477 Bandsaw riser block – hindsight

February 12, 2012

This week we return again to the stack of listener suggested topics and questions that have come in over the years. After bringing the 14″ Steel City band saw into the basement workshop, many of you had questions specifically about the riser block I installed.

The obvious benefits of a riser block to a 14″ bandsaw is the increase in height. Normally the maximum resaw height on a saw this size is about 6″ at most. By adding a riser block system you increase that significantly. What does that mean? It means all those wide boards you’d love to bookmatch for stunning panels are now possible, it means you can resaw your own veneers from WHICHEVER species of wood you want, it means all sorts of options.

But with a variety of options available that also means there’s some limitations too. While not necessarily significant anytime you alter a machine from it’s original configuration, regardless of whether you use original manufacturer’s kits, you’re still going to run into hiccups that may require the machine to need a little more tweaking before using.

I’d love your feedback on today’s episode and your suggestion leave a comment in today’s shownotes or drop us a line mattsbasementworkshop@gmail.com.

And if anyone noticed the video seems a little off, I’ve been experimenting with using my iPhone as a video camera…it still needs a little tweaking, but not too bad.

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Comments (10)

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  1. John Verreault (aka Johnny_Vee) says:

    Hey Matt
    Great episode. I could not help wondering if you were missing something in your setup with the riser block in place. Perhaps your wheels are not quite far enough apart for the 105″ blade and relying on the tensioning gauge is problematic once you’ve change the machine from the way the factory calibrated it (i.e. without the riser block). The blade itself is a huge factor. Timberwolf nad Viking blades, for instance, that use thin kerf Swedish steel want lower tension than regular steel blades and this also seems to apply the Wood Slicer blades from Highland Woodworking. Have you tried other methods of setting the tension? Mark Duginske, the inventor of cool blocks and the bandsaw fence from Kreg Tools, has a great article on the whole subject: http://www.finewoodworking.com/pages/w00013.asp
    Michael Fortune is a brilliant guy (and Canadian to boot) and his advise is always sound but I think you need to re-evaluate your interpretation of his technique. Lonnie Bird has another variation on the theme so I think it needs some more research on what will work best for your particular saw. I have turned my Home Depot Rigid 14″ bandsaw into ‘Franken-saw’ with a riser kit from Grizzly, cool blocks for the blade guides, a Kreg fence, a Carter blade quick-release, and a link belt for the motor… it is something to behold (the colour mismatch alone is wild). I just put a 3/4″ Woodslicer on it to resaw some 8-9″ Garry oak for book matched panels and it worked like a charm but the scale on the saw’s tension gauge was all but useless to setup the blade right. I would say keep that riser block handy and give it another go when the opportunity comes up.
    Anyway, those are my thoughts.


  2. Jim Brennan says:

    Hi Matt
    when you add the riser block and extend the height of the saw, you introduce slightly more flex into the saw., as a result your tension will be out of calibration, and will need to be higher than for the basic saw. While your saw is set up at its current height, and tension pluck the blade like a guitar string, and listen to the tone,.try this again with the riser in position and the same visible spring tension, I am pretty sure the sound will be flatter and less crisp because the blade is not tensioned as much. The spring on band saws are merely a guide for tensioning they are notoriously inaccurate

    The longer blade may also be slightly more stretchy than the standard length


    • Matt says:

      I bet my not being able to carry a tune doesn’t help being able to recognize if the blades not plucking the same LOL!

      Thanks for the suggestion

  3. R.G.Daniel says:

    Interesting! I have that exact saw, including the riser block, which I have never considered removing. The blade tracks like a dream, follows the line so closely that I just use a straight fence now, instead of that pivot thing. That said, the fence itself is not my favourite thing, I may look at replacing that, if such a thing is possible. And I’ve never had much confidence in the tensioning gauge… I just go by feel, and deflection… I like the idea of plucking it, I’ll try that!

    • Matt says:

      After all the responses, I’m more convinced then ever that I’ve been relying on the tension gauge too much. Time to go back to the old fashion touchy, feelie methods LOL.

      As for the fence, I already had the Kreg bandsaw jig for my old saw and never had any intentions of using the Steel City one. The Kreg Fence made my old crappy saw actually usable, so it only made sense it would work amazing on the new saw.

      Thanks for watching!

  4. Mark Williams says:

    I am a little slow in watching your podcasts, which by the way I very much enjoy. I am just a novice woodworker, but I am a Mechanical Engineer by trade. The issue that you mentioned is a result of the longer blades having lower stiffness than the shorter blades. To bad that they didn’t include marks for both lengths of each size blade. In order to reach the same tension in the longer blades you will definitely have to put more displacement between the wheels. Anyway always enjoy your podcasts I learn something new all the time. Mark

    • Matt says:

      I’m glad to hear you thought about the longer blades not being as stiff as the short ones. A part of me was thinking something similar, but I figured I just didn’t know enough about metals, etc to make an educated guess about it.

      Thanks for watching and thanks for the insight.

  5. Fishinbo says:

    As a woodworker, adding riser blocks to my 14” band saw increases my resawing capacity. You are correct. I needed to set it up correctly to harness its fullest potential.

  6. Bob says:

    Experience talking here….

    Bottom line is that if you need more height than a 14″ saw offers (without a riser block) then you need a larger saw. Period.

    If resawing is what you’re after than you need a bandsaw that will accept 3″ blades (yes, that’s not a typo, I did mean three-inches).

    More 14″ bandsaw are 1-1/2 HP this is insufficient for 12″ sawing, but perfectly fine for 6″ or less (what the saw was originally intended for).

    Problems with the riser block are as follows….

    Primarily it make the saw less stable and more prone to slight misalignments in wheels/blade/guides/etc…. think about it you’re doubling the resaw height which cuts in half the tolerances – the guides are not machined to that high of a degree.

    The whole saw relies on ene bolt to ‘clamp’ upper arm, riser (+ shims), and lower body together – I torqued this bolt to over 300ft-lbs and still the upper arm flexed way more than acceptable. A second bolt could improve this situation a lot, but would require more modification and time than I want to devote to this project.

    The machining on the riser is +/- 0.004″ parallel surfaces (This is from Powermatic tech support, other brands may be similar) – you need to shim with brass shim stock to achieve perfectly mating surfaces.

    A riser block on a 14″ saw is not ever going to be a solution as it creates more problems.

    Bob Rimler
    Hobby Woodworker

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