A band saw is a powerful tool that consists of a long blade made with a band of toothed metal. There are various types of band saws that come with two or three wheels to run the blade.
So, what is a band saw used for? The applications of band saw are endless. It is used in almost every industry that we know of; it is used for cutting wood, meat, metal, plastic, and many other materials that need to be cut with precision. In this article, you can get to know more about band saws and their applications.
In this post we'll cover:
- Purpose of a Band Saw
- How to Use a Bandsaw? (Bandsaw Tips)
- Setting Things Up
- Using a Bandsaw for Straight Cuts
- Cutting Curves Using a Bandsaw
- Band Saw Safety Rules
- Tips and Tricks
Purpose of a Band Saw
Band saws are commonly used in wood, metal, and plastic industries. It is also used in the farming industry for cutting meat. There are various types of band saws that can be classified into several categories, such as residential types, light, and heavy industrial types.
Before we speak about the types of band saws available, we should know in brief about their purposes.
Band saws are the most important piece of equipment for woodworking (like these as well). It is used in various applications such as artistic works, to cut curves and edges with precision, and for cutting timber.
Band saws are particularly loved by woodworkers because they can use them to fine cut irregular designs, which cannot be done by other types of saws. Since the models used for woodworking are fixed to a base, users can orient wood in any direction to cut, which makes the entire process of finishing a product easier.
In metalworking, the applications of band saws are vast. It may be used for large-scale purposes such as shipbuilding and construction materials or very intricate purposes such as jewelry and engine parts. Therefore, band saws are extremely useful for metalwork that requires a lot of attention to detail.
It is particularly useful in this field as the blades of metal cutting band saws are very sharp, which helps the user to cut metal accurately without much hassle. Similar to the band saws used in woodworking, the band saws used for metalworking are fixed to a base as well.
The most common purpose of a band saw is to cut lumber. It is highly favored as it is efficient for cutting lumber in great capacities. Furthermore, band saws used for this purpose can cut through wood at a deeper depth than other kinds of saws.
The word may be misleading; re-sawing means to cut a sheet of wood to create a thinner board with the desired thickness. This task is extremely difficult to do without the help of a band saw. It is useful in this case as large pieces of wood can be re-sawed with ease.
How to Use a Bandsaw? (Bandsaw Tips)
In both professional and personal workshops, bandsaws are quite popular in the world of woodworking, metalworking, and lumbering.
You will find various tools out there for cuts, curves, and making unique designs on thin and thick wood blocks. But among them, bandsaws provide you with almost every feature that needs to work on wood.
It is not that difficult to work with them. If you know how to use a bandsaw properly, then mastering it will not be a tough job.
In this article, you will find everything about a bandsaw, including the working principle, instructional guide, and some easy tips and tricks to make yourself a better user of this incredible tool.
A bandsaw is an instrument that rotates on two wheels and has a vertical steel blade with teeth. The band passes through a desk or table, and the bearings under it hold the blade while cutting. Before we proceed to the working procedure of bandsaws, you need to know why and when you need to use them.
- It is a versatile piece suitable for working on both wood and metal with bandsaw blades of specific measurements.
- For flawless and perfect cuts along with rips, nothing is more trustworthy than a bandsaw.
- Whether straight lines or curve lines, a bandsaw can handle every type of woodblock for cuts and curves with a proper blade on it.
- Band saws have larger cutting capability than other types of the saw which are used in woodworking and metalworking.
Setting Things Up
People often think of band saws as a confusing and tricky working tool. But if you learn to set it up properly, nothing remains complicated in this saw machine. Setting up a bandsaw includes some easy steps while considering some key points regarding this.
1. Understanding the Blade Types
You will find bandsaw blades of various lengths, widths, and specifications according to their working capability. To have a flawless cut measuring the bandsaw blade properly is a must. Usually, three types of blades are mostly used in a band saw — hook-tooth, skip-tooth, and regular tooth.
If you want quicker cuts, hook-tooth blades are the best. They are large in size and have bigger and more spacious teeth on the side. In the case of cutting plastic, aluminum, softwood, and other non-ferrous material, it is better to choose the skip-tooth blade. Its wide space between the teeth makes it easier to cut these types of materials.
The most used blade of a bandsaw is the regular tooth blade. These work pretty well on almost every type of material. Generally, these have ½ inch width that is fine for regular jobs on wood. But if you want more perfection in large blocks of wood and rough surfaces, then go for the hook-tooth blades.
