Three Easy Ways to Sharpen Bandsaw Blades
How many of you have been told you can’t sharpen bandsaw blades? I know I have. Once a blade is dull, you basically have two choices: throw it away or take it to an expensive professional who, for about the cost of a new blade, will sharpen the old.
That is no longer true (and, probably never was true despite some prevalent beliefs.)
Here are three techniques for sharpening bandsaw blades yourself. When reading these, just keep in mind the magic number is 10°.
1. Purchase a Bandsaw Sharpener
A bandsaw sharpener is a neat invention. The machine firmly positions the blade and then a sharpening blade and/or grinder disc, positioned at the correct angle (10°), files each tooth perfectly. The sharpeners range from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. Some models are handheld and others are stationary.
Here are examples of what some of the models look like.
2. Make Your Own Sharpener
There are at least two options here. The first is to use a dremel tool with a chainsaw bit grinding stone. I have read reports that this works well. My main concern would be ensuring that each tooth is ground at the correct angle. However, proponents of this method claim that since bandsaw blades are filed in a rip configuration, there are no angles to worry about.
The other option is to attach a grinder on a jig that holds the grinder at the correct angle to grind each tooth. You can click on the picture below to read a thread that discusses this approach. Pretty cool.
The thread mentions needing to cool the grinder and bandsaw blade by water, which I don’t think is necessary. The reason why I say that is because 1) I’ve done a lot of stone and metal grinding and you need water for stone but not for metal, and 2) SharpRite has a video of the kit they sell, which is similar to what is shown in the picture below, and in the video they don’t use any water.
If for whatever reason the picture does not pull up properly on your browser, visit the discussion by clicking here.
3. Use a Table Saw
When I read Bill Rake’s website, I was intrigued. He explains how he uses his table saw to sharpen bandsaw blades. Impressive, and a bit gusty. I will admit I haven’t tried his method yet but I can see how it should work. We ought to have a contest for the first person to try it and have successful results. This is what he says…
I usually do not mess around with sharpening my own blades, as it is better to have them sharpened with the proper equipment. When in a bind, I have used the below stated method with good results. Please see the pics to get an idea, of what I am trying to convey in this method. I use one of my older worn large table saw cross cut sleds, in conjunction with a simple jig (backer board) to do so. The bands have to be flipped inside out to do so in my case, as my table saw is a right tilt model. (most are) I use a planned and straight edged board that is the width of my sled or slightly wider. I lay the blade and board, teeth pointing down onto a flat surface, and trace with a pen or pencil the outline of the gullet/tooth face onto the oak (or other) backer board. I then center punch a mark, and drill a small hole, where by the outer diameter of a finishing nail, when hammered into hole, will line up with the bands gullet edge/socket. (creates a stop) I install a 10″ metal cutting disk on the saw, and adjust it for height and angle of the tooth face and gullet depth. With the band loop laid inside the sled, and laying flush, move the sled up to the adjusted cut off blade, and adjust the jig with the tooth face/gullet set firmly against the nail stop, and move the jig left or right till the face of a tooth just BARELY, AND I DO MEAN BARELY kisses the abrasive wheel/cut off disk. Then clamp backer board to sled fence. Keep in mind you want the tooth to touch the cut off disk the least amount you can get away with, and still end up with sharp edges on the teeth. Once you have this adjusted proper, you turn on saw, and push the sled at a moderate, but constant speed into the cut off disk/abrasive disk. To slow, you burn the teeth, to fast, you will deflict the blade. You will pick up a feel for proper timing as you progress go along. After you have passed a tooth through the cut, lift the blade up with your finger tips, and prepare for next tooth. DO NOT run the tooth past the disk on the pull back stroke. With your finger tips pull the band across for setting up the next tooth, pushing the next gullet up tight and hold for next pass with finger tips firmly. Do Not try moving the blade in the direction of cut, but do the opposite, were you can glide the band across easily for the next set. You will have to center the loop several times as you go, as you do not want the band/blade hanging over to one side, keep the band centered in the sled. With a little practice you should be able to sharpen a complete band in 20 to 30 minutes with casual effort.(I average 20 min. for 155″ band, 3/4″ tooth spacing, 223 teeth per band if my memory is right) Keep in mind you want the band teeth to be laying flush onto the cross cut sled at all times, and if your sled has any play, always force the play into the blade with each pass so the grinds across tooth faces are consistant. Remember to flip the blade back inside out after completing the sharping for use on the sawmill. If you have taken great care in your adjustments, you should get several sharpenings out of a band, without even having to set them. Also try to find a cut off disk that does not have the fiberglass showing on the outside faces of the disk. I use Forney cut off disks as they are easily obtainable here, and do not have the fiberglass showing on the disk faces.
There you have it. Three ways to sharpen bandsaw blades yourself. Learning to sharpen your own should help save a great deal of money.