How to make rain with a bandsaw & Eliminating bandsaw bladedrift

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Blog entry by stefang posted 07-03-2010 07:31 PM 17108 reads 21 times favorited 52 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last Monday I bought an 18” Woodfast bandsaw and I had to tell you folks about it because you will understand how glad I am to get it and you will appreciate how many more cool things I can now do with my woodworking because of it. The first part is about getting it into the shop. I thought you might enjoy seeing the hoops I had to jump through, especially if you have been through it yourself. The 2nd part is about blade drift which may be a little controversial, but I will do my best to win you over.

The background
I’ve had a 12” Delta BS for about 13 years. It has been a great saw, but of course it lacks the capacity of a larger saw. I have wanted desperately to be able to resaw and cut my own veneers up to 12” widths which I can in turn use nicely with my scrollsaw for inlay, marquetry and other work plus box making. My Delta did resawing ok up to a 6” width board. this is actually too narrow for the top of the box sizes I want to make. I never tried veneer on it.

Making the rain
We’ve hardly had any rain all spring and summer so far. I arranged to have the new BS delivered last Tuesday thinking it would be the same dry weather. Think again, it rained all day! The delivery guy helped me get it loaded onto my dolly and we moved it to the back terrace next to the double doors on the side of my shop. It was too high with the packing crate and the skids to move through the shop doors and I couldn’t unpack it in the rain, so I had to put tarp over it and wait until the next day as pictured below. Ergo, the blog title.


Getting it into the shop
The next day I was able to unpack it. I removed the table and other things to be mounted. This reduced the weight quite a bit and made the machine a whole lot easier to move. Important because everybody is on holiday, so no help there. My wife kept an eye on me and did a little light holding (she’s still using a crutch) just to keep it balanced while I removed the skids and bottom of the crate to reduce the height enough. After that, again with the wife keeping it balanced I was able to drag it into shop as seen below. It took about 1-1/2 hours from start to finish. Almost all the time was used to carefully remove the crate and most of that was used to remove the skids and the crate bottom. So here it is in the shop at last! Those of you who have put one of these monsters in your basement workshops has my utmost respect!


Modifying the shop to fit the saw
Next I mounted the wheels on the machine and the towing bar. Next came the really heavy table, the fence and a couple of other small things. The one problem I should have anticipated was that I couldn’t get the machine close enough to the wall because unlike almost every other BS of this size the on/off switch is located outboard of the column. I couldn’t live with this because the machine is right across from my lathe and I need all the room I can get to pass between them, which I have to do constantly. My solution was to cut a hole in the wall to house the contact plug which would allow me to get the wheels up to the wall. Sounds simple, but real life rarely is. I checked for studs, but obviously not very well as you can see below.


Too bad, as I had already made a nice mitered frame to fit the imagined hole. I had to reduce the opening and do some cutting so I could later put a frame around as shown in the 2nd picture below.



And finally I got it fitted the way I wanted it. Hooray, a happy sailor!


A better method to eliminate blade drift, and some adjustment details

The first thing I did was to align the fence parallel with the miter gauge as shown in the first pic. (heresy, right?) And I squared up the fence with the 90 degrees to the table. This fence looks light but believe me it’s really heavy gauge stuff.



Now it was time to get the machine set-up. The first this I did was to replace the pretend stock blade with a real one. I’m trying a 16mm blade which I hope will work well for resawing and curved work. The 16mm is one size down from 19mm or 3/4”. I had previously loosened up all the guides and thrust bearings.

Centering the blade
I then tensioned the blade enough for it ride without slippage on the wheels. Then I measured the width of the upper wheel with my calipers as shown below.


Then I did these amazing bit of arithmetic: Wheel width 44mm minus blade width 16mm = 28mm divided by 2 = wheel width 14mm on each side of the blade. This was confirmed again with the calipers. The result was a perfectly centered blade (as perfect as my eyesight anyway). Please note that my calipers aren’t rusty, it’s just a reflection!


After getting the blade centered I brought it to full tension and adjusted the guides and thrust bearings using paper for spacing between the guide and the blades and eyeing in the thrust bearing clearance which I hope was somewhere between 1/64th” and 1/32”.

So what has this got to do with blade drift?
I read an article in a FWW mag from the 2004 Dec. issue 173 by Michael Fortune about getting more out of your bandsaw. In the article he made 5 important points about which are summarized below:

1. A single blade can handle most tasks
2. High blade tension is not necessary
3. Blade drift can be eliminated by proper blade tracking, ie; centering th blade on the wheel.
4. Guides should last many years if adjusted properly. He uses cigarette paper, not dollar bills.
5. Good dust collection is essential to keep your saw running well (read accurately).

Are these claims believable ?
Many of these claims are astounding considering all the famous woodworkers who have been telling me the opposite for so many years. However, Michael Fortune is one of Canada’s best professional woodworkers. He has been at it for around 40 years, and he does a whole lot of resawing for his bent lamination work which he is particularly noted for. This last fact convinced me to give it a try with my Delta BS back in 2004. It Worked!! How could this be? Well, the article explain it all. If you don’t have the FWW mag. issue, you can find it on the FWW website in PDF format. I think you need a membership to view it.

All the five points are necessary to get good resaws, but centered blade is the main point Fortune mentioned that the wheel tires are slightly crowned. A relatively small off center position of the blade will therefore cause a fairly large tracking problem because it changes the angle of the blade.

