How to Evaluate a Bandsaw Blade

How to Evaluate a Bandsaw Blade

tim.jpgI hear many people in our industry using the number of sharpenings they get out of a blade as the measuring stick to determine its overall value. I hear this so often, I tend to believe it’s the only way some people even rate the value of their saw blade. I am sure it is not the only thing that they look at, but I feel like it is sometimes the highest measure when they are rating the blades. Who knows, maybe I am just hearing it so much. I will agree however that it is part of rating a bandsaw blade. Let’s look at answering, “What is the best way to rate a bandsaw blade?”

The first fact to establish is this:

It is all about money when it comes to evaluating a bandsaw blade.

We need to make money to support our families. I realize some saw for hobby, but most of us are using bandsaws to make money. We each want to get the most for our money and we want to make the most money for our time sawing.

I am always seeking to help customers reach the goals of making the most money for their time. Even for the hobby sawyer, I want to help him have a good yield for his money and time spent.

The most important facts are: “How much production did you get for your money spent on a bandsaw blade”. This calculation has to be placed into a time frame. Most often the time used is 8 hr. days, or 1 working day (I know many of you work hard and put in more than 8 hrs a day like we often do). So how much money did this blade/tool help you yield in 1 day? After we find that out, I want to compare the cost of the blade to the money yielded.

Ultimately, how many sharpenings you get is not the most important thing. For instance, I am seeing in many cases our Super Sharp blade cut 2 times longer out of the box while sawing at a faster yield per hour, and removing nearly all of the sawdust from the cut. In these cases, yield per hour is much more important to you than how many sharpenings you may get. Production is what pays the bills, not the number of sharpenings.

Would you saw with FREE BLADES if I can show you how? So how much production will justify paying more for a better cutting blade? Or, how much production will justify paying for a faster cutting blade? Even though it may not yield the most number of sharpenings in some cases, it is a much more productive blade in all cases, and it usually does not take a lot of added production to pay for a blade.

Here’s what I mean:

We all talk the language of ‘per 1,000 bd ft.’. So let’s divide that by 10 to have 100 bd ft. What is that worth to you? In many cases today it is worth a sawing fee of 20 cents per ft. So for each 100ft. added in production you will receive a $20 dollar bill. When a band costs 5 dollars more and yields you 100 ft more in an hour you just received an additional $15.00 profit. If that happens for 5 hours you increase profits by $95.00 ($15 for the first hour + $20 x the additional 4 hrs.).

So how much did the blade cost new? Lets use a price tag of $35.00 (yours could be more or less depending on length) and do the math: $95 (additional profit) - $35 (cost of blade) = $60.00 (over what you typically would have made). At this point using this method of rating, this blade has more than double paid for itself just from the additional yield. It is like sawing with FREE BLADES and increasing profit.

So, would you saw with FREE BLADES if I can show you how? Yes? Ok, then let me tell you about a customer who called me the other day.:

Customer: “Tim, I cannot continue buying these new Super Sharp blades” (he was speaking of the Magnum 1-1/2 x 055 x 1 inch tooth @ $35.00).

Tim: Why?”

Customer: “My old style blades @ $30.00 gives me about 8 sharpenings per blade and these Mags only give me 4 sharpenings.

Tim: “What do you like about the Mag blade over the old style?”

Customer: “Oh, these mags cut great, they saw faster, they cut longer between sharpenings, and they remove the dust better.

At this point I’m thinking to myself, “That is a lot to get for a $5.00 difference!”

Tim: “If it is sawing faster and you can run longer per run, this has to increase your yield per day. So how much increase do you get?”

Customer: “At least 600 bd ft.”

Tim: “Wow! That’s a pretty good increase! So how much do you yield for sawing 600 ft more?”

Customer: “20 cents per ft.”

Tim: “That’s 20 cents x 600 ft = $120.00 per day increase. So will two Magnum blades yield you 8 hrs of total life if you were to use them and sharpen them and continue doing this until they break?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Tim: “Wow! That is good.”

So here’s what he and I finally put to paper:

Two Mag blades costing $35.00 lasted him 4 hrs each total run time (he knew they gave more life than that as well as I did, but we’ll use the conservative number) so $35 +$35 = $70.00 total blade cost. But they yielded an extra income of $120.00 more than his old blades in those 8 hrs. Even if you were to get your old style blades for free and they never got dull you would still make less money by running them in comparison to running the Super Sharp™. Because a $120 increase minus $70 for blades gives $50.00 more per day using the Magnum blade in comparison to using his old style blades even if they were free! You would lose $50 a day, or $250 per week, or $1,000 per month by not running Super Sharp!

So you could say his blades w ere FREE because his profit increase alone paid for the blades. Even though the Super Sharp™ was $5 more and got 4 less sharpenings, they yielded so much more board footage that it negated any blade cost in comparison to his old blades.

Here’s what he had to say after we did the numbers:

Customer: “Please send me some more Mag Super Sharps, I can’t afford to not use them.”

So as you can see counting sharpenings is not the way to rate the blade. You can only sell production. You cannot sell bragging rights about how many sharpenings you get.

To rate a bandsaw blade you must have a method of recording facts as they happen for the blades that you run. I have many customers that put a wired tag on each blade and make a note on the tag each time they run the blade and sharpen that blade.

EXAMPLE for one blade:

Run #1 Ran great out of box, ran 2 hrs, cut white pine approx 1000 bd ft, as dulling occurred blade wanted to rise at knots.

Run #2 Cutting good 2-1/2hrs, as dulling occurred motor pulled down too much , still sawing straight, 1500 ft white pine.

Run #3 Started out good, dulling came soon, only ran 1 hr, 600 ft Red Oak, checked flatness and needs rolling.

Run #4 Cuts great in hickory, 2 hrs 1200 ft hit a nail.

Run #5 Blade leaving streaks from nail, Retired

This is just a sample of information. As you can see, you must have good records to evaluate the money. If you have good records then the math is easy. Without good records we are guessing, and making a living is not something to guess about; our families depend on us.

I must remind you, sawing straight is not a guessing game either. It is a scientific process that can be repeated IF you follow the scientific rules. It is easy to saw straight, even through those hard knots. Just remember the 5 rules: #1 Blade must be sharp, #2 blade must be set to clear the blade, #3 the blade must be flat (MUST BE), #4 guides must hold the blade straight away, never up, never down, just straight away, #5 when the first four are correct and the blade is rising or diving the vertical alignment of the band wheels must be adjusted. Following these will always work, no matter who built the sawmill. Then when you put a Super Sharp™ blade into action you will be producing profits. Just imagine what all you can do with the extra money!

Until Next Time,


aka... the "Saw Doctor"
Leaders in Bandsaw Technology!