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Just like any other tool or implement, the best band saw cannot be expected to perform up to expectations if it is not maintained properly. Fortunately, maintaining a band saw is not exactly a rocket science. Why is it important to maintain your band saw, you ask? Well, aside from the obvious (which is getting the expected performance from your band saw), it will also save you a lot of time and money since you won’t have to spend so much on repairs and constant replacement of parts, particularly the saw blades.
Maintaining the Band Saw
After doing your research and reading the various reviews on different band saws, you have probably made up your mind on which to get. However, the quality of the band saw will largely depend on how you use and maintain it.
Here are tips that you can observe in order to maintain the band saw itself.
- Keep your band saw clean. It will not matter if you use the finest quality of blade on your band saw if it is dirty. Prevent the build-up of saw dust and other dirt collected on the saw periodically. A brass or wire brush works very well in cleaning any build-up. Or you can use any old toothbrush; just make sure it is also clean. A blower can also be used to
- Do not install a new blade unless the band saw is clean and free of any build up.
- Before using the band saw for cutting, make checking a habit. Look for any signs of wear and adjust accordingly, particularly its tension levels. This is to prevent unnecessary and premature wearing of the blades.
- Perform maintenance on the band saw on a regular basis. Make band saw maintenance a regular thing, even if you do not use it often. Often, tools deteriorate or become damaged even if they remain unused and have been kept or stored for long periods of time.
- Check the position of the wheels. Remove the covers or doors and see to it that they are in line with each other.
- Check the movement of the bearings. You can do this by removing the cover on the band saw. The bearings should be able to move freely. Otherwise, reach for a good lubricant (vegetable oil is a good option) and spray it on the bearings to loosen them and make them move smoothly and freely.
- Deal with any rust that has formed by using any rust remover. Car wax is also an effective alternative. When applying a coat of car wax, however, make sure that the cloth you use to wipe it with is clean.
- Replace the band saw blades when necessary. When it needs changing, you have no choice but to do so. Insisting on using old, dull blades may only cause damage to your band saw (and even give you headaches).
- Use coolants. This is especially true if you are using the band saw frequently. Coolants will keep the machine from overheating, which will inevitably cause the band saw blades to shrink and crack, if left unchecked.
Maintaining the Band Saw Blades
Knowing how to use a band saw is not enough; you also have to be mindful of how to take care of it as well as its parts. Undoubtedly, the parts of the band saw that need the most attention are the saw blades.
- New blades require a break-in period. This means that, before using the blades for the first, you have to wear them down first. This is to avoid the saw’s teeth from breaking. To break it in properly, turn it on but keep it at half-speed. Get a material and cut around 50 square inches.
- Apply lubricant. This is a no-brainer. However, you cannot apply just any type of lubricant it will depend on the material you are cutting with the band saw.
- Although there are already commercial lubricants available for sale, you can also prepare your own lubricant, again, depending on the material you will be cutting. Here are some suggestions:
- Metal: mix high adhesion chain saw bar oil and diesel or kerosene at a 2:1 ratio.
- Wood: use vegetable oil or vegetable shortening and apply it as a spray.
- When applying lubricant, apply it to both sides of the saw blade.
- Water is not a lubricant, and can actually even cause saw blades to rust. Using solvents is also discouraged, since they may end up damaging the blades and the machine.
- Keep blades sharp by using a sharpening machine. If you opt to go about it manually, there are hand tools that you can use. Another option is to use a sharpening stone. When rubbing the sharpening stone, make sure to do it on both sides of the blade.
- When not in use, you must release the tension from your blade so it does not shrink or crack under constant tension.
- You know those strips of plastic or plastic caps that come with the band saw blade when you purchase them? Do not throw them away. You can use them when storing your saw blade. It will also ensure safety and prevent accidents.
The most important tip to maintaining your band saw – as well as the band saw blades – would be to follow what the manufacturer says. Read the manual and follow the instructions, and start from there.
The Final Word
There are a lot of benefits to be derived from using a band saw, but you will only reap these benefits if you make sure it is cared for and maintained properly. Look at your band saw as an investment: it is a very important tool that you will expect to use for a very long time, so you have to make sure you accord it the proper care and maintenance that it deserves. With these tips, you are sure to be able to make the most of your investment!