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Thread: Bandsaw upgrade

  1. #1
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Bandsaw upgrade

    I have a 14 jet bandsaw around 20years old with the 6 risers. It has cool blocks but they are showing their age. I am considering upgrading the blocks to carter micro adjust bearings. Does anyone here have experience with this upgrade you would care to share? I am trying to decide if it is worth the money to do. About 245$ for the parts kit. The guys here tell me it will be like a whole new machine.
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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    If you have it set up really well with the cool blocks it should be cutting really nice.
    If you change it over to Carter (or other) bearing guides and set it up really well it should cut really nice.
    If you do a lot of work with it with the cool blocks the blocks will wear and need to be resurfaced and the saw set up again.
    If you do a lot of work with it with bearing guides they will not wear (to speak of) and unless things move (as they will) you might not have to set the saw up for quite some time, and for sure you will not have to resurface the blocks.
    To me, that is the big advantage of bearing guides; the stability of the set up and relative lack of blade guide maintenance.

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  4. #3
    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    I don't have the micro adjust version but I do have the 3 bearing guide on the same setup. I bought a floor model from my local Woodcraft at a good discount & upgraded the guide when I bought it. Though I can't really compare to the cool blocks, the bearings are awesome. As long as it's set right & the blade isn't dull, it's staright as an arrow!
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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    Too early after a very long day posted twice sorry. Back to bed.
    Last edited by John Bertotti; Nov-13-2021 at 5:06am.
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  6. #5
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    It has gotten that the the blocks just scream, probably need resurfaced. I can loosen them and move them away from the blade a bit more but then get some runout and wander. The one behind the blade needs rotated as well. I will install my new blade once the carters arrive. I do believe I should probably add a fence of some kind. I generally do all my cutting by eye but some of the vids I have watched showed some very nice and consistent cuts using a fence.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    I think John has it right. I have been looking at the Carter band saw guides for a while and trying to justify the cost in my head and haven't been able to get past that yet. Cool Blocks are not all that expensive and I probably don't use my band saw enough to justify that. I keep thinking about resawing but I'm not setup for that yet.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    The one behind the blade needs rotated as well“
    No bearing at the back of the blade? Didn’t know that could work on a 14 or larger, although I have a tabletop economy three-wheeler that just has a slot, but its meant for casual use.
    Mentioned this before: make your own versions of Cool Blocks to suit, lots of materials available. Nothing should “scream”, load or no load. Some part is resonant.

  9. #8
    Registered User bpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    I have a 14" Delta bandsaw that I've used the heck out of for 30+ years. When I purchased the saw new, I immediately changed the metal guides to cool blocks and have used them since then. I recently purchased a new cool block replacement set. I think I've been through maybe 3-4 sets over the years. However, I do resurface them regularly. It just takes just a few minutes. You can also reverse and/or rotate the blocks to a fresh surface and delay the resurfacing. I replace mine when they get too short from resurfacing. I don't think my cool blocks have ever "screamed".

    I like to run a 1/8" blade a lot. From my limited research, I don't know that Carter offers a bearing guide that works well for that small of blade.

    Richard500 - A Delta 14" bandsaw has bearings at the rear of the blade on the upper and lower guides. It's mounted perpendicular to the blade and spins as the blade makes contact. It does not have bearings at the side of the blade, hence the Carter replacement guides.
    Bryan Patrick

  10. #9
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    I have a .75" timber wolf blade on now but it will come off for sharpening and a .5" blade will go on. Not sure who I got it from. I have been cutting less than optimally dry wood so it may be that the blocks need a good cleaning. But I do think I will do the upgrade, and add a fence.
    Last edited by John Bertotti; Nov-13-2021 at 1:12pm.
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  11. #10
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    Bandsaws; one of my favorite wood nerd topics!

    I've had almost a dozen different bandsaw guides over the years from dirt cheap up to approx. $600 a set from Tannewitz. My favorites for the large bandsaws are the big Wright / Black Diamond style from Jasper Machine outside of Portland, Oregon. I've tried six different guides on my 16" Walker Turner and by far my favorites are the white ones from Space Age Ceramics; my current set have been running great for approx. 8 years:

    https://www.spaceageceramics.com/

    I tried the big ceramic thrust guides but it did not work well for my use.

    Easily my least favorite and most overpriced are the Carter bearing guides; like a ponzi scheme for woodworking. I would never recommend them to anyone.

    The first thing I would do is true up your current guide blocks on a belt sander and give your saw a tune up.

