Ready To Saw Production?

by Tim Cook

Some people are happy with a mill that saws ‘ok’, but ‘ok’ is not production sawing. If you’re in the group of people who purchased a sawmill with the intention of sawing for production or if you just want your sawmill to perform at its optimum, then read on and I will share my experience with you.
Before we can get into the heart of the matter the first question we need to ask ourselves will be “Is my sawmill adjusted for production sawing?” The fact is, many people think that their bandmill is sawing production because it is sawing only as good as they know, and often times we all have limited perception until someone can show us something better. Only then will our eyes be opened to what we’ve been missing. I like to teach people the next higher level of sawmill alignment and blade technology. These elements of sawing are critical components to high production sawing.
The most common problem with a horizontal mill is the vertical alignment of the band wheels.  A sawmill should cut fast without fear of the blade deviating up or down on a horizontal mill or left or right on a vertical mill.  The symptoms on a horizontal mill are that the blade may rise when entering the log fast. You should be able to enter as fast as you intend to saw if band wheel alignment is adjusted correctly.  However, much of the time the blade is blamed for these wavy cuts.
I have helped customers solve this misalignment thousands of times and the solution is easy if you know what to do. Some are not willing to change this alignment and what I say is “You will get the same results today that you got yesterday unless you are willing to change.” Things don’t get better on accident and they don’t align themselves.  If you want improvements you will have to make some physical changes to your mill.  We have this solution, and it will vary slightly depending on the brand of mill. Just call us and we will share this with you.
The second critical component to sawing production is having a blade that can actually saw production. So again, you will need to ask yourself “Am I using the best production blade?” I will not shy away from saying that we have the fastest sawing blade without exception - Cook’s Super Sharp™. We have tested against the best in hardwood, hard knots, frozen logs, frozen kants, green logs, and seasoned logs. We have had customers who were already sawing production using a very popular blade switch to Super Sharp™ and double their production and cut their blade costs in half at the same time!
Through extensive testing we developed this tooth geometry. Originally we were looking to improve sawing at least 10% and got 40% and some cases 100% faster sawing. Super Sharp™ cost a little more but the truth is this tooth geometry cost more to produce. I have witnessed that this blade gives the customer more extra money back into his pocket than the whole initial price of the blade.  So to say that this blade costs money would not be accurate as the blade pays you extra money to use it.  Sawyers are  breaking production records every day with Super Sharp™ so you should get in on those profits as well.
Additionally we now offer our new Super PreSharp™ which is the next level up of sawing out of the box.  As Leaders in Bandsaw Technology we continue to strive for better improvements and technology in the bandsaw blade industry.
The third critical component to production sawing is blade maintenance and so we ask ourselves “Am I using the best blade maintenance technology?” and “What does that include?”
The ability to do these three things well:
1) Sharpen
2) Set
3) Flatten
First we’ll start with the sharp side of things; the Cat Claw Sharpener. It is simply the heaviest and best built sharpener out there. The Cat Claw Sharpener operates in fashion known as ‘sweep grind’. This is different than a plunge style grinder. When the sweep grinder rises and grinds the back of the tooth, every tooth is the exact same height. The plunge sharpener is dictated by the tooth space which is not always the same height. The sweep grind can correct what the plunge cannot making the sweep grind superior tool for sharpening. The Cat Claw is also capable of switching from one tooth style to another in a single minute.
Additionally you will want a heavy built sharpener. Light duty sharpeners will not hold the correct tooth face angle. Specifically the hook angle or how far forward the tooth leans toward the intended line of cut. For a keen, sharp edge on a blade the grind rock must remain steady. What will happen with a light duty sharpener is as the grind rock starts to grind the very tip point, the rock will grind a few thousands down the face and then begin to flex and move over causing the tooth on the cutting edge to become rounded instead of very keen and sharp. In some instances the frame of the sharpener itself will flex producing the same poor results.
What you’ll find in the Cat Claw frame is that it’s very stout and steady (150lbs.).  The grind rock shaft is ridged and locked into the bearings.  This gives stability that is necessary for that keen razor edge.  One other thing makes the Cat Claw the best choice is a poly-vee belt system that is flat and flexible.  This belting system is 5 times smoother than v-belts, giving that razor sharp edge that is much needed.
Secondly we have the set. A blade has three styles of teeth: offset right, offset left, and straight. The left and right set teeth on a band blade serve the purpose of clearing a path for the blade body and the straight tooth carries out the sawdust. To use a sports analogy, the left and right set teeth of the blade act as a fullback in a football game. The fullback clears the way so that the running back can carry the ball into the opposing team without getting slowed down or stopped in the process of reaching the goal line. In the same manner the offset blade teeth and straight tooth work much the same way; their job is to clear the path of the wood so the blade body doesn’t get slowed down or stopped while in the cut.
Bandsaw blades are made of spring steel, so that’s why if you want to set a tooth at .020 you have to push that blade out beyond that mark by several thousandths more so that it will spring back to the .020 mark. That is why a good setter will have a dial indicator on it so you can repeat this process the same for every tooth you set. 
We offer two styles of setters - a single tooth setter and a dual tooth setter. Both are excellent choices.  You can find more information about them in our catalog or visit us online to view a short demo video.
The last key to quality blade maintenance is having a flat blade. The foremost and most mysterious part has been our methods of flattening the blade. We developed and have used this technology for over 15yrs. even while the industry said it would not work on thin kerf blades. The effects of the straight sawing of a flattened blade are simply undeniable.
There is a second benefit that a person inherits when they get their blades from us:  our flattening process elongates the molecules in the back portion of the band which in turn stiffens the body and creates a stronger blade that simply cuts faster. We continue to provide this service on both our new and sharpened blades so if you are buying blades from another manufacturer you are missing out on sawing at your full potential.
After you have all these requirements in place there is nothing left to do but saw. When the blade is right and the mill is set you should be cutting at full production for the mill you have. If you leave one of these components out then you will end up with that ‘mysterious’ problem causing you to slow down or cut wavy lumber.
Ultimately to succeed you will need to have a sawmill that is capable of high production, required adjustments, and able to take care of the blade - because the blade will need stability.
A bouncing head will not give full production and a swaying head that is not pulled from both sides of the saw head will not give full production. The sawmill must take care of the blade to get high production. If the blade is not held by the band wheels properly it cannot saw fast and straight.  You can use the best band in the world and if the band wheels do not deliver it correctly it will not perform for production and many machines are just not capable of being adjusted for production sawing. Cooks Saw has done much experimenting in order to build sawmills that cut straight and fast, and if yours is not capable it may be time to trade mills.
Here at Cook’s Saw we have been sharing and teaching extensive sharpening technology for nearly 20 years and have led this industry in blade maintenance technology and bandsaw technology. While there’s never enough room to put all the detailed information that I would like I hope something in this article can you help you in your quest for higher production.

As always “Our goal is to help you make more money.”