Choosing the Correct Width
The width of the blade determines the type of cutting that you can do. Generally, narrow blades are used for radius cutting and wider blades for straight cutting. The narrower the blade, the tighter the radius that can be cut.
1/8” and 3/16” blades tend to be used for cutting very tight radiuses and 1/4" blades are the most common width for radius cutting as most machines are set up as standard to take a 1/4" blade as the narrowest blade that it can use. Generally adjustments to the guides will have to made to run anything narrower than 1/4".
3/8” blades are very popular for cutting bowl blanks and with instrument makers for radius cutting thick stock etc as a 3/8” blade will have more beam strength than narrower blades so will cope better with thicker stock.
Radius cutting chart:
2 1/2” (63mm)
A common misconception is that to cut thick stock, you need the widest blade possible that will fit on your machine, but this is not always the case.
Most bandsaws will struggle to tension the widest blade that the manufacturer claims will fit on their machine so you either have to use a narrower blade or one of the SuperTuff Premium, SuperTuff Sabrecut or Fastcut blades which are made from thinner material. (In the Sabrecut range the 1/2" is standard thickness but the 5/8” and 3/4" are made from thinner material than standard blades).
Even though a wide blade will seem to fit ok, the machine can struggle to tension the blade sufficiently for optimum performance.
Because the SuperTuff Premium, SuperTuff Fascut and wider SuperTuff Sabrecut blades are made from thinner material than standard blades, this will eliminate the tensioning issue – standard 5/8” blades are made from .032” thick material, whereas the SuperTuff Premium and SuperTuff Fastcut are made from .022” thick material, which is thinner than a standard 1/2” blade. The wider SuperTuff Sabrecut blades are made from .025” thick material.
I have been running 5/8” SuperTuff Premium, SuperTuff Sabrecut and Fastcut blades on machines that take 73” and 82 1/2” blades with no problems.
For straight cutting 1/2" and wider blades tend to be used.