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  • band saw will not cut straight

    my rigid 14" band saw will not cut a straight line using a fence to guide the wood. Any suggestions are appreciated. It moves left 3/16" in a 4" cut. Is that normal? I saw some topics about drift, do I need to change the fence to compensate for the drift? Thanks.

  • #2
    glide49,
    There are a few things that can cause this, blade quality, blade size, blade drift, blade tension, feed rate (technique), and setup. A high quality blade, such as Timberwolf, tends to drift less than lower quality blades. Also, you want your guides, upper and lower, set to within about 1/32"-1/64" of the blade and just behind the teeth. Cool blocks are better than the typical guide blocks that come with bandsaws. I'm not sure what comes with the Ridgid, I have a 14" Jet and replaced the plastic guides with cool blocks.
    For significant rip cuts or resawing, you probably want to go with a 1/2", or at least 3/8" blade, about 3-4 tpi. I tension my blades slightly higher than the numbers on the tensioning scale. Also, feed slowly. I don't know how experienced you are on a band saw but some people try to feed the wood at a rate similar to that on a table saw. Go slowly, listen to the motor, and observe the blade. Rip cuts, especially, require time for the teeth to clear the waste.
    After all is said and done, you will probably still have some drift that you can compensate for with your fence provided your fence is capable of that adjustment. Blade drift is simply a part of the physics of band saw blades.
    I compensate for drift by taking a piece of scrap (3-4" wide and 3/4" thick and at least 12-18 inches long) that has straight edges. Scribe a straight line and inch or two for the edge of the board. Slowly rip by hand and eye about 1/2 down the board along the scribed line. If the blade has drift your board should now be at an angle. Turn you saw off and clamp the board in place and be sure to not move it. There are a couple of things you can do now, but you want to set your fence at the same angle as the board you have just sawn. One way to do that is with a protractor, but I simply align my fence with the board (loosen the adjustment mechanism on your fence and nudge your fence to the board to adjust it to the angle--note, some fences do not have enough adjustability in them to full adjust for drift in some blades--I've had this happen a couple of times on my Jet. If you're using a homemade fence simply clamp the fence at that angle.
    Next, turn the same back on an continue the cut. If you've done things correctly the your fence should be square to the board and your rip cut should follow the scribed line through the second half of the cut. Of course, try the cut on another piece of scrap just to verify.
    That fence setup will only work for that particular blade. Each blade tends to have a different drift.
    Good luck, if you continue to have problems, I would suggest a couple of books and a video. The Bandsaw Handbook by Mark Duginske and The Bandsaw Book by Lonnie Bird are both good books. Mark Duginske has a couple of videos, one is devoted to the band saw entirely. Its title is Bandsaw Basic, I think. Something like that anyway. He has another book called Mastering Woodworking Machines that is good and he covers the bandsaw in that video, but not in the detail he does in Bandsaw Basics. The two books are available at Highland Hardware, as well as the Mastering Woodworking Machines video. I know the band saw video is still out but I couldn't find it on Highland Hardware's page or Taunton Press's page.

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    • #3
      Some drift is to be expected. If it wasn't then fence makers such as Fast Trac would not be selling resaw guides that allow for correction. However I second getting good blades. My preference is Timber Wolf. I also have found that Olsen preimum quality blades to be a good blade.

      The Jet and the Ridgid saws are made at the same factory and have many interchangeable parts. The blade blocks are the samefor both saws. Many people like the cool blocks. I personally prefer the ceramic blocks. A little more expensive but can be set closer to the blade with out damage. Also file the back of a new blade to round the edges off. That will help.
      I came...<br /><br />I saw...<br /><br />I changed the plans.

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      • #4
        Thanks for your replies to my post, I will try the suggestions and construct a fence that will allow me to compensate for the drift in the blade.

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        • #5
          By the way, the Mark Duginske book and videos I mentioned in my post are available from www.prairieriverwoodworking.com

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          • #6
            Throw the factory blade away fast!!! I had the same problems, and a $15 olsen blade solved them all.
            Some people\'s lack of a sense of humor ruins life for the rest of us.

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