Fundamentals: Listen to Your Tools
Certain noises may be telling you that something is wrong
Synopsis: The sounds a tool makes can alert you to a dull blade, an incorrect setup, or a faulty technique. Aimé Ontario Fraser helps you interpret the hums, whirs, and shrieks of bandsaws, tablesaws, jointers, routers, drills, and handtools, so you can troubleshoot issues before they become major problems.
Listen closely to your tools, and they’ll speak volumes. The sounds a tool makes can alert you to a dull blade, an incorrect setup, or a faulty technique. If you learn their language, your tools will tell you about issues so you can set them right before they become problems.
Bandsaws should hum
The bandsaw is one of the most vocal tools in the shop, so hear what it has to say before you start sawing. If all’s well, you’ll hear nothing but the motor’s hum and the whirling wheels. If you hear scratching, something’s touching where it shouldn’t. Check for debris in the lower guide, or see if the blade guard is rubbing on the upper wheel or if the guides are too close to the blade. When the blade tension is inadequate, you’ll hear a slapping sound just above the table on the left-hand side of the machine.
A rhythmic ticking means that one spot on the blade is hitting the guides. If it’s a soft tick, it’s likely nothing more than a rough weld on the blade; fix it by taking a file to the spot, but be careful not to damage the teeth or change their set. A loud tick means there’s a kink in the blade that could break at any moment. The kink may have formed when you tried to saw a radius tighter than the blade could manage. Next time you cut a tight curve, listen for…