All of the blurbs I've read which tell how to deal with bandsaw drift
tell you to just saw a straight line down a straight piece of wood,
stop half-way, and mark the angle on your saw table, and then clamp a
fence on the table to that angle, and you're done.Don't forget to tip
your waitress and drive safe on your way home everybody!
They make it sound as though you've divined the magic angle for your
bandsaw once and for all. I'm surprised they don't tell you to just
paint the drift angle right onto the table. In fact, the only time I've
heard anyone say that drift angle depends on anything, they said that
it depended on the particular blade... and that *all*!
I'm not buying it. So, I gotta ask... in everyone's experience, what of
the following factors will, if changed, change the drift angle of your
- Blade width
- Blade tension
- Feed rate
- Hardness of the wood
- Thickness of the wood
- Grain of the wood
- Height of the upper guide above the wood.
- Slack in the thrust bearing
I would think that the wood would make a difference, but nobody ever
seems to suggest using a similar wood of similar thickness and grain
when initially finding the drift angle.
So, what about it? Once I find my drift angle, what can I change
without having to go find the angle again. And are there any other
factors I've missed?
I had some trouble with my Jet 14" shortly after I bought it. What I
did to correct the drift:
1. Remove blade and clean tires (my saw was pretty new - if tires are
2. Remove guide blocks and sand to a smooth and square edge
3. Install new blade - making sure that blade is centered on tires
4. Check tension setting - my saw seems to cut straighter with a bit
higher tension than specified for the particular blade width
5. Adjust guide blocks - just shy of touching the blade on the sides,
and just behind the teeth
6. Set thrust bearing so that even the slightest pressure on the blade
will cause the bearing to spin.
After doing all of this, the saw cuts pretty much dead on straight.
I'd say the two most important things to look at are centering the
blade on the tire and properly adjusting the guide blocks/bearings.
(assuming the blade is in decent condition)
I've got an 18" Jet band saw and haven't experienced this problem. I don't
know it it's inherent to this saw or if I simply have a knack for installing
blades... I don't do anything special while installing blades, it's all done
by eye and feel. I don't have a problem with the Jet brand blades nor with
Timberwolf blades. I haven't tried other brands so I cannot rule out blades
as the problem for others.
I commented on Andy's similar question after you posted this.
When you have your fence set up to compensate for drift on a particular
blade it is set up only for that blade and that tension. Depending on the
sharpness, quality, blade size, and BS tension settings another blade may
require difference fence settings to compensate for drift. Drift can be
caused by the blade or the BS it self.
On my old Craftsman saw, Yes.
On my new Laguna, VERY little to no change.
My old saw, Absolutely
My new saw, none so far.
Old saw, yes
New saw, no signs yet.
Old, I don't recall.
New, no change.
New, resawing through 11", No.
Old, don"t recall.
New, so far with sharp blades, No.
New, makes no difference
If you tried everything, perhaps a new saw will be required to remedy the
problem. Remember, a lot of factors come into play that differ with each
blade. IMHO the more rock solid the saw is the less you will have to tweek
blade tension and for each individual blade.
And are there any other
Blade quality? Blade sharpness? Band saw build quality?
On 18 Aug 2006 02:47:48 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Others will be more scientific, I'm sure, but in my experience, blade sharpness
or lack of is the #1 cause of drift, assuming that the saw is set up correctly..
My cheapy Ridgid cuts the same angle with 3/8" or 3/4" blade and only drifts if
the blade is dull or not tensioned properly...
OTOH, I might have accidently bought the one BS that Ridgid made right.. *lol*
Hey Chris, you nailed it! I never thought about twist being a result of
the wheels! Thank you!
One thing that has helped me to adjust my saw is turn the wheels by
hand while looking straight down from above on the blade. Watch the
blade leave the upper wheel and travel down through the blocks. I have
found that if I only adjust the blocks from the front, the blade will
actually be "tweaked" just a tiny bit when looking down from the top.
Tim Taylor wrote:
It is the tooth set of the blade that contributes the most to blade drift.
Sharpness will have some influence but the largest contributor is set.
Drift can be overpowered by blade tension and bearing/block adjustments and
the use of other gizmos. But why bother - set the saw tension correctly for
the blade and just adjust for the drift and go back to work!
I'm surprised that nobody has pointed out the fact that you can *adjust*
your drift angle.
The tire is crowned, so depending on where the blade rides on the tire
it can be made to angle one way or the other. By adjusting the blade
tracking you can compensate for any drift.
On some scrap, draw a series of straight lines parallel to one of the sides.
Freehand cut a couple inches along the first line then turn off the saw.
This will give you your drift angle.
Now adjust the tracking. Bringing the blade towards the operator will
tend to twist it clockwise.
Now cut a few more inches and check the effect of your adjustment.
A few iterations of this and you should be able to get rid of the drift.
that the crown is there so that the blade will track in the same place. The
blade naturally tries to ride along the highest point of the tire.
Additionally, many band saw tires have very little crown at all.
I also have the Ridgid, with riser. It's no more cheapie than any
other chaiwanese saw. Yes I still dream of a laguna some day.
Tune it up (Duginske's bandsaw book). I didn't get wheels completely
coplanar - they were close and futzing with washers wasn't worth it.
Biggest improvement. Spend the $ for a good blade. I have a
timberwolf 1/2" 3tpi blade. And, per Timberwolf instructions, low
tension (it happens to be 1/2 turn past the 3/8" mark on my saw). It
cuts "straight enough". What that means is, using the curved fence
(like Duginske suggests), given the relatively slow feed rate (if I
want to rip lumber, I'll use the TS, which is faaaar faster), I can
resaw lumber and it 'cuts the line'. I just resawed many feed of 8/4
cherry for bookmatched cabinet drawers and no wandering or bow or
drift. I've also cut 1/8" veneers, ready for the drum sander, this
way. If I need to cut 1/32" veneers maybe I'll sweat it.
Like others have said, when drift appears, my experience is the blades
are getting dull. I use these blades for rough work like bowl blank
cutting. I use my new blades for furniture work like resawing where
tolerances are more important.
I'd suggest that after you align your saw and get a good blade, you
follow my other hobby's maxim. "Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew."
After the power tools are off, of course.
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