Bandsaw Blades

Just ordered some new bandsaw blades for my 17″ machine.  Done, as always, over the phone.  Bandsaw blades are one of those things you get made to order, not precut and packaged, sitting on a shelf.  I’d rather have a relationship with the supplier, rely on their expertise, and know they are surviving on their reputation, which means they are only as good as the last blade they sell you, so they better sell you a good one!

Blades come in massive continuous rolls, which are then cut to length and welded.

This latest order comes from my original supplier, Henry Bros in NSW, so I am expecting good things. (And no, I don’t get a discount).

I’ve ordered a 3/16″ carbon blade, a 1/2″ bimetal, and my very first 1″ carbide tipped resaw blade.  I’m rather excited to see what that blade can do!

The point about a CT blade is not that they are the sharpest tool in the shed (no, I don’t mean they are dumb!), but they have excellent durability of the cutting surface.  The resaw blade I have at the moment (which came with the saw as part of a deal) is a very basic blade, and from what I can tell is a straight carbon blade.  Which for a blade needing to survive thick, Aussie hard timbers is basically useless after a few short jobs.

A CT blade is meant to be screamingly expensive, and when I priced one for my 14″ Jet bandsaw (which has a 6″ riser block), it was quite a price that I decided not to bother.  Around $80/metre (plus GST) (and I needed 2680mm), it was over $200.  The equivalent bimetal blade cost me about $40 at the time (1.3 TPI). The 14″ Jet can take a maximum 3/4″ blade, and as it turns out, this really pushed the cost up.

This time I decided that it would be really good to get a CT blade for resawing, so steeling myself against price tag shock, I asked how much it would cost for my 3335mm length blade (which is what I need for the 17″).  $38/metre (plus GST) for a 1″ blade.  Means I am up for around $150 inc GST!  Oh yeah, bring on the carbide tips!

Just a bit on blade material, fwiw

A cheap blade is generally a carbon blade.  Carbon steel in other words.  Cheap, initially sharp, but unable to hold an edge for long.  I don’t but carbon blades for anything but the smallest blades (scrollsaw type work), such as 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″ (if I have to).  Anything larger than that, don’t waste your money.

As soon as I can I move into bimetal blades.  These are as they sound –  a blade made from two different metals.  The base metal is a carbon blade (spring steel), but where a carbon blade’s shortcomings are the teeth durability, there is a different metal welded to the front of the blade which the teeth are cut out of.  This is often a cobalt high speed steel, so much more suitable for teeth.

And finally, TCT blades.  Not as sharp initially as the others, but significantly longer lasting, so overall they are sharper on average over the life of the blade.  In the case of the 1″ blade, it has cost me about 3x as much as a standard blade.  A worthwhile investment to my mind.

So when the package arrives (it’ll take a couple of days for the blades to be made and shipped), I will be very interested to see how they all perform.  I pity the timber!

5 Responses

  1. Hi Stu, looking forward to the test results.

    With bandsaw blades, for hardwood vs softwood, would you use a blade with more or less TPI for the hardwood ?

    • If I made a distinction, I would go for less TPI for softwood, which means larger gullets for chip clearance (and faster feed rates). More TPI for hardwood will cut slower, and give a better finish.

      Hardwood forms a finer particle, so can be cleared easier and not need the larger gullet, whereas a softwood forms larger, longer chips that need to be cleared of the cut asap.

  2. I second previous comment… and more such as usefulness of 3tpi 1″ skip tooth TCT blade for resawing? Resaw jigs for sawing rounds or other ideas? Fences .etc.
    There is lots of stuff re BS on net. The good stuff is a bit difficult to choose but worth the time weeding it out. I made myself an ordered list(for beginners!) of about 7 points based on a lot of net research. I have since changed a couple of blades and set-up saw a lot more quickly and done some sawing with reasonable success.
    Am willing to post my ideas (operating check list) from research, here BUT there are many of you far far more experienced with BS than me!

  3. I have ordered from Henery.s one 1/2′ 3tpi and one , 3/4′ at 1 and a half tpi. ?!! Both bi metal and by manufacturer’s recommendations, from my description to him, of my ripping hard wood requirements.

    • Sounds like a good collection! Don’t remember what the TPI of my ripping blade is – will be something around the 1.5 TPI

      I’ve heard of blades with even lower – below 1TPI on a 1″ blade.

      I’ve been impressed with the 1/2″ bimetal (still haven’t had a chance to try the others). How have you found your collection?

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