If you have ever ventured into woodworking, then you may be familiar with a band saw.
Considered one of the essential tools if you need to make irregular or difficult cuts, how long does a band saw blade last?
How long should a band saw blade last? There are many variables that you should consider before using your band saw. Some can last under six months, and some can last years! Some of the most important variables to consider are what you are cutting, the condition of the machine and blade, how long you are using the blade, and even how you are feeding the wood through your saw as well.
With any tool, variables make all of the difference. Knowing what you are buying and what you are using it for are some of the first things to consider when you start to use your band saw.
Let’s talk about these variables more in-depth.
How Long Should a Band Saw Blade Last?
The longevity of a band saw blade is going to differ between users.
Not all blades are made equal, and not everyone uses them for the same task.
Some band saw blades are explicitly used for wood, while others can be used in metalwork.
One of the most significant variables is what your project involves.
If you are using it for woodcutting, the harder your wood is can cut down on the life of your band saw blade.
While you are cutting wood, if you run into anything such as a nail, you can kiss a long life for your precious blade goodbye.
Keeping your logs clean can also cut down on unnecessary wear and tear on your blade.
The actual blade you buy is a big deal. Your blade choice is going to be a personal preference, but some people swear by the cheaper blades.
Since you know they are eventually going to get damaged, it is not as hard to say goodbye to them.
Others think that if you want your new blade to last as long as it can, investing in a higher-quality blade will be worth it in the long run.
What Is a Band Saw?
Band saws are most commonly used if you are doing any woodworking, metalworking, or lumbering.
They can cut a wide variety of materials, but most people use them when they are cutting wood of some sort.
They are made from a long blade with toothed sections between two or more wheels controlled by power.
Although they are a major power tool, they are one of the easiest and most effective tools that you can use.
Even if you are starting in any of these areas, band saws are something that beginners often feel comfortable with first.
The blade of a band saw is continuously moving, and the user is controlling the wood more than they are controlling the blade.
This control allows users to create more intricate cuts similar to those made with a jigsaw.
Using your blade at a consistent speed and feed rate, it also is a great way to prevent fractures in the blade from the very beginning.
Band saws come in quite a few versions, which allow them to fit into the workshop of the person using them.
They come in handheld options, floor options, and benchtop options.
These are all relative to how mobile the user needs the saw to be.
What You Need to Know Before You Buy a New Band Saw Blade
In addition to knowing what your next project is, there a few key factors to know before you pick up a new band saw blade.
The first and most important being what kind of blade your band saw requires, and the next being what kind of materials you are going to be using.
The width of your blade is also important. If you are using thicker materials, a wider-width blade is going to be much more effective.
If you are trying to cut a curve into your material, then your blade should have a smaller radius than the curve you intend to create.
The number of teeth on your blade will also let you know how intricate your cut will be.
Most bands saw blades are going to need to be broken in.
A lot of times, the teeth are too sharp, and it can lead to a shorter life for your blade.
It will help if you run the blade at a lower speed to prevent fractures on the edges.
Most brands have tips on how to break in your blade before using it.
3 Main Types of Band Saw Blades
These are the most common type of blade for your band saw. The teeth are evenly spaced and straight.
These are ideal for the standard project but are most often if you are using thinner materials.
They are used on both metals, wood, and even plastics.
These blades have larger teeth that have a great deal of space between them.
The blades have a small angle to them and are great for cutting on coarse materials such as plastics, wood, and metals.
They are an excellent blade if you are looking to make longer cuts.
Although these are similar to hook blades in that they are widely spaced, the gullet is very shallow.
This blade is almost self-cleaning, which makes them ideal for woodworking since the blade will not back up with chips or debris.
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Variables that affect band saw blade lifespan
While stock blades are generally viewed as having shorter working lives than higher-quality aftermarket blades, a lot of the lifespan of a band saw blade is dependent on how it’s used.
Here are some of the different variables that affect the lifespan of a band saw blade:
- Length of the blade
- The material the band saw blade is constructed out of
- Material that the band saw blade is typically cutting
- Regular feed rate
- Whether the band saw blade was tensioned before and after use
- Whether the blade is well-maintained and cleaned after use
Because there are so many different variables that affect how long a band saw blade will last, it is difficult to give an accurate estimation.
If a band saw blade is high quality and well taken care of during and after use, it can last well over a year or more.
If a band saw blade is low quality or is not operated or maintained correctly, it can be dulled much more quickly.
What Happens When a Band Saw Blade Breaks? There are a couple of different ways that a band saw blade can break or malfunction.
Here are some of the ways that a band saw blade breaks or becomes malfunction, and why it usually happens:
The band saw blade teeth are stripping
This issue can be caused by a variety of problems—the woodchip gullets becoming clogged, loose parts in the band saw, or an improper number of teeth in the cut.
