Band Saw Tips and Tricks


Tips & Tricks

Band Saws get their name from the blade. Most other woodwork machines are named by the function they serve, planer, or their physical shape, table saw. Like all other woodwork machines, a sharp blade greatly improves performance. Other types of saw just start a cut at a pencil line, band saw work involves continuously following a pencil line. A sharp blade that is well tuned makes this process much easier.

The first time you look at the numerous adjustments that need to be made to install a band saw blade it can be overwhelming. A closer look is more comforting, because most of them are intuitive and the logic is similar for above-table and below-table adjustments.

Some basics before we talk about adjustments. The blade rides on wheels that have rubber or polyurethane tires. Saw models are named by the diameter of the wheel that is approximately the maximum distance between the downward “cut” side and the upward “return” side of the blade. This indicates the widest board that will fit between the blade and the post and is called the Throat of the machine. The lower wheel is the drive wheel that is belt driven or direct driven by a motor. The upper wheel is free wheeling and is where adjustments are made for the blade to track in correct position on both wheels.

Installing a blade is a 2-step process. Step 1 is to get the blade to track in correct position on the tries. Step 2 is to bring the guides and thrust bearings to the blade. Be sure to unplug the machine while doing this or any other maintenance.


Step 1 is to get the blade to track in correct position on the tries. Step 2 is to bring the guides and thrust bearings to the blade. Be sure to Unplug the Machine while doing this or any other maintenance.

Step 1 is achieved with 2 adjustments, tension of the blade and tilt of the top wheel. The machine will have marks to indicate tension for various width blades. Get the blade on the tires and adjust to proper tension for the width of the blade you’re installing. Don’t worry about where it’s located on the tires, the tilt adjustment will take care of that. The desired position of the blade on the tire is about 1/3 of the way in from the front of the tire. Turn the wheel by hand and the blade will go to some position on the tire. It can be moved forward or back by adjusting the tilt of the top wheel. The tilt adjustment bolt will have a lock nut and an adjustment thumbscrew. Loosen the lock nut, adjust the tilt and turn the wheel by hand. The blade will move forward or back on the tire. Once it is the desired position plug in the machine and do a quick on / off to see what it does at running speed, fine tune if necessary. Once it’s in position, tighten the lock nut to complete step 1. Remember to unplug the machine before adjusting the guides and thrust bearings.


Aligning the support devices needs to be done both above and below the table. Start with the upper, because it’s easier to do. 1) Loosen the lock screws on the side blocks or rollers on the upper and lower guides and move them away from the blade. 2) Adjust the rear thrust bearings to get an air space between them and the back of the blade. 3) Turn the wheel by hand to check for no contact. 4) Move the entire Guide Block Assembly with the forward-aft adjustment to position blocks or rollers slightly behind the blade teeth. 5) Adjust the guide blocks or rollers inward to be almost tangent with the blade and re-tighten the set screws. 6) Adjust the rear thrust bearing forward to be almost tangent to the back edge of the blade. Most band saws do not have a lock nut on this adjustment. Repeat the same process on the lower guides and thrust bearing, turn the wheel by hand for a quick check, and then plug in the machine and do a quick on / off to see what it does at running speed, fine tune if necessary.

Band saw blades, like all saw blades, come in different tooth configurations: Standard, Skip and Hook. Skip and Hook are generally use for woodwork, Skip more commonly for Soft woods and Hook for Hardwoods.

Bimetal blades are an annealed metal body with hardened teeth. This allows the blade to flex around the wheels and gives the teeth durability to hold an edge.

Choose the teeth per inch by the material thickness of your most common work. A good rule of thumb is to have 3 teeth in contact with the material, this will help with clearing saw dust and make it easier to follow a cut line.

1/2” wide blades are about the largest blade that can be used on 14” and smaller band saws. Larger blades require a bigger diameter wheel because the wider blade does not flex as easily.

The upper blade guide is on a telescoping assembly so it can be positioned for a variety of stock thicknesses. Position it close to your work but not too close to obscure your line of sight.

Tires will accumulate pitch and sawdust, clean them with a rag or paper towel and denatured alcohol. It is good practice to clean them periodically even if you’re not changing or tuning the blade.

A back stock blade is good to have, even if it might be a used blade. If a weld on a blade breaks you will have something to work with until the broken blade can be replaced.

CPO is America's Leading
Online Power Tool Retailer

Fast Shipping


Easy Returns


Trusted Since 2004

Since 2004

#1 Reconditioned Tool Destination

#1 Reconditioned
Tool Destination