Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray
Band Saws can be fitted with several different types of blades to perform various cutting tasks. The band saw blade is prone to breaking prematurely for several reasons. Although a band saw can be a valuable addition to a woodwork shop, blade setup, and maintenance complexity require some experience.
There are seven main reasons why band saw blades break:
- Incorrect usage of the band saw
- New blade run in not done correctly
- Blade over tensioned
- Incorrect blade tooth pitch
- Blund saw blade
- Band Saw Machine is defective
- Poor quality blade
- The blade is excessively worn
Why Band Saw Blades Are Prone To Breaking
Band saws are among the more complex woodworking machines in the workshop to be set up correctly and maintained. This is one of the main reasons why a band saw is not recommended for novice or even intermediate-level woodwork enthusiasts. Let’s look at each of these factors in more detail and how they can be avoided.
1. Incorrect Technique
The main reason for band saw blades breaking is incorrect technique or maintenance. Not using the correct type of blade lubricant or too little lubricant or using the wrong type of blade for the material being cut is often the cause of breakage.
2. New blade run is not done correctly
Setting the blade speed incorrectly for the type of material and the blade type is another failure mode that may lead to blade breakages. Using the correct blade types and speed settings is important when using a band saw. The manufacturer guidelines must be followed, and you need to enquire about the availability of training from the manufacturer or retailer where you bought your machine.
Running in a new band saw, especially after you have fitted a new saw blade, is essential to prevent premature blade breakages. The correct run-in procedure entails adjusting the feed rate of the material to be cut to at least fifty percent of the normal operating feed rate for at least the first five minutes after installation.
The sharp edges of a new blade are prone to get stuck on the material being cut during the first few minutes of operation. The saw blade needs to wear in and lose any sharp edges that may cause it to get stuck. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct installation and run-in procedure for new blades.
3. High Tension of Saw Blade
The correct tensioning of the saw blade is essential. If the saw blade is too loose, it can break more easily than when it is over tensioned. Over tensioning the blade will lead to a premature failure and wear of the saw blade, but it is preferable to under tensioned blades. Your band saw is fitted with a built-in tension indicator.
Always check the blade tensioner that your tension settings are correct when the blade is still cold and once the blade has been in use for some time and has heated up to operating temperature. If your band saw is not fitted with a built-in saw blade tensioner, you can purchase a handheld blade tension gauge and guidelines for blade settings.
4. Low Teeth Count of Band Saw Blades
The band saw blades typically have a low teeth count per inch ranging between four and fourteen teeth per inch. The rule of thumb for band saw blades is to have at least three full teeth making contact with the surface to be cut. If there are fewer teeth in contact with the cut surface, the risk of the teeth getting snagged up on the edge of the workpiece is higher, increasing the risk of blade breakage.
5. Blunt Saw Blade
Even on the best-maintained and correctly lubricated machines, band saw blades do not last forever. As the saw blade becomes blunt and the teeth lose their cutting edge, the risk of pinching and breakage increases. A symptom of a blunt blade is that the noise level when cutting increases.
The deterioration will happen gradually, and you may become accustomed to the gradual increase in noise levels, but you will notice that the blade’s ability to cut starts to diminish. To eliminate the risk of experiencing a blade breakage during operation, replace the saw blade and follow the correct run-in procedure for a new saw blade.
6. Band Saw Machine Defect
The band saw machine defects are another potential cause of blade breakages. If the bearings are misaligned or the blade guides are not set up correctly, the machine will break even the newest blades. Follow the new blade installation instructions in the user manual for the machine and slow run the new blade in.
Ensure that the bearing rollers and blade guides are correctly set up and do not cause the blade to twist and break. The most common point of failure on a blade is the joining weld. Do regular maintenance and lubrication check to ensure that the machine setup remains correct.
7. Poor quality blade
Band saw blades are expensive, leading you to consider low-cost alternatives. Remember that you get what you pay for, and a compromise in price may come with a compromise in blade quality. Stick to the blade quality recommended by the band saw manufacturer and maintain your machine and blade regularly.
8. Blade is excessively worn
Poor quality blades will result in more frequent blade breakages and cause you to make additional blade installations and run-in procedures. A range of long-life blades is available and worth the additional cost to ensure the best operational results and durability.
The band saw blades are produced to give perfect cuts and, if well maintained and properly used, will ensure that you have an optimal blade life. It is evident from the myriad of factors that affect band saw blades and cut performance that a band saw is not the ideal tool for a novice to work with.
Most tasks for which a band saw is used can be performed with alternative equipment with the advantage of far less complexity in maintenance and safety precautions. A handheld circular saw and a battery-powered jigsaw will cost you a fraction of what a band saw will cost and give you the ability to do most tasks with less effort, cost, and maintenance.