Now I suppose many of you will not believe Fortune’s claim and think me stupid because I do. But believe me, my opinion is based on almost 6 years of experience. Regardless, I felt obligated to prove such a heretical claim with the sincere hope that you might get try it yourself and get the same benefits.

The Proof

In the photo below you will see that the fence is aligned parallel to the miter slot and there is a pine board there that I will saw a 1/32” veneer from with no further adjustment to the fence. We all know pine is soft and relatively easy to cut, but this about accurate thickness, not feed rate speed.


I made the first cut and it thinned out a bit at the end. Otherwise ok. I checked the cut surface and found it flat, then I check the unsawed other side of the board and found out there was quite a lot of cupping. I decided that since the sawed side was flat that I could use that surface against the fence for the 2nd try which turned out perfect. I confirmed this by checking it with my calipers in several places all along the length of both edges. Here is the result: pics 1 and 2 of the same veneer.



I hope you found this blog a little interesting and that it wasn’t too long or boring. I look forward to hearing your opinion about what you have read here positive or negative. Meanwhile I hope you have a nice weekend and the opportunity to get into the shop (maybe to readjust your bandsaw, ha ha).

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

52 comments so far

View MOJOE's profile


571 posts in 4483 days

#1 posted 07-03-2010 07:40 PM

Thanks for this, I just purchased my forst BS 2 weeks ago, and I will soon be pulling out my calipers to check things over.

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

View Benji Reyes's profile

Benji Reyes

340 posts in 4292 days

#2 posted 07-03-2010 07:52 PM

Thanks for sharing the tips Mike. I’ll be calibrating my band saw on Monday. Congratulations on your new toy!

-- Benji Reyes, Antipolo, Philippines, Instagram benji reyes

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4329 days

#3 posted 07-03-2010 08:18 PM

ha ha ha ha ha Mike after all theese years you shuold know there always rain in Skandinavia
when you plan something like this
glad to see you had something to cover it with
congrat´s with your new toy it looks awesome in yellow/black
I have never heard of this brand before , what the priceranges does it lay in
and are you planning on giving a full review of the maschine in a cupple month time
it for sure looks heavey enoff to be something to consider if and when

looking forward to see what you come up with after you have got this

take care Mike


View Div's profile


1653 posts in 4154 days

#4 posted 07-03-2010 08:24 PM

Good tip, that centering of the blade. makes perfect sense to me. Thanks!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View blockhead's profile


1475 posts in 4522 days

#5 posted 07-03-2010 08:55 PM

Congrats on the new saw Mike! I believe every word you said because I too read the same article last year and set my bandsaw accordingly and the results were very positive. Great blog too btw.

-- Brad, Oregon- The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 4464 days

#6 posted 07-03-2010 08:56 PM

wow – great saw mike – nice write up

-- -erik & christy-

View sras's profile


6322 posts in 4343 days

#7 posted 07-03-2010 09:04 PM

Nice write up Mike! Looks like you got close to having to put a hole in your ceiling as well ;)

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4378 days

#8 posted 07-03-2010 09:22 PM

Thanks Mike for the info. Sooner or later my toy bandsaw has to have a bigger brother. I will probably keep my present one set up to do quick light duty stuff and scrolling, it is very compact, but serviceable. That sounds like some pretty good advice.

I have the FWW DVD archive, and read some of the article. He gives a whole pile of interesting information. This will be how I will set up my big bandsaw when I get one. Love his information about blades.

Great blog Mike, and by the way, Anchorage has got to be the twin to your town when it comes to rain.

Well off to the shop to do a little work….........


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4548 days

#9 posted 07-03-2010 09:24 PM

Thanks for all the positive comments everyone! It was really great to get a BIG machine for a change. Now I want a drum sander, but unfortunately no space left (a bigger hole in the wall?) or money either.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4378 days

#10 posted 07-03-2010 09:26 PM

..............and by the way, the TV we had in the rec room for years was too deep for the cabinet system, so I cut a hole in the wall just like you did and finished it off as well. Was the TV too deep, the cabinet too thin, or the room too narrow….........take your pick…...............(-:


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4250 days

#11 posted 07-03-2010 09:34 PM

Fascinating, Mike. You have exploded some bandsaw myths for me. I must check out that article.

Re: the hole in the wall. If life was easy it wouldn’t be necessary to have the skill to think that we have.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View degoose's profile


7284 posts in 4569 days

#12 posted 07-03-2010 09:54 PM


-- Be safe.

View littlecope's profile


3131 posts in 4716 days

#13 posted 07-03-2010 09:55 PM

Congratulations on the new Band Saw, Mike!! You must be tickled pink with it…
My Dad taught me to center the blade the first time I ever changed one… it makes perfect sense to me…
Great Blog too, my Friend… :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4548 days

#14 posted 07-03-2010 10:00 PM

Jim I guess we are the leaders of the new hole-in-the-wall gang.

Martyn Yes, I felt that way too about the myths.

Mike It doesn’t surprise me that your Dad had a grip on this after seeing some of thing he could.

I think the reason why so many people haven’t realized the truth in this matter is because adjusting the fence does after all solve most of the tracking problem if the blade isn’t centered. However, the worst part is that the fence alignment doesn’t solve the whole problem. The other element is high tension on the blade. Although most don’t realize it, the reason they are applying so much tension is to flatten the tire thereby straightening the blade up. The biggest downside to this is premature wear on the tires,stress on the frame, and a greater risk of blade breakage.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4250 days

#15 posted 07-03-2010 10:10 PM

Mike. Yes, something always stuck in my craw about having a fence ‘out of true’ in order to get a straight cut.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

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