Bandsaw Blade Selection
Knowing what to look for when purchasing bandsaw blades can make a tremendous difference in the speed and quality of cutting. Here are a few tips for selecting the proper blade:
Blade Width -
The width of a bandsaw blade is measured from the back of the blade to the tip of the tooth on its opposite face. Different blade widths are designed for different applications. Wide blades (1" and up) are designed for straight cutting. The wider the blade, the better chance your cuts will stay straight and true. Narrow blades (3/4" and less) are designed for cutting curves. The narrower the blade, the better its ability to cut tight curves. In our shop, we prefer to use a 3/8" band for cutting circles from 4"-14" in diameter. For diameters greater than 14", we use a 1/2" blade. All of our straight line sawing is performed with blades ranging from 1" wide to 2" wide.
Number of Teeth Per Inch (TPI) -
A bandsaw blade's number of teeth per inch directly affects two things: the speed with which cutting can be performed and the smoothness of the cut. For wood turners, we usually find that speed of cutting is more important when cutting turning stock. A good general purpose blade for sawing materials over 1" thick should have around 3 teeth per inch.
Tooth Style -
There are three different types of teeth for bandsaw blades: regular, hook and skip teeth. Regular blades are used most frequently for metal cutting, where there is less waste material being produced and removed. Hook style teeth have deeper spaces (gullets) between the teeth than regular blades, allowing for faster removal of waste, especially in harder woods. Skip style teeth have specially designed spaces between the teeth which tend to break up the waste material into smaller pieces. This can be especially useful when cutting woods which tend to gum up saw blades. In our shop, we use the hook style tooth pattern for our blades. While some woods will gum up the blades, the hook style of tooth is better suited for cutting a wider variety of woods than the skip style or regular style of tooth.
Blade Type -
For most woodturning applications, a carbon steel blade is the best option. Carbon steel blades are both reliable and affordable. Use caution, however, in deciding where to purchase your blades. We highly recommend finding a reputable saw blade manufacturer or a high end woodworking supply store as your source for making your purchases. While the costs will be greater than what you might pay for when getting one from the local hardware store, the quality of the blade's material will usually provide for better cutting and extended blade life, which will save you money in the long run.