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Bandsaw drift occurs when the fence and miter slot are not parallel with the blade. The Bandsaw Companion tool answers how to get the blade, miter slot, and fence parallel to each other to eliminate drift. Making a cut parallel to the blade keeps the blade from tending to torque to the side, resulting in tight and smooth saw kerfs.
The Bandsaw Companion tool from iGaging has two rare earth magnets on one side, which attach it firmly to the blade, best on 1/2" and wider blades. There is an indent next to the magnets for the blade set. The tool's extended length makes it easy to visualize the blade alignment with the fence and the miter slot. This visibility then allows alignment of the fence and miter slot with the blade, and the built-in rule also makes it easy to set the fence an exact distance from the blade for saw cuts.
With holes spaced every half-inch, you can also use the tool as a compass to draw circles up to a 23" diameter for bowl blanks. And with the included sliding stop, the device can draw cut lines parallel to an edge. Being magnetic, the Bandsaw Companion can attach directly to your saw for storage and easy access.
Bandsaw Tune-Up Instructions:
A sharp bandsaw blade correctly installed and tensioned is the first step in tuning up your bandsaw. Follow the install guidance in your saw's user manual. Usually, either the blade is centered on the top wheel's crown or the blade's gullet centered on the peak. Depending on where it rides on top of the wheel, a bandsaw blade's angle can change significantly. So, this is always the first step.
Setting the blade guides is the next step. Again follow the guidance in your user manual. The blade guides provide a better cut by keeping the blade from vibrating back and forth. They do not control drift.
The next step is to verify that both the blade and fence are square with the table. You can accomplish this with an iGaging engineer square. Your user manual should provide instructions on how to make any needed adjustments.
Now using the imbedded magnets, attach the iGaging Bandsaw Companion tool to the blade, freely suspended. With the saw's miter gauge set to zero degrees, use an engineer square against the miter gauge's face to determine its squareness to the freely suspended tool. If not square, loosen the table's trunnion bolts, align the table to achieve squareness, then retighten the bolts.
With the table's miter slot now square to the blade, you can check the fence's parallelism to the freely suspended Bandsaw Companion tool. Use a pencil, feeler gauge, or setup blocks to determine that both ends of the tool are equal distance from the fence. If the fence is not parallel to the blade, adjust the fence's retaining bolts as necessary.
As a final check, with the sliding stop on the ruler side of the tool and the stop's indents in the miter slot, verify that both ends of the fence are now an equal distance from the miter slot. If not, repeat the last two steps. You can also use the ruler to set the distance of the fence from the blade.
James Hamilton offers his favorite way of using the tool: