Optimizing Saw Blade Life


Article on optimizing saw blade life

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Due to the high cost of diamond blades these days, it behooves us all to optimize blade life and minimize cost associated with slabbing. Over the course of the years, I have had occasion to cut many 1000”s of square inches of many types of materials and have formed some rather staunch opinions as to the cause of premature blade failure in the course of pursing this activity. If I had to pick one cause of premature blade failure, it would be HEAT, followed closely by the practice of using excessively dirty cutting oil and thirdly, trying to cut too quickly through a piece of material, more rapidly than the saw blade can remove the material. Since we do considerable cutting for our own use, as well as custom cutting for our customers, it is incumbent upon us to minimize the amount of down time due to blade problems and maximize the wear we get out of our own blades. We have done that by eliminating the problems described above. To promote maximum cooling requires the use of more coolant than you can reasonably hold in your saw sump, so we have developed a sump below the saw, which holds approximately 25 gallons of coolant. We deliver the coolant to the saw blade via a submersible pump wired to the saw motor so one won”t run without the other. The coolant then cleans and lubricates the saw kerf, drops down to the bottom of the saw box, and runs from there by gravity back into the pump reservoir. The sump is a rectangular box constructed of aluminum plate and has three compartments with weirs between the compartments. The weirs serve the purpose of slowing the cutting oil, allowing the solids to drop out of suspension, thus by the time the oil has circulated through the system back to the sump pump, it is relatively clean and cool ready to be pumped back to the saw blade. You will find, if you adopt this system, your saw will stay cleaner, your slabs will be smoother, and your saw blade will last considerably longer than before. If you will keep the cutting speed slow, constantly reminding yourself to have patience and periodically use an old grind stone or abrasive brick to dress your saw blade, you will have much better results than normal. (Substitute obsidian or other very abrasive material for dressing your blade, and keep in mind that the frequency of this process is dictated by the type, density, and hardness of the material you are cutting, i.e. psilomelane, metallic soft but susceptible to dulling a diamond blade, can require dressing your saw blade between each individual cut. Large Brazils can dull a blade quite rapidly.) Some of the denser material, jasper, chert & jade can have the same affect on a sharp blade. CAUTION: If your cutting oil has a low flash point and is considered at all flammable, your sump should be covered for the obvious reasons. Fire extinguishers of suitable size should be kept in your shop, but not adjacent to the saw in case the unthinkable should occur. Good Luck and Good Sawing! Bill Beebe


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