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Bandsaw blade guides

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As described elsewhere, I'm in the process of converting a wood-cutting bandsaw to metal cutting. The original blade guides were short lengths of 1/4" round steel rod, but are now missing. 

As I see it, I have three options:

  1. Buy or make replacement steel guides.
  2. Make replacement guides from 1/4" brass rod.
  3. Buy a set of Cool Blocks (for those who don't know, these are a low-friction graphite-impregnated phenolic resin).

I'm currently leaning towards trying #2 and seeing how it works, but I'm interested in anyone else's thoughts, recommendations, and/or experiences.

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Brass is always a good option. But if I remember correctly the bandsaws I worked with had just steel blade guides, or any type of ball/needle bearing roller.

Do you have a picture of where these blade guides should go?

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I have a 2 large steel cutting bandsaws  the conventional style 1  (hinged at the back scissor style) uses rollers with bearings mounted so that the blade can be adjusted with set screws.  The other saw has simple blocks made of either carbide or steel harder than the blade material.  There is a small rectangular block on either side of the blade , one mounted slightly above the other. Each block sits in a recess with 2 set screws which can adjust the blocks ( push one side of the block deeper than the other to twist the blade). This style would be easy to fabricate.   I mention this because the brass might wear quickly and cause crooked cuts. The amount of wear would depend on about of usage though.

 Both of my saws are large commercial units. The first is capable of cuts 14" tall by 16" wide , the second saw the blade is vertical and it miterers in both directions and will cut 18" tall and 20" wide  

If the simple block adjusters sound like something you would like to try I can take some pictures.

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Thanks, folks. I’m pretty sure I have some 1/4” brass rod around here somewhere, so I’ll try that first. I’ve certainly got a lot of 1/4” mild steel, and I could try doing a super quench on those if they wear too fast. 

Old Crow, I’d like to see some photos, if it’s not too inconvenient. My saw is much lighter duty than yours, but that sounds like an interesting setup. 

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Old Crew, are your saws wet or dry? IIRC our dry saws both use bearings and our wet saws use blocks. My assumption being friction & wear not being a problem with the blade lubrication/cooling fluid but may be a problem with dry?

John, I'm not sure how those older saws are setup for guide blocks but it may be worth checking to see if you can find a set of guide bearings. Mine is a larger Jet saw and the guide block attachment points are square which is common on more newer wood saws. There might be a fine line on yours between maintaining blade position and creating too much friction.

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1 hour ago, Fowllife said:

I'm not sure how those older saws are setup for guide blocks but it may be worth checking to see if you can find a set of guide bearings.

Here's a photo of the upper guide assembly on someone else's saw: 


As you can see, there's a cast (zinc?) block that holds both guide blocks and the thrust bearing and also connects the entire assembly to the vertical shaft. I'm sure I could in theory make a replacement that could hold bearings instead of blocks, but my machining skills and equipment are nowhere near up the task.

I've seen some other photos that show the steel guide blocks replaced with brass rod, so I guess I'm not the only one to have this idea. Considering that the coefficient of friction between steel and brass is fairly low, that does make sense.

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Yes John I did see that thread. It's always interesting the projects you come up with....Unfortunately I don't have any knowledge that would be helpful for that build.

After thinking about it more I find it somewhat odd that the original ones were steel for a wood cutting saw. You would think that they would want the friction and chance of spark around the wood dust. I was also thinking that the main reason I didn't like my "cool block" style guides on my wood saw was more when cutting curves, which I cant see you doing much with your saw.

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