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Review: Olson MVP Band Saw Blade



I'm a little fanatical about my bandsaw.  I don't have a table saw, so my bandsaw gets used a lot.

Normally I use a Lenox 1/2" 4 tpi bi-metal blade.  Michael Fortune wrote an article in Fine Woodworking suggesting that you use only one bandsaw blade for nearly everything.  He said that you want a 3 tpi blade for the purpose, that 4 tpi is too fine.  Of course before I read that article, I was more than satisfied with my Lenox blade, but I found this Olson blade, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

This is a 1/2" 3 tpi bi-metal blade.  I have actually tried two of these.  The first one drifted terribly.  With my Lenox blade, I never have to adjust for drift.  (Drift is when the blade doesn't cut straight.  It favors one side over the other.)  With the Lenox blade, the drift was severe and it varied based on the thickness of the material.  Since the bandsaw is the main saw in my shop, I can't adjust for drift on every board.  I returned it.

Turns out I got a second one of these as a gift.  I gave it a shot just in case my first experience was an anomaly.  It exhibited similar behavior, but not as severe.  I fiddled with it a little and discovered two things.

First, I don't think my saw can adequately tension this blade.  The cut shows ripples that come from blade oscillation.  Apply a little more tension made the problem less severe.  I suspect that if I could apply more tension, those would go away.

Second, the blade seemed to ride very far forward on the wheel.  The wheels on the Jet saw are crowned (like most bandsaws).  I read a theory somewhere that blade drift is caused by the crown.  Normally I just set my wheels to be coplanar.  I tried adjusting the tracking slightly so the blade rode further back on the wheel and the excessive drift disappeared.

I original thought everybody should avoid this blade at all cost, but now I'm thinking it might work okay if you can apply adequate tension and you are willing to fiddle with the tracking.  My Lenox blade still cuts smoother and straighter, so  I think it is a better choice for the primary blade on the saw, but this blade might be particularly useful for cutting up logs or other rough work.


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