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Thin-kerf bandsaw blades

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condeesteso

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This is a long story turned short... some years ago I read David Charlesworth’s feature in Popular Woodworking about tuning bandsaws, and in particular his ‘meat & fish’ blade.
After a while I tracked one down and that converted me to the potential benefits. Over some years I have tried every blade I can reasonably find, including Starrett, Hakansson, Dakin Flathers, Morse...
I have a rack on the wall with many disappointments - it looks like this (but about as many again are hidden in boxes, most unused).
bs1-1.jpg


What I have been looking for.
[Worth noting all this relates to a floorstanding BS500, 142” blade).
Above all, predictable precision. I am not a factory so volumes are quite low.
I use the bandsaw mainly for ripping, and range from thin stock up to the max I can do (11”).
I want a thin kerf because it seems to me to make total sense, provided there are no bad compromises that come with it. Less waste, far better grain match, less energy. Given my volume the one that matters is grain match coupled with quality of cut (so less to smooth after = better actual grain-match).

The benchmark.
For me and without any question at all - the best all-rounder ripping blade, and embarrasingly better than every other one I have tried: Tuffsaws Fastcut vari-pitch 3/4” 3 / 4 tpi.
If you have used one you will fully understand, if not please try one. And if you know something even better I’d like to know. Here it is:
bs1.jpg


The hunt for the ultimate thin-kerf blade (142” note).

Some time ago I started speaking with Ian at Tuffsaws about longer thin-kerf blades.
He has produced 3 different test samples which he is testing, and I have one of each.

To give my idea regarding kerf, the Starretts etc all make a kerf around 1.7mm. I see no significant difference between any of them (Starrett, Hakensson, DF, Morse).
The Fastcut 3/4 leaves a kerf 0.9mm. It cuts cleaner and faster too.

Of the test thin-kerf blades, I had a 1/2” normal set which matched the Fastcut kerf at around 0.85mm. It is from 0.5mm stock. Here:
bs2.jpg


The really interesting one is a 0.18” (.45mm) ‘Fastcut' stock, 5/8”, 3 - 4 vari-pitch, with a kerf <0.75mm. Best I can measure, more than 0.7mm, maybe about 0.73.
bs3.jpg


And here is a kerf comparison (of course the quality of cut is just as important)
bs4.jpg


There are 3 blades here, a Starrett (fat kerf), the fastcut (2 cuts, to left), and the 5/8 ultra-thin kerf.

The quality of cut is excellent, seriously a 0.25mm pass on the planer removed all saw marks. Harder to measure with handplanes but 2 or 3 passes of a finely tuned smoother seemed enough.
bs6.jpg


I have successfully cut 6" stock into 5mm sheets, and am still working with it. It does require care setting up and any risk of drift must be eliminated.

I think Ian (Tuffsaws) plans to have this thin-kerf stock available soon. As a precision blade sitting alongside the Fastcut 3/4", it's seriously impressive. I have already ordered a 73" for my smaller machine - it will be a demon on that, no doubt at all.
 

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gregmcateer

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Douglas,
Thanks for this informative post.

I currently know less than the square root of 3/10ths of naff all about bandsaws, blades, etc - never having used one and only seen one in action (at Richard T's). Once I have an extension on the house and 'my' garage back into my total control, I will be purchasing - and your post is a really handy reference point.

Cheers

Greg
 

condeesteso

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Pleased it may be useful Greg. Have to say it takes ages to test blades in this way, with constant change-overs and re-setting guides etc!
One more idea I have. When I got my BS500 I was excited it would take 1" blades. But over a few years I have come to realise that just because it can doesn't mean it's better. The 3/4" rips 11" stock brilliantly, the machine is under far less load too. Noting the cross-section of blade steel is about half that of the fat ones, so tension is done by feel and is well down from a thick 1" blade. Given the wide criticism that all but the real top-end machines cannot properly tension their max blade width (which I accept is true) then running a thinner, narrower blade is giving the machine a better chance of performing well I think. And dust generated is about half, so less work for the extractor.
It just gets better :shock:

FREE to good home - anyone need some 142" blades (cover post only), just pm me.
 

jumps

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Douglas

agreeing your reasons for 'thin kerf' I can't help feeling that there is more to the quality of the cut than you seem to focus on here. however, I can also understand how hard it would be to be definitive in this area!

there's also a potential issue with the relationship between feed speed and finish which can also favour the fast cut blades over the ultra thins for the finished product (unless I have the wrong end of the stick!) - this is related to potential drift as well.

I think what I am saying is that I don't think the search for the thinnest kerf is necessarily the route to the most efficient blade against the overall objectives for a thin kerf blade.

the tuff saws fast cut (I use 20mm version too) is an amazing blade, and I can't find any benefit in swapping over to the 1" x 2tpi anymore. Basically if I don't need curves it's now 'the blade'. The finish is up with blades with more tpi, or even better - again the observation you make about loading must be a factor here.
 

custard

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Great post! I've yet to meet the woodworker who has a bad word to say about Ian and Tuffsaws.

How does this new Tuffsaw blade fit into the "Supertuff Fastcut" (normal thickness) and "Supertuff Premium" (thinner thickness) range?

