Setting Band Saw Drift

A common subject that seems to get brought up and sparks a lot of debate in woodworking articles is resawing with a band saw, and more specifically, how to adjust the fence to follow the band saw drift.  Everyone seems to have a pretty strong opinion as to what works best.

Band Saw Drift occurs because the differences in set and sharpness for the band saw teeth from one side of the blade to the other side of the band saw blade.  Some people believe that heat can also play a role in band saw blade drift.  This is due to the front of the band saw expanding more than the back and becomes slightly longer due to the heat caused by the cutting action of the saw teeth in the front of the blade.  This can cause the blade to warp and contribute to band saw drift.

When resawing with a band saw, taking band saw drift into account is very important and finding a way to make adjustments so that the drift will not prevent you from getting nice even uniform cuts is imperative.  The only thing that all the theories seem to have in common is that saw blade drift can be overcome by making just the right adjustments to the fence.

I found one article that talked about not following the drift at all, but instead overcoming the drift on your band saw or finding ways to compensate for it.  They advised to install a stronger blade-tensioning spring on your band saw.  Then, to set your saw’s fence square to the band saw blade and clamp the outfeed side to the machines table.  Next, they instructed one to install ball-bearing blade guides in your band saw and adjust the blade guides so there is no clearance between the guides and the band saw blade.  Last, make a simple jig using a block of wood, a couple nuts a bearing and a hinge for a farm gate.  This method seemed to work in his shop, but every shop is different and has different ideas on how to better prevent band saw drift.

Another method of overcoming band saw drift was to make specific adjustments to the fence.  First, the band saw must be correctly set up with a proper tension, the band saw blade guides must be accurately adjusted and a good sharp blade must be in place.  Measure the drift angle using a bevel square.  Once you know the angle, duplicate the angle by using a jig to set your fence to have the same angle.  Here is a link to a video that can show you one way to do this.





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3 Responses to “Setting Band Saw Drift”

  1. Mr Ron says:

    I have been using the “Snodgrass” method with much success. It doesn’t require any fence or guide adjustments. You set the tracking by placing the bottom of the gullet in the blade at the centerline of the wheel, thus moving the blade away from you. This works with all blade widths and even works without guides except for the thrust bearing. Like all methods, drift will always raise it’s ugly head eventually. A good sharp blade will cut straight as long as the set and clearance remain equal on both sides of the blade. When the clearance starts to change due to heat buildup or the lack of adequate tension, the blade will tend to drift, regardless of whatever method is used to setup the saw. Bottom line; drift is inevitable. The blade will always be the final culprit.

  2. Jim Gafney says:

    I have used his method with success. Now, today I can not find the video where he described it. I wanted to check the direction of drift if the gullet of the blade is forward of the center or behind it. I believe if you are facing the teeth of the bland with the wheels to your left as on my old tired Jet then if you are behind the center line the drift will go to you right. If it is ahead of the centerline the it will go tot he left.


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