Upgrade the Blade
Our first recommendation is to replace the blade that came with your band saw. This simple upgrade is guaranteed to improve your saw's performance. We prefer blades made with hardened teeth that are cut rather than pressed (Timber Wolf is one brand). They cost more than twice as much as economy blades, but we still consider them a bargain.
Aside from quality, there are two features to consider in a blade:
- Width: Wider blades are best for thicker wood and straight cuts because they "wander" less than narrow blades. But narrow blades are essential for curves. The narrower the blade, the tighter it can turn. The narrowest blades can cut curves with a radius as small as 3/16 in. (That's the diameter of a ballpoint pen tip!)
- Teeth per inch: Lower-TPI blades are better for cutting thicker stock. A higher-TPI blade will cut slower but leave a smoother surface.
Although the widest and narrowest blades are good to have, you'll get the most bang for your buck with midsize blades. Ranging from 3/8 in. to 1/4 in. wide, midsize blades can make both straight and curved cuts. (A 3/8-in. blade has more rigidity for straight cuts; a 1/4-in. blade cuts a smaller radius, 5/8 in. vs. 1-1/2 in.) Installing one of these workhorses will minimize blade changing, because it'll make most of the cuts you typically make. If you make a lot of curved cuts, a 1/4-in. 6-TPI (teeth per inch) blade is the workhorse that you'll use the most.
If you want to slice thick boards into thinner boards, consider a "resaw" blade designed just for that job. A resaw blade's added width provides rigidity to keep it from twisting. To cut without overheating, a resaw blade also has widely spaced teeth that cut aggressively and deep gullets that efficiently remove sawdust.