A Band Saw Blade, because of the work they do and the fact that they must rotate constantly over wheels of rather small radii, are subjected to a considerable amount of stress. Modern metallurgy and operator care with installation and use enables them to last for a respectable period of operation.
It isn't difficult to abuse a band saw blade. Factors that contribute to early breakage and fast dulling of the teeth are operational faults. These factors include careless blade tensioning and tracking, incorrectly adjusting the blade guides, attempting to saw curves that are too tight for the blade's width, incorrectly choosing a blade for the job, etc.
Blade Length - Blade sizes differ in thickness, width, and length. The machine determines the length of a band saw blade. There isn't any choice because it is determined by the circumference around the wheels and the distance between them. For example, a standard Delta 14" band saw takes a blade that is 93 1/2" long, but because the upper wheel is adjustable, it can accept a blade with maximum lengths between 91 1/2" and 94 inches. Many 12" Craftsman Band Saws took an 80" blade.
Blade Thickness - A general rule for blade thickness has to do with wheel diameter. Band saw blade thickness averages about .001 inches for each inch of wheel diameter. That means that the typical blade thickness for a 14" band saw would be about .014 inches thick.
Blade Width - Blade width is the measurement from the tips of the teeth to the blade's back edge. Manufacturers offer quite a range here from 1'8" and going to an extreme of more than 3 inches. Your choice of band saw blade must be compatible with the narrowest and widest blade with which your tool can work. Consult your band saw manufacturers directions for information about the minimum and maximum blade with that your band saw will accommodate.
A general range will include blade widths of 1/8", 3/16", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2". Some homeowner band saws will handle blades up to 3/4 inch wide, others at the low end may start with blades of 1/4 inch. Resaws will take a much wider blade.
It's good practice to use the widest blade the machine allows depending on the amount of scrolling or curve cutting you're going to do. The wider the blade, the easer it is to saw straight. The width of the blade will also determine the minimum sawing radius. Variances to this are due to blade style, thickness, and amount of tooth set, but the general rule allows sawing continuously, without backing out of a cut.
Trying to force a blade around a tighter turn than its width allows usually results in burn marks, a wider saw kerf, inaccuracy because the blade will twist, and even breakage.
Use the table below to see the typical turning radius of band saw blades of various widths.
|Blade Width||Minimum Turning Radius for Wood Sawing|
|1/8 inch blade||3/16" to 1/4" radius|
|3/16 inch blade||3/8" to 1/2" radius|
|1/4 inch blade||5/8" to 3/4" radius|
|3/8 inch blade||1" to 1 1/4" radius|
|1/2 inch blade||1 1/4" to 1 1/2" radius|
|5/8 inch blade||4" to 4 1/4" radius|
|3/4 inch blade||5" to 5 1/2" radius|
|1 inch blade||6 3/4" to 7" radius|
The most popular band saw tooth designs for sawing wood are the regular (or standard) and the skip tooth. The regular tooth design is also known as an all purpose blade and is probably what was provided with your saw.
Regular (Standard)- An all purpose blade usually supplied with band saws. A thinner blade with light tooth set is recommended for the smoothest cutting.
Skip Tooth (Buttress)- Has a wide spacing between teeth which promotes effective chip clearance and allows faster cutting of wood, plastics, and non-ferrous metals. A thinner blade with light tooth set is recommended for the smoothest cutting.
Hook Tooth - Recommended for prolonged cutting in thick materials that include wood, plastics, and metal.
All blades are available with various numbers of teeth per inch (tpi). For example, a regular blade might have as few as 8 tpi or as many as 24. A wave-set blade can have as many as 32 tpi. Another specification is points per inch. The number of points per inch is always one more than the number of teeth.
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