The Best Way to Set Up a Bandsaw!

The Best Way to Set Up a Bandsaw!

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Back in 2007, I posted a video on Bandsaw Setup. The method I demonstrated was one I learned from other woodworkers as well as numerous books and manuals. While the method works perfectly, it overcomplicates things and employs a couple of unnecessary steps, namely achieving coplanarity of the wheels and eliminating drift. Four years later, I became aware of a video from The Woodworking Shows featuring Alex Snodgrass and his simpler (and nearly foolproof) method for bandsaw tuneup. I have since become friendly with Alex and asked him if he’d be willing to come out to my shop to film his setup method. He agreed and here we are! I can say without a doubt that this is the BEST way to set up a bandsaw.

Align the Blade

Install the blade and apply just enough tension to keep the blade securely on the wheels. Use the tracking adjustment while turning the wheel by hand to line up the deepest part of the gullet with the center of the top wheel.

Tension the Blade

You can usually ignore the tenon meter on most bandsaws as they are notoriously inaccurate. Instead, tension the blade until your finger is only able to deflect the blade by about 1/4″. This test should be done at the back of the saw where nothing can get in the way of the blade. The amount of pressure you apply to the blade shouldn’t result in turning your finger white. If that happens, you’re pushing too hard. After the tension is set, make sure the blade is still tracking properly with the gullet in the center of the top wheel.

Side Guides (Front to Back)

The front of the side guides should be located about 1/16″ back from the deepest part of the blade gullets. You don’t want the side guides to contact the cutting teeth of the blade since the teeth flare out at a slight angle. This adjustment is made to both the top and bottom guides. 

Thrust Bearings

Adjust the thrust bearings carefully so that they do NOT rotate while the blade moves, but they DO begin to rotate as soon as light pressure is applied to the blade. Spend the necessary time to get this adjustment just right. Of course, you’ll do this adjustment to both the top and bottom guides. 

Side Guides (Side to Side) 

Just like the thrust bearing adjustment, the side guides should be as close to the blade as possible without actually touching. So when the blade moves the bearings should be stationary. When a slight amount of pressure is applied to the blade as its moving, the bearings should spin. 

Square the Table

Using a 2×4 or 2×6, make a partial cut into the face of the board. Turn the saw off, flip the board around and try to get the blade to slide into the cut slot. If it slides in easily and without resistance, we know the table is 90 degrees to the blade. If it doesn’t slide in, make adjustments to the table and cut/test again. The wider the board is, the more accurate this test will be. 

Align the Fence

The fence can be aligned parallel with the body of the blade using nothing more than a ruler. Be sure the ruler is resting on the body of the blade between the teeth. With a long enough ruler you can easily align the fence by eye. Alex shows us the F.A.S.T system which is a simple and convenient way to do this same task. 

Test Cut

Since the overall goal of this setup process is to prepare for resawing, a good test is to slice off a thin veneer from a jointed and planed board. In our first test cut we were able to slice off a piece that was .016″ or just over 1/64″. This is way thinner than anything I’d ever need but it’s pretty cool to see that the saw is capable of making such a delicate cut. 

Special thanks to Alex Snodgrass and Carter Products for helping make this video possible. Happy bandsawing! 

Episode 13 – Bandsaw Setup – https://youtu.be/JowHmdihl-Q
F.A.S.T Alignment System – http://amzn.to/2uuRdL4
Carter Products – http://www.carterproducts.com/

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50 Comments

  1. kemo kemolino on January 6, 2023 at 2:01 am

    Thanks👍

  2. Arshad Ebrahim on January 6, 2023 at 2:02 am

    Brilliant guide

  3. Aquatic_Realms on January 6, 2023 at 2:02 am

    Your wood whispering has made my delta bandsaw cut phenomenal!! Well done lad!!

  4. Francois Sheil on January 6, 2023 at 2:03 am

    Aswome shirt!!!!😎😁

  5. Yellow Dog on January 6, 2023 at 2:06 am

    It’s funny out of all the machines in our shop that I can easily set up , shapers , molder , wide belt , sliding panel saw , I always have problems with the band saw , after watching this , it makes sense why I was having problems. Great info

  6. Dan St on January 6, 2023 at 2:09 am

    i really like this set up, but i have a huge problem with my bandsaw, I get a defelctio/fishtail right at the start of the cut, in excess of 2mm, and the guide runs constantly. the tension is the same as here, I have bought a new resawing blade, tried it with 2×4 pine and same results :(. I also tried running the blade in the middle of the wheel and also just of the gully as sugested but no improvement, any ideas please? many thanks the tech support of the company i purchased are very poor. p.s. everything is sqaure (checked everything..)

