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Proper Blade Maintenance Reduces Costs
Proper blade maintenance reduces downtime, increases productivity and saves money. This includes sharpening blades correctly, finding the right tension and preventing other common damages.
By DeAnna Stephens Baker
Date Posted: 3/1/2012
Choosing blades that are a correct fit for your operation and maintaining them properly can increase productivity, reduce breakage, lengthen blade life, and save your company time and money in the process.
Before looking at blade maintenance, it is important to understand the significance of choosing the correct blade for the job and how it can save you money. When choosing blades for any application, the cheapest option may not be the most cost effective.
“Several factors should be considered when choosing the correct profile blade,” said Janet Goddard, a blades sales consultant at Wood-Mizer. “Horsepower, density of material, width of cuts, manpower and expected production are a few important questions to consider. Trying to select a blade based on price alone may not be the most cost effective.”
Instead of just buying the cheapest blades, Goddard suggested talking with a blade expert who can help you determine which blade will give you the most for your money.
“Most sawing operations are not aware of all of the blade options available to them,” she said. “These options can be explained by calling and having someone ask you the right questions which can result in a savings for your business.”
Wood-Mizer also has an online blade selector tool which helps guide buyers through the process.
Once the correct blades have been chosen, properly maintaining them is critical to reducing breakage and receiving the maximum productivity and lifespan. Here are a few things that should be kept in mind regarding blade maintenance.
The first part of effective blade maintenance is keeping to a regular schedule.
“Blades can be expensive and staying on a disciplined maintenance schedule can save you money in the long run,” said Goddard. “It is a good idea to become familiar with how many blades you will be using routinely. Avoid downtime by knowing when to change a blade before it is dull or breaks.”
Continuing to use a blade after it is dull will not only decrease its productivity, but can also cause stress in the band. Therefore it is important to change the blade at regular intervals and immediately after it strikes any foreign object.
Companies that sharpen their own blades need to be aware how easy it is to miss some surfaces of the blade during the sharpening process, including the outside corners of the set teeth or down in the gullet of the blade. This results in partially dull blades being put back onto machinery. To prevent this and ensure that no surfaces are missed, Wood-Mizer’s blade experts recommend using some paint, dye, or a permanent marker to mark the whole grind profile, including the top edge, gullet, face and back of several teeth on a blade. This allows you to easily see any surfaces that the sharpener may have missed, and adjust the grinding wheel to reach any places that were previously being missed.
Improper blade tension causes stress on the band and prevents the machine from operating to maximum performance. Therefore, you should be familiar with the correct tension for each blade. One way of determining the correct tension is to use a tool like Wood-Mizer’s strain gauge, which can read changes in tension for widths of blades, help troubleshoot any problems and obtain a more accurate measure of the proper tension on a blade.
“A blade tension gauge is a valuable tool to have on hand to routinely check the tension,” said Goddard. “A simple tension adjustment can reduce downtime trying to guess what is wrong.”
Cleaning blades is important both during usage and before storage. If excessive sap or pitch has built up on a blade, it can lead to heat buildup and wavy cuts. If blades are stored with moisture, sawdust, sap or other residue still on them, they can not only rust, but microscopic damage to the blade surface can be caused by the acid found in sap. To prevent these issues, include blade cleaning in the regular maintenance schedule, and be careful to store only blades that have been thoroughly cleaned and dried.
Blades can also be damaged by other parts of machines they are on. Something as small as a misaligned blade guide, a chipped blade guide wear pad, or grooves in blade guide rollers can cause damage to the blade’s surface or back edge. If you find any of these problems, the blade guides, guide rollers, or wear pads may need to be adjusted or replaced.
Because every operation has a unique set of factors, such as production volumes, wood types, and machine types, keeping good records can help you find out the best blade types and maintenance for each application.
“Keeping accurate data is a good way to determine the most efficient way to run blades,” Goddard said.
These records would include things such as run times, sharpenings afforded by blades, board footage results per shift and per sharpening. Though some trial and error may be involved, records of how different blades and maintenance practices respond to your unique situation can help you make better informed decisions in the future.
Following these basic maintenance tips can improve your blade performance and help reduce costs. Remember that improperly performing blades will cost you money in the long run. It is worth the time and effort to do things right to ensure a proper cut every time.
For more information, visit: www.woodmizerblades.com/rightblade