order to protect the blades from premature wearing. For example, when the blades are new, they are too sharp, and any rigorous action on it will cause damage to its teeth. In order to avoid premature wear, manufacturers suggest a break-in action for new saw blades. This can be done by reducing the speed of sawing in the initial period, often to half of the normal speed. Reducing the feed quantity in the beginning, say for the first 50 square inches of the material, will also help to wear off the extra sharpness of the blade and will make it more durable.
Even if you don’t know what the normal feed pressure for the material should be, to be safe, start with a light feed, and slowly increase the feed pressure until proper curly chips (in metal) or chip sizes (for wood) are formed. Be aware that there are certain alloys such as ones that are nickel-based which are sawed under lower speeds and so need more break-in pressure.
Lubrication is a must for band saw blades cutting metal. Never use water as a lubricant or a cleaning agent as it will cause rusting and block the smooth functioning of the blades. A suitable lubricant will be a mix of one measure of High Adhesion Chain Saw Bar oil with half measure of kerosene or diesel. Apply the mix on both sides of the blade.
De-tension of the blade is necessary once the sawing is completed and the blades are put to rest. Due to the heat produced during the cutting process, the blade stretches a little, and upon cooling they shrink. Therefore, if the blade is left on the saw with tension, the shrinking will have a negative effect on the blades, sometimes causing a crack in them. Also, this unnecessary tension will de-shape the head of the saw and put pressure on the shafts and the bearings.
The gullet is an important part of the band saw, and while sharpening the saw blade (normally this is done with the help of a stone) you need to take care of the gullet by allowing the stone to move around the bottom of the gullet along with the front and back side of the blades teeth.
Always try to maintain a ratio of no more than 65-70% saw dust and 30-35% of air in the space between the saw blade and the material you are sawing. If you do not maintain this level, you will be blocking the air which otherwise will push the dust out, and the result will be the extra heat generated which will make the saw dust warm and ruin the life of the band saw.
Last but not the least, regular cleaning should be done in order to maintain your band saw in proper condition. The excessive deposit of the waste materials will reduce the lifespan of the saw.
It is also recommended that you choose a high quality blade. Low quality band saw blades are made with inferior tool steel that will dull quickly, as well as have a much higher risk of the blades breaking due a poor weld.
Dwayne Goerges –
About the Author:
Bee’s Rockery and Landscaping Products in Northern California