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How to Pick the Best Bandsaw Blade for the Job

A bandsaw is an incredibly useful machine to have in your woodworking shop. With a bandsaw, you can saw boards to the thickness you want, make veneers, safely and quickly rip lumber, make curved cuts and many other tasks. But these tasks will be difficult unless you have the right blade for the task you want to accomplish.

Luckily, there are only a few things you have to consider when picking the best bandsaw blade for what you want to do.

Bandsaw blade ready to go

1. Pitch/teeth per inch

Difference in tpi

The pitch of a bandsaw blade is measured by the blade’s number of teeth per inch. The lower the pitch, the more aggressive the blade will be, and the cut will be faster, but the cut surface will be rougher. Bandsaw blades with higher pitch will give you cleaner cuts, but will be slower. In the above picture, both bandsaw blades have the same width, but the one on the left has a finer pitch (higher TPI) than the one on the right (lower pitch/lower TPI).

2. Width of the blade

Difference in blade width

Bandsaw blades are made in different widths. Wider bandsaw blades are stiffer, and are good for making straighter cuts or for resawing a board into a thinner board or for making veneers. Narrower bandsaw blades allow you to cut tighter curves. Narrower blades tend to have higher teeth per inch, because the larger gullets you need for lower pitches require that the blade be wider. In the picture above, both bandsaw blades have the same pitch, but are of different widths. You would want the blade on the left if making cuts involving tight curves.

This table will help determine the width of the blade that you need to make a curved cut:

Bandsaw blade width and curve chart

3. Kerf/thickness of the blade

Bandsaw blades come with different thicknesses. The thinner the blade, the narrower the kerf will be, and theoretically the thinner kerf will make the cut easier to make. In reality, this is usually only an issue in specialized circumstances such as bandsawing veneer, where a thinner kerf might get you one more veneer out of the board being resawn, or for cutting green wood, when a thicker kerf would be more useful.

4. Tooth geometry

Bandsaw teeth come in a variety of tooth shapes. Some of the more common ones are hook, skip, raker, and standard. A hook tooth will work for the vast majority of bandsaw operations. A skip tooth, raker tooth, and standard tooth profile will give a cleaner surface to the cut, but will be slower than a hook tooth. Most of the time I will use a blade with a hook tooth profile, and will use the other profiles often because they are the only option with bandsaw blades with high tpi.

5. Tooth material

Most bandsaw blades are made with either hardened carbon steel, carbide-tipped teeth or bimetal construction. Hardened carbon steel blades are inexpensive. Carbide blades are quite expensive, but will last a very long time. Bimetal blades are in the middle as far as price and longevity.

Bandsaw blade resawing

For my bandsawing purposes, I find that using a .1/2” x 3 TPI hook tooth bandsaw blade handles 95 percent of my bandsawing needs. I can make straight cuts and resaw veneers with this blade, as in the picture above. Although a carbide tooth blade would give me the longest life, I find that a bimetal blade is a great balance in terms of cost and longevity.

I do have narrower bandsaw blades for curved work, which I use based on the tightness of the curve I need to cut. Those blades have higher TPI depending on the width. Using raker teeth instead of hook teeth gives me a finer finish that is useful in this sort of work. These blades are made with hardened carbon steel. I don’t need a lot of longevity because these blades do not get used as often.

By understanding what factors determine how a bandsaw blade works, you can pick out a bandsaw blade to suit your purpose. This may be an extreme example, but one time I wanted to make very straight clean cuts in plywood with my bandsaw. I used a .1/2” x 10 TPI raker tooth blade. The .1/2” let me make very straight cuts, and the high pitch and raker tooth profile gave me a very clean cut.

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10 Comments

steelsparrow

Very useful information. Thanks for sharing it. To know more details about Bandsaw Blades please visit the steel sparrow website.
http://www.steelsparrow.com/

Reply
Daniela Adams

Thanks for the helpful information! My dad has a workshop, where he works in his free time. My husband wants to get him something for his workshop. I think my dad will be happy to get a new blade, he mentioned something about it. I’m going to share this with my husband, so that he can pick the best one! http://www.sgtool.com

Reply
Bryce Trout

So I have been noticing a lot of burning on the wood every time I use my band saw. I have been expecting that it was time to get a new band saw blade but I am just a novice and didn’t know which thickness of blade to get. Now all I have to do is decide what sort of work I want to use the blade for and then I can produce better quality. Thank you for sharing!
http://www.sgtool.com

Reply
Jonson

Hi …., This is great guide on how to select the best band saw. I really loved your comparison chart and look of the site. You seem to be expert in this.
please visit

Reply
Ivan DeWolf

so, the ideal blade for straight, smooth cuts would be high TPI, wide blade- perhaps a 1/2 inch 12 TPI blade would cut smooth straight cuts in 1/2 inch planks. However, I cannot find such a blade. Are straight, smooth cutting blades made for the bandsaw? or is it assumed such cuts are not made on a bandsaw?

Reply
Elvin Brown

The topic that you discussed “How to Pick the Best Band saw Blade for the Job” is awesome. The information given by you is very knowledgeable and informative. Thank you for sharing.

Reply
Alan Southworth RPT

Very useful advice on choosing right blade for the job, much appreciated.

Reply
Roy A

This is helpful informaion on how to select the best band saw.You can also try this formula to choose the Bandsaw blades .This formulae gives you the closest possible blade length, Set the pulleys or wheels in working position; Measure the center to center distance of the drive wheels.(C) ;Measure the radius of the upper and lower drive wheels. (R1 & R2). Using this blade length can be calculated by below formulae.

Blade Length = (R1 X 3.146) + (R2 X 3.146) + (2 X C)”
http://www.woodfordtooling.com

Reply
Anika

Thanks! Tips are practical and very useful. Choosing the bandsaw blade depends on many factors, including a type of bandsaw, a condition of a bandsaw, what material is to be cut, and how the material will be cut. Thanks for sharing the tips. Keep sharing informative posts like this.

Reply
Steav Smith

Bandsaw’s being such a versatile tool has become an integral part of any woodworking. Any respectable wood shop has one. Whatever your saw, it is only as good as the blade you put in it, so always use the best – and at the correct cutting speed too of course!

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