    I also like using a 1/8" blade regularly and would offer this: They are very fragile and tend to break at the weld from the torque at startup. An easy solution is open the top cover and give the wheel a spin, close the cover, then start it up while the wheel is still in motion. It will lessen the stress by a tremendous amount.
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  13. #11

    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    Fences work only if the saw and blade are ‘tuned’, because the blade, even new, can want to run to one side and you’d have to compensate by angling the fence. This becomes important on thicker material, but the material itself can have grain or stress that also wants to change the cut direction. One solution is to use a clamp-on homemade fence that you can angle after a test cut, rather than trying to tune the machine or blade. High fences are used for some purposes. The blade is tuned by lightly touching the aggressive side with a stone (and power off!!) but this is sort of advanced. Any fence is pretty well needed if you tilt the table, just to support the stock. A single-point fence is needed for controlling curved cuts in some circumstances. This can be an attachment or just a clamped on stick. Also, some like to run a stone to round the sharp corners at the back of the blade. Any of the books on (woodworking) bandsaws will have all sorts of good advice, because although these things are great, there’s a lot going on that isn’t obvious that can keep you from doing good work.

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    A few things:
    -As Richard500 said, we can make blocks from various materials. I use lignum vitae.
    -Like bpatrick, I sometimes use 1/8" blades (custom made for my 30" saw). With soft (relative to metal bearings) guides we can 'bury' the blade in the guides for great control.
    -With block guides we can support the sides of the blade to very near the top surface of the work for finer control. With bearings the guides can only support the blade from at least half the diameter of the bearings above the work.

    Despite those advantages of blocks, I think bearing guides are better in general for daily use.

    This picture is for James;
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    BTW, my bandsaw, with an aftermarket 'farm duty' single phase motor does not start 'hard' like some bandsaws I've used, so blade breakage is no problem. I just have to wait a little while for all that rotating mass to get up to speed before starting to saw.

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  17. #13

    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    Those white ceramic blocks are aluminum oxide, and so is sapphire (colors optional). Years ago, when I first encountered amazingly inexpensive clear sapphire optical components, I started using sapphire for high heat conductivity and transparency at the same time as electrical insulation, an unusual combination. It’s also very tough and has some optical properties that are useful. As it happens, dicing the stuff up isn’t easy without a diamond saw, but I’m thinking that sapphire blocks would be cooler than Cool Blocks or white alumina - in both senses.

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  19. #14
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Fences work only if the saw and blade are ‘tuned’, because the blade, even new, can want to run to one side and you’d have to compensate by angling the fence...
    Bandsaw 'leading' to the side is often the result of using a wide blade that is not properly tensioned. The wider the blade the more tension is required to get it to track straight under heavy load, and many bandsaw frames are incapable of withstanding the tension needed to use wide blades for resawing. I use the narrowest blade that I can get away with for resawing and I add a little extra tension when needed. I can resaw up to about 5" or 6" hardwood stock with a 1/4" blade, and if I need to resaw 10 or 12 inches I have a 1/2" dedicated resaw blade that does the job admirable using a straight fence. The 1927 cast iron frame of my saw is easily capable of enough tension for larger blades and the wheels can handle blades up to about 1 1/2" wide, but I've never used anything wider than 3/4" and have never needed to.

    Full disclosure: I have a Woodmizer bandsaw mill, and if I need to resaw anything really challenging (one piece mahogany guitar backs, rosewood guitar sets from lumber, etc.) I use the mill for that.

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  21. #15
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    Thanks everyone! I have not ordered the Carter bearings yet. I will certainly try to true up my cool blocks first. I’ll still look for an alternative to the ceramic thrust bearing it grooves to easily. I just don’t like it.
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  22. #16
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    I’m goi go to see if I can find the king I’m vitae around. I like the idea of burying the blade when needed or desired.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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  23. #17
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    "...... the king I’m vitae.....
    Ha! Glad I'm not the only one who struggles with the #@$%ing autocorrect!

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  25. #18
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    Auto correct and I have a love hate relationship. I hate I have to go back and proof read when I was so careful the first time but love when it makes me laugh.

    I wish I had more than an hour or two to correct my post.

    Any who, I did order some lignum vitae, and I think I know where my original thirst bearing is. I am going to check out the space age ceramics for a some blocks specific for the .75" blade.
    Last edited by John Bertotti; Nov-13-2021 at 7:27pm.
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  26. #19
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    I have never, buried a blade in the blocks, do you do this with the very small blades? I usually use .75 simply for resaving but I would like to branch out with the bandsaw. So if you don’t mind what size blades do you bury and how do you go about it? Thanks!
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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  27. #20
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    "Burying" the blade is for very small blades. There is no need with wider blades because there is plenty of control from a good set of blade guides. It isn't really necessary any time, but it is a technique that some people use when they want ultimate blade control. The guides are basically closed slowly onto the moving blade so that the teeth can cut into the wooden blocks and the blade is supported completely.

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  29. #21
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    Well, this morning this was on my porch. Click image for larger version. 

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    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  30. #22
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bandsaw upgrade

    Well, it seems at some point in the past I must have reduced tension on the bandsaw. I was going over everything today and when I tightened the lever for tension I noticed there wasn't much. Yep I forgot to mention the blade again ofter apparently turning the tension down. I think I remember doing so when I thought it was going to sit awhile and it never crossed my mind when I was working with it. It does however explain why I was having some issues! I might actually be able to use that nice piece of wood for a plane instead.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

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