Bandsaw Blade Guide Opinions

I suspect this topic has been discussed before, but I do not recall seeing the thread. What is your experience/opinion on blade guides for a small Delta 14 inch bandsaw? I am considering Carter aftermarket guides, but I have heard a couple mixed opinions. Worthwhile upgrade?
Thanks, Mill
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Not at ALL, Total and complete waste of money.

the
14
heard a

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wrote:

Why's that ? Do you not like bearing guides, do you not like Carters, or do you not think it's worth doing on a small 14" machine?
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
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I use oak and maple wood scraps as guide blocks. $0, yes they do wear out but that's why they are adjustable.
BRuce
MP Toolman wrote:

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DO you use it 8 hours a day? If so, they are worthwhile. If you use it 15 minutes a week, cool block or ceramic block would be a much wiser choice given the price difference.
On 29 Oct 2003 02:38:12 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (MP Toolman) wrote:

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On 29 Oct 2003 02:38:12 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (MP Toolman) wrote:

I've got an Axminster 350, a steel framed 14" bandsaw, common in the UK and not dissimilar to the Shop Fox or Grizzly machines in the USA. For years Axminster sold this with Cool Blocks and a thrust bearing, but they recently released a set of upgrade bearing guides.
My experiences are below. Some of this is relevant to your case too, some isn't.
The guides appeared to be of reasonable quality. They're almost identical top and bottom; three sealed bearings share the same fore-and-aft axis, mounted on a small die casting. The side guides are on eccentric spindles for adjustment, locked by a clamp Allen bolt. Fore-and-aft adjustment is done by a sliding die-casting within the main housing, independently for the side bearings and the thrust bearing. Adjustment can use a micro-adjust threaded nut at the rear, locked by a small winged screw.
Installation:
Fitting the guides is a chore. They're not designed for this machine, and this machine wasn't designed for bearing guides. The top guide fits with only a little filing to stretch one of the mounting holes for the blade guard. The bottom guide is more troublesome. It's not unreasonable (and how my saw is currently set up) to only fit the upper guide.
The bottom guide has number of problems. The machine wasn't designed to take bearings here, and there just isn't space to do it.
The bearing casting is held down by only one bolt. This gives no angular location and the bearing has to be manually aligned. No big problem with solid blocks, but essential for bearings.
The micro-adjust feature is attractive, but unusable on the bottom guide. It's best removed before installing the bottom guide (easy and reversible - just use an Allen to unscrew the stud). The problem is that there's inadequate space for it, and it forces the bearings to be positioned too far forward relative to the wheels. Although this is acceptable for a wide blade, it makes a narrow blade, such as 1/4", extremely difficult to set up, as you need to have it tracking right on the front of the tyre.
Adjusting the guides, especially the bottom, requires a long 4mm Allen key with a ball end. The original block guides benefited from this, but now it's an essential. The thumbscrew clamps are poorly made and the screws work loose through vibration. As they're basically inaccessible on the bottom guide anyway, throw them away and replace with Allens.
The side bearings are quite easily adjusted, but there is a tendency for them to tighten up when the clamp screw is tightened.
The fore and aft adjustment is badly made and inaccurate. There is so much slop between the two mazak castings that any notion of "micro adjust" is farcical. This adjutment must be made with the clamp screw almost tight, otherwise there is too much sidways movement
Overall, I'm unimpressed by these guides and their poor build quality. Adjustment of their many axes is so inter-dependent that the process becomes slow and blade changing becomes something to be avoided.
The biggest problem with the guides (and why I no longer use the bottom guide) is the effect they have on tracking narrow blades. With the old block guides, the blade installation process was to open the guides, throw the blade on, let it track normally on the centre of the tyre and then adjust the guides to suit. I never needed to re-adjust tracking, going from wide to narrow blades.
With these bearing guides, every blade must be re-tracked to place it into the limited adjustment range of the bearings. As supplied (with the lower micro-adjusts in place) it is not possible to track a 1/4" blade. Even when supposedly adjusted, there is a tendency for creep and for blades to shift around. This is because they're generally rubbing on the lower thrust bearing, even when unloaded, because it doesn't have enough adjustment range to take up the correct position. Blades can also find themselves tracking with their teeth between the side bearings, removing their set and destroying the blade in seconds!
Another irritating habit is the blade jumping off the lower thrust bearing and running alongside it instead (which then usually causes it to move backwards between the side rollers and destroy the teeth). This is caused by obvious bad adjustment of the lower guide, but the space is so limited that it's simply impossible to adjust the lower guide correctly at all.
In use:
With the guides in service, resawing with a wide blade improved. The blade tension adjustment on this saw is unimpressive (poor spring, no tension indicator) so that although the frame can support considerable force and the wheels can track a 3/4" blade, its real capacity is only 5/8" maximum. Resaw performance is marginally better than a cast-iron 14" Delta, but generally disappointing.
Performance with narrow blades, or for scroll sawing, was either unchanged or became unusable. These bearing guides are simply incompatible with narrow blades. I don't think that "bearings shouldn't be used with 1/4" blades" as is sometimes said, but these ones shouldn't be. They certainly prevent narrower blades being used (I've used 1/8" before now, with the Cool Blocks)
Recommendations:
If you have this bearing guide set, I suggest throwing away the lower guide assembly and just using the top guide with the old lower block-style guide. For narrow blades, refit the block guide to the top too. If you still insist on using the lower bearing guide, then discard the micro-adjust screws and saw about 1/2" off the tail of the adjustment bar. This gives more space for fore-and-aft adjustment and allows something resembling proper adjustment.
Conclusion:
Overall, I cannot recommend this bearing guide upgrade for the Axminster 350 bandsaw. It's useful, but extremely troublesome. The cost isn't really worth it, as the quality is too poor and there's also the additional cost of the extra blades it will undoubtedly destroy. From a saw with Cool Blocks that's convenient to use and adjust, it's transformed to a machine that's marginally more useful, but considerable more troublesome.
There's also the question as to whether a 14" machine really needs bearing guides. I don't think so. I'd suggest running set of Cool Blocks (which are cheap, quick and easy to upgrade) and then seeing how you like that. From what little I've seen of Carters, they're considerably better made and less sloppy, which would remove many of the problems I've had. However they still won't deliver a huge benefit to what is still basically a small domestic bandsaw.
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
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MP Toolman wrote:

