Adjusting for Band Saw Blade Drift
“A warrior never worries about his fear.”
Carlos Castaneda…Peuvian-born American anthropologist and author (1925-1998)
Understanding Band Saw Blade Drift
When resawing wood veneers on the band saw it is quite important to take into account the the band saw blade drift. If the adjustment is correctly made for the drift angle a woodworker can rip straight thin strips of veneer that are of a uniform thickness. By making an accurate adjustment to the bandsaw fence one can save plenty of time and material. Better yet, a woodworker can perform with a greater level of confidence. So, learn how to adjust for band saw blade drift.
What causes band saw blade drift?
A band saw blade has two sets of teeth. Band saw blade drift occurs because the differences in set and sharpness of the bandsaw teeth from one side of the blade to the other side of the blade.
One theory has it that heat caused by friction can also play a role in band saw blade drift. It is said that the cutting action of the saw teeth creates more heat in the front of the blade than the back of the blade. The front expands more than the back and becomes slightly longer. As a result the blade can warp inward or outward and thus cause the cut to drift.
Recently, a number of the viewers of this blog have asked me some great questions concerning the cutting of uniform thin strips of wood veneer on the bandsaw. They wanted to know how to adjust for band saw blade drift. While I have responded to their questions already, I believe this woodworking video will help to further clarify and resolve their concerns. Perhaps, it can make a difference for you also. As you will see, this article will point out an important step of the process regarding making an adjustment for the band saw blade drift. Ripping uniform thin strips of veneer is an easy task once the angle of the drift is understood and accounted for by making a simple adjustment to the fence.
Making the adjustment for Band Saw Blade Drfit
(This tutorial on how to adjust for band saw blade drift assumes that the band saw is correctly set-up with a proper tension, the bandsaw blade guides are accurately adjusted, and a good sharp blade is in place.)
This woodworking video tutorial shows how the angle of the drift is found. A bevel square is used to duplicate the angle once it is determined. The video also shows how the thin rip fence is set in place by using a wedge at one end of the fence. Spring clamps help to secure the wedged fence angle. (Some band saw fences can be adjusted by loosening the bolts, aligning the fence according to the drift angle, and then re-tightening the bolts.)
A Rockler thin rip jig with a roller bearing is set into the miter gauge slot and is fastened in place by simply turning a star knob. Placement of the bearing is 1/2″ before the band saw blade. The thickness of cut is set to 3/32″ as this is the thickness used in my wood shop when ripping wood inlay bandings. The demonstration clearly shows how to cut stock that is 3/4″ high and stock that is 3″ tall. All veneers that are ripped were within 1/64″ of one another. (In the video the second to last veneer was actually the leftover piece and was not ripped. It was just a bit thicker than the other strips of ripped veneer. However, it was close enough to be included in this batch as it can be run through the open drum sander to attain the desired measurement of 3/32″.)
Consider the need for adjusting the fence for band saw blade drift as basic maintenance of the band saw. Through repeated usage the blade cuts can again drift as the set of the teeth undergo change. This is normal. However, understanding how to adjust the fence for band saw blade drift is an easy matter. It just takes a few minutes. Acting on this matter will allow you to rip material that is straight. When a thin rip jig is added to the equation you will be able to also make cuts that are of uniform thickness.
Note: The blade used for this particular demonstration is a PS Wood Timberwolf bandsaw blade (3/8″ blade with 4 teeth per inch.) However, select a blade according to your needs.
1.) Check that the band saw table is set 90 degrees to the blade. Use a combination square or a digital protractor to ensure this angle.
2.) The auxiliary rip fence was simply made with scrap 5/8″ particle board. It is made to the same length and height as the original fence. It’s just a matter of making the cuts, adding a little glue, and using an air-nailer to drive the pins home.
Recommended Article: How to Cut Uniform Thin Strips