A vital component of your band saw that allows for accurate cuts and prolonged life of your blades are Band Saw Guides.
So what are exactly are Band Saw Guides? These are a ball bearing guide that controls the blade as it moves through the cutting area of the band saw table. Comprised of at least three bearings, each guide can be adjusted to keep a blade moving in a perfect 90 degree angle to your work. These can also help smooth out any variation in the blade itself. This will improve blade life and cut down on having to replace a blade from heat failures.
Sure you can use your original guide that came with your saw but chances are those guides are far from the best. Manufacturers of band saws use materials that work fine for average use as these are easily obtained and cost next to nothing. So why do they add the cheap one? Well if they did that then you wouldn’t want to buy a better one later.
Band Saw Guides are available for every size of band saw made. From micro bench top machines that use a 9” or 14” blade to free standing units that can accommodate an astounding 177” blade.
The key thing to remember when selecting a new guide is versatility. Keep in mind that you should purchase a guide that can handle a few more features than what you are currently using so that you can grow into it.
Band Saw Guides should have roller bearings to allow free movement and adjustability of the canter. This is vital to prolonged use and lifespan of your band saw blades and the overall productivity of your band saw. There should be a hex keyed bolt on each caster, this is called an eccentric bolt, with a turn of the bolt it will pivot the bearing slightly. The main advantage of these rollers is to reduce friction on the blade as it moves through the band saw. There are also some Band Saw Guides that have a coolant port to take the heat away from the blade thereby increasing the blades lifespan and decreasing the load on your wallet.
There are added bonuses to higher end guides, such as the micro precision bearings and rub blocks. These provide full contact on the blade, thereby reducing the vibration and wanderlust of the blade as it moves through your work. This is very important on fine cutting of decorative wood work and details that set the experts apart from the novices.
If you are in the market for a new guide, there are several places to find them. Check with your local wood working supply shops to have a representative walk you through all the choices available for your particular band saw. Now that you know what you want, check online to see if you can purchase it at a reduced price rather than paying full retail price, unless you just can’t wait for it.