How to Choose Bandsaw Blades

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The bandsaw is an extremely useful tool for woodworking, metalworking and many other crafts. It's a versatile and precise tool that can be found in almost every shop. This saw can be used to cut a number of different materials, but the proper blade must be used. Without the proper blade, the teeth can dull, damage your material or break. It's not difficult to choose the right blade for the work you're doing, so long as you know a few facts. There are five aspects you should consider for your blade: the tooth shape, the tooth set, blade width, teeth per inch and thickness.

Choosing Your Tooth Shape

  • Determine what materials you will be cutting. This is the determining factor in choosing your blade.

  • Choose the regular tooth bandsaw blade if you're cutting fairly thin materials and when you're making intricate cuts. This is the most commonly used blade.

  • If you're cutting soft, non-ferrous plastics, metals or wood you should look into a skip tooth blade. This helps prevent clogging as you cut.

  • For long cuts into thick plastic, metal or wood, a hook tooth blade is useful. The blade is raked forward 10 degrees to help cut at a higher cutting rate.

Choosing Your Tooth Set

  • For cutting thick metal sections on a horizontal machine, or contour cutting and resawing on a vertical machine, choose a raker tooth set. A raker set has one tooth to the right, one to the center and one to the left, repeating in that pattern.

  • For fast, smooth cuts on wood, choose an alternate or straight tooth set. An alternate set has one blade to the left and one to the right, alternating. Double alternate plus raker sets will work to the same effect.

  • For cutting thin sections of pipe, small sheets or other small shapes, choose a wavy tooth set. As the name suggests, this set type has teeth flowing from right to left and back, offset at different angles.
    This blade is offered in 32 teeth per inch only.

Choosing Bandsaw Blade Width

  • Check the instructions for the bandsaw you're using. A proper blade width should be indicated.

  • Consider the types of cuts you will be making. The wider the blade (measured from the tips of the teeth to the back of the blade), the straighter your cut must be. The chart indicates the minimum cut radius for various blade widths.

  • If no instructions are available, purchase a blade as wide as the machine will allow for cut-off sawing. This will allow faster feeding of the wood.

  • For contour cutting, choose a blade no wider than the machine allows, but still narrow enough so it can cut the necessary angles.

Choosing the Correct Teeth Per Inch (TPI)

  • Determine the desired finish quality and feed rate for your cutting. This determines the TPI.

  • For resawing or cutting thick stock (up to 8 inches thick) you should use a coarse tooth blade of 2 to 3 TPI.

  • For thin metals and plastics of under 1/4 inch, use 18 to 32 TPI.

  • Generally,a higher TPI gives a finer but slower cut. For cutting 3/4-inch plywood, a TPI closer to 4 will offer a faster cut, while a TPI closer to 14 will be considerably slower but leave a smoother finish.

Choosing Your Blade Thickness

  • Determine the diameter of your bandsaw's wheels.

  • Use this chart to determine the proper blade thickness based on your wheel diameter (from ToolCenter.com - see Resources).
    4-6 inches: .014 inch
    6-8 inches: .018 inch
    8-11 inches: .020 inch
    11-18 inches: .025 inch
    18-24 inches: .032 inch
    24-30 inches: .035 inch
    30 inches and over: .042 inch, .050 inch, .063 inch

  • While the thickness chart provides general guidelines, thicker blades suffer more fatigue than thin blades; for cutting lighter material, stick to lighter blades. They will suffer less metal fatigue.
    Thin blades, on the other hand, suffer more strain from cutting. When you're doing light work, a lighter blade will last longer.

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References

  • Photo Credit Image 1: http://www.indiamart.com, Image 2: http://www.woodcraft.com/, Image 3: http://www.drillspot.com/, Image 4: http://metalwebnews.org/, Image 5: http://www.made-in-china.com/, Image 6: http://www.toolcenter.com
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