And one more question, have you ever tried an M42 blade?
 

condeesteso

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Hi Jumps - I'm a bit stuck on the efficiency point, sorry :oops:
What I suppose I have been looking at is actual kerf; speed of feed; and quality of cut. edit: and accuracy of course - a veneer same thickness all over, to 0.1mm...??)
Certainly thin kerf alone is not the aim, but if all else stays very good and I get the kerf down then I feel I have gained.
On the 0.45mm 5/8" (sample 'thin kerf') the speed is very respectable and for me that is good enough. I would say the fastcut is a little, well, faster (it has the little skip teeth in to help clear swarf and I suspect that makes it work so well on deeper cuts, say 7"+.
Regarding efficiency, I'm not sure how best to define it so judging it is tricky. In a textbook way, absolute efficiency might be zero kerf (a kind of light sabre) and any blade that makes waste is becoming less efficient. But that is obviously a bit 'anorak'. So I go back to keeping everything about the best blade I can find just as good, but reducing kerf.
On that basis the new test blade achieves almost everything. But I would say setup is more sensitive (no surprise really) and I have yet to try ripping 11" stock with it - although that wasn't the main plan. If it can rip brilliant veneers etc up to say 6", then for me it is a great blade indeed. I am still playing with it though.

Hi Custard - good day to you (how's the move, bench, and boat no doubt :wink: )
The actual blade material: Fastcut 0.55mm. Premium 0.5mm; the thin-kerf test blade 0.45mm. (Note the premium measurement is off my premium blade on the smaller bandsaw, but I believe it is right). The significant point re the test blade though is minimal set. I understand it has been taken as low as can be gone - less set seems to behave oddly through the heat treatment so is not a consistent option, I gather (though it may become one, I honestly don't know).
The M42 - never tried one! I understand the big plus is durability and I don't put enough through the saw to need that level of life I feel. Also I collect bandsaw blades #-o so having a longer-life one would spoil that.
If and as I learn more using these blades I shall report back, but I am certainly keen to try a 1/2" on the smaller Kity I have.
 

jumps

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I think you have the efficiency bit summed up pretty well from this - kerf, accuracy and finish will all contribute to the total 'wasted wood' that causes problems for book matching etc
 

condeesteso

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This may be of interest to any of us running mid-size machines (say 70 - 110" blades... the Incas, Kity 413 and 613, and most others with approx 10 - 12" wheels).
I have a Kity 413 which I use as a smaller second machine and keep it mainly for precise ripping.
Ian at Tuffsaws kindly got me a new blade to test and it's a good 'un. I usually use a 1/2" premium (Tuffsaws) 4tpi and that is very good anyway for what I want, but this new one is a bit of a sensation.
Here is a sub-1mm slice off some scrap ash, approx 80mm deep:
t1.jpg

t2.jpg

t3.jpg


Actually coming out 0.92 - 0.94mm... but it can do better:
t5.jpg


0.7mm, and very consistent all over.
The kerf is 0.7mm, which is the thinnest I have ever got close to on a blade this length.
This isn't a great example for bookmatched grain, but on a burr or similar it's going to be as good as can be got I think, short of knife-cutting.
t4.jpg

here's the blade close up. This one is 5/8ths as that was the stock available, and the Kity tensions it very well. I assume the thinner blade stock requires less tension (the actual stock is 0.45mm, so set is very low). It's 3 / 4 tpi vari-pitch and I got away with ripping 10mm oak fine (breaking the 3 teeth in the cut rule).
It was very quick to set up, and tracks brilliantly enabling extremely fine finishes so little further removal with a handplane or even scraper (on burrs say).

I may appear to have an odd obsession with thin kerf blades, but when they do everything I look for this well... why on earth not?
I honestly believe this is the best precision rip blade I have ever tried. Oh yes, and it rips 6" deep with ease.
Brilliant work Ian, many thanks for being one of the first to get to try it. A total thumbs up from me.
 

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Gerard Scanlan

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What a brilliant post Douglas. I have the half inch M42 3 tpi blade on my little Inca bandsaw and it cuts through absolutely anything up to 6 inches depth (max for the saw). But it does not leave a smooth finish. So I am tempted to try this blade especially on the more expensive types of timber. How is the blade performing with regard to sharpeness? The M42 is nearly a year old and it cuts as well as it did when I got it.

Gerard
 

condeesteso

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Hi Gerard - re sharpness / life it's too soon to tell, but the stock material is (I think) the same as the Tuffsaws fastcut and that lasts very well. I'm sure M42 would last longer (maybe a lot) but for the volumes I work I really prefer the precision and I think they are about a tenner each anyway. I bet this one will see me easily 9 months to a year!! I know the fastcut will outlast the old Hakkensons, Starretts etc by a country mile anyway.
 

MIGNAL

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Is that a vari - pitch blade?
The thin kerf or thin gauge blades are more important for the small and mid sized Bandsaws. I have a very thin gauge (0.38 or near) blade that I obtained from Ian. OK it's not a resaw blade but I use it appropriately on resawing stock that is under 1 inch. It cuts as good as my machine ever will.
The much bigger fast cut Vari doesn't fair so well on my machine (it's still good). I suspect this 0.45 mm blade will be easier to tension and therefore more suited to my cheap machine.
 

Gerard Scanlan

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Just ordered one from the ever helpful Ian at Tuff saws.
Thanks for drawing my attention to these saws Douglas.


Gerard
 
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