Making Band Saw Blade Guides Homemade Machines & Jigs

When I built this band saw seven years ago, I was in a bigger shop and designed it mainly with resawing in mind. I figured I would either buy or make a smaller saw to do the finer cuts, and so I made the blade guide system on this one to suit wide blades only. After I moved to a smaller shop, to conserve space I wanted to make this saw as versatile as possible, so I redid the blade guides to work with smaller blades. However, I was never really happy with that work, since I based it on the old guide system rather than starting over.

I just finished changing the upper wheel shaft on the saw, and figured now is the best time to make new blade guides. I started with the lower one. After using the saw for several months without a lower guide, I determined that all that’s needed is a trust bearing. I used a bronze sleeve bearing and just filed a notch that will cradle the back of the blade:

The bearing can be moved back and forth for different size blades, and as the blade wears into the notch, it can be rotated to a new, fresh position.

Next I worked on the upper thrust bearing and used a sealed ball bearing for that mounted on a 5/8″ shaft:

The screw and washer hold the bearing on, along with a pin that I epoxied in behind:

The pin is actually the shank of the drill bit I used to drill the hole.

Next, I made the guide bar from sold maple and cut a notch for the thrust bearing shaft and two recesses for the side guides:

And here’s the completed upper guide:

I used graphite impregnated guide blocks for the side guides this time to try out, and so far so good. The benefit is that they don’t have to be spaced away from the blade like the steel ones I used before this, so they should keep the blade straighter. The thrust bearing adjust in and out for wider or narrower blades, and the side guides do the same. The whole thing slides up and down on rails mounted on the upper back plate of the saw.

I used the old blade guard with just a couple of modifications to work with the new system:

Here’s a video going through the build from start to finish: