Bandsaw Blade Tension?
Bandsaw blade tension a key ingredient in setting up your bandsaw for proper usage. Having the proper bandsaw blade tension is also a safety aspect of the bandsaw. Having tension too tight can cause your bandsaw blade to fatigue and break. Running your bandsaw blade tension too loose can cause your blade to come off track another dangerous situation. Please note whenever either one situations happen to be sure to get your hands and body far away from the bandsaw. Keep the upper and lower doors of the cabinet closed until the saw completely stops you never know when a broke bandsaw blade or blade off track is going to grab ahold of something and be sent in motion. Now that we got that out of the way lets talk about why you showed up on this article and get your bandsaw blade tension set properly for a safe and fun experience in the shop.
Finding The Perfect Tension
Trying to find the perfect blade tension you have few different methods at your disposal. Well first let me tell you about the little tensioning guide on your bandsaw. I think most saws have one these little gauges. Take this gauge with a grain of salt they are mostly extremely inaccurate and should be used as a reference at the bare minimum. Trust me I learned this from experience when I had a 3/16 blade break on me.
Bandsaw Blade Tension Gauge
There are manufacturers that make stand-alone blade tension gauge. These come at a cost of course and a rather steep cost for the average backyard woodworker. They attach to the blade and then are pulled away from the blade in doing so a dial gauge will give you a reading in psi. Then you adjust the bandsaw blade tension to reflect what the manufacturer recommends the blade tension should be. If you have the extra money to spend on a tool like this it could be a worth wild invest for your shop. But I think for most of us there has to be a more practical approach to bandsaw blade tension.
Bandsaw Blade Flutter Test
The bandsaw blade flutter test, my opinion probably one of the best ways to properly set up blade tension. What makes this method so great is that there is no need for any external tools and zero measuring. So how does all of this work?
- Install your blade per saw manufacturer recommendations
- Set the bandsaw blade tension per manufacture specs by using saw gauge
- Raise the guide post to full capacity
- Move thrust bearings and guide bearings so they are not in contact with the blade. (top and bottom)
- Turn the saw on
- Decrease the blade tension until you begin to see a flutter in the blade
- Now begin tightening the blade until the flutter goes away and the blade is stable
- Give the blade another 1/4 or 1/2 turn after the flutter disappears
- Adjust guide bearings and thrust bearings to proper locations
- Set guide post for the task
- Make Saw Dust
Blade Tension By Hand Pressure
Bandsaw blade tension and hand pressure is the method I think a lot of woodworkers gravitate toward. Involves raising your guide post 6″ off the table of your bandsaw. Then pushing in from the side of your bandsaw blade (saw off of course). Then measuring the deflection of your blade and what your looking for is about a 1/4″ of deflection. With a 3/8″ blade your going to want to step up to about a 1/2″ deflection. How much hand pressure is needed? Just moderate pressure there is no need to hulk out on it. Using this method takes a little practice to get used to using and will come with experience. This is why I normally go with the flutter test we discussed above. Always make sure to make a test cut in a piece of scrap material to observe any issues before heading to the actual project.
Bandsaw Blade Tension Conclusion
You have a few different options when it comes to properly setting the tension on your bandsaw don’t be afraid to play around it with it till you find that sweet spot. Most times you will know immediately when you begin to start cutting your workpiece if you have properly set the tension on your bandsaw. The more you begin to use different sizes and styles of bandsaw blades you will naturally begin to get a feel for where the tension needs to be. One key thing to remember is always after setting tension after a blade tension to take the time make a test cut in a piece of scrap. There’s nothing like ruining a part of a project right after a blade change.
Hopefully, this article will help give you the knowledge needed to properly set your bandsaw blade tension to have a successful experience in your woodshop. Be sure to let us know how you like to set your bandsaw blade tension!