I just got the Iturra catalog and in there, there's an article on the
usefulness of a tension gauge. All of the arguments sound reasonable
to me, but then I got the latest edition of the "Bandsaw Book" by
Duginske and he has a chapter as to why tension gauges are not needed.
So I am confused, gauge, no gauge?
Anyone prefer one over the other?
Do you need a gauge? No. Is it handy to have one? Maybe, depending upon your
machine and your use of same.
I used a band saw for years without until I inherited one,. Now I find it a
most definite plus in keeping my older, but not that old Delta 14" cutting
at a level of precision that my use of the tool requires.
Would I recommend you buy one? Not unless your machine, and your use of
same, requires a good deal of careful tweaking/setup to get the level of
precision that your woodworking needs require.
Example: Leon, hereabouts, has an 18" Laguna that, right out of the box, cut
circles around my Delta 14" with regard to precision ... thus I haven't been
able to come close to talking him into renting my expensive Iturra tension
Question for you; Do you use your tension gauge each time you tension
the same blade or only when trying out a new blade? I wonder how much
difference would be noted if you tension and loosen (after use , of
course) the same blade say, two dozen or three dozen times.
Thanks in advance for yor comments,
Something to consider, I currently have a 1" blade on my Laguna and was
using it to cut 3/8" slabs off of a Spalted Oak log this week. As the blade
warms up in use the tension gauge on the saw indicated the blade expanding
as the gauge reference number dropped by approximately 15%. Basically it is
a good idea to recheck the tension after running the saw for a few minutes.
I always use it when swapping blades to insure that I still have an accurate
reference on the factory "blade tension gauge" for that particular saw
I do use a replacement Iturra tension spring on my band saw and the
difference between it and the factory spring when reading the built-in
factory gauge is/was notable ... and this changes slightly over time
(although not as much as it did with the factory supplied spring).
Having made note of that, and for normal, every day cutting, I can generally
use the "adjusted" marks I've made on the built-in gauge for that blade and
get a cut that feels like it's coming from a well setup band saw ... use a
band saw enough and you can immediately "feel" when it's properly set up for
However, I will periodically check the blade tension with the Iturra tension
gauge, particularly if I have to do something besides rough outs on the band
saw. When resawing the change to a resaw blade necessitates an accurate
setup in any event, so the iturra tension gauge always comes out.
Leon has a valid point about the heat generated by a blade in use.
Having owned one, and for my saw and what I do with it, and if I lost the
Iturra tension gauge, I would probably replace it ... although I probably
wouldn't have fully appreciated the convenience/ease of precision setup had
I not "inherited" the gauge in the first place.
There is no doubt that it does allow you to get the most out of a band saw
that is not a "top of the line", precision manufactured tool, like some of
the European brands are today.
Hey Swingman (And Leon from your prior post),
Thanks very much for your feedback. I can easily see how a hot blade
will stretch but here comes my next question; (Disclaimer: I may not
fully understand the procedure for using a tension guage like the
Leon, I am assuming from your description that your saw has a precise
tension guage incorporated with it. The Iturra and similar guages
clamp on to the blade and indicate how much stretch is induced when
tension is applied. If you attach the Iturra to an already tensioned
blade can you accurately refine its adjustment? You new starting
point is a now a partially adjusted blade, unless you remove all
tension and start from none again. How do you refine the tension on a
tensioed blade using the guage? Thanks again for your inputs. Read
you all after sundown.
I think you are on the money Marc. The gauge on my saw is a digital read
out, not electronic. IIRC the Inturra that Swingman uses does measure the
stretch in the blade as the tension is increased, therefore I do believe
that you would have to release all tension and remeasure on a warm blade.
That said, if your saw has some type of built in gauge/indicator you can
reference the setting when the blade is properly tensioned and continue to
monitor that reference as the blade heats or cools. After the blade heats
you do not necessarily need to use the Inturra to retension the blade. Hot
or cold the tension gauge on the saw should be kept at the setting that it
was at when the Inturra was use initially to properly tension the blade.
You would not use the gage on the less expensive saws with the adjuster on
top which positions the top wheel.
If you tried to adjust for a tension, which is probably not published
anyway, the blade would probably ride off the weel and tire.
The bigger more sophisticated saws which actually have a tensioner somewhere
in the blade path should probably be adjusted using the gage.
I would go by what the saw manufacturer tells you to do.
wrote in message
I'm pretty certain that my manufacturer told me to flex the blade
between my fingers. Thats how I've always done it w/o any problems. I
still have the original books from all Rockwell Delta collection of
tools:-) You put your index and pinky on the blade as far apart as you
can, and push with your thumb... when it feels right, your good to go...
Works for me, but I use mostly 3/16 or 1/4 inch blades. Fattest blade I
ever used was 1/2".
I would stick with that.
If you are not having blade failures, you must be doing something right.
I only have a small band saw, I don't do that much shaping and for that I
bolted and old hand jig saw upside down on an insert I can drop into my
On Fri, 18 Jul 2008 15:46:54 -0700 (PDT), firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I use the "pluck method" since my finger is more convenient than
hooking up a gauge. I know the proper sound the plucked blade should
make--I believe Duginski mentions this. I can't recall where (maybe
someone can help) a dial gauge is used to construct a shop-made band
saw tension gauge--it was an interesting article but I consider a
tension gauge somewhat overkill. Not sure if there are "cricket
gauges" for saw blades as there are for measuring vehicle pulley
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