A band saw Blade is a fantastic and surprisingly versatile power tool. Equipping it with the right blade 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 the selection process of the major elements. Here is what you need to know when choosing the right saw blade!
Table of Contents
- Section 1 What You Should Know About TPI
- 2. Tooth Pattern
- 3. The material of the Blades
- 4. Width, Length, & Thickness of a Band Saw Blade
- 5. Band saw Blades for Metal Cutting
- 6. What’s the Right Woodworking Band saw Blade?
- 7. Band Saw Blade– Frequent Q&A
Section 1 What You Should Know About TPI
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 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 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
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 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 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, 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 angle being 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 clogging risk during cutting. However, you can’t expect impressive accuracy with skip tooth blades. On the other hand, these are a better choice if you want to accelerate the cutting process.
2.1.3. Hook Tooth
Here is a blade-style 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
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 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, which can be suitable for various tasks.
2.2.2. Alternate Tooth Set
The alternate tooth set got its name from the specific teeth style and placement. If you 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 the Blades
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 on 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, which is quite versatile. You can use this type for woodworking and 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, ensuring enough strength to cut hard workpieces. The core utilizes spring steel, giving 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, 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 various materials, including non-ferrous metals like angle iron and aluminum. You can also use it for chrome and stainless steel, which might require operating at a lower speed.
4. Width, Length, & Thickness of a Band Saw Blade
Using the cutting radius minimum and the blade’s maximum capacity, you can describe the width. The bigger the width, the higher the radius it will cut. Using the right blade length is vital, 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. We suggest a vertical band saw with a skip tooth style if you need a smooth finish.
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 to maintain maximum accuracy. It’s possible to add a few extra teeth to the TPI and 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 maximize the cutting speed.
7. Band Saw Blade– Frequent Q&A
We gathered the community’s most frequent questions 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. They will become dull over time, especially if you use them frequently. However, there are some things to delay your blade from 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?
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 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.
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 with any questions or needs regarding saw blades!