At the last TWA meeting (Triangle Woodworkers Association), the topic was setting up a bandsaw. The speaker believed that for most uses, expensive guides are overkill. He mostly uses wood (oak, maple, cherry or whatever is handy)...and also liked using the synthetic countertop materials (e.g. Corian). In both cases, they are soft enough to prevent blade damage but wear reasonably well.
disclaimer: I have no bandsaw and little bandsaw experience.
--
************************************
Chris Merrill
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (MP Toolman) wrote in message

Carter bearing guides came packaged with my 14 inch saw. They work well, are nicely made, and I'm used to them...I can't see spending a lot of money to buy them as an upgrade, however, absent some definite problem in need of fixing with whatever you have now.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Woodstock) wrote:

The Carter guides are very good when resawing. For other operations, I don't see a lot of benefit. And I've noticed a couple of problems:
1) They're a PITA to adjust, when you change blades, because there is no micrometer-style adjusting screw.
2) They won't accomodate blades any smaller than 3/16", so just forget about doing any tight scrolling.
My saw also came packaged with the Carter guides. If I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I would NOT buy the Carter guides.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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I tried the Highland Hardware Woodslicer version that preceded the present one in my Rockwell 14" and it called for HIGH tension. Delta blade wasn't in the running. Long thread about high tension and bearing replacements happened shortly after buying it. Saw a post about blades from PS (I think) that featured low tension for resawing that piqued my interest. Long story short Suffolk Machinery allows PS to sell Timberwolf blades at shows so I found Suffolk. Donated Delta blade unopened after getting the first Timberwolf. I'm a happy camper not affiliated with yada yada. 1-800-234-SAWS and give them blade length and what you're doing and have credit card handy.
On 29 Oct 2003 02:38:12 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (MP Toolman) wrote:

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Suffolk has a 4 blade deal at the SF Bay Area WWing show - 3/4" down to 1/8" - mix however you want for $85 for my 130 inch LT 16 SEC bandsaw. My bet is that for Delta 14s and the like they'd be less.
BTW Suffolk bands now have rounded backs, no more running and stoning the square edges off. Nice - lets you make tighter turns.
charlie b
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