Why is everyone so excited about urethane bandsaw tires?
If you read the internet as gospel, you’d think that a bandsaw is unusable without urethane tires.
I have a Jet 14" bandsaw. The factory tires work fine.
After having the saw for about 8 years, I carelessly backed out of a cut and pulled the blade off the wheel. That gouged the bottom tire. I needed a new tire. This is the first time I’d needed a tire.
I went to my local Woodcraft and picked up a Carter Urethane Band Saw Tire for my 14" saw. The old tire came off easily. Just remember that the bolt that attaches the wheel to the saw is left-hand threaded. When I took the old tire off, I noticed that the crown in the tire is actually formed by the wheel, not the tire. With a Jet saw, there’s no reason to crown your tire. You use a flat tire and the crown comes from the wheel.
I heated the new tire in warm soapy water and slipped it on. That went fine. The tire rides in a channel on the wheel. That channel is just barely less than 1". The Carter tire is 7/8" wide, so there is quite a bit of “slop” in the channel. I figured that was no problem since the crown is on the wheel, not the tire. I centered the tire the best I could and figured that would be fine. Wrong!
If the tire is not perfectly centered, then the tire will pull the blade back and forth, creating a lot of vibration. By “back and forth” I mean that the blade lunges forward and then retreats as the wheels turn. If you are looking at the blade from the side and turn the wheels by hand, you can easily see the blade oscillating back and forth.
To alleviate the oscillating blade, I pushed the tire entirely to the back of the wheel. I figured that would make the tire position more consistent. It did make the position more consistent and removed the oscillation, but as soon as I released tension on the saw and added tension back, part of the tire had moved away from the back edge, so the oscillation was back with a vengence.
I called Carter tech support. They said that sometimes people have usually sized wheels which are actually 13 3/4" rather than 14", so the tire is not tight enough. To alleviate this problem, they offered to sell me a tube of $20 glue to glue the tire on the wheel. Forget that! The whole point of these expensive urethane tires is that they don’t require glue. I took the tire back to Woodcraft and they cheerfully refunded my money.
After talking to Carter, I measured my bandsaw wheel. Sure enough, the wheel is 13 5/8" from rim to rim. The factory tire sits proud of the wheel, which makes the effective diameter 13 3/4". What’s interesting is that the Carter tire is much thinner than the factory tire, so the effective diameter of the wheel is close to 13 5/8". The smaller wheel moves the blade relative to the guides. I’m not sure if that is actually a problem or not, but it is something to consider.
I ended up ordering the factory replacement part. Jet calls their bandsaw tire a “wheel protector.” The part number is 100025A. I ordered it from toolsforless.com. The tire was only $11.74 including shipping. Here’s the dirty secret. The Jet tires don’t require glue. Stretch them on, just like the urethane tires. I clamped one spot and then stretched the rest around. The tire doesn’t require heating, so it’s actually easier to install than the urethane tires.
Robert Feesar says you should make sure the tire is evenly stretched, but I figure I’m about to apply tension to a 1/2" band that presses on the tire with more force than I could do with my figures, so it will even out if it needs to. I didn’t do anything and it works fine.
Why is everyone nuts over urethane tires? I assume this phenomenon is similar to the Timberwolf myth. The marketing folks have convinced everybody that urethane is much, much better than rubber, when it’s really no better and might be worse. What’s better? The OEM tires work fine, install without glue, are much cheaper, and last a long time.
Don’t waste your money on $32 urethane bandsaw tires. Just get the OEM tires.