Bandsaw blades: Sawyer survey

      Sawyers cite their preferred bandmill blades by brand name. July 11, 2000

Just interested to know what brand blades sawyers are using on their bandmills. I am inquiring for softwoods, i.e., spruce, fir, etc. I have 19-inch band wheels.

I'll start:
Woodmiser: Too soft - a good life but the set runs out quickly.
Sterling: O.K., not very aggressive and a good life.
Lennox: Cuts great, but too hard; not very good blade life and very aggressive.

Forum Responses
I run only WoodMiser bands, 1-1/4 inch x 13-feet 2-inch, 7/8-inch pitch, .042-inch thick and whatever the standard factory set is (I use their "Re-Sharp" service.)

I tried a bunch of different bands, and while there may be some that last longer, hold their set longer or are more aggressive, I've stuck with WoodMiser for one reason, consistency in the set. I found too much variance between bands of other manufacturers, which would cause the band to wander.

I use WoodMizer's .045 x 1-1/4 inch on my mill. I set the teeth to .026, then run them through the sharpener with a 10-degree face angle. I take two light passes, but make sure I get a good gullet grind. I saw a lot of Eastern hemlock and this blade works well for me.

I just can't seem to get a good cut on Norway spruce. No matter what configuration I try with the blade, I still get wave around the knots. I get a good cut on all the other softwoods until the band starts getting dull.

Woodmizer has a .055 blade for use on knotty logs. I've never tried it, though. They've also come out with a new blade called the "Doublehard." They say the blade and the teeth are as hard as they can make them. I've bought a box, but haven't used any yet.

I use the Timberwolf 7/8 pitch, 1-1/4 wide, .042 thick, set to .22 per side. Works absolutly great in softwood. Woodmizers don't last very long and they actually cost more for the 7/8 than the T-wolf. I haven't been pleased with WM's customer service.

I've tried them all and keep coming back to Timberwolf. I've gotten up to 24 hours running time out of a Timberwolf. I use the 1-1/4 x .042 x 3/4 tooth spacing. I cut a lot of pine and hemlock, and have very good results with Timberwolf blades.

I do a fair amount of resawing on a slightly modified Baker AX horizontal machine, using Timberwolf ASS 3/4, .025, 3 TPI blades. I'm cutting Brazilian Rosewood (worth upwards half a million per thousand BF!) and we want NO kerf loss. (O.K., we'll take .046 inch and cry about the sawdust!) I also cut walnut, figured maple, cocobolo, ebony, etc., and for me, it's all about kerf loss, which is absolutely minimal on these blades.

I have tried several different blades. WoodMizer, Timberwolf, and a couple more. I saw mostly yellow pine, poplar, red oak, and white oak. I have come to believe that bigger, 1-1/2-inch-wide, and thicker (.041) blades will give you a better and truer cut through the life of the blade (freshly sharpened to dull).

The key comes mostly to sharpening. I do my own because of the added expense of shipping and sharpening as well as keeping the extra blades in shipment. But back to the bottom line: lower blade tension will extend blade life. Correct saw alignment is crucial to a straight and true cut, and a sharp, properly set blade will do fine, even the thinner, 1-1/4-inch blades.

On clean timber, I've often exceeded the manufacturer's life expectancy of the blades, as well as time between sharpenings. But the biggest factor in how well a particular blade handles has not been the manufacturer, but the quality of the resharpening and setting. I have learned not to expect a blade to perform properly. Everything has to be right, and I'm not afraid to change a fairly fresh blade (factory or resharpened) the minute it isn't cutting well.

I agree -- the best thing you can do for clean, straight cuts is to keep a sharp blade on. I use WZ and have always been happy with all aspects of the blade. I must say I've never tried any other so I can't compare. But get over the costs of blade sharpening and if the blade ain't cuttin' it, change it!

I'll jump on the bandwagon for Timberwolf blades. I use them in my Timberking mill, cutting mostly pine, red oak, and white oak. I get better run time and certainly feel they are a much higher quality blade.

I, too, agree -- you can't emphasize "sharpening and set" enough, to get the best use out of whatever brand blade you prefer.

We have been using Lennox bands lately and have not been that impressed. We're on our sixth sharpening and it seems all the temper is gone; it really starts to wander. We are going to try Simonds next.

I am interested in Timberwolf bands. Don't they come with an 8-degree hook angle? I understand that this is not for softwood; I've always used 12 degree. So you guys that use them -- do you re-set the hook or what? How many board feet (BF) do you get out of your bands? So far, I have kept track of most of my bands:
Lennox - only 2,000 BF but excellent results
Woodmizer - 3,000 BF and still kind of going
Sterling - 3,500 BF and lost its temper
Red streak - 2,500, not the best results
Sawyers Choice - so far about 1,500 BF and still going strong

I am really interested in Timberwolf. Their tech department is so far the best, but I want to know the real stats from the horses' mouths.
What about sharpening? Which band fits your sharpener the best?

