The bandsaw is one of the most versatile tools in the workshop, but like all tools, you still need to give it a great deal of respect and always follow safety guidelines when using it, and in fact the greatest threat from bandsaws is that they are one of the dustiest tools in your workshop, which means you really should be using good dust control when ever using them.
Bandsaw's versatility can often be confounded by the fact that if they are not set up properly, they can be frustrating to use. There are many different things to set and know about and to adjust but once these are set you can expect good, consistent results.
When doing ANY work on setting up a bandsaw, the first rule is always make sure the saw is unplugged from it's electrical source. After that you need to understand what all the controls and setting do on a bandsaw including ...
the tension wheel or knob, used to put tension on the blade. The upper wheel adjustment knob which is used to set the angle of the upper wheel to adjust the tracking of the bandsaw blade. Then there are the upper and lower blade guides and upper and lower thrust bearings. Depending on your saw, there may also be other adjustments like angle of fence adjustment, speed of bandsaw, bandsaw wheel brake, and others.
The second thing to do when setting up an bandsaw is to tension the blade. This is the only way of accurately setting all other saw features. Next, the blade needs to be positioned on the wheels, but it's important that none of the upper or lower blade guides or thrust bearing are touching the blade at this point.
By moving the adjustment knob or leaver on the back of the bandsaw, while rotating the upper wheel by hand, you need to set the tracking so that the bottom of the gullets of the blade are set in alignment with the center of the upper wheel. The bottom wheel will look after it'self. It's important that this step be done accurately as it often affects any bandsaw blade drift that the saw may want to do if not set properly.
Once the blade is set, the upper and lower blade guides can now be set. These blade guides are often made of many different materials from steel blocks, to synthetic plastic blocks, wooden blocks and even ball bearing guides. In all cases the guides need to be almost touch the bandsaw blade BEHIND the blade gullets, especially if the guides are ball bears or steel block guides. If they even touch the blade teeth during the operation there is a high probability they will dull the blade instantly.
Once the blade guides are set, next is to set the thrust bearings, upper and lower, at the back of the sawblade. Again these should not be touch the blade, but should be just about the thickness of a business card away from the blade.
After all these settings are done, your bandsaw is ready for checking. Close all the wheel doors, plug the bandsaw in and turn it on. When you turn the bandsaw on the only noise it should be making is the sound of the motor and wheels turning, there should be no loud noises like the bandsaw blade rubbing against one of the blade guides or a thrust bear. If there is, you need to turn the saw off, unplug it and re-check and re-adjust your settings. But don't worry, it WILL be worth it, because when you are finished you will have a perfectly set up bandsaw that will give you excellent results.
One last thing ... make sure ... make sure, your bandsaw blades are sharp. Operating with dull bandsaw blades will not enhance your work and will add to your frustration of getting quality cuts.
Copyright - Colin Knech