Use Rosin to Tighten up Your Band Saw - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Use Rosin to Tighten up Your Band Saw

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Woodworking Blogs

No matter how nice your band saw is, it’s still a fussy instrument with a lot of settings that are shaken loose by vibration. A block of rosin can improve things immensely.

Rosin is a tree-sap product used by musician who play instruments with a bow, such as the violin and cello. Applying rosin to the bow makes the strings vibrate clearly. Rosin is also used in many machine shops to act as the opposite of a lubricant and make things stick. And it’s used baseball to increase control of the ball.

In short, it’s sticky stuff.

You can buy a block of rosin at any musical instrument for less than $5. There are different grades, of course. The more you pay, the softer and stickier the stuff is (in my experience). I’ve had good luck with the less-expensive grades as my woodwork has not yet taken me to Carnegie Hall.

I use rosin in lots of places in the shop, such as keeping the handles in place in my socket chisels. Lately, I’ve used it to improve my band saw so it will retain its settings.

I have a great 14” band saw – a Delta Rockwell from the 1970s. It’s classic iron but can still be improved. Sometimes the guides slip during heavy cuts. Rubbing rosin on the guide’s shaft and the locking screw made an immediate improvement.

While I had the rosin out, I rubbed it on the shaft and screw controls for the saw’s thrust bearings. These bearings behind the blade tend to slip back after a fair amount of pushing and vibration. I also applied it to the ways and locking screws of the saw’s tilting table. These controls hold their setting fairly well, but a little rosin made them lock even harder.

In short, if it slips, try rubbing some rosin on it before thinking about a repair. I’ve used rosin to remedy a slipping coping saw plus a nut on my jointer’s guard that kept slipping down. It’s definitely worth the $5.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 5 comments
  • AlanWS

    While you’re at it, trombone oil makes a nice non-smelly alternative to kerosene for honing on an oilstone. Musicians have some good stuff.

    So trombone oil and rosin substitute for WD-40 and duct tape, making a complete toolkit.

  • ctregan

    Find an on old violin bow and run it on the back edge of the blade wile simultaneously adjusting the tension wheel. With some practice, you can set the tension of the blade by listening to the pitch produced by the vibrating blade.

  • nicknaylo

    I use Cello rosin on both my treadle lathe and my pedal powered jig saw. The lathe is driven by a rope, knotted over a V belt pulley and the rosin keeps everything grippy when things get turning fast. The jig saw is driven by a flat leather belt and rosin on the drive wheel keeps belt slippage to a minimum. Never thought to use it on the Bandsaw though. Thanks!!

  • kc0dxh

    You’ve publicly wondered in the past about curing a slipping fence on a plow plane…

    • EXKid

      I was thinking the same thing.

      I think I’ll try this on the guide roller lock downs thumbwheels. Mine don’t bite down they simply free thread until they bottom out, then I can’t turn them anymore. Rosin might be the ticket.

      I actually fixed the fence on my Stanley 45 by giving the thumbscrews a pencil sharpener treatment. They mold to the round profile over the years so again they bottom out and don’t bite. Reshaping the screw tip allows them to sorta wedge themselves against the round rod profile and in my case at least, fixed the fence moving issue.

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