You may have read about this initially in British Woodworking magazine several months ago, because, although it created a bit of discussion over on the UKworkshop forum, I do not recall ever getting around to writing it up on my blog… I’m referring to my Startrite 401e bandsaw and the incident that happened not long after I had bought the saw; where I pushed an old blade too far and it ended up leeching out of the saw, ripping the tyre clean off the top wheel at the same time!
That left me with the challenge of fitting a brand new tyre, after realising that the total material costs would equate to less than half the asking price of a firm in South Wales for them to do it for me (and, their price was excluding VAT, as well). When I did this originally, I trued the tyre up with a scrap of abrasive paper, wrapped around a sanding block (rubber-cork is worked more easily than rubber in a woodworking ‘shop). Since then, I’ve known all along that the ‘repair’ wasn’t perfect – the fact that my blades have been twisting and bashing against the side guides for the past six-months was a huge give-away!!
Recently, I did contact another firm in Bristol (much closer to home) about the possibility of them just truing the tyre for me. However, it turned out that they were unable to machine cork although, they could’ve happily re-covered the wheel with rubber. They did refer me to another firm in Bristol but, with a supply of rare earth magnets having arrived in the workshop recently [more on that in an up-and-coming post!], I decided I tried and build myself a jig to do it properly, on my own…
You see, just in case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts on this bandsaw, there’s a large gaping hole in the top of the saw that allows clearance for the upper wheel when tensioning a wide blade (this is where the blade escaped, back in April):
…Though, it wasn’t long after I’d started cutting some 18mm MDF on my new table saw [using a brand-new blade – more on that soon!] that I realised there was a much simpler solution available, given the almost-perfect dimensions of the slot:
Yes, it’s nothing more than a simple honing guide! This one’s actually an accessory for my WorkSharp 3000 grinder but, if you’re bandsaw has a rectangular-hole like this and you’re in a similar predicament then, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same with another brand of honing guide (unless you’re using a rubber tyre, perhaps). You can see that, with a sharp 2in wide blade lifted my my Stanley no.4, the rubber-cork material cuts very well and there are plenty of shavings. Some caution must be taken, though, and I did find the iron lost its edge after a while.
The end result is that my top wheel is almost perfectly true again and I was even able to add a slight camber, with a little due care and attention. Now, when I fit a narrow blade, it stays in one place and no longer edges close to the front edge of the wheels! Blades don’t twist any more while the saw’s running and the overall working noise is much quieter again. The guides should last a while now, too!
I appreciate that this advice may not be ideal if you own a different design of bandsaw but, if you can adapt one somehow when resurrecting your band-wheels then, I highly recommend the honing guide approach. A nice wide, sharp blade makes light work of a job like this and the shavings make for a rather pleasant sight (unlike fine sanding dust).
Thanks for reading.