Timberwolf blades come with a 10-degree hook angle. I sharpen and set my own blades and I agree that a sharp blade with the correct set and hook will last longer. I use an 8-degree hook for hardwoods and 10 degrees for softwoods.

Timberwolf blades hold their set longer than others.

I've used Simonds, Sterling, WoodMizer, and Lennox bands, .042 thick, 1-1/4 wide, and 7/8 or 1-inch tooth spacing. All will cut satisfactorily when sharpened and set in given tolerances.

Tooth height and gullet shaping are critical along with set. Premature breakage due to bad welds, lousy grinding, or brittle steel make me look for another manufacturer. I hope I never hear the phrase "Our welds are good for the life of our bands" again.
I generally get 4 to 500 BF in clean Southern yellow pine, 800 in green cypress, 4 to 600 in red oak. Sand, knots and alignment all contribute to the running time of any band. Six sharpenings are all I expect out of any of them.

Take your pick, but the bottom line is which one cuts the best lumber in the shortest amount of time.

We run Simonds Red Streak .042 x 1.25 with a 7/8 pitch on our WoodMizer LT40G20 and feel they are better out of the box than WoodMizer blades. We run far less tension than suggested and still get good results. I think lower tension contributes to longer blade life.

On our LT40HDG35 Super we are running WoodMizer .045 blades. It was having some cutting problems until I worked out some other adjustments. Now it cuts fine. I'll start lowering the blade tension to find a point where I can cut true without problems.

We use the WoodMizer "Re-Sharp" program and have been happy with the results. I re-grind, but don't set the blades one time between sending them off again.

We've tried one of the new WoodMizer blades with the hardened teeth on the Super but didn't see any improvement in performance. This was probably due to the above-mentioned adjustment problems, not the blade, so it was not a good test.

We've been sawing since '94, have surely broken more than a hundred blades, and have probably a hundred blades in service now. We've never had one break at the weld - all have died a natural death - except one Simonds and it broke, not at the weld, within 100 BF of its first use. It was replaced free of charge with an apology.

I have been using Lennox bi-metal on a three-head Baker and have been reasonably satisfied. The blades last up to 24 hours. The main problem is the inital cost, and that resharpening is not available. I do not have a sharpening facility and therefore use these blades as disposable.

I intend to experiment with other blades and am tempted to try Timberwolf. I have found a local sharpener to resharpen the Lennox bi-metals but he does not have equipment to set hook, etc. Am I wasting my time? Should I invest in sharpening equipment? We saw approximately 100,000 fbm per week and use three or four blades per week.

I cut only hardwoods and thus use an 8-degree hook. Mesquite, cypress and live oak are all very rough on the blades. I am using the WoodMizer "Re-Sharp" program and have therefore not tried Timberwolf, but am interested in their 1 percent Si steel.

My opinion - the best way to improve performance (assuming a good blade, properly sharpened, etc.) is to get away from water! We use a 50/50 diesel/chainsaw bar oil mixture, sparingly. Just enough to get rid of chatter.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
I do custom sharpening, and some of the comments I'm reading about bands running 24 hours just isn't so. The run time on a band should be measured by the board feet produced. A good run time on any band is around 800 board feet. Also, the set and hook are two different things that are equally important. The hook is the degree of angle of the tooth face. The set is how much the tip of tooth is bent from side to side to make clearance for the body of the band. The least amount of set you can have, without pinching or heating the blade, is usually the best.

Comment from contributor B:
I have been very happy with Timberwolf blades. Iíve used their 1 1/4 x 7/8 x .042 on my Lumbermate with very good results. Iíve also tried the Lenox Woodmaster C and wasnít as happy with the results. They cut well, but had short life due to breakage.

Comment from contributor C:
I have used "Silicone Goldline Premium" blades from Norwood, Simonds Red Streak, and MK Morse HB. I will never put another blade on my bandmill except the MK Morse. I cut all day with one blade instead of 3-4 Simonds or Goldline, and the Morse cuts faster and straighter through the wood. I use the 1.25" 7/8" 0.035. I am very impressed, and they are competitively priced.

Comment from contributor D:
I have the best all around cut and run time with Swedish steel blades on my TimberKing. I love the TimberKing Ultra blades, but I have found that the Munksforsaagen blades that are sold by many blade companies are the same thing at $10.00 less per blade. I also run a little less set with these blades and get a smoother cut.

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