Besides, smooth cuts and curve cuts need different blades as one particular blade can’t fit in these two scenarios properly. If you are going for smooth cuts, wider blades with more teeth will be the right choice. On the other hand, narrow blades would be perfect for curve-cutting tasks.
2. Installing Blades
After you have chosen the right blade for any specific project, installing it properly is probably the most challenging part of setting up. Here are some guidelines to install the blade perfectly.
- Safety first — use hand gloves to prevent any kind of injuries while attaching the blade.
- Make sure the power is turned off and unplugged from the socket.
- Release the blade tension and roll the blade there while facing the teeth down towards the table.
- Tighten up the blade tension and check whether the blade has been attached tightly or not. Otherwise, it may cause an accident while running.
- To track the blade in the middle of the wheels, rotate the upper wheel to adjust the tracking nob.
- Adjust the thrust bearing so that it does not touch the blade. Alongside, loosen the locking bolts of the guide blocks, so they don’t touch the blade on the sides.
- Make the guide blocks even with the teeth spaces of the blade.
- If the bandsaw has guides below the table, loosen the locking knobs and adjust the table so that it remains square to the blade.
3. Changing Blades
If the blade gets damaged or cracks down, replacing it with a new one is necessary. The following steps will give you a complete idea about how to change blades and make necessary adjustments.
- Turn off the power of your bandsaw and open the two cabinets.
- Release the blade tension so that it becomes easier to raise the saw blade guard.
- Remove the rear blade guard to loosen the under-table blade guard.
- Separate the previous blade from the band and set up the new one.
- Adjust the guide blocks and tighten the tension knob. Now, it is ready to use.
Using a Bandsaw for Straight Cuts
The best advice while using a bandsaw for straight cuts is to keep moving without getting stuck. Because often stopping in the middle can cause rough edges on the woodblock, which might be a trouble as you were working on straight cuts. For perfect straight lines, do follow these step-by-step procedures for better results.
- Before you start the process, set up a wider blade with more teeth and place the blade guard at least ½ inch above the stock.
- Make sure that the table is positioned square to the blade to cut parallel to the fence.
- Draw a straight line with a marker on the wood that you want to cut. This will make it easier to cut with the bandsaw.
- Keep the wood aligned to the blade and set the fence. You can also clamp the wood piece to the table without a fence on the saw. This will prevent the wood from sliding over the table.
- Now, turn on the saw and push the wood slowly. Make sure the wood piece is going straight while you are pushing it towards the blade. You can use a push stick instead of your hand to maintain safety.
Cutting Curves Using a Bandsaw
When you use a bandsaw for cutting and shaping curves, you first need to select the appropriate blade. As you know that each task requires a different blade, it will be much easier when you have the right blade for cutting curves.
Sometimes, it might become a challenging task if the woodblock is thick and hard. Following these steps will make curve cutting hassle-free.
- Set up a narrow blade for narrow curves and use the regular blade for normal curves. If the woodblock is harder, use a thick blade.
- For convenient cutting, mark on the wood. This will ensure a perfect cut and make things easier for you when you push the wood through the blade.
- While cutting, avoid going faster as it can affect the finishing of the curve. Go steady and try not to stop and start before finishing the cut because it can cause rough edges that often become hard to sand.
- Turn the wood slowly according to your marked line. Try to make cleaner turns to avoid any rough cut on the wood.
- If it becomes hard to make clean turns, try to stay outside the marked line as you can sand it afterward. But if you go inside the line, it will become difficult to sand and fix the curve.
Band Saw Safety Rules
Various tasks in a woodwork shop, including cutting, shaping, and resawing, need bandsaw blades to ensure perfect cuts whether on thick or thin wood pieces. These blades also take care of the delicate curves of woodblocks, which can’t be done properly with other types of blades out there.
This extremely helpful tool in workshops should be used with necessary safety guidelines to avoid any kind of mishaps. If you follow some band saw safety rules, staying safe on the saw will be much easier.
Here in this article, we have discussed almost every precaution along with some tips for maintaining ultimate safety from your band saw.
If you use a bandsaw, please maintain the following safety rules to prevent accidents while working with the blades.
- Never forget to wear hand gloves, face shields, and safety glasses while using bandsaw blades. These safety gear can reduce the chance of getting injured.
- Always keep your hand a minimum 4 inches away from the cut line, and avoid pushing the woodblock directly into the blade. You can use a push stick instead.
- Adjust the guard about ¼ inch above the wood block so that the blade doesn’t remain uncovered. Use a sharp blade, and check if it is tightly attached or not.
- Always choose wood logs that are flat at the bottom. This makes it easier to slide smoothly without getting stuck in a middle way.
