Bandsaw blade tension

I just received delivery of my new Axminster industrial series bandsaw which has a blade tension scale and pointer fitted. The scale is numbered 1 to 10 with a dash line along side each number with a very short dash at number 1 and gradually getting longer up to the 10. There is nothing in the machine manual or user guide as to what this numbered scale refers to. After fitting a new 1/2" wide 3 skip blade I tensioned the blade until firm finger pressure moved the blade sideways by 1/4" by coincidence the tension scale pointed to 4 on starting the machine the blade was fluttering so much it was striking the inside of the support column. Having owned my Kity 316 bandsaw for over 30 years I new from experience that the blade flutter was caused by to low tension, a slight turn of the tension wheel moved the tension pointer to 4 and 1/4 and the flutter disappeared, from this I assume the numbers on the tension scale are equal to the blade width in 1/8ths therefore a 1/2" bade equals four 1/8ths.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this ?

Look at the video clip from The Wood Whisperer at 2.20 mins in to see how to gauge the blade tension. The method used here to set up a bandsaw works perfectly and I’m using this method on both my large and small Axminster machines. Follow the procedures in the video and your machine will work fantastically.
Incidentally, you probably know this already, but the blade tension on a bandsaw should be reduced at the end of the working day; if not, there’s the possibility of producing a ‘flat’ on the tyre…pun not intended :grin:


The bloke says he doesn’t like bandsaw blade tension gauges because they aren’t to be trusted. I imagine that some bandsaws do have poor gauges of this kind.

On the other hand, the finger-push test is also notoriously variable, depending on the human doing the pushing. Fingers “go white” at different pressures for different fingers. Some are not so good at measuring distances (especially distances as small as 1/4", in the dim depths of a machine, at an angle) by eye.

Of course, it is what I do anyway, lacking a built-in bandsaw tension gauge. But I would prefer a small and simple aftermarket device to measure the blade deflection objectively. It cannot be beyond our ingenuity to invent one out of an old spring and a few offcuts, eh? Perhaps I will have go.

The main thing is that, believe or not, this method actually works. I don’t use a tablesaur any more and rely on my bandsaws for all machine sawing operations so I need a way of accurately setting up a bandsaw(s) so that it cuts absolutely spot on. Which they do.

Thanks for your reply, I had already seen the video and is a method I have used for many years, controversially Snodgrass has another video taken at a show where he taps the blade with one finger only and if the blade moves sideways more than 1/8th inch it is to slack.
I have the same bandsaw as your link “large 1” out of interest what blade width are you using and what is the scale reading showing with it correctly tensioned.
Another controversial point “To reduce tension or not” Axminster’s manual states there is no need to reduce the tension after every use, assuming they mean only if the saw is not going to be used for a while, my Kity 316 is over 30 years old it has the original wheel tyres and drive belt and the only time it get’s slackened off is when I change the blade. I use the Axminster GT 1/2" 3 skip blades on both machines and there is a big difference between the GT and standard carbon blades and well worth the extra bit of cash.

I agree with your thoughts, strain gauges are far to expensive for non business users, the built in tension gauge is only a guide I was just wondering What the numbers on the scale refereed to as Axminster have failed to include this bit of information in the manual.
A pretty accurate way is mount the blade and track it and with the side support guides well clear of the blade switch on and if the bade flutters tension it until the blade has no flutter, job done.

I don’t know what the scale reading is as I’ve never used it!:smile: I use is a 12mm, 4tpi Diamond Ground blade and have to agree that they’re pretty special. As regards slackening off the tension, I only do it as I said above at the end of the working day as part of the ‘close down’ routine…check all power sockets are ‘off’, clean the floor of all debris and detritus, put tools away and check that the bandsaw tension has been released on both machines. The large lever on the back of the big Industrial machine makes releasing the tension a piece of cake, which I guess is why it was included.