Next to the table saw, the band saw is one of the most important machines in most woodshops. You can use it to saw straight or curved parts, create joinery, cut turning blanks from green logs, resaw planks into book-matched parts and veneers, and much more. But to keep this versatile tool performing well, it requires both occasional maintenance and regular adjustments and tune-ups. Some tasks, such as the inspection of wheel tires, motor belts and pulleys, etc., need only be done a couple of times a year or so. But most basic adjustments, including setting the blade guide blocks and thrust bearings and adjusting the tension and tracking of the blade, need to be done each time you change the band saw’s blade. Following this schedule of maintenance and tune-ups helps prevent the saw from developing vibrations and blade drift (where the blade doesn’t cut true and won’t easily follow the line of cut) and keeps your band saw cutting properly.
But the first thing to do when you start the process of tuning up your band saw is to grab your shop vacuum, rubber gloves and some sturdy rags.
Clean the Inside
Before performing any other tune-up steps, it’s best to make sure that the working parts of your band saw are cleaned of caked-on sawdust, wood resins and grime. Start by unplugging the saw from power and dust collection, opening the saw’s wheel-enclosing doors and removing the blade. Loosen any gummy buildup or caked-on deposits using a stiff, nylon-bristled brush, then vacuum the chips and dust from the wheels and the inside of the wheel housings.
If the wheels and tires won’t come clean with light brushing, you may need to dip the brush in warm water and/or a household cleaning solvent. If you use water, dry the inside of the saw using compressed air. Also brush and vacuum each of the guide assemblies and table trunnions. It’s also a good idea to vacuum fine dust from inside your saw’s On/Off switch box or motor starter, as well as from any vents on the saw’s motor.