My peers keep telling me how great these bandsaw blades are, so I figured it was time to put them to the test. I experimented with the following three bandsaw blades:
VPC SERIES– 3/4″ x 2/3 tpi (teeth per inch) x .025″ thick, variable tooth design for straight-line resawing in kiln and air drying small to large boards–up to 12″ wide. The thinner kerf makes this blade a good choice for resawing very hard woods and expensive woods–where you need maximum yield with a superior finish. VPC Series are not as aggressive as the PC series blades. $30 for a 105″ blade.
PC SERIES, – 3/4″ x 3 tpi x .032″ thick, hook tooth design for general purpose resawing in kiln dried boards up to 10″ wide. This blade is more aggressive and faster cutting than the VPC series blades. $30 for a 105″ blade.
PC SERIES‚ – 1/4″ x 4 tpi x .025″ thick “all around”, general purpose blade. The rear corners of this blade are factory rounded, as are all Timber Wolf non-resaw blades, so you don’t need to do this work and they cut tighter radii because of this. This is the blade I will keep on my band saw, since most often I use my saw for general-purpose use. $25 for a 105″ blade.
After some serious test sawing, I can say with confidence… they all performed flawlessly!
About The Blades
Timber Wolf blade performance comes from a composite of characteristics. These blades are thin kerf, low tension, and made from Swedish silicon steel. It’s easier for your saw to push a thin kerf blade through a cut than a standard kerf blade. At .025″, Timber Wolf blades are about 25% narrower than most other band saw blades.
These blades cut using much less tension than “standard” band saw blades. The benefits are: more power, because your saw is not working as hard, less wear and tear on your saw, tighter turning radii with a given blade, and longer lasting blades. And no, you can’t run just any blade under less tension and try to get the same performance as the Timber Wolf blades. Unless a blade is designed to run under low tension, like these are, it won’t cut well, and may come off the saw.
The teeth are milled, not stamped, which provides a keener cutting edge. The set in the teeth comes along with the milling, not by bending the teeth–providing a more uniform set. The teeth are milled at a variety of angles, sets, and hook designs. Which style you use will depend upon the task at hand. Instead of trying to figure out which blade you need, call PS Wood (the makers of these blades), and they can suggest the best blade for your work. They can custom make any length you need. Just tell them the make and model of your band saw, and they’ll do the rest. I found them to be very knowledgeable and helpful people.
All Timber Wolf blades are warranted at the weld.
Unpacking and Installation
A word of caution: wear a face shield, leather gloves, and a heavy long sleeve shirt when you unpack band saw blades. They are coiled tight and that coil is under a lot of tension. Releasing the tension is like trying to catch a kitten that someone throws at you! Be careful, they can spring open very quickly. Next, read the installation instructions on the back of the packaging. You’ll need to wipe off the factory applied rustproofing “goo.” Use lacquer thinner on a paper towel and make sure to pull that backwards over the teeth. Going the other way is very nasty.
Mount the blade and set the tension per the instructions on the packaging. It’s really no more work than setting up a “standard” blade, just different. The directions are easy to follow and take the guesswork out of setting blade tension.
The first cut I made with the VPC 3/4″ x 2/3 tpi blade shocked me on how easy it was to cut through my wide test boards. I’ve just never experienced that ease of cut before. I barely had to push the board and the saw didn’t labor at all! Then I installed the PC 3/4″ x 3 tpi blade and the results were similar.One thing to note: My saw never increased its power while making any cuts with these blades (it has electronic speed control and would apply more power if required for the cut). That is very good and it tells me the blade is doing the work, not the saw.
Finally, I installed the PC 1/4″ x 4 tpi blade and cut some plywood, particle board and tight radiuses in hardwood–the kind of stuff I do every day. I couldn’t be happier.
I found these blades performed better than I expected and certainly better than the “standard” blades I’ve use all these years, leaving a much smoother surface than I’ve been used to. They cost in the range of 30% to 50% more than similar sized standard blades, but that’s only about $10 on average, so to me they are easily worth the extra money. Aside from smooth and easy sawing, one other aspect I found appealing was that because they are low tension, they put less stress on my band saw, which means less repairs and maintenance in the long run.
Blade Detensioning Controversy
To detension or not to detension when your saw is idle… That is the question! Wow, this is quite a heated debate. The PS Wood folks recommend detensioning the blade when the saw is not in use. So in that regard, you can’t go wrong following their advice. But to be honest, I’ve never done this in my entire 32 years of woodworking. I did some research and all the band saw manufactures I contacted recommended detensioning. The reason being it reduces wear and tear on the band saw tires, especially tires made of softer urethane, and it reduces stress on the blade. Good things for sure. I also learned that most newly manufactured band saws have a dedicated detensioning (quick release) lever, which makes the process very fast. I would add one precautionary step to the detensioning procedure. Get in the habit of unplugging your saw every time you detension. That way the next time you start the saw you will be forced to plug it in and that should remind you to retension the blade. Otherwise, any benefit gained by detensioning will be lost to a much greater degree when you turn on your saw and the loose blade ruins your saw tires.
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