Four Signs That Your Bandsaw Wheels Need Replacement

A bandsaw is an incredibly versatile tool in the shop, capable of resawing thick stock and cutting curves, circles, tenons, dovetails and more. But it doesn’t always work well right out of the box, and some fine-tuning is necessary to ensure optimal performance. One key area to focus on is the bandsaw wheels, which provide support and tracking for the blade to cut straight and smooth metal and wood pieces. Incorrect usage of these soft tires can result in production and safety issues within a manufacturing process. Here are four signs that your bandsaw tire needs replacement.

The most important function of bandsaw tires is to prevent friction and collision between the saw blade and wheel. The tires are placed between the wheel and blade to provide a barrier between them, but this barrier crumbles over time. As a result, the wheels and blade rub against each other, creating rattling noises when the machine is running and eventually causing wear and tear on both components. A new rubber or urethane bandsaw wheel will prevent this issue and help your saw run smoothly.

Another benefit of bandsaw wheels is to support the blade to avoid warping as it cuts. The band (or belt) wants to ride the crown of the wheel – the high point in the center – and a wheel with no tire would be negatively affected by this. The tire acts as a cushion to support the blade on either side of the crown and prevents the wheel from being chewed up by the belt’s teeth.

Lastly, the tires provide the needed space to guide the blade and create a precise alignment between the wheel and blade. This is especially important in larger metal and woodcutting operations, where a slight deviation from the desired path can be costly. A worn bandsaw tire will not support the blade correctly, resulting in improper tracking and uneven cuts.

In addition to preventing warping, a new tire will also help the blade last longer by providing a buffer between it and the wheels. Worn tires crumble easily, and the blade can become exposed to rough edges of the wheels that can cause abrasions and premature wear. A new urethane or rubber tire will protect the blade from these rough areas and extend its lifespan.

Some woodworkers think that a bandsaw should use a semicircle of small wheels to deflect the blade more than a single large wheel can, giving extra throat depth without making the wheels bigger. But this is a flawed idea that will ultimately lead to excessive blade wear and shortening. Every time the blade bends to a small wheel, it has to unbend again and again. This repeated motion weakens the blade and makes it more likely to break or crack over time. Besides, the extra room a three-wheeled bandsaw requires will take away from a workspace’s overall usable height. It’s better to use a conventional two-wheeled saw instead.

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