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How do I know when my tension is set right?

My new "craftsman" 14 inch band saw has a "blade tension scale" on it. It has marks for blades of different widths. I think it is completely bogus. Seems to suggest way too low of a tension.

In my naive first attempts to use the saw today (making a replacement handle for the trash can in my shop), I found that the low tension recommended by the scale for my 1/4" blade seemed way too low. The blade didn't put up any effort to stay straight as I turned the wood to follow my pattern. As I turned the wood, the blade would just turn with the wood, keeping me from changing the direction of my cut.

I cranked up the tension just a little and it seemed much better. Now I'm wondering "how much is too much"?

Is the down-side to too much tension "catastrophic"? (like the band breaks)

Or is it just a matter of "tighten it up until it feels right"?
 

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First of all are your blade guides set up correctly? Thrust bearing set just a hair behind the blade. Guide bearings set just to each side of the blade and behind the gullets of the teeth. There is a good video to watch on YouTube by Alex snodgrass. He recommends that the blade tension should be such that if you tap it from the side with two fingers it will deflect about an 1/8". Also the deepest part of the gullets should be set to the center of the upper wheel with tracking. That's how I set up my craftsman professional saw, which may be the same as yours. Made by rikon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys. Yeah, I had seen that video before. I forgot that he provided a "method" for setting the tension.

I will give that a try tomorrow. FWIW, seems rather "imprecise". Kind of depends on how hard you tap the blade. How hard are you supposed to tap it? (I think the answer is "tap it just hard enough to deflect it by 1/8 " when the tension is properly set")

Have any of you found some specific indication that you have it TOO TIGHT?
 

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WOW. That's just amazing with what Alex did with that Moose. It looked like random cuts and then a moose just pops out of the wood. What the heck. I'll have to reanalyze if my band saw is set up properly, especially if I don't have to reset the bearings and guides with blade changes. Sorry for being slightly off topic. I also wanted to know more about the tension and this helped a lot. :)
 

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One rule of thumb I've seen is with guides at maximum height, 1/4" of deflection in the middle of the blade.

Forget the scale just tighten 'er up and go.

Remember to keep the blade guides a 1/2" or so above the work.
 

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There are low tension blades on the market and are marked as such. I don't have the issue with wobble or deflection on any of my blades and I use the recommended tensions. If you're setting your bearings at the proper distances, are you also setting the blade guide at a proper height?
 
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