Wise Buys: Bandsaw Blade Guides
Spaceage Ceramic Guideblocks:
Because the Spaceage Ceramic Guideblocks (SCG) and thrust bearings matched my 14" Delta's original steel blocks and bearings in size and use the same mounting hardware, I didn't need to replace a bunch of parts to swap them out. I installed the top bearing and guides in 5 minutes, but replacing the lower thrust bearing took 45 minutes because I had to first remove the lower guide assembly. In doing so, I discovered the original bearing had seized; not a problem with the SCG bearing because it does not turn.
The manufacturer recommends .005" clearance between the blade and guides; I used the thickness of a piece of paper. I cut turning blanks from a variety of woods up to 6" thick and radii from 2" to 10" using 1/4" and 3/4" blades, and the slippery-smooth SCGs held the blade true without any sign of wear. Their low cost and durability make them an inexpensive but significant upgrade.
-- Tested by Jan Svec, Projects Editor
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Iturra Band Rollers
Iturra's newest Band Rollers (model #10001) feature ceramic bearings in steel housings. I installed them in my 14" Delta saw in about 15 minutes, as they slid into the existing guide holders and adjusted with the same setscrews. There are no replacement thrust bearings.
Using a feeler gauge, I positioned the bearings .003" from the blade, according to Iturra's instructions. Although Iturra does not recommend using its Band Rollers with blades less than 1/8", I tested mine with 1/8", 1/4", and 1/2" blades, cutting thick stock and making tight-radius cuts to force the blade against the bearings. I found no problems in performance. By reducing the amount of blade twisting, the Band Rollers resulted in more accurate scrollcutting and resawing. These bearing guides showed no signs of wear, a big upgrade from my square-block graphite guides.
-- Tested by Owen Duvall, Projects Editor
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904-642-2802; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carter Conversion Kit
I spent a mere 15 minutes installing the Carter Conversion Kit on my 14" Jet bandsaw. It replaced not only the guides, but also my saw's entire upper and lower blade-guide assembly. I was surprised, however, to find that the two Allen wrenches needed to install and make adjustments to the bearings were not included in the kit.
I immediately noticed improved performance from my bandsaw as the bearing guides gave it a huge boost in accuracy. When cutting arcs and circular shapes -- and especially in resawing -- the bearings proved much better than my old graphite guides at holding the blade perpendicular to the workpiece with no twisting or deflection. Aside from the price tag, the only drawback I found was the increased noise as compared with my previous guides. But I'm willing to trade a little noise for the greatly superior cutting results.
-- Tested by Kevin Boyle, Senior Design Editor
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