  7. TFIta369 on January 6, 2023 at 2:10 am

    Should the guide bearings be able to rotate freely for seconds after giving them a spin tap? Sort of like a helicopter toy’s blades. Thanks!

  8. Hillbilly on January 6, 2023 at 2:11 am

    Thank you great info

  9. Steve Bryant on January 6, 2023 at 2:11 am

    I’ve studied several Alex Snodgrass videos on bandsaw tune-up and this is the best! The explanation is slow enough to be easily comprehendible. Also, the videography is excellent and there are no distractions from an audience or the crowd at a tradeshow or seminar. Great job!

  10. Tundra Whisperer on January 6, 2023 at 2:11 am

    I have the PM1500 version of your saw. I went to rip some 3/4 thick x 4-1/2 tall pine boards down to half inch thick today and was disappointed a bit. The blade was drifting off the side of the board immediately. I’ve checked my blade tension, my bearings are all in the proper place, I have a 1” blade that is an alternating type, with teeth at 3tpi. Is that a good blade to use for this application? I looked in the trouble shoot menu of the manual. A few things listed as possible issues and fixes. One is, was the blade sharp, I’m not sure how to tell, except that I know it’s not that used yet and feels sharp to the touch. The other thing was clean the blade. I have no idea on how you clean a band saw blade, manual says nothing about this. Would you know? I have no idea why it wouldn’t go through these pine boards like butter. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thx

  11. Oak Hill Millworks on January 6, 2023 at 2:13 am

    Please remix Alex snodgrass saying “back that blade up” to the 1999 Juvenile song Back that Azz up. Pleeeease.

  12. Marko Fuerschke on January 6, 2023 at 2:13 am

    Fantastic tutorial. I love finding information like this on youtube.

  13. FamilyMentors on January 6, 2023 at 2:13 am

    Great video. I have a JET 14” bandsaw that has a loose tension arm — top wheel seems to have popped outward. Any idea how to fix it?

  14. Keith Cunningham on January 6, 2023 at 2:14 am

    Perfect

  15. MorrMedia1 on January 6, 2023 at 2:14 am

    So the Fast serves two purposes? 1) If positioned on the fence side of the blade, you can butt the fence up to it to check square. (This seems more accurate than his first placement of it at 7:03 because that forces you to eyeball the alignment). 2) It comes in different widths for setting up cuts faster.

    Is that correct? Could this be used for a table saw fence or is it too short to get an accurate reading?

  16. glen paul on January 6, 2023 at 2:17 am

    I recently put on a new 1/2" blade on my bandsaw. For some reason, it wants to wobble side to side which is very noticeable between the top guides and the table top. I adjusted it like Alex Snodgrass demonstrated and it still wobbles. Could the blade be bent somehow? I tried increasing tension and it did not help. Any ideas how to correct this problem??

  17. Robert O'Connell on January 6, 2023 at 2:19 am

    I’ve followed this set up to a T with my 14" bandsaw and it still cuts like garbage. The cut is so rough and there is smoke with the cut. I don’t know where I’m going wrong but it is mighty frustrating. Its a Craftsman "professional" 14" with the same carter guide here… I am at a total loss!!

  18. Chris Windsor on January 6, 2023 at 2:20 am

    I have a Grizzly G0512 saw and the wheels are about 1.25" wide. I currently have a 1" wide blade on it. Would using this technique of placing the gullets of the blade in the center of the wheel tire put too much of the blade off the backside of the wheel?

  19. rem45acp on January 6, 2023 at 2:20 am

    I truly hate bandsaws. We live in a time of such advanced technology and these things require far too much constant adjustment and fine tuning. I bought a benchtop model to do some light woodworking in my apartment to fix things as it’s supposedly the quietest type of electric saw. I can’t run anything louder. Most of my friends who are lucky enough to live in a house are not handymen and have no equipment, that’s becoming the norm unfortunately. I want to be a handyman and build things. But this type of saw just sucks. Too much adjustment compared to simple table saws that I’ve used back in woodworking class or over at my dad’s house. Mine constantly drifts and the teeth grind against the guard in the back. There’s no reason why these can’t be made simpler and more reliable. I’ve watched these videos to do my best at keeping the blade from drifting on the wheels and it’s still a no go

  20. steeldoughcider on January 6, 2023 at 2:22 am

    Excellent!

  21. niflag on January 6, 2023 at 2:28 am

    Doesn’t work on Ryobi 9". The blade just keeps slamming the workpiece into the bench seemingly at random

  22. Giorgio Chiappini on January 6, 2023 at 2:29 am

    Thank you both, hands down the best bandsaw set up video I’ve ever seen. Saw it multiple times during these years, this time I found the moment to leave a comment about it. Thanks again from a fellow woodworkers from Italy.

