Blade Choice for Resawing Reclaimed Lumber

Sawyers consider what kind of blade to use when there's a risk of hitting nails. May 27, 2008

Can anyone recommend bandsaw blades for resawing antique oak and ash beams? The beams would be sawn on a stationary bandsaw with 30 inch wheels, like the ones used in pallet mills. That is, the lumber would move thru the blade. I'm looking for longevity and reasonable price.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
I would just use your regular bandsaw blades, but ones that had already been sharpened several times. That way, when you hit hardware, you won't wreck a new blade.

From contributor B:
I have cut a lot of old beams and most were from old log homes. In most cases, the old square nails do not have a lot of effect on the blades. The newer style nails will dull them fast and as soon as I hear the blade cut through a metal object, I stop after the cut and inspect the teeth closely. Also, I look for smoke where the blade exits the cut. That is a good indication as to the damage to the blade. On a few occasions I have had to stop before completing the cut and back out. I have also run bimetal blades but they are more expensive. The most damage I ever had to a blade was hitting a glass fence insulator inside a log - they will really rip a blade. I use a very light feed rate and plenty of blade lubrication on the first cut until I can see what is under the surface.

From contributor C:
With anything that dry, or a real hard wood like hickory, I prefer to use 4 degree blades with lots of lube. I'm running Woodmizer blades and use 9, 10 and 4 degree blades, but their 4's are for frozen, very knotty or very hard lumber, and it does give me a better cut with wood such as dry barn beams. That being said, I still like to try to make my first cut with a "nail hunter" band an old one that has been resharpened but is missing teeth or has some other issue that won't upset me if I run into metal. I've found the same thing as contributor B - old cut nails don't wreck the blades like newer nails do.

From contributor B:
I found the following two comments while surfing. I thought you may get some information from their experience.

1. "Just a thought - I had a job once sawing nail embedded beams, they didn't want to dig them all out and tear up the wood. I had the guy buy a bi-metal blade, about 65.00 then from Suffolk Machinery. I must have sawn off a hundred nails with that blade, and it still cut straight. If you have a lot of them to do, it is probably worth the investment."
2. "I get WM .045 blades in boxes of 10. This figures out to just under $25.00 per blade, and bigger boxes, larger quantities would make the price cheaper. I also have a Stellite(sp) tipped blade hanging the garage that I have had for a long time, for a nail blade. It works fine, but with 3/8" tooth spacing I can start a cut and have lunch before it gets to the end of the log."

From contributor D:
I do a lot of reclaimed work, and I run Timberwolf blades .045 thick. It is key in sawing these reclaimed woods to properly remove all steel, and properly clean the woods surface from dirt and sand. If this is done right your blades should wear just like normal sawing conditions or slightly faster. As far as band saw blade quality goes it has been my experience to go to the manufacturers who specialize in blades and not sawmills, like Timberwolf, Simonds, or Lenox.

From contributor B:
To contributor D: You brought up a very important point and it is very true. The only problem I have found with running blades from two different suppliers is that the blades will not track the same. For example, Timberwolf sent me two samples and they tracked 1/4" different on the band wheels and rubbed against the flange on the guide rollers on my TK B-20. I adjusted the tracking and ran the two blades until dull and put my other suppliers on and had to readjust the tracking. That is a real pain in the backside. I keep about 40 name brand blades in circulation and stick with the same brand because of this. By the way I check the tracking every time I change blades and watch the blade run at idle speed to look for cracks. If you have a crack the blade will most likely waddle a little from side to side.