Extending the Capacity of Your Band Saw Using Cool Blocks
If you ever want to replace your original steel guide blocks, Cool Blocks is a great alternative to consider. The guide block is made from a specially formulated graphite impregnated phenolic laminate with a dry lubricant.
Here are the claims from the manufacturer, Olsen:
They lubricate the band saw blade but do not make it oily. Cool Blocks blade guides allow blades to run cooler and last longer with less friction. They improve the cutting performance of any blade width, but are most effective with 1/16″ and 1/8″ wide blades for tight radius work.
But are Cool Blocks worth the extra money as opposed to using steel blocks or making your own out of hardwood, hard maple or lignum vitae for example? (You can even store some home made blocks of oak in mineral oil)
A claim of Cool Blocks is that they will extend the life of your bandsaw blade because they will prevent the blade from overheating. But the reality is that the saw blade heats up due to the flexing of the blade while it spins around the wheels. The tooth tips also get hot from the friction of cutting. The touching of the blade on the guide blocks create very minimal heat on the blade compared to the flexing and cutting.
So as a regular guide block, Cool Blocks may not be worth the extra money. It probably won't extend the life of your blade of any real consequence.
However, where Cool Blocks does excel, is that they make it possible to run small 1/8" blades (or smaller) on your bandsaw. The soft material will not damage the blade teeth so you can locate the blocks against the blade for total support. You can even use smaller blades such as a 1/16th inch blade with the Cool Blocks. You will be effectively creating a scroll saw out of your bandsaw.
Check out this video to see a demonstration of how cool blocks can enhance your bandsaw work with the proper blade. As you can see, some really tight curves can be made with fairly thick stock.
The blocks totally support the blade on three sides as you can see, and there is very little friction.
Here's another video that shows the installation of cool blocks.
(The previous video has been edited down from the original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5OOEP5oAXI)
The amount of ragged cutting by the blade was significantly reduced with the addition of the new guide blocks. Re-tensioning the blade is also an important component of setting up the bandsaw.
So as you can see from the demonstrations, installing cool blocks with the addition of a smaller blade such as a 1/16" blade, you can add scrolling work to the list of features that your bandsaw can do.
They are not a very expensive item, and when you think about leaving your steel guide blocks in, it only takes a few seconds of your saw blade touching the steel to completely ruin your blade.