Blade Tension

What is blade tension?

The blade tension, or more formally speaking, the bandsaw blade tension, refers to how tight the blade on a bandsaw is when this device performs the cutting works on the workpieces, which determines how the cuts are presented and whether the cuts are smooth on the surfaces of the workpieces or not.

The blade on a bandsaw is a long string with teeth on the cutting side, which is required to be stretched and straightened to perform the cuts. Due to the design of the blade that is long and straight, if it is presented loosely, it is not likely that the blade is able to perform the cuts no matter how sharp the teeth on the blade are.

Instead, if the blade on the bandsaw is straightened and tightened, the teeth on the blade would be able to have the best performance on cutting the workpieces. Therefore, this can be derived from the degree of the blade tension, which means that the blade tension acts as the indication for the tightness of the blade when the workpieces are supposed to be cut with the bandsaw.

In the woodworking or metalworking industries, cutting the workpieces takes up a wide range of machining processes, from the primary machining processes to the secondary machining processes. These two aspects of the machining processes are differentiated depending on the purpose of the cuts.

The former is like to determine the size and contour of a workpiece, and the latter is more likely to shape the workpiece and refine it prior to the completion of a product. While the sawing machine, which we discuss here, does the primary machining processes, because it is in charge of cutting the workpieces and separating them into parts.

However, when conducting this technique, it is not just to separate one workpiece into parts. In fact, it has something to do with the accuracy and precision of the cuts. In other words, as a workpiece is ready to be cut, there must be some marks on the workpiece, which indicates the parting lines where the blade on the bandsaw is supposed to cut on. The blade must follow the mark to perform the cuts, or the results would not be accurate, which may lead to the inaccuracy of the size or shape of the final product.

Due to this reason, conducting the accurate and precise cuts on the workpiece by adjusting the blade tension on the blade of a bandsaw, which should rely on the assistance of a blade tension gauge, is what must be done before operating this machine.

Why is it important to set the blade tension?

The blade tension is expressed with PSI (pounds per square inch), which indicates the amount of force given by per cross-sectional area on the blade. The force that the blade on a bandsaw requires would be twice as much than the measured PSI with the blade tension gauge on the blade, and the requirements would also be different from one size of the blade to another.

The reason why it is important to set the appropriate blade tension is that whether the blade tension is too high or too low are both not suitable for performing the cuts on the workpieces, which would be likely to have the unwanted results on the cutting parts of the workpieces.

The excessive force, which is too high of the blade tension, on the blade is harmful for the blade itself. Although the higher blade tension makes the blade straighter when performing the cuts, it is possible to make the blade to break or snap because it is straightened too much, which reduces the lifespan of the blade as well as the bandsaw machine.

If the blade tension is set too low, it means that the blade is not straightened enough, which makes it unable to present the optimal performance when it cuts on the workpieces, and thus leads to the washboard effect or the chatter lines that are presented on the surfaces of the materials. 

Both the wear of the blade as well as the machine and the deformation of the cuts are not what the manufacturers don’t want to experience. Therefore, they explain the reason for the importance of the adjustment of blade tension.

How to set the blade tension?

To set the appropriate blade tension, what is required is the blade tension gauge, or a blade tension meter, a handheld device that is able to grip the blade on the bandsaw, in order to measure the tension of it. There are one clamp on the two sides of the gauge, and a dial that shows the measured result on the center. 

When it is required to measure the blade tension, use the clamps on the gauge to fix the blade first. 

Make sure the indicator on the dial points to zero. If it doesn’t, adjust the indicator by unlocking the locking nuts on the gauge and turning the dial manually. 

As the blade is tightened, the indicator on the dial would turn to the number of tension it falls into. When it points to the desired number, the setting is finished.

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