- You will see a lot of small wood pieces lying beside the blade after cutting. Don’t remove them with your hand in the midst of the cutting process, as it can be dangerous and can hurt your hand.
- Don’t stand or let others stand at the right side of the bandsaw while it is running. Always remain on the right side or at the back.
- After turning on the power, let the blade reach its full speed before you start cutting the material. Wait for the blade to stop moving after you turn off the power.
- The blade teeth should face down while working. If you hear any clicking sound, stop the blade immediately as it indicates a crack on the blade.
- For any curve design, turn the bandsaw carefully so that the blade doesn’t get twisted or break while turning.
- Clamping woodblocks to the table is preferred while you are working on that. It prevents the block from sliding over the table.
Tips and Tricks
Using a bandsaw sometimes can be hard and challenging. But we have got your back and here. We are putting together some tips and tricks so that using this tool becomes less tricky for you.
1. Using Throat Plates
Working on a bandsaw becomes convenient and safer if you use a throat plate with your bandsaw. Most of the bandsaw in the market come with a throat plate. In case of not having one, you can use a plastic made throat plate while working.
A throat plate prevents the wood dust and small wood pieces from jamming the blade. So, your blade remains clear, and working becomes hassle-free. Replace the throat plate of your bandsaw when they seem to be damaged.
2. Maintaining Safety Guide
It is mandatory to use essential safeguards and maintain some safety rules while you work with a bandsaw. Because neglecting these could lead to unwanted situations along with serious accidents.
Always wear hand gloves and safety glasses while working. Do not use your hand to remove small wood pieces when the blade is running. To push the woodblock towards the blade, use a push stick instead of a hand to keep yourself safe from the bandsaw blade.
3. Adjusting Blade Guard
Maintain a minimum distance of ⅛ -¼ inch between the blade and the cutting material. Because wider gaps often increase the tension of the blade and make it more fragile to break easily.
After each session of cutting, adjust the blade guard for maintaining proper tension without stressing the blade unnecessarily.
4. Regular Cleaning
Cleaning your bandsaw parts is necessary, but it is not essential after every use. If you are a regular user and work daily for several hours on the bandsaw, make sure to clean it after every two weeks or, at least, once a month.
Special attention should be given to the blade as wood dust can block the space around it, and it might get rusty after several uses. Blade cleaner or any rust dissolving solution can be used for cleaning blades. If you think that replacing is necessary, then replace it.
5. Releasing Tension
It is better to release the tension of your bandsaw blade after each session of cutting. If you keep the same tension for days, the blade might crack down due to the extra stress and lose its working capability after a short time.
You can also track the blade to check the condition. Tracking is basically a monitoring process by which it becomes easier to notice the quality of the blade and pinpoint any damage that might occur after several uses.
6. Controlling Speed
For cutting curves with a bandsaw, it is necessary to go slow and steady. Because faster blades can ruin the curve and create uneven edges, on the other hand, you need higher speed while cutting in a straight line as it helps you to get a cleaner and perfect straight cut.
When you turn on the blade, wait for it to speed up. Until it gets the desired speed according to your specific task, do not start cutting blocks because it can cause improper cuts and might ruin the perfect shape that you want to have.
Certain features are shared between all types of band saws. Before using a band saw, there are some key points that you should be aware of.
Band Saw Maintenance
The blade of a band saw is a very important part. It is crucial to maintain them properly as they can break or bend with wear and tear. Depending on the material to be cut, blades come in various designs and types. The TPI (teeth per inch) of a blade determines the speed of the blade and how smooth the cut is.
It is also necessary to lubricate the mechanical parts of a band saw to ensure smooth operation and longevity.
Variable Blade Speed
The speed of a band saw is determined by the FPM (feet per minute) of its motor. The power rating of these motors is generally measured in amps, and most models come with up to 10 amps. There are higher-rated motors available depending on the purpose of the saw. As a general rule, a higher amp means higher FPM.
Some models come with variable speed triggers, which enable the user to control the speed of the blade as required for the job at hand.
Band saws can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly. Proper safety rules should be used at all times when using a band saw, such as protective glass and eyewear.
With additional accessories, some band saws come with safety guards that prevent a potential accident from happening.
So, what is a band saw used for? Band saws are often used as an alternative to other types of saws because of the cuts that can be achieved with them. What truly differentiates the band saw is its versatility; it can cut through wood, metal, plastic, etc.
Now that you know about band saws and their uses, it is up to you to decide which type best suits your needs. On a side note, owning a band saw for personal use can save you lots of money if you have the time and energy to create something for yourself!
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.