Guides are super essential for a bandsaw for any sort of cutting. It helps nudge the blade on track keeping it straight as you make a curved cut. It makes controlled curve cutting doable.
Are you struggling to pick a guide for your bandsaw? Bandsaw guide blocks vs bearings, which is it gonna be?
Block guides have two options to choose from though cool blocks are the most popular. Bearing guides have no variety. Both are easy to set up. Block guides greatly reduce lateral vibration of the blade. The bearing guide is good for handling narrow blades. Blocks wear off faster than bearings.
But that’s the shortest summary of its comparisons. Select your guide by staying with us till the end of the article.
Bandsaw Guide Blocks Vs Bearings: Quick Overview
Cutting woods need to be precise and accurate. With that in mind, you need to know the comparisons between bandsaw guide blocks and bearings.
Let’s see a quick comparison between these two tools.
|Bandsaw Guide Blocks
|Bandsaw Guide Bearings
|2-3 different types available according to materials.
|No alternate type is available.
|1/8″ – 1/4″
|1/2″ – 3/4″
|Put the blocks in the templates and tighten them.
|Use the lock screw to position the bearing and tighten it.
|Reducing lateral vibration of the saw.
|Eliminating friction creates blade stability, prevents blade breakage, and is more suitable for narrow blades.
|Cons to look out for
|Some blocks wear off faster and require more frequent replacement.
|No reported con.
The short comparison is helpful. However, there are more to it. So, let’s see the detailed comparison in the next segment.
Bandsaw Guide Blocks Vs Bearings: Detailed Comparison
During cutting wood without any guide, the kerf of the metal will pinch the blade. The pinched blade is then twisted and loses its ability to create any sharp cut.
The twisted blade then loses its utmost rigidity. And it goes the same case for metals, of any thickness. It’s very important to have a good quality bandsaw first.
We often hear praises about Laguna and the Rikon bandsaws. If you’re replacing ceramic guides on laguna bandsaw for setup or block removal, they’re easily available.
Let’s check out the detailed comparison for these guides.
There are a few variations available for blocks to choose from. But bandsaw guide bearings come of the same type more or less, so there isn’t much variety.
Guide blocks were primarily available in steel. Steel blocks are the oldest used blocks. These are very strong but it has the potential to wear the blades out. It creates a lot of noise and friction and it’s currently anyone’s last choice.
Then, there are round Cool Blocks for bandsaw. It kind of lives up to its name by keeping the system cool even on wavy duty. It is composed of PTFE that transfers to the blade and makes the block lubricous.
Impregnated with graphite and synthetic dry lubricant, it prevents friction of blade and breakage. Cool block allows the blade to stay cooler and work quieter for lubrication advantage.
It improves the cutting performance of the blade with any width. You must remember to keep it at 1/16” to 1/8″ wide for minute radius work.
Lastly, there is Ceramic block guide. Ceramic blocks combine all the low friction benefits of Cool Blocks just encased in a harder material.
The surface of this block is very smooth so it works well in preventing friction and noise. Ceramic blocks have to be specially set alongside the blade. It is to ensure that the teeth don’t touch the block no matter what.
Unfortunately, roller bearings only come as they are.
Winner: Block guides for having more options to choose from.
- For most 14″ Band saws including Sears Craftsman 14″, Jet, Grizzly, ridged
- The metal to metal contact made by old metal guide blocks creates heat and friction which cause premature blade wear and breakage
- Please note the actual dimensions of the cool block can be smaller than its nominal dimension by up to 0.05”. For example a ½” Cool Block may measure 0.45”.This is to allow for expansion due to humidity. Cool blocks blade guides are made from a high tech, non-metallic composite material, “graphite impregnated phenolic laminate”
- Country of Origin: United States
- Please note the actual dimensions of the cool block can be smaller than its nominal dimension by up to 0.05”. For example a ½” Cool Block may measure 0.45”.This is to allow for expansion due to humidity.
Guides come with bandsaw and drill presses for easier understanding. Bandsaw blade bearing guides can be followed for setup in an easy process. Block guides are fairly easy to set up.
All you have to do is put each block in the two pits around the blade. Just be mindful to keep the blade at 1/32” distance from the actual blade to avoid direct contact.
On the other hand, setting up bearing guides can be a lengthy process. For its spherical shape, it’s hard to grasp it properly and put it in its exact position. But it’s not an impossible task.
There are bearing guides available in different price ranges. But mind you, the cheap ones come with frail material and can wear off faster. It can also create a lot of noise and fail to provide a sturdy guide.
If you take up the price range by a notch, you’ll find a more user-friendly bearing. There are a few bearings whose lock screw is found on the outside of the bearing.
This helps the user to adjust the guide as per his preference. Usually, most bearing comes with the locking screw on the bearing itself. This puts the user in a trial and error position in most cases.
