9 common reasons your bandsaw is inefficient: saw blade failures
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9 common reasons your bandsaw is inefficient: saw blade failures

The most common causes of reduced saw blade life, inaccurate cuts, or blade breakage are most frequently down to:

  • Wrong descent speed
  • Wrong cut speed
  • Worn or dull blade
  • Blade tension too high or low
  • Wrong TPI (teeth per inch)
  • Guide arm too far away
  • Poorly mounted blade
  • Poor maintenance – blade guides or flywheels clogged
  • Cutting without coolant

By far and away, however, most issues that arise from bandsaws come from ‘speed and feed’ rates.

Speed and feed rate.

What you’re looking for, is the short and curlies! Short, consistent, and uniformly curly chips.

Not too short, however, as this can be a sign of too slow a descent (or too fast a blade speed) that will rub and not cut and wear your teeth prematurely. This can be characterised by very short or thin chips.

On the other hand, you don’t want chips too long though, either! This can be a sign of too fast a descent (or too slow a blade speed) and can clog up your blade gullets. This will also cause the blade to rub and not cut. Going too fast can often be categorised by fat, long, or blued chips.

What you are looking for is the goldilocks zone! Perfect chips are tightly curled silver chips. This will maximise saw blade life and give the most efficient cut time. Experience is your best friend here!

What should the chips look like in the hand?

Bandsaw Blade

This blade gullet is transporting the perfect amount of material away at one time. It is creating a tightly curled, uniform chip.

Bandsaw Blade

This blade gullet is carrying far too much material away at one time, creating a long chip filling the gullet. This gullet is likely to clog and then proceed to rub rather than cut. It’s possible that the descent speed is too fast, or that the cutting speed is too slow.

Bandsaw Blade

This blade gullet is not carrying as much material away as it could be! This can prematurely wear your blades teeth and can result in rubbing rather than the blade biting and cutting effectively. It’s probable that the descent is too slow, or the blade speed is too fast.

Despite your best efforts, sometimes things go wrong! Below you may find a more comprehensive troubleshooting list of potential reasons why your bandsaw may be experiencing other issues mentioned above.

TOOTH BREAKING

POTENTIAL CAUSESPROBABLE SOLUTION

Advancing too fastDecrease your advancing speed
Wrong cutting speedChange the speed and or type of blade
Wrong tooth pitchChange the speed and or type of blade
Defects/inconsistencies in the materialMaterial surfaces that are oxidised or include casting sand, welding waste, etc, can be harder than expected. Use care if cutting material of this type.

Chips sticking to teeth or gumming gullet
Check for effective coolant flow
Movement of the part in the viceCheck vice clamping pressure
Blade stuck in materialReduce feed rate and exert less cutting pressure
Poor quality bladeUse a better quality blade
Previously broken tooth in cutRemove debris from the cut
Insufficient lubricationCheck for effective coolant flow/Coolant level
Blade orientated backwardsTurn blade to correct orientation

PREMATURE BLADE WEAR

POTENTIAL CAUSESPROBABLE SOLUTION

Blade orientated backwardsTurn blade to correct orientation
 Poor quality bladeUse a better quality blade
 Wrong cutting speedChange the speed and or type of blade
 Defects/inconsistencies in the materialMaterial surfaces that are oxidised or include casting sand, welding waste, etc, can be harder than expected. Use care if cutting material of this type.
 Insufficient lubricationCheck for effective coolant flow/Coolant level

BLADE BREAKING

POTENTIAL CAUSESPROBABLE SOLUTION

Faulty blade weldThe weld of the blade is what keeps it together, check the blade is welded correctly, or source better quality blades
 Advancing too fastDecrease your advancing speed
 Wrong cutting speedChange the speed and or type of blade
 Wrong tooth pitchChange the speed and or type of blade
 Movement of the part in the viceCheck vice clamping pressure
 Downward pressure on bladeNever put the weight of the bow on the material if the blade is not running
 Blade tensionUse the blade tension gauge to tension the blade within the green area
 Blade guide pads dirty or not maintainedCheck distance and condition between blade guide pads
 Blade guide arm too far from materialAdjust blade guide arm closer to material size
 Insufficient lubricationCheck for effective coolant flow/Coolant level

STREAKED OR ETCHED BLADE SURFACE

POTENTIAL CAUSESPROBABLE SOLUTION
Damaged blade guide padsReplace blade guide pads
 Too tight or too slack blade guide bearingsAdjust them using manual

NOT CUTTING STRAIGHT

POTENTIAL CAUSESPROBABLE SOLUTION
Blade not parallelCheck fastenings of the blade guide blocks
 Angle not straightCheck mitre guide arrows and angle
 Advancing too fastDecrease your advancing speed
 Dull blade deflectingReplace blade
 Wrong tooth pitchChange the speed and or type of blade
 Blade guide arm too far from materialAdjust blade guide arm closer to material size
 Broken teethReplace blade
 Insufficient lubricationCheck for effective coolant flow/Coolant level

STREAKY CUT SURFACE

POTENTIAL CAUSESPROBABLE SOLUTION

Advancing too fastDecrease your advancing speed
 Poor quality bladeUse a better quality blade
 Worn out blade or broken teethReplace blade/use a better quality blade
 Blade guide arm too far from materialAdjust blade guide arm closer to material size
 Insufficient lubricationCheck for effective coolant flow/Coolant level

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