Excessive buildup of pitch and sawdust on your bandsaw tires is a leading cause of blade positioning and tracking problems.
Regular cleaning will enhance the saw’s efficiency in performing different tasks and prolong its life.
So, how often should you clean your bandsaw tires?
You don’t need to clean your bandsaw tires after every use. The frequency of cleaning will depend on how often you use it and for what purpose.
For example, you need to clean your bandsaw more often if you use it to cut green/ unseasoned wood with resin, pine tar, pitch, or sticky residues. But if you are a light user or only cut dry wood, cleaning the saw is less frequent.
A bandsaw accumulates sawdust and fine wood particles on the tires every time you use it. This residue accumulates under the blade, especially on the lower tire, as it travels around the wheel.
Regular maintenance is, therefore, paramount to keep the saw in excellent running condition.
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The Cleaning Process
There are two main methods on how to clean bandsaw tires:
Using a Cleaner or Soap
Certain hardwoods like pine and greenwood leave a substantial amount of residue on your bandsaw. Stubborn residue will require a soapy detergent or cleaner to scrape off.
- An old/ used toothbrush
- A piece of cotton cloth
- A cleaner of your choice
Step 1: Unplug the bandsaw
Safety should always come first! Switch off the power and unplug the bandsaw.
Step 2: Remove the saw blade
Removing the blade allows you to tilt the table to safely access the tires for better cleaning.
Step 3: Apply your soap or cleaner on the bandsaw wheel
Using a toothbrush, apply an ample amount of the cleaner on the wheel. Leave it for 15 minutes to allow the grime, debris, or sawdust to loosen up.
Note: Start by cleaning the lower bandsaw tire because it accumulates more dust than the other parts.
Step 4: Use a brush to rub the tire
Rubbing the tire with a brush helps to remove stubborn resin and debris. Be gentle while doing this to avoid scratching or damaging the rubber.
Step 5: Dry the bandsaw tire
After your tire is clean, take a cotton cloth and dry it well. It is recommendable to let it dry completely in the sunlight to prevent corrosion and slippage.
This method is the most preferred to clean bandsaw tires. It has no side effects as no chemicals are involved in the cleaning process.
- Fine sandpaper (120 grit) or synthetic wool
- An old toothbrush
- Cotton cloth
Step 1: Start by unplugging your bandsaw.
Step 2: Remove the blade and tilt the table to expose the tire. You will notice that the dust buildup is much worse on the lower tire.
Step 3: Turn the bandsaw wheel by hand and using synthetic steel wool or 120-grit sandpaper, apply a light touch on the wheel to scrape off the dust buildup. Rub gently all around the tire until all the stubborn sawdust is off.
Using an old toothbrush, rub the wheel around to remove all visible debris.
Step 4: Use a clean piece of cotton cloth to wipe the bandsaw tire
- Glue or attach a brush on the inside of your bandsaw case to effectively clean the lower tire.
- Heat the handle of an old toothbrush to bend at an angle of 90 degrees. Bolt the toothbrush to the case of your bandsaw on the bottom wheel, ensuring that the bristles are in contact with the tire. This way, you will have an inbuilt continuous cleaning system.
- Not all cleaners are safe for rubber or urethane bandsaw tires. Avoid cleaners that contain alcohol, oven cleaners, and solutions that leave oily residues on your tires. They are corrosive and may cause slippage on your tires.
You can go for mineral spirits, a water-based cleaner, 2050 blade cleaner, Simple Green, WD-40, or Goo Gone.
- After use, let your bandsaw dry overnight before cleaning the tires. Dry sawdust and residue buildup is easier to scrape off and clean than when wet.
- Avoid using coarse scrapers such as knives, wire brushes, rough sandpaper, and iron wool. They can easily damage delicate rubber tires. A cabinet scraper, soft bristle brush, or fine-grit sandpaper is the best choice.
- After the cleaning process, lubricate your bandsaw wheels to prevent rust and prolong their efficiency.
Replacing Your Bandsaw Tires
Keeping your bandsaw tires clean helps extend their life. However, there comes a day when you need to replace the tires with new ones. So, which is the best type for you?
Types of Bandsaw Tires
They are the most popular bandsaw tires. Urethane tires are highly durable and flexible, thus increasing the performance of the saw blade. They are also easy to install or replace without using glue or adhesive.
Most of these tires have bright colors, making it easy to inspect the blade and track dust buildup. Urethane tires give maximum efficiency and better tracking. They are pricier than rubber tires, but their longevity is worth it.
High-quality rubber tires can last as long as urethane. They offer better crowning and traction to the saw blade.
Rubber is cheaper, so replacing is not as costly as when using urethane. Natural rubber is more prone to stretching than synthetic rubber. If you don’t mind changing your bandsaw tires often, rubber is a cheaper choice.
Many older versions of bandsaws differ in size from the modern ones. As such, replacement is quite challenging. In this case, the only way out is to send the tires for refurbishing.
The old tire is fit into a mold, and then urethane or rubber is added to create a new tire surface. The process will cost you between $100 and $800 as opposed to buying a new tire below $50.
Cleaning your bandsaw tires should be occasional and when very necessary. Frequently lookout for pitch or sawdust buildup on the wheels and clean to prevent inaccuracies in the saw.
If the buildup is mostly dry wood particles or sawdust, you don’t need to use cleaning agents. But if you have stick residues, pine tar, or resin stuck on the wheel, you will need a cleaner to remove it.