Chris and I make a good design team because we have different levels of experience and two very different perspectives. Take for example this recent adventure I had while working on milling 1-1/8″ square blanks of ash for the new 1″ Roubo Bench Dogs we are making.
In 2011 Chris Wong and I started up Time Warp Tool Works. I was very new to wood working and Chris helped me set up my shop for the some of the jobs I would have to do for the company that would involve wood (I am primarily the blade guy, metal slivers in most of my fingers). He said I needed a bandsaw and moved his 14″ General to my shop. I have use it rarely, but one of my jobs in production was to produce the ash dowel blanks that we transformed into our 3/4″ dogs.
When I started trying to set up for cutting the 8/4 ash needed for the new 1″ Roubo dogs, I spent most of 4 hours with my installed 3/8” bandsaw blade trying to get a consistent cut for the blanks I needed and just could not do it. What was I doing wrong? Maybe a new blade?
I read the General Bandsaw manual and determined that the saw could support up to and including a ¾” blade. As I was also interested in trying some re-sawing and read online that you want as wide a blade as you can for this purpose, I went and bought a new ¾”, 4 tooth blade and installed it on the saw. I had success after two test cuts, setting up the 1 1/8” cut I was trying to achieve using cheap softwoods I had sitting in the wood shed. All set to go, right?
At this point I talked to Chris and I was told the saw would not properly tension a ¾” blade and heeding his advise, went back to buy a ½” blade; not in stock, unfortunately (I live in a small town, if you need it now, good luck!), so I did a couple of more tests including a couple of cuts in 4/4 ash and all seemed fine.
When I went to cut the 8/4 I had success on the first 2-3 cuts and then started to have drift problems again. I increased the tension on the blade some more; this cleaned up the next cut and then the drift started again.
I know ash really well from all the time I have played with it and know it has the soft/hard areas that can pull a blade off. I realized the blade was stretching and I was at the end of the tensioning range. The blade was too loose and was following the grain. Yup, Chris was right, the General 14” can’t tension a ¾” blade properly. I ended up over-cutting the blanks to make sure I had enough material and then ran them through the planer to get final dimensions.
The point of all this? If I had been able to get a ½” blade to swap out I would have saved a bunch of time. However, I learned a great deal about how a bandsaw and the blades work and am glad of the time I spent going through the process. Not financially productive, but a good learning experience. I’m not sure I would have made all the connections if Chris had not told me the initial information about the saw not being able to tension the ¾” blade, it was a little kernel of info that guided the lesson.
The good news in all this is I calculated I would get 8 – 43” dog blanks out of the material I bought and I ended up with 10, so I conquered the bandsaw after all!
Oh, by the way, did I mention that Time Warp Tool Works will be offering 1″ Bench Dogs for the Roubo fans out there using 1″ hold fasts? Coming soon – stay tuned!