Making Band Saw Blade Guides Homemade Machines & Jigs
When I first made my homemade band saw, the idea was that it would primarily be used for resawing and cutting bigger parts out roughly. I made the blade guides from pieces of UHMW plastic, since I found that works great for the wide blades I would be using.
Since then, I’ve decided that the saw would be wasted if it couldn’t use a smaller blade for finer cuts. To that end, about two years ago I changed the blade guides from plastic to hardened steel. These worked great, but the original holder was made for square, flat pieces of plastic, not round pieces of steel, and that made it difficult to adjust them:
The blade above is 3/8″ and that is as small as these blade guides will allow – they can’t be adjusted any deeper into the holder without hitting the clamping screw.
I recently ordered new blades for the saw, and two of those are 1/4″. To use these, I would have to change the guides.
My first idea was to more or less copy what I had already done, but with wood:
But of course there was the problem of how to make the guide blocks themselves adjustable, so I discarded this.
The next idea was to change how the holder fastens to the guide post. I cut a piece of maple and drilled a 1-1/4″ hole through so that it would fit snuggly to the post:
I could then drive screws in through access holes in the back of the post:
At this point I spent a while figuring out how the guide block holders would attach and an easy way to make them adjustable. The first step was to cut rabbets into the block and add the thrust bearing:
The thrust bearing is just threaded into the maple block and the nut will tighten to lock it in place after it has been adjusted.
I made the guide block holders from more maple and drilled 3/8″ holes for the hardened steel guides:
A slit lets the holder clamp down on the guides after they have been adjusted:
To make it adjustable forward and back, I drilled a slot for a 1/4″ bolt:
The wing nut clamps the holder assembly in place after it’s been set:
This was a major improvement, but still had some problems. First, contact area for the guides is low, since they are circular. That’s OK for a wider blade, but not good for a narrow one.
Second, they were still difficult to adjust, due mainly to how the screws tighten from above, right next to the blade.
I figured if I’m going to do this, I should do it right and end up with something that I’m completely satisfied with. So I cut the front off of the holder and had a look around for something suitable for new guides. I had some 3/4″ steel angle from an older project that looked like it would work:
These are just mild steel and can’t be hardened, but should still last a good long time before they wear out.
To attach them to the front of the holder, I drilled and tapped directly into the wood:
I cut slots in the new guides to make them adjustable, but given the uniform thickness of all the blades I’ll be using on this saw, they shouldn’t need to be moved:
The bottom guide was a lot easier. I just cut off the upper plate so that I could attach the guides directly to the bottom one:
I drilled slots in these for adjustment using a step drill, then screwed them onto the plate:
These are so much easier to adjust that the round ones.
At some point in the future I may remake this again from steel. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how well it holds up, in particular the mild steel guides:
A shot from the other side and the first test cut using the 1/4″ blade: