Bandmill blade guide pressure

Proper set-up techniques for blade guides on bandsaw mills. November 29, 2000

I'm wondering how some of you set-up your band guides. I understand that WoodMiser guides are set with a certain amount of "down pressure", deflection, on the band. My mill uses Carter guides that have solid support blocks and a back-up wheel. The guides are supposed to be set-up so the band just touches the bottom block with a slight clearance between the top of the band and the top block. Band runs 1/8" away from the face of the back-up wheel. Set this way there is no down pressure or down deflection on the band.

I've been happy with the results, except in knotty wood, spruce, red pine, but wonder if anybody has experimented with down pressure? Does it help? In my case, I'm not sure it would be good for the support blocks or the band, as it would seem to generate more heat and wear.

Forum Responses
Do what your manufacturer says. Roller guides are used with down pressure to make sure they are controlling the blade. The crown of the wheel on a saw with roller guides may not be doing the job.

Guides with flat plates are dependent on the crown of the wheels more so. If you have problems cutting straight I would suspect sharpness, cutting speed and set (in that order).

You may want to try moving your back wheel closer. The closer you are able to run it to the blade the less stress you put on the blade and the fewer stress cracks you will experience on the back of the blade. Just don't let it touch all of the time or the blade will develop a shoulder and you will wear out your backwheel real quick.

When I got my saw a few years ago, I had all sorts of problems, so I tried everything with the guides. I finally caught up to someone who knew bandsaws. He told me to quit messin' with the guides, in fact, don't even use them and get a decent blade and learn how to sharpen and set the teeth.

I had visions of having 14' of steel wrapped around my neck, so I backed off the guides bit by bit.

I now run the saw with the guides totally out of the way. I run a good blade and learned how to sharpen and set (it took awhile) and haven't had a problem since.

I run my "rough" lumber through a small finishing planer and it proves the mill cuts true.

I'm not saying this will work for other mills but it sure worked for me. The way the fellow put it, "if you don't have a sharp blade with the right set, no amount of any kind of adjustment will give a good cut".

From the original questioner
You brought up another area I've also been wondering about when you mentioned crown on the wheels. Is there any "right" or "best" postion for the band to track on the bandwheels? I set mine up so that there is just a slight clearance between the egde of the wheel and the gullet of the band.

Just get the band so that it rides true on both wheels. The wheels should be parallel first and then adjust such that the teeth don't ride on the wheel (flattens set) and they don't hit anything. You want to protect the set and the tips of the teeth at all costs. I would imagine that your manufacturer has given you a lineup procedure in your instructions. If not, you should make sure you get some from them. Even though all bandmills are pretty much the same, manufacturers all have their own ideas and incorporate them into their saws. You'll find that a lot of tuning and sawmilling in general is an art rather than a science. Your instruction book will make sure that you get off on the right foot. I have found that you can adjust yourself to death and forget to cut wood.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
I have built several resaws and sawmills and I make my own roller guides. The deflection used is of almost 3/32". The control of the cut can't be better, but if the blade is not sharp, set and fed properly, even the best guide in the world will fail. With this system I have used 2.5" wide bandsaw utill they are 1 3/8" when I cut them down and reweld them to fit in a smaller bandsaw. The bandsaw needs some down pressure to cut better - it is like a guitar string. The other thing is that we use Swedish steel for our blades.