Choosing the Right Band Saw Blade for Your Project

A band saw on an isolated white background
Caption: A band saw on an isolated white background

A band saw Blade is a fantastic and surprisingly versatile power tool. If you equip it with the right blade, it can cut through various materials, including metal, wood, etc.

The only way to secure optimal cutting results with a band saw is to choose the right blade. That’s what our article focuses on – we will help you pick a good blade for any job.

We analyzed critical factors from blade materials to tooth patterns to cover all the major elements’ selection process. Here is what you need to know when choosing the right saw blade!

Section 1 What You Should Know About TPI

A band saw cutting tool
Caption: A band saw cutting tool

First, we will learn the connection between TPI and band saw blades.

1.1 What Is the TPI?

TPI refers to the tooth quantity on the band saw blade. It stands for “tooth per inch” and describes how many teeth there are per a single inch of the tool.  Therefore, the number of teeth will affect the final results of the cutting process. 

However, higher doesn’t necessarily mean better for the TPI measurement. For example, metal cutting might require a different number of teeth than woodworking. In other words, it all depends on your goals and the material you are cutting.

1.2 Coarse VS Fine Blades

Depending on how many teeth the tool has, we could distinguish the following blades:

  • Fine blades – these have more teeth than their coarse counterparts. Although there is no exact rule, many consider fine blades to have at least 14TPI, and you’ll rarely find variants with more than 24. The main advantage of fine blades is making smooth and precise cuts. Besides, they are suitable for metal cutting.
  • Coarse blades – a coarse blade has up to six teeth per inch (it should have at least two). Therefore, you can use it for soft materials and larger cuts, making them suitable for woodworking.

As you can see, the higher the TPI, the finer the cut can be. For instance, blades that are between six and 14 TPI fall into the category of general-purpose blades. So, you can use 6-10TPI units for cutting aluminum and hardwood, and steel is suitable for blades with a TPI from 10 to 18.

2. Tooth Pattern

A band saw to use with wood

Caption: A band saw to use with wood

The next thing that we will consider is the tooth pattern. You will find some basic tooth styles, but also different sets. For this reason, we will cover them all below to help you pick a suitable pattern.

2.1. Basic Tooth Styles

As for the primary tooth styles, we can distinguish three categories. That includes a traditional style, but also skip and hook. If you take a look at your metal cutting blade, you might notice its teeth’ specific design. Additionally, the gap between them might vary. So, here are the specifics that you should know about tooth styles.

2.1.1. Regular Tooth

The word “regular” implies this is a standard tooth design. If you find a regular tooth pattern, that means the teeth’ shape doesn’t have a rake angle. It’s zero, making them suitable for thin sheets, softwood, and other materials that aren’t particularly hard.

You could say the accuracy of these metal cutting band saw blades is at a level that’s higher than average. Therefore, apart from standard cutting, they are also suitable for contour cutting.

2.1.2. Skip Tooth

The teeth in this pattern also have a non-existing rake angle. Apart from the fact that the angle is zero, there is an essential characteristic of this style. The skip tooth design has flat gullets. 

The gullets are shallow to ensure you can cut big chunks of material with them. Therefore, these blades are compatible with wood, plastics, and metal. The most significant advantage is that they decrease the clogging risk during the cutting process. However, you can’t expect an impressive level of accuracy with skip tooth blades. On the other hand, these are a better choice if you are looking to accelerate the cutting process.

2.1.3. Hook Tooth

Here is a blade-style that comes with a rake angle, usually positive and around ten degrees. Thanks to that, the blade will go deep into the workpiece. It’s why the companies also add deep gullets. You use these gullets to grab a large chunk of the application. The style is suitable for cutting metals, hardwood, and cast iron. Also, you use these with tough and large workpieces, which means the hook tooth design doesn’t make an accurate cut.

2.2. Tooth Sets

A band saw for wood sawing

Caption: A band saw for wood sawing

You can also choose tooth sets, which are specific because they have a bit of an offset. So, you could describe that as the bending toward a particular side. The idea is to provide clearance to the tool’s back. Therefore, you can use these sets if you want the cut’s width to be wider than the tool’s thickness.

2.2.1. Raker Tooth Set

The first option to go with is a raker tooth set. It features three different sections – if the first is straight (many call it unset), the second will have an offset to the left side, and the third to the right. That is the setup used in this set, and it can be suitable for various tasks.

2.2.2. Alternate Tooth Set

The alternate tooth set got its name for the specific style of teeth and their placement. If you decide to go with this version, you will notice that the first set of teeth has an offset to the left side. The second one is toward the right, and they alternate from there. That’s how they received their name.

