Four Tips For Maintaining The Safety And Efficiency Of Your Band Saw

Band saws are one of the most ubiquitous tools throughout woodworking shops, and there's a reason why everyone has a story about a band saw job gone awry. Poorly maintained band saws won't just be difficult to use -- they will also be quite dangerous. If you want to keep your equipment in working order (and keep all of your digits), you may want to follow these simple maintenance tips.

1. Vacuum Out the Dust

A band saw will collect dust throughout its inner workings, which could jam it up. In fact, the dust could even represent a fire hazard if it's allowed to accumulate for too long, as a band saw will get quite hot. Use a vacuum to thoroughly clean the machine. You do not want to blow the dust out, as this will just fill your wood working environment with even more particles.

2. Align the Wheels Properly

The wheels of a band saw may shift in operation, especially if there was a particularly difficult job or the machine hasn't been aligned in a while. Luckily, aligning the wheels properly is fairly easy. Simply tighten any nuts and bolts and make sure that the wheels are in line with each other.

3. Replace the Band Saw Tires

The band saw tires are a thin rubber ring around the band saw's wheels. They should be replaced regularly, especially if they have begun to show signs of wear. Old saw tires will not have enough traction to operate the machine smoothly. If they are simply dirty, you can usually clean them off with a damp cloth. Allow them to try completely before closing the machine so that wood dust does not build up on them.  

4. Clean and Replace Band Saw Blades 

Using an old, dull, or dirty blade is one of the biggest mistakes that a band saw operator can make. A dull blade will catch on materials rather than slicing through, potentially creating a hazard. Dull blades will also make the machine work harder, ultimately leading it to wear out faster. When you do sense that your blades are not operating correctly, you can attempt to clean them in a mineral oil wash -- they may not be dull, they could just have a build up of resin. If they still operate poorly after being cleaned, it's time for them to be replaced. 

As with any machine, a band saw will eventually approach the end of its usable life. If your band saw begins operating erratically, it's always best to call a professional service technician before trying to resolve the situation yourself. A band saw machine should always be turned completely off and unplugged before you begin any maintenance.