Nothing puts a damper on your day in the workshop like a snapped bandsaw, but if you also have a welder, you can stamp Crisis Averted on the project without having to make an emergency
Home Depot run.
So can you TIG weld bandsaw blades? The answer is yes, TIG welding can be a good option for repairing a broken bandsaw blade, as long as proper procedures for repairing the bandsaw blade are followed.
The process of weld repairing a bandsaw blade with a TIG torch has to be followed down to the letter, or the weld may not take, and you’ll end up needing to buy yourself a new bandsaw blade. Read on to find out more about how to save the broken one you’ve got with TIG.
Welding a Broken Bandsaw Blade
Because of the intense pressure and heat that bandsaw blades must undergo due to the nature of their work, it is not uncommon at all for bandsaw blades to snap under load or when having to perform particularly dense cuts.
In some cases, the best option is to discard or recycle the bandsaw blade and replace it, but if it’s a clean break and the blade is not otherwise damaged, it’s possible to repair it with a weld, as long as the weld is done correctly.
Bandsaw blades are precision tools with a thin material structure, and as such, the only welding option really appropriate to repair them is a TIG torch.
Welding with a TIG Torch
Welding with a TIG torch is a good option for repairing bandsaw blades, but there are a few things to take into consideration about working with a TIG torch:
- TIG torches take practice: TIG welding allows a metalworker to achieve high precision results, but these welding torches are more difficult to control than some other forms of welding, so you need practice in order to use the tool well.
Note: Broken bandsaw blades provide a good form of TIG practice since you’d just have to replace the blade anyway if you mess it up.
- TIG welding requires coordination: TIG welding requires holding the torch in one hand and your filler rod in the other and moving them simultaneously, which can be difficult for inexperienced metalworkers. This is why you have to practice for effective TIG welds.
- Shielding gas coverage is key in TIG welding: Using a shielding gas like pure argon prevents the weld from becoming contaminated. This is especially important when repairing bandsaw blades, where end product durability is key (the blade cannot have a weak point and still be effective, it will snap again under load in the same place).
Preparing the Bandsaw Blade
Before setting about preparing the bandsaw blade for repair, the bandsaw blade should be inspected for its general condition. Be sure to note any rust or broken teeth. In some cases, it is better to not weld the blade and replace it, if the overall condition of the blade is poor.
On the other hand, if the teeth of the blade are intact and it is in good condition, the blade needs to be prepared for a weld. This involves getting a degreaser and cleaning the entire blade thoroughly, then saturating each broken end of the blade in the degreasing agent and letting it sit for at least ten minutes before removing it with a damp microfiber cloth.
Once the blade has been cleaned, make sure it is completely dry before moving on to securing it for the weld.
Securing the Bandsaw Blade
To TIG weld a broken bandsaw blade, the blade needs to be placed in a vise or a clamp jig to hold the two broken sections of the blade as tightly together as possible. The further apart the two pieces of base metal are, the weaker the subsequent weld will be, so for a bandsaw blade, they need to be jammed directly against each other for the strongest weld you can get.
In the vise, make sure that the bandsaw blades are completely straight. This is crucial for making sure that the repaired blade will still be true and will not jam up in the bandsaw machine.
How to TIG Weld a Bandsaw Blade
A good option for TIG welding a bandsaw blade is to use 312 stainless steel alloy filler rods. Once you have the broken ends of the bandsaw blade set up on the table jig, hook up your TIG torch along with your shielding gas and use the 312 filler rod to weld the pieces of the blade together. Here are some tips to achieve a smooth TIG weld on a bandsaw blade:
- Use pulse welding: Many TIG rigs come with an option for pulse welding, and this can be a good choice for welding a bandsaw blade, as it allows the blade to remain cooler during the weld. High heat can leave that section of the bandsaw blade weaker than the rest, so reducing heat is important for a good end result.
- Use consistent travel: One of the key aspects of becoming good with a TIG torch is making sure that you travel smoothly and consistently with both the welder and the filler rod. This can take practice but results in a much more precise, good-looking weld.
- Push the TIG torch forward and keep it properly angled: A TIG torch should be pushed forward during a weld, rather than dragged (which can cause an uneven weld) and should be held at an angle 10-15 degrees vertical to the table you’re welding on.
Annealing Bandsaw Blades
An important step once a bandsaw blade has been welded is that it also needs to be annealed to reharden the metal and make sure that it doesn’t have a weak spot from being heat-affected where the weld was performed.
If the bandsaw blade is not annealed after welding, it is bound to snap at some point in the same place it broke before–it’s just a matter of time.
To anneal metal, it must be brought back to a level of recrystallization temperature through applied temperature, then cooled slowly. This is typically done through the use of a flame torch or furnace. The piece is heated to cherry red and then allowed to cool, usually with cooling reduced through the use of a fire brick or oil quenching.
Grinding the Weld
After a bandsaw blade has been welded, the welded area will need to be ground completely smooth before the blade is put back into regular use. This will prevent the blade from getting hung up in the bandsaw machine.
Use a grinder to grind both sides of the bandsaw blade before washing it free of any loose metal dust. At this point, the bandsaw blade should be ready to be reinstalled on the machine.
Alternatives to TIG Welding a Bandsaw Blade
Along with TIG welding, there are a few other options you can use to repair a broken bandsaw blade. A TIG torch can also be used in conjunction with silver solder for a lower temperature option with a more ductile bond since bandsaw blades are required to be flexible.
The decreased level of heat involved in a solder job also helps protect the integrity of the bandsaw blade since it doesn’t have as much heat applied to it.
There are also dedicated bandsaw blade welders that can be used to repair bandsaw blades through flash welding.
TIG Welding is a Good Option for Bandsaw Blades
TIG welding torches are versatile tools and can be used on a variety of different metals and are particularly good at welding on materials of thin construction. This makes them a solid option for repairing bandsaw blades.