It's funny that I have never really given any thought to tear-out on the bandsaw. In fact, it never really occurred to me until I got an email from Markus some time ago asking me what I do to avoid tear-out on the bandsaw. I told him ... nothing, I don't even try to prevent tear-out on the bandsaw, just something I have never considered.

Watch it on Youtube:

Well, that email got me thinking about the topic and wondering if there is something I could do to eliminate tear-out on the bandsaw. It's just not something I have ever worked on before .... so, time for some testing ...

To be honest. I was pretty skeptical at the start as to whether or not there was anything I could do that would do much if anything to reduce tear-out. Based on the past tests I did on the table saw, the only thing that made any significant difference was installing a blade that delivered cuts with no tear-out ... but I am always open to learning new things and changing the way I do things if I can see a better way and can prove it really does make a significant improvement in a process and/or end result.

For this bandsaw test I could only come up with a couple of alternative ideas, first, use masking tape, actually painters tape, and second, to make and install a zero clearance throat plate on my bandsaw, which really means installing a zero clearance top over top of the existing top. The picture below illustrates these to options.

Bandsaw Tearout Test

The first tests I made, I used the painters' tape method, and as you can see in the video, I made cuts in the three pieces sample pieces using painters tape under the piece being cut as this is where tear-out occurs. I purposely withheld which side the tape would be on an only showed that AFTER showing the results of the cut. I could be argued that the tape made better cuts, but the difference between them was small and when tear-out occurs, it needs to eliminate altogether, reducing it by say 25% is not helping because then you still have to do something about it to hide it, fix it or replace it.

The second test was the zero clearance plate. As I expected this did nothing to reduce tear-out and I am really stuck to see what benefit anyone could get by using doing this, but for sure, there will be someone out there who can use this for some special project they are working on, but preventing tear-out won't be part of it. I did have some hope this might work, but no, it made no difference.

melamine tearout

Below are the detailed pictures for both the tests and the only real conclusion I could come up with is that IF someone came up with a bandsaw blade that offered NO tear-out, that would probably be the best option because nothing else that I tried made enough of a difference that I felt was worth the bother. 

The test below, the top cuts are using the painters tape and on the melamine, the tape was over 2 section, on the natural wood and the plywood the tape was over the 1 sections. 

On the second test, I used the zero clearance method ... and you can see the results for yourself. 

Bandsaw tearout

Don't forget,  these are MY tests, with my blade and my material. What blade you have and what materials you might be cutting, you could come up with different results but the only way you will know that is to try IF this is something that concerns what woodworking you do. It's an easy test and the results are quickly available to you and if you do get good results I would like to know about them, what blade, what saw and what material you are using and that way we can all get educated. 

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Copyright Colin Knecht

Bandsaw Tearout Test - Tape Vs. Zero Clearance Insert