I am seeking information on bandmill sharpening equipment. I have been running a portable bandmill operation for the past four years recycling urban timber in the Philadelphia/New Jersey metropolitan areas. I understand that not all bandsaw blades are resharpenable. However, after my blades are dull, I send them out for resharpening. When they return, four out of every dozen will generally not cut true - they either climb or dive in the log. The cost of sharpening and shipping exceeds 50% of the cost of a new blade. I have used at least three different vendors with no difference in results. A number of years ago, after having similar bad professional sharpening experiences with chainsaw loops, I acquired a chain grinder and read the owner's manual and have never had a problem with dull chain loops since. What do you recommend for me to use to resharpen/reset bandsaw blades? I handle about 40-60 logs per week.
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
I use a Cook's Cat Claw sharpener and am pretty satisfied with it. I sharpen about 25-30 blades a week, and can bring back some pretty damaged blades by sending them through several times.
One big thing I faced was the setup on the blade guides. I would double check everything from the manufacturer's specs. They usually require some down pressure with the guide rollers, and proper gapping if you have ceramic disks underneath. Back up bearings need to be properly spaced. Only once you check that the mill is exact, look at the blades you're getting back and measure the set. Was the whole tooth ground? Fronts, backs, gullet? Was it set properly within .001 on each side? Is it sharp? Is it the right blade for the material? Pitch, kerf and hook degree? All these things go into making a proper cut. You need to be a detective. Resharp programs don't make sense to me. With shipping they all cost $10 a blade, and they won't sharpen blades that are perfectly useable because they may be missing a tooth or two. This is easy to make up for with a used grinder. Just look at sawmill exchange and see if one of the mills listed with a grinder will sell it separately. You should save 50%. I just got an old Wood-Mizer and it works pretty good. I had to tune it up, and UPS dropped it off a three story building in shipping it, so I had to buy a bunch of new parts, but hey, life's full of adventure!
Comment from contributor A:
I had the same debate as well. Since the sharpening equipment that came with my first mill was in sad shape (disassemble and rusty in a box) I opted to take my blades to a local saw sharpener. The results were not good - burnt tips, no set to the teeth, and the saws would not cut straight. I ordered more blades and the parts to get the Wood-mizer sharpener working.
After doing some research into saw sharpening I was able to get 10-12 sharpening per blade with good results. I also found that my mill was not properly tuned and after spending some time tuning it up the quality of the cuts improved as well. I do not run my blades hard either. At the first sign that they are not cutting their best I pull them off and write a note as to how they were performing so that when I sharpen them I can solve any problems. If a tooth is missing set it to 0 and take the next tooth that is at 0 and set it to replace the damaged tooth. I like the water cooling option of the Wood-mizer sharpener, but I would get the dual tooth setter from Cook as setting the teeth is a time consuming part of saw sharpening, The band roller that is made by Cook is a must have as it saves wrecked and old blades from the scrap pile on a regular basis.
I talked with the local sawyer and found to my surprise that I am the only one in my area that sharpens my own blades. Others replace their blades after 1-2 sharpenings due to saw breakage. It seems that they have found that if they run their blades hard then send them off to be sharpened they are not getting the life out of the blade that they could. We have compared production for the life of the blade and by not running the blade hard I am getting more then twice the board footage per blade. I like to track each blade and can tell which one will last the longest by its history.
I have welded cracks and then ground them flush, and the key to doing this is to catch it early and center punch the end of the crack to keep it from spreading. Then roll the band to take out any twist the heat may have put in the band. Sharpening my own saws lets me try new things like swedging the tips rather then setting them. I am having good results with this on the double cut bands for the select mill, and on the Wood-mizer LT-70 I have changed over to running steel wheels with great results. Now I am trying out the 2" saws. However that still needs work. I run a mix of saws depending on what I am cutting. I maintain 75-100 saws because we cut all species of wood.