Band Saw Troubleshooting Basics – The Key to Accuracy

Why won’t my band saw cut straight?

We get this question from customers quite a bit and it’s usually after some amount of frustration. Before you start tearing your saw apart, let’s take some time to review some band saw troubleshooting basics.

Tooth Count, Feed Rate, and Cutting Speed

Often, the blade is the most common culprit when it comes to cutting accuracy. Blade condition and tooth count is critical to cut quality and blades can easily be ruined if you’re not careful. Sometimes the solution is as simple as getting a new blade or using a blade that is more suited to your application. If you cut a variety of material, for example thin wall tubing and thick plate back to back, don’t be surprised if you start having issues right away. Therefore, take the time to understand the tooth count, feed rate, and speed settings required for the materials you are cutting. You may not be able to cut everything with the same set up.

Most saw manufacturers have guidelines listed in the owner’s manual (you did read that right?) and you can also get good information from the blade manufacturers. We would be happy to help as well. Band saws are versatile, but you can quickly ruin a new blade if you don’t follow the guidelines.

Correct Material Orientation in the Vise

Assuming you have selected an appropriate blade, feed rate, and speed for the application, there are still a few additional things to keep in mind. An often-overlooked detail is how the material is clamped in the vise. There is a big difference between 1×4 bar stock laid flat vs on edge. Feed rates can also vary dramatically as the saw moves through the work piece. Again, there are guidelines available, just be aware that getting this wrong can cause problems. Blade life can also be significantly compromised if the proper break-in procedures are not followed. When new, the blade tips are razor sharp and if pushed too hard too soon, they will grab. This results in damaging the shape and set on the tooth.

Realistic Expectations of Your Saw

Last thing is to know what to expect. A band saw that is set up properly for a given application should be capable of making accurate cuts to the point that your tape measure, marking method, and eyes are probably a bigger problem! Truth is, in most situations, a band saw is plenty good enough and offers a lot of capacity for the money and a huge improvement over messy abrasive chop saws. You shouldn’t expect it to be as accurate as a high-end cold saw and you should not expect your portable bench top saw to behave the same as a larger industrial band saw with a 1” blade. In general, the larger the blade width on a band saw the more accurate it will be. Obviously, there are other variables, but the point here is to understand the capabilities and limitations of your equipment.

For a lot of folks this may all seem obvious. Band saws can, and do, require maintenance and repairs from time to time, but it still pays to systematically double check the basics before you start fixing something that is not broken.

Dave Watson – Technical Sales

Cold Saw vs Chop Saw- What are the Differences?

Although Cold Saws and Chop Saws have more similarities than differences, it’s the differences that count. Many have confused the two and some consider them the same thing. Why take the time to explain the difference? We want to help educate the metal working community and equip them to make the best decision. Whether you’re working in your garage at home or a full time fabricator, which is the right saw for you: A cold saw or a chop saw? Let’s take a look at a side by side comparison on a 14 inch blade version.

Mitering Head vs Mitering Vise

A summarizing statement could be: “Cold Saws are best for industrial use whereas Chop Saws are best for a home shop”. The price would support that statement, however there are smaller bench top Cold Saws for around a thousand dollars. Some fabricators may find bench top cold saws very fitting for a home shop, others may find them a bit too much. A common oversight when purchasing these types of saws is how miter cuts are done, and whether that makes a difference. Cold Saws have a mitering head. Your material can remain stationary and in line with material rests while clamped in the vise. Chop Saws have a mitering vise. This means the opposite end of a long piece of material will swing way out on a 45 degree cut.

Blade Design

Unlike an abrasive saw, both Cold Saws and TCT chop saws use a toothed blade. This blade design transfers the heat generated by cutting into the chips cut by the blade. This enables the blade and cut material to remain cool, resulting in longer blade life and immediate handling of cut parts.

In conclusion, a Cold Saw will provide the lowest cost per cut and should be considered the best sawing method in a high production environment, but those wanting to keep a low upfront cost and intend to use the saw less frequently will find a Chop Saw to be a great and effective alternative.

Written By Derek DeNooy -Inside Technical Sales