  23. Brian on January 6, 2023 at 2:30 am

    8:04, add a sacrificial piece to your fence

  24. Boogie on January 6, 2023 at 2:30 am

    Great vid! Wouner if this would work on a metal bandsaw?

  25. Jim Payette on January 6, 2023 at 2:30 am

    Two thumbs, WAY up for this video! Sooo helpful!

  26. Old B-1 Kenobi on January 6, 2023 at 2:31 am

    The best 9 minutes I have spent today. Thank you.

  27. mutantemc on January 6, 2023 at 2:33 am

    This video save me a couple days trying to troubleshoot my makita bandsaw… followed the steps and works like a charm now <3

  28. Tom Spallone on January 6, 2023 at 2:36 am

    I followed these procedures today with wonderful results. Thank you.

  29. Neil Grout on January 6, 2023 at 2:37 am

    Thank you both. I’ve been struggling with straight cuts, messing around with all the wrong issues. 10 minutes after watching this, perfect cuts! Superb, thanks Gents.

  30. Warren Brown on January 6, 2023 at 2:39 am

    Absolutely top notch instruction !

  31. Fredrik Klintberg on January 6, 2023 at 2:39 am

    8:00 Please measurement God, make those English speaking countries start using metric scale… I go nuts here.

  32. DawgsChamp88 on January 6, 2023 at 2:40 am

    Thank you both to the moon and back for this video calibration. The best band saw video I’ve ever seen. Yall are such a blessing.

  33. Pyron Customs on January 6, 2023 at 2:41 am

    I’ve watched the original but this simplified version is so much better. Thanks for doing this one

  34. tmuka on January 6, 2023 at 2:42 am

    thanks! would have liked a little more detail on how he actually makes adjustments to align the fence with the blade. that veneer cut was impressively thin!

  35. Damon Hopkins on January 6, 2023 at 2:43 am

    Man, before the internet, back in the early 90s, I had a bunch of tools. I learned from my dad and grandfather how to use them all, ever since I was a kid. I haven’t had a bandsaw in 20 years. I looked up these videos because I just bought one. Turns out I was taught right.. I miss my dad and grandpa but its videos like these that remind me to be grateful for the family I have. I thought everyone knew this tips. Glad to see some things never change.

  36. omar omar on January 6, 2023 at 2:44 am

    I have the metabo bas 318 but I can’t cut straight with this machine i followed all the recommended setting but still not cutting straight? Can you advise please

  37. Thomas Tieffenbacher/DocSavage45 on January 6, 2023 at 2:44 am

    Forgot a couple of Alex’s recommendations . Will try it out on next blade change.

  38. Ping Photo on January 6, 2023 at 2:45 am

    Great instructions. Thank you very much !

  39. Pahala Akbar on January 6, 2023 at 2:47 am

    Xavi Hernandez

  40. Albert The Second on January 6, 2023 at 2:48 am

    #1 should be, disconnect the power cord

  41. Tom Spallone on January 6, 2023 at 2:50 am

    Just got my first bandsaw and I’m like, “Whaaaaaaaat?!”

    I’m a “turn it on and start making saw dust “ kinda guy.

    Ok, I guess I have to learn patience. Again!

  42. Cindy Harrison on January 6, 2023 at 2:50 am

    Thanks

  43. setsappa1 on January 6, 2023 at 2:53 am

    Thank you!

  44. Steve From London on January 6, 2023 at 2:55 am

    Hi thank you for the video looks like I will be in my shed setting up my bandsaw have a good new year
    Regards
    Steve UK London

  45. игорь членищев on January 6, 2023 at 2:57 am

    ты чего там пиздишь?

  46. My Musings on January 6, 2023 at 2:57 am

    So my bandsaw’s maximum blade capacity is 1 inch. I purchased a resaw king blade because resawing and ripping are mainly what I do on the bandsaw. If I follow the tracking advice, that will hang a fair amount of the blade’s metal off the right half of the tire when viewed through the window. Is that what is recommended?

  47. nathanb 131 on January 6, 2023 at 2:58 am

    1st time I’ve seen the theory explained about all the adjustments, makes sense. Great video!

  48. David Krawski on January 6, 2023 at 2:58 am

    Great video guys!! I’m a beginner woodworker and picked up a used bandsaw a few months ago. Feeling more encouraged that I’ll get it cutting properly after viewing this. Thank u!!

  49. M Andersen on January 6, 2023 at 2:59 am

    Just now came across your video. I have a modest workshop and my bandsaw is a two year old Wen 10". Still has the factory blade and since it’s hardly been used I never did get around to setting it up. Used every tip in this video and I’m thrilled to say that the saw cuts 100%+ better, even with the factory blade. I may order a new Carter blade for it soon too. Thanks for the help.

  50. tim miller on January 6, 2023 at 2:59 am

    so what blade are you using

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