How many times have you hated your bandsaw for cutting crooked wood? Well, there are reasons why a bandsaw cuts crooked. Fortunately, you can fix the rationale behind every crooked cut.
Crooked cuts can look wavy, concave, convex, or beveled. It’s a result of improper safe operation like to slow or dirty blade, guide fence is too far from the saw, degrading coolant, and too much down feed pressure. These are simple issues that you can fix with proper routine maintenance.
Being aware and having a better understanding of the issues mentioned helps in identifying the complication and taking the right action. So, keep on reading if you want more tips to solve your bandsaw cutting issues.
What is Bandsaw?
A bandsaw is a two or three-wheeled saw, which holds a thin rotating blade. It has a table to support the material, uses a motor to work. Bandsaws are available in various sizes, from small bench-type to huge floor models.
Most woodworkers like using bandsaw because of its versatility. It’s not only for cutting straight shapes, but you can also use it to slice curves and other irregular shapes. Additionally, it accurately works in both thin and thick lumber.
7 Reasons Bandsaw Cuts Crooked and Simple Ways to Fix Them
1. The Bandsaw Blade is Dull
A dull blade gives slower cut speed, and make it crooked. Imagine cutting a steak with a dull knife, it will give you a hard time parting the steak with so much pressure. The same thing happens with a bandsaw.
Sharper blade means less force required to cut material, so the operator doesn’t need much energy to get a cut. However, dull blades require more power to feed into the blade, which can cause it to turn left or right – and that’s when crooked cuts take place.
- How to Fix it? Always have a sharp and well-lubricated blade is the best solution. Setting up the blade guides properly also helps in easing the situation, but it may still allow some crooked cuts since guides are not the main issue.
2. Incorrect Installation of the Blade
Incorrect installation can be about the improper use of the right blade for the material or inaccurate placement of the blade itself. First, make sure that the blade is correct for your wood. Second, install the blade correctly in a way that fits the bandsaw, the positioning, and its alignment whenever it turns.
- How to Fix it? Pick the right blade for each material. The blade teeth should point in the correct direction. The point of the edge should face down for a vertical bandsaw blade, then the hook of the teeth for horizontal bandsaw should point in a way that they enter the workpiece as the blade moves.
3. The Blade Runs in the Wrong Direction
It can be different for every bandsaw type, and the type of blade you’re using. For all vertical blade bandsaws, the blade teeth should go down, to force the workpiece down onto the table. Meanwhile, horizontal blade bandsaws run towards the wheel connected to the engine. Otherwise, the blade can lift the wood if it runs in the wrong direction.
- How to Fix it? Make sure that the blade is in the correct position. For each kind of knife that you have, always check the manual for these crucial details. If you need to make wiring changes, and you’re not sure, call a qualified electrician to help do the necessary changes.
4. Incorrect Blade Speed
There’s an appropriate speed for every material depending on thickness, sensitivity, and application. Even a few inch-per-minute improper adjustments can cause crooked cuts. More often, medium speed is ideal in cutting lumber.
- How to Fix it? Determine the exact speed for the wood. Usually, saw manufacturers supply a speed chart. It includes the ideal blade speed for classifications of materials, cutting rates, tension for various sizes of blades, and answers to technical questions.
5. Misalignment of the Bandsaw Wheels
Bandsaw wheels have a crown or rounded surface on the blade support wheels, which is almost the same as a bicycle tire. The crown holds the blade in place and supports the knife whenever it climbs up to the highest point of the wheel.
So, with excessively worn wheels, the blade may wander around, or it may not know where to go. This results in a poor quality of the cut, and difficulty setting the guides. If the blade runs near the center of the crown, then it requires proper alignment immediately. Misalignment of the Bandsaw Wheels can cause the knife to work improperly, resulting in crooked cuts.
- How to Fix it? The blade should be at the crown center crown, and not too close to the front or rear edge of the roller. Maintain the ¼ inch to ⅛ inch distance from the center of the wheel.
6. Misaligned Blade Guides
If there’s no problem with the blade wheels, then the blade guides must have a problem. A typical bandsaw blade guides consist of three guides – one on each side (side guides), and one on the rear (rear guide). These elements can be sliding blocks, wheels, or a blending of the two. Improper alignment between the blade and the guides, no matter how big or small, can cause crooked cuts.
- How to Fix it? For side guides, the ideal distance should be close to the sword and leave a tiny space about a dollar bill thick, for free running. Meanwhile, the rear guide should have approximately ⅛ to ¼ inch clear of the back of the blade. You can also check the bandsaw guides for the correct positioning, and tolerance of the inserts and wheels.
7. Degrading Coolant
Coolant acts like the oil in the car engine. It flushes the shavings out the bandsaw cut. Then, it also ensures that there are no chips go back to the workpiece, with the help of a blade-cleaning brush. Additionally, it also lubricates the blade for extended life, while acting as a heat transfer agent to cool the material.
However, a coolant also degrades with time. Once it happens, it reduces its ability to transfer heat, which can form unwanted burrs at the edge of the workpiece. It also lessens the lubricity of the blade, which results in faster wear and tear and low-quality cuts.
- How to Fix it? Proper maintenance can help, but as mentioned, Coolants degrade with time. However, you can still prolong its life with decent care. Generally, always maintaining the ratio of water to coolant at 10-to-1 or 12-to-1 for mild woods, while 8-to-1 for more hardened materials.
How Fast Should a Bandsaw Run?
The speed of your bandsaw dramatically affects the quality of your cuts. Depending on your material, but usually, slow to medium speed is perfect for woodworking.