3. The material of Blades

A band saw close-up

Caption: A band saw close-up

How does a blade material affect your cutting results? That is what we are discussing in this section. So, we’ll cover different band saw blade materials and their advantages. Here is what you should know to decide the desired material.

3.1. Carbon Steel Blade

A carbon steel blade is affordable. Consequently, it won’t cost you a fortune to purchase a carbon steel blade, and it is quite versatile. You can use this type for woodworking, but also plywood, plastic, and similar materials. Although a blade’s longevity might not be impressive, it will deliver plenty of value for the money.

3.2. Bi-metal Band Saw Blade

A bi-metal band saw blade combines high-speed (HSS) and spring steel. However, you will only find HSS at the tip, which ensures adequate strength to cut hard workpieces. The core utilizes spring steel, which serves to give flexibility to the tool. Therefore, you can use this blade for aluminum, copper, and other non-ferrous workpieces and woodcutting.

3.3. Alloy Steel Blade

An alloy steel blade can be suitable for various types of materials. That includes everything from aluminum, brass, bronze, and even tungsten. However, if you use it with hard applications like chrome, you might need to lower the operation speed. Also, make sure to adjust the thickness and TPI to the desired material.

3.4. High-Speed Steel Blade

As the name suggests, manufacturers use high-speed steel (HSS) to make these blades. It’s compatible with a wide range of materials, including non-ferrous metals like angle iron and aluminum. You can also use it for chrome and stainless steel, but it might require operating at a lower speed.

4. Width, Length, & Thickness of a Band Saw Blade

You can describe the width by using the cutting radius minimum and the blade’s maximum capacity. The bigger the width, the higher the radius it will cut. It’s vital to use the right blade length, so check out the product instructions to determine it. As for the thickness, assess the gaps between the roller bearings (or side guides). You need to ensure the rollers hold it securely for optimal cutting results.

5. Band saw Blades for Metal Cutting

Hook tooth is the best band saw blade for metal projects. It’s an excellent choice for a horizontal power tool. The blades are durable and ideal for cutting metals while maintaining sharpness. However, you can’t expect impressive precision. If you need a smooth finish, we suggest a vertical band saw with a skip tooth style.

6. What’s the Right Woodworking Band saw Blade?

Those working on cutting wooden applications will need to consider their primary requirements. For example, you can choose a regular style if you prefer to maintain maximum accuracy. It’s possible to add a few extra teeth to the TPI and still keep the accuracy high.

Now, you can also aim to accelerate the cutting process. If that’s true, you should go with a hook tooth style. Additionally, aim for a lower TPI to ensure you maximize the cutting speed.

7. Band Saw Blade– Frequent Q&A

We gathered the most frequent questions the community has about portable band saw blades and similar tools – check out the answers below!

7.1. How do we judge whether the band saw blade gets dull?

You can use different ways of checking if the band saw blade is dull. For example, you can use your fingers to touch the blade’s surface gently. If it feels sharp, it’s probably sharp enough to use it. Alternatively, you can take a photo of the blade’s teeth and zoom in to confirm their sharpness.

Finally, if something seems off during the cutting process, perhaps it isn’t exciting. That’s particularly true if you have problems cutting on the marked line, and the blade moves left or right on its own.

7.2. Why does my band saw blade become dull?

Here is the thing – saw blades are subject to normal wear and tear. That means they will become dull over time, especially if you use them frequently. However, there are some things to delay your blade going dull. For example, you can try cutting at lower speeds. That will ensure the blade doesn’t go dull quickly. Additionally, you can consider finding an optimal feed pressure, which often means increasing it.

7.3. What is the appropriate speed of the band saw blade?

If you want to choose an appropriate speed, it’s vital to determine the SFM. It’s an abbreviation for surface feet per minute. If you can’t find them in your product instructions, here is the formula:

“0.262 X Diameter of the drive wheel X RPM of the drive wheel.”

The calculation is relatively simple, and it will give you an idea of the optimal blade speed.

7.4. How do we calculate the blade length?

You can use a specific formula to find the desired blade length. Here is the formula:

“(Upper drive wheel radius X 3.146) X (Lower drive wheel radius X 3.146) + (2 X Distance from the drive wheel center)”

It’s possible to use this formula whenever you are unsure about the blade length.

Here is a nice video that might help you to align the bandsaw blades.

Summary

That rounds up our guide on metal cutting band saw blades. As you can see, you can use a band saw on various materials, including metal, wood, plastic, etc. The only thing to ensure is to pick the right tool for the job.

If you need a high-quality blade, you can always count on NCCuttingtools. The company has years of experience in manufacturing different blade types. It can meet customized requirements and deliver desired products in the shortest possible time frame. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or needs regarding saw blades!

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