How can we make the most of our bandsaw? First, start with a tune up and then supercharge your bandsaw with these 7 easy tips and tricks.
Supercharge your bandsaw with these tips and tricks that will help to prolong the life of the tires, reduce friction, reduce vibration and more.
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My favorite way to use my bandsaw is to resaw. Think of resawing as splitting a piece of wood lengthwise and then opening it like a book. There’s something so satisfying to me about resawing. I can’t completely explain it. It’s almost like you’re looking inside the wood. Like you’re looking at the soul of the wood.
I used the resawing technique to make beautiful book-matched panels for the sides of the DIY bathroom vanity. This panel making technique was also used to make my workshop doors. The doors were assembled with pocket holes and then painted to match the rest of my small workshop.
I also wanted to incorporate this style of panel into my “Skate-Away Camper” (my DIY truck camper). The walls of the Skate-Away Camper would be made with a frame-and-panel technique similar to my workshop doors. The camper was going to require more than 20 panels so my bandsaw needs to be in tip-top shape.
I should mention that my bandsaw is a Harbor Freight. Well, it’s actually a Central Machinery brand bandsaw that I bought at Harbor Freight. Doesn’t everyone refer to their Harbor Freight tools as “Harbor Freight” instead of their unique brand name?! So for this post, I’ll refer to my bandsaw as Harbor Freight.
Say what you will about Harbor Freight tools, overall I think this is a decent little saw. It’s economically priced for someone looking to add a bandsaw to their workshop. There are some easy ways to improve the performance of the Harbor Freight bandsaw and these easy solutions should help to improve the performance of just about any bandsaw.
I started the massive panel production by giving my bandsaw a tune-up. I followed this How to Tune Your Bandsaw procedure by Popular Woodworking. It’s a thorough tune-up procedure, easy to follow, and I love their dollar bill trick.
After the saw was tuned up I took things into my own hands. Here are the bandsaw tips and tricks I used to supercharge the performance of my Harbor Freight bandsaw.
7 Easy Tips and Tricks to Supercharge Your Bandsaw
Make it Mobile
Stationary tools take up waaay too much space in my small workshop. I don’t allow any tool in my shop unless that tool is mobile. Since this is Saws on Skates my first way to supercharge your bandsaw is to put your bandsaw on skates, errr, make it mobile. When I bought my bandsaw at Harbor Freight I also decided to try out their 300-pound mobile base.
There are definitely some drawbacks to this mobile base. The kit comes with four metal corners and you need to supply the wood to connect the corners together. The first issue is the wood needed is not a standard size. You either need to rip the wood to width with a table saw or plane it to thickness with a thickness planer.
The second issue is the base doesn’t roll very easily. The base starts to move and then the locks tend to get hung up on the floor which causes the bandsaw to jump slightly out of the base.
I think there are both better store-bought and DIY options out there. Skate over to 7 Ideas to Make Your Tools Mobile & Maximize Workshop Space for some clever ways to put your “bandsaws on skates”.
Upgrade the Blade
The blade that came with my Harbor Freight bandsaw was okay for making general cuts, but for my project, I needed to resaw and the stock blade did not work well for this purpose. There are blades available specifically made for resawing, so I supercharged my bandsaw with a Timber Wolf resaw blade. It gets great reviews and I’m really pleased with it.
Consider replacing your bandsaw blade even if you’re not planning to resaw. The blade that came with my Harbor Freight bandsaw was just adequate at best for making general cuts and I believe there are better options available.
Clean the Blade
Did you know sometimes a dull blade is actually a dirty blade? That’s right. Wood pitch can build up on the blade which can affect the quality of our cuts. Is your saw blade dull or just dirty?
Lots of wood pitch builds up while I’m resawing so I clean my Timber Wolf resaw blade to ensure a quality cut and keep it operating at peak performance. I use this blade and bit cleaner to clean my miter saw blade and table saw blade and it works great for my bandsaw blade too.
Skate over to Clean Saw Blades for Peak Performance and Quality Cuts to see how easy it is to clean your saw blades and supercharge your bandsaw.
Keep Your Cool
My Harbor Freight bandsaw came equipped with metal guide blocks. A metal blade rubbing against metal guide blocks creates friction and that creates heat. And heat is an enemy to our saw blades.
A simple way to supercharge your bandsaw is to replace these metal guide blocks with non-metallic guide blocks. I upgraded to these cool blocks which are “made from a high tech, non-metallic composite material.”
Brush Away the Dust
All saws produce sawdust. It’s probably just my imagination but I feel like out of all of the saws my bandsaw produces the MOST sawdust! And most of that sawdust lands on the lower tire. If left unchecked this sawdust can cause some real issues with both the blade and the tire.
Enter the Clean Sweep Bandsaw Brush. The brush sweeps sawdust off the tire as it turns. Sawdust left on the tires can affect blade tracking. Sawdust left on the tires can also impact the tires themselves.
According to Carter Products the maker of the Clean Sweep as “debris accumulates on the tire, continued use without cleaning compresses the tire more in other places then if it were in contact with the rubber or urethane alone. Over time the tire will lose its rebound in those places if not cleaned properly and thus decrease tire life.”
Then I installed the Clean Sweep Bandsaw Brush with the screw included in the package. Adding a brush is cheap insurance to ensure proper blade tracking, improve the life of tires and supercharge your bandsaw.
Reduce the Friction
It sounds crazy, but I wax the table of my bandsaw and I think you should too. It’s not just to make our bandsaws look shiny and new. Waxing makes our bandsaw easier to clean, reduces the chance of oxidation, and perhaps most importantly waxing reduces friction. Over time wood sliding across the table can leave behind wood pitch. The wood pitch can build up and cause friction. Then workpieces “stick” rather than slide across the table.
Skate over to Wax Your Table Saw to Reduce Friction and Maximize Performance for a full tutorial, to see which wax I use and a how-to video.
Lose the Vibration
I saved what I think is my best way to supercharge your bandsaw for last. After I did a complete tune-up and all of the tips I mentioned above my Harbor Freight Bandsaw was still struggling to resaw the workpieces I needed to make the panels for the Skate-Away Camper.
The blade would begin to slow down whenever I attempted to make the cuts. This wasn’t anything unusual with this saw. It was slow to cut since the time I purchased the saw and the reviews I read about it said it works well as long as you go slow.
But with every piece I cut it began to take longer, and longer, and longer. To the point where it was taking early 15 minutes to resaw a 24” workpiece! I turned the saw on without attempting to cut a piece of wood and the blade struggled to move. I checked the belt and it was slipping.
I replaced the slipping belt with an adjustable link belt. The belt was super easy to install. I turned on the saw, started to resaw my workpiece and it was cutting like a champ! This leads me to believe the belt had been slipping since day one.
The other thing the Harbor Freight bandsaw did since day one was to vibrate like a jackhammer. One of the benefits of an adjustable link belt is it reduces vibration. And it definitely reduced the vibration in my Harbor Freight bandsaw! Now when I turn on the bandsaw it’s silky smooth rather than jumping around like a jackhammer. I wish I knew about these adjustable link belts sooner.
It just takes a few simple tips and tricks to supercharge your bandsaw. Make your bandsaw mobile to maximize space in your workshop. Choose a blade for the type of cuts you’ll be making and keep your blade clean. Upgrade to cool blocks to keep your saw blade cool. Add a bandsaw brush to ensure proper blade tracking and extend the life of your tires. Wax the table to reduce friction and upgrade to an adjustable link belt to reduce vibration.
Thank you for stopping by. If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? Other DIYers would appreciate it and I would too! Thank you – Scott