A faster rate is especially for other more robust materials like metals. The usual speed for bandsaw in cutting wood is about one thousand feet-per-minute. You can go high as much as five thousand feet-per-minute, but it would significantly affect your wood, especially if it’s too thin. Keeping it slow eliminates any risk of producing tear outs.
Choosing the Best Bandsaw
The first thing that you have to ask yourself in choosing the best bandsaw is for what purpose. Do you need it for a specific application, unique material, or do you want something all-around?
With hundreds to thousands of various changes, selecting the best band saw can be quite a confusing task. It is overwhelming to figure out what is indeed the most competent. So, remember these things that you should consider before purchasing a new bandsaw.
- Types. There are two main bandsaw types – the Floor-standing Cabinet and Bench Top Models.
Floor-standing Cabinets are more prominent, substantial, subtle, stable, and especially for heavy-duty workloads. Most of all, it’s pricier. Even so, professional woodworkers or contractors prefer using it because of efficiency.
Bench Top Models are the opposite – it is smaller, lighter, and ideal for home use. You can set it atop of a workbench. It may be a bit lesser than the first type, but it still delivers excellent results.
- Frame. The frame supports the whole bandsaw. If you’ll work on more significant materials, steel or cast iron is the ideal frame for extra durability and toughness. Plastic frames are competent, but only for light workloads.
- Horsepower. Horsepower refers to the capacity of the bandsaw’s engine. 1 HP is the most common aptitude for most bandsaws for home use. However, you can go higher than that depending on the weight of your project. If you’re thinking of accepting big jobs in the future, it’s wise to invest in higher horsepower.
- Throat. Throat refers to the distance of the vertical frame from the blade. It helps in determining the model that you can handle. If you’re working on more extensive materials, it’s good to have a bandsaw that has a more extended throat.
- Table. It is ideal to have a bandsaw table made from steel, aluminum, cast iron, or alloy because they offer strong support in holding any material. Also, choose something that is extendable if possible, especially if you want to accept massive projects later on. Another option to consider is getting a table that tilts. Some bandsaw tables can turn left or right of approximately 45 degrees for extra versatility.
- Weight. You may not have many options for this, especially for Floor-standing bandsaws, but some model is super heavy that even one person can’t move it. It is better to get a quite lightweight model so that you can move it around your workstation quickly.
- Extras. Look for some extra features that a bandsaw can do. For example, some can have quick release for fast blade changes, built-in work lights, and others. These other specialties can give you more convenience while woodworking.
How Thick of Wood Can a Bandsaw Cut?
It all starts with choosing the right blade for cutting your wood. For example, if the blade is too wide or too thin for your desired cut, it may result in poor quality.
Generally, there’s a guideline attached in the Bandsaw in cutting the right for the right measurement.
Choosing a Blade for Your Bandsaw
Bandsaw blades have various widths, sizes, teeth configuration, and materials. As mentioned, choosing the knife for your bandsaw depends on the material that you’re going to work. So, here are some factors that you should consider in picking.
- Blade Width
Blade Width is about the maximum capacity of the bandsaw and the minimum radius that you want to cut. It is essential in cut-off sawing or re-sawing to keep the cuts excellent and straight without breaking.
On the other hand, more narrow blades are ideal for contour sawing to cut the preferred radius successfully. Here’s a correlation between the blade width and the material’s radius that you want to cut.
|Blade Width (Inches)||Minimum Radius (Inches)|
- Blade Thickness
The thickness of the blade is essential in preventing crooked cuts. Choosing the blade thickness depends on the diameter of the bandsaw’s wheels, and should match with the application.
Usually, thick blades resist cutting strains from straight cuts but have more tendency to break easily because of bending and twisting actions. Meanwhile, thinner blades should only be for lighter projects. To help you, here’s a guide to identifying the ideal blade thickness for the diameter of your wheel.
|Wheel Diameter (Inches)||Blade Thickness (Inches)|
|4 – 6||.014|
|6 – 8||.018|
|8 – 10||.020|
|11 – 18||.025|
|18 – 24||.032|
|24 – 30||.035|
|30+||.042, .050, .063|
As a rule of thumb, more teeth means slower and smoother result while lesser teeth offer faster, but slightly rough outcome. For precision, always keep at least two to four teeth in the material at all times when cutting.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What Does SFM Mean in Most Saw Machines?
It is an abbreviation for Surface feet per minute (SFPM or SFM), which refers to the union of a substantial quantity (surface speed) and the American customary unit feet per minute or FPM. SFM measures the total number of linear feet that a rotating component travels in one minute at the same location.
What is the Difference Between Cutting Speed and Cutting Feed?
Cutting speed is the difference of relative velocity between the saw blade, and the surface of the workpiece. Cutting Feed Rate is the relative velocity of the distance when the cutting tool travels during one revolution of the machine. Both affect the cutting process.
What’s the Difference Between a Band Saw and a Scroll Saw?
Overall, bandsaws are more potent because of its blade. Meanwhile, a scroll saw has an open to the front and rear, making it less efficient than Bandsaws.
Bandsaws are a versatile tool, but it can be complicated when it comes to troubleshooting because of its powerful machine. However, manufacturers always provide a guide or a manual to help you fix some minor issues that you may encounter.
Crooked cuts are common issues for bandsaws, especially after using it for a long time. Follow some tips and techniques that we have mentioned, whenever required. However, call a professional technician from the manufacturer if you find it impossible to fix your bandsaw.