Bandsaw Tuneup

Advice on maintaining, repairing, and upgrading a 1990's-era bandsaw to improve adjustability and precision. November 16, 2010

Has anyone used a Carter upgrade guide and Lenox Trimaster carbide blade to upgrade their bandsaw? I will be using it to cut instrument stock under 3/16in. Would buying a larger resaw bandsaw be more appropriate?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor J:
What problem are you having with re-sawing that you're thinking about upgrading? Could be a simpler fix depending on what's not working.

From contributor E:
Yes, I am using the old euro guides and a ceramic upper thrust bearing. The lower part has 2 lignum vitae guides with a small lower wheel thrust bearing that I am constantly burning and replacing. I also use an inexpensive Starrett 3 tpi 1/2" blade. When changing blade height I have to constantly readjust the upper blade guides. And when resawing hardwoods like osage, the Starrett gets dull quickly. When I back the tension off the blade, it wanders back to the wheel, instead of the teeth hanging over the top wheel at full tension.

From contributor J:
If you have to readjust the guides every time you adjust the height, it sounds like you have a problem with the column that supports the guide vs the guide itself. The column should stay in the same plane when raised or lowered. If not, you'll see the problem you seem to be experiencing.

As for the blade teeth moving back into the guide, this is an adjustment issue. The distance between the back of the blade and the thrust bearing should be pretty minimal. I think I have about 1/16" on my saw. You need to bring your guide bearing forward so that when the blade hits, the teeth are still proud of the bearings.

As for the blades, there's not much new guides are going to help you with there. Hardwoods and especially the dense exotics are going to kill blades (especially cheap ones) pretty quickly. If you're doing enough of it, you may want to consider investing in better quality blades or maybe even carbide.

My suggestion would be to check out a book like the "Bandsaw Handbook" and spend some time tuning your bandsaw up. You may find that once it's adjusted properly you don't have to spend any additional money.

From contributor O:
I have a green Minimax S45 of about the same vintage. I put the Carter guides on it right after I got it and replaced the cheesy fence as well. I have also been using the Lenox carbide blades for 6 or 7 years now. The machine works fine, but I don't do too much resawing, so I can't comment on that.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I just spoke to my machinist. The column needs to be remade so that it will ride 90 degrees up and down, before upgrading to the Carter guides and carbide blade. I will upgrade that too.

From contributor D:
I have this saw in my home shop. It sounds like, if the blade wanders with tension, you may have too much tilt on the top wheel. Usually I have to tune my guides in when changing types of blades, but not with a height adjustment. Incidentally, if you are hot-rodding your bandsaw with the help of a machinist, you can't go wrong with having both wheels trued and spinbalanced. I had this done as well as polished the table surface, and it is pure joy to use.

From the original questioner:
Checked the tension on the upper wheel with a new blade. Very little front to back play when blade is tensioned and running. I disassembled the column and cleaned everything. Problem could be with the urethane tires. I read in a previous thread that this bandsaw needs regular rubber tires. What are you using? Will bring the column assembly to the machinist on Monday to ensure straight up and down movement of column and height adjuster.

From contributor U:
I have the same saw, a little older, but with the same column issues. Every time I adjust the height more than an inch, I have to reset the guides. What is your machinist doing to correct this? I've looked at it for years and can't figure it out. I did replace the stock guides with the Carter ones about 15 years ago, and that was definitely a good upgrade.

From contributor D:
Seems to me you'd have to check up and down movement of the column while still on the saw. The easiest thing, I would think, is making sure the blade is running perfectly parallel to travel of the column, and not the other way around. You can adjust tilt on the bottom wheel as well, via the four bolts radially positioned on the back side of the arbor. I also had bearings wear out on the bottom wheel, and after reaming and seating a bigger set, it seemed to be much more solid. I have rubber tires, bonded with contact cement then sanded to take out any hops. I'd see if I could get the blade tracking parallel to the guides prior to rebuilding the column.

From contributor D:
I just remembered also that that bottom wheel had maybe fifteen thin washers, indicating to me an intent that adding or subtracting these will affect the in and out position of the bottom wheel. I think this should fix your problem easily.

From the original questioner:
My machinist recommended making sure that new blade is square to the table, wheels co- planar and then measuring the distance from the top wheel to the inside frame where the column goes up and down. The column is riding against a warped steel frame and the amount of runout must be measured, and a shim built into the steel frame to make sure that column is riding at 90 degrees up and down against the frame. Once this alignment problem is cured, a Carter upgrade system is feasible. But he warned against purchasing a carbide blade. One mistake and all the carbide teeth will break. The machinist recommended Morse bi-metal with variable pitch teeth as an alternative to carbide, as well as Nicholson/Simonds and a few other brands; Lennox are just okay.