Winner: Both can be set by anyone without much effort.
- REDUCES REPLACEMENT FREQUENCY – Ultra-durable, high-quality bearings are designed to survive the roughest conditions, lowering maintenance costs and replacement frequency.
- HIGH RPM SUPPORT – The extreme RPM support minimizes wear and tear, protecting the bearings from early failure and collapse. These bearings are designed to survive high pressure.
- ULTRA-RESISTANT – This ball bearing is made from chrome steel and can survive severe impacts. It can also be fitted in several machines, and metal fatigue is not a problem for these bearings.
- DUAL-SIDED RUBBER SEAL – Double rubber seal on both sides protects the ball bearing, safeguarding its integrity, ensuring it holds together whatever structured it is holding together.
- BASED IN USA – Our sealed ball bearings are locally designed in South Florida with the help of our reliable industry experts.
Block guides helps to reduce lateral vibration of the bandsaw. The blocks from both sides cushion the blade to keep it on track.
Blades tend to divert a lot during cutting at higher feed rates. Feed rate means the amount of material a bandsaw can cut per minute.
Bearing guides provide great support for narrow blades. The curvature of the bearing pushes back the blade to its precise position should it divert. It prevents blade damage and breakage from friction.
Resawing is a whole smoother experience with it. A lot of people have reviewed that bearing guides require minor modifications and replacement.
Winner: It’s a tie. Both these guides perform great.
Cons To Look Out For
Because Cool block is composed of graphite and polymer, it corrodes easily. Due to continuous use, the cool blocks wear out and get weak.
However, rubbing some sandpaper gets it working just as new. The sandpaper scrapes off the worn-out particles over the block and reveals a new layer.
And despite that, the block doesn’t really last long. So, you have to replace it often to keep up the outstanding result. But good for you, cool blocks are fairly cheap so it’s not that big of a problem.
Another issue that has been reported is, that ceramic blocks can sometimes flare sparks. Don’t be nervous, it’s very rare. But it can happen if you don’t position your blade perfectly since that can create friction.
Since ceramic has a very compact molecular structure it will produce more friction than other materials. So if you are thinking of going with ceramic blocks, make sure you’ve adjusted them properly.
Bearings, on the contrary, have nothing such hazard or complaint so you’re all good.
Winner: Bearings wins this easily.
Now comes the ultimate comparison. The machine that you aim to buy should be well within your price range.
The price of bandsaw guide block ranges between $10-$70. Let’s see some of the best bandsaw guide block available on the market.
You can even buy Woodline Bandsaw Guide Block.
On the other hand, bandsaw guide bearings cost less than bandsaw guide blocks. These range between $7-$45. Let’s see some of the reliable bandsaw guide bearings below.
The best bandsaw guide bearings that you can buy is JET Carter-Style Bearing Blade Guides.
Another reliable bandsaw guide bearings you can purchase is ACCURA ball bearing guide set.
If none of these satisfied you, then check out Carter Products Band Saw Guide Set.
Winner: Bandsaw guide bearings is cheaper.
That’s all regarding the in detailed comparisons. Do follow some tips and tricks for optimal bandsaw performance. That way you can be more productive.
Which One Is Good For You?
Both block and bearing guide has excellent potential for any user. I think it’s more of a personal preference than an overall verdict.
However, if you are okay with frequent replacement of guides, you can try out block guides. Cool blocks are affordable enough to give it a try- run. And if you want to settle with a more longtime arrangement, you can go with bearings.
Before making any decision go over the above-stated points once more in accordance with your situation. Remember, compatibility is the main thing to consider. Otherwise, it can get ruined like this person.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do I need to remember while using bandsaws?
Accidents are very likely to occur while working with such sensitive equipment. Always wear safety goggles, and face protection before using the saw. Always keep your fingers a few inches away from the blade and don’t push too hard. And lastly, never wear loose clothing, or jewelry while working.
What TPI is the best for cutting metal?
The right TPI and blade material depend on the type of metal being cut and its thickness. In order to cut thin metal or sheets, you can use 18-24 TPI bi-metal blades. And for thicker metals for example steel pipe or iron, use a 14-18 TPI blade.
What saw blade makes the smoothest cut?
With fewer spaces between the teeth, crosscut blades remove less material, resulting in a smoother cut. This means it takes these blades longer to move through wood. Crosscut blades are the go-to choice for finish carpentry and other applications that require precision and a smooth finish.
Now you know which bandsaw guide blocks vs bearings works best for you. Guides are inevitable to any cutting machine and so it’s to your bandsaw.
Now after the head-to-head comparison, what is your selection?
Let us know in the comments.
Robert S. Dehner is an experienced content writer at Power Tool Institute. He has a wealth of experience in the field and is committed to providing you with up-to-date information and advice on the effective and safe use of power tools.