The band saw blade band itself has broken
This issue is the result of guides that have gotten worn out, guides that are set too far apart, excess tension in the band, or an insufficient
The bottom line is that when a band saw blade breaks, it’s only rarely a problem with the blade itself unless the blade is poor quality to begin with.
It’s a better option to look at how your band saw is being operated to see if there are any problems that are causing the blades to fail other than plain old structural integrity.
How Do You Store Band Saw Blades to Help Them Last?
One of the problems with replacing the blades on your band saw is that when you take a blade off your band saw you’re left with a sharp, serrated ring of metal is big, floppy, and frankly, a hassle to store.
Luckily, there is a way to fold down band saw blades so that they can be stored in tight rings that are easily stored in a drawer in the workshop or garage.
Here’s how you do it:
- Hold the ring of the band saw blade in front of you, with the teeth facing outward away from your body. Note: It’s best to do this with protective gloves on to make sure you don’t accidentally cut yourself on the blade.
- Place your foot on the bottom of the band saw’s loop and pin it to the ground.
- Turn your hand while pressing down on the band saw blade. This should cause the blade to pop into smaller, tighter coils.
- Once you have the band saw blade collapsed, secure the blade with a zip tie and cinch it tight so that it doesn’t try to come unfolded.
This is a great method to help you keep your band saw blades organized and keep them in a safe configuration until ready for use.
Keeping your band saw blades safe between uses can prevent them from getting bent or damaged and can help extend their lifespan.
You could also build storage in your workshop for your band saw blades, such as the wooden wall bin with blade dividers built over at Wood Magazine.
What Kind of Band Saw Blade Should I Use?
When craftsmen have difficulty with a band saw blades not lasting, it’s usually due to the fact that they weren’t great blades, to begin with.
The blades that come stock on many band saws (especially ones that are not on the expensive side) are shoddy in comparison to aftermarket blades you can purchase.
Changing out the band saw blades can be a hassle due to having to reset guides, tension, and tracking every time you do it.
But if you choose a carbide-tipped band saw blade rather than steel or bi-metal, you’ll spend less time replacing your blade because carbide stays sharper longer than either.
Can You Sharpen Band Saw Blades?
The answer is yes, you can sharpen your band saw blades once they start to get dull, provided the teeth are large enough to sharpen, and the band saw blade has not lost so many teeth as to make sharpening the blade a waste of time.
Note: Carbide-tipped band saw blades should not be sharpened, as they do not sharpen easily and the carbide tips can become damaged by trying.
For all other types of band saw blades, sharpening can be accomplished via a handheld metal grinding tool.
To sharpen the blade on a band saw, it is important to first make sure that the band saw is completely disconnected to prevent any possibility of an accidental startup.
For an in-depth walkthrough on how to sharpen band saw blades, check out this tutorial at My Bluprint.
Can You Fix Broken Band Saw Blades?
What do you do if you have a band saw that has snapped in half?
Well, if it’s still a fairly new band saw and still has plenty of good teeth left in it (and you have a welding kit), you can weld a band saw blade back together.
That being said, if you’re going to weld a band saw blade back together, you’d be best off using a TIG welder, rather than a stick or MIG welder.
This is because stick welding torches get too hot, and the heated area of the band saw will become weakened under the heat.
Weakening the band saw at the weld with high heat will only lead to the metal becoming brittle and breaking again under load.
How Can You Make Your Band Saw Blade Last Longer?
How you use your blade does make a difference in how long the blade should last.
If you are cutting metal or wood that may be thicker or harder, your blade is going to have to work harder to get the job done.
How clean your wood or log appears is another crucial variable. The bark is something that can cause your blade also to lose its sharpness.
How you use the machine is another essential factor.
To make sure your band saw blade lasts as long as it can, keep a regular feed speed while you are feeding the wood through the machine.
Doing this can help the saw keep working at a steady pace, which does not make it work too hard.
Over time, all blades will eventually run down, but if you take care of your blade, it can last longer.
It is easy to sharpen your blade, which is a great way to extend the life of your blade without having to buy a new one regularly.
After you finish using a blade, you should also be cleaning the debris from your blade as well.
Tips to Make Your Blade Last Longer
Make sure the tension settings on your saw are right for the blade you are using.
Most machines will come with a tension guide if you are unsure.
Below is a short video about some band saw hacks you can use:
When you are selecting a blade to buy or use, make sure the blade is right for whatever you are cutting.
Make sure that you are keeping everything clean!
Not only does your blade need to be free from debris, but you also need to clean the blade guides as well.
The blade guides support the blade, which can cut down on extra damage.
Check the coolant concentration regularly.
If it becomes too low, it can lead to bacteria growth, corrosion, and a poor finish.
The ideal level should also be in your owner’s manual.
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