Band saw blades break for a number of valid reasons. One such reason is metal fatigue.  You may remember from a high school science class your teacher bending a paper clip back and forth until it broke.  This is a perfect example of metal fatigue.  Although band saw blades are not typically bent to as acute an angle as one might bend a paper clip, they are bent and straightened over 2 or 4 band saw wheels during each revolution of the band on the saw.  Just as the paper clip has a finite number of bends it can endure before breaking, so too has the band saw blade.  Typical band saws blade speeds are anywhere from 50 to 15,000 surface feet per minute (sfpm).  Ferrous metal cutting is at the slow end, non-ferrous metals, urethane and other foams, wood, plastic, and rubber are at the mid- range, and metal friction cutting at the highest speeds.  The key factor on an “ideal” band saw blade and band saw machine affecting blade life is the number of flexes it sustains.


The speed at which you run your band saw blade in sfpm determines the chronological blade life i.e. days, hours, minutes etc. your blade will last before using up its final number of flexes.  If one runs a band saw machine at the speed of 1,200 sfpm, a 25’ band cycles 48 times per minute.  If the band saw has 4 wheels that would be 192 band flexes per minute 11,520 flexes per hour and 460,800 per (5) 8 hr shifts. Obviously, running the blade at half that speed (600 sfpm) doubles the chronological blade life. 


So, before you go and change how you run your saws, ask yourself the following. Is the speed at which you run your band the optimum speed for: 

  • the material you are cutting?

  • the surface condition you want on your material?

  • how fast you want to be able to cut your material and giving adequate blade life?


Keep these answers in mind the next time you are reviewing/adjusting your run settings.


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