Band Saws: The Ultimate Educational Guide

Band Saws: The Ultimate Educational Guide

Band saws are perfect when you are looking for something to precisely cut curves in wood. A high-quality band saw will do a lot more than that. They are good for cutting small rabbets and tendons and for ripping small pieces of stock.

Still, there is more information you need to know about band saws. Band saws come in multiple shapes, types, and sizes and are used for a myriad of projects. While it's confusing to understand at first, band saws is a useful tool that every professional wood worker should have.

Our main goal is to teach you everything you need to know about band saws. Understanding these different mechanics of band saws will advance your woodworking skills. By the end of this article, you'll have enough knowledge to use a band saw in an effective manner.

What Is A Band Saw?

Band saws are used to cut curves. It's most commonly used is for making irregular shapes on pieces of lumber. The second most important use is for ripping lumber into smaller slabs. Also, band saws make the smoothest cuts and, with the right blade, it's able to cut through other materials such as metal.

Reasons To Buy A Band Saw

Most of the time, woodworkers treat band saws as a secondary tool. It isn't used as much, but it's still useful when making irregular shapes. Nonetheless, band saw tools are versatile and should be added to any wood worker's inventory. They make wood cutting projects run smoother within a shorter time period.

Here are three reasons to buy a band saw:

  • Cutting Curves
  • Resawing
  • Versatility

Despite what others have said, band saws make for great precision tools. First, you'll want to make sure that you have the right blade for the desired project. Then, make sure that your blade is strong enough to cut through the desired material.

Operating a band saw on wood.

When positioned correctly in relation to the thrust bearing and side guides, a band saw can be quite the accurate, fine cutting tool. You have more control over the blade than you would with a chisel or hand saw. Band saws are motorized hand tools that allow you to create intricate cuts on your work.

Cutting Curves

Most wood workers make the mistake of cutting curves with a table saw. This is a complicated process and will often lead to inaccurate cuts on your piece. While you can use other saws to cut wood, you'll notice that most of them tend to bend when attempting to make curves.

That's why you need a band saw.

Band saws are perfect in cutting all types of wood in accurate curves. Also, you can make tighter turns once you change the blade to a narrower width. For instance, with a 1/8" blade, you can cut a radius the size of a small pencil eraser. Getting a brand saw makes it easier to cut irregular shapes with precision and accuracy.

Resawing

The band saw is the only tool that's good for resawing wider pieces of wood. Even better, you can these pieces in only one pass using a band saw. Table saws are limited when it comes to resawing. The maximum width you can cut with a table saw is only 3-1/2". For some woodworkers, this size is too small for most cutting projects.

Band saws have the advantage of making wider cuts. On average, a regular 14" band saw gives you the ability to cut 6" wide pieces. If you want to make resawing an easier process, then getting a band saw might be the best option.

Versatility

Out of all the tools needed in your arsenal, band saws are the most versatile. It can use jigs to create a perfect circle cut on your piece.

Additionally, you can use band saws to create duplicates of a pattern. It's a powerful tool when used right, and is useful for almost any sort of woodworking project.

Band saw wooden product.

When using a band saw, you'll notice a huge difference in the quality of your cuts. While they are flexible, they also offer the precision needed to get most projects done efficiently. Buy a band saw if you want something to keep your

Band Saw Safety Equipment

Band saws are widely regarded as one of the safest wood working tools. But, it's still a dangerous tool that can cause a severe amount of damage if used improperly. Getting the right equipment will save you money and prevent you from accidentally slicing your hand off.

These are the most important safety equipment to have when using a band saw:

  • Safety Glasses
  • Hearing Protection
  • ​Protective Gloves
  • ​Appropriate Clothing
  • Invest in Safety Glasses

Safety glasses are the first thing you'll need before starting any woodworking project.

You'll want to make sure you're wearing the right apparel before using a band saw. Your eyesight is important and to risk woodworking without protective gear. Develop a habit of wearing safety goggles often.

Hearing Protection

Like your eyesight, your hearing is too valuable to lose. Most woodworking environments are loud; meaning that the lack of hearing protection will lead to issues such as hearing loss. We suggest using ear muffs or ear plugs to keep your ears safe and prevent hearing loss from happening.

Clothing

It's important to wear appropriate clothing when using a band saw. Avoid wearing loose fitting clothing such as long sleeved shirts.

The clothing will get caught in the band saw's blade which could lead to severe injuries.

Protection gear while using band saw.

Gloves

Most professional woodworkers agree that gloves improve their hand steadiness during their project. Working without gloves is dangerous, and exposes your hand to injuries far more severe than a small paper cut. You run the risk of causing bodily harm such as remove

To prevent this, buy a pair of gloves. The most common types of gloves are leather, canvas, and metal mesh. Avoid any pair of gloves that are made out of light fabrics and synthetic materials. They are designed for lighter projects and should be ignored when dealing with raw materials.

Hand Protection

Here's a rule of thumb when using a band saw for woodworking. Keep your hands further away than 3 inches from the blade. Use one hand to hold both sides of the stock. This ensures that you'll safely cut your desired material.

Never place your hand on the cut line. Even if it's more than 3 inches away, you'll accidentally slice off a finger if you put it on the line. Use a push stick instead if you need to hold your stock closer than three inches.

Also, never attempt to reach across your band saw. This is a fatal mistake that could lead up to your losing a limb. If your band saw's on/off switch is located on the right, use your right hand to shut off the power. Remember, safety is your main priority when woodworking.

How To Cut Safely With A Band Saw

Cutting stock is an important aspect of the band saw. Start up the band saw's motor and wait until it's running at full speed. Next, always place the stock against the table. Don't attempt to hold the stock in mid-air. It has to remain flat on the table surface at all times when cutting.

If there is a particular angle or width that needs to be cut, try using a miter gauge or a rip fence. This creates a safer cut and increases your cut's accuracy.

Always draw outlines before cutting a curve. You'll want this projected cut to be placed smoothly on the stock. After that, keep the wood on the table and place the stock through the band saw blade along the cut line's outer edge.

Safely cutting with a band saw.

We suggest leaving a bit of stock outside of the cutting line. This allows it to be eaten up by the spindle sander after finishing a cut.

Your band saw blade will leave cut marks that need to be smoothed out by sanding. Avoid cutting directly on the line because it doesn't leave any space for sanding.

Take a slow and calculated approach when cutting your curves. If you have to stop cutting, turn the motor off in one hand while firmly holding the stock in the other. Don't back out of the blade until your band saw comes to a complete stop.

Use "relief cuts" when cutting tight and complicated curves. Relief cuts are cuts that go through scrap portions of your cut to create a better angle on the cutting section of your outline. It's more effective to make multiple relief cuts and cut on short sections than it is to make one large inaccurate cut.

Band Saw Types

Let's get to know some of the best band saw types that exist and see which one suits you best.

Metallic Band Saws

Out of all the band saws you'll use, metal band saws are the ideal power tool. For jobs that require you to cut through metal, you'll need to use a metal band saw to cut it correctly. But, you must understand that metal band saws require a higher standard of maintenance.

Keeping them properly clean reduces the risk of injury and keeps it running with the maximum proficiency.

We suggest getting a coolant to maintain your metal band saw. Coolants help the blade by keeping it cool and lubricated. Also, they prevent metal chips from getting stuck in the blade. This is a common disadvantage with metal blades. Buying a coolant helps your blade stay in great condition for the long-term.

Wooden Band Saws

For amateurs, wooden band saws are a popular choice. They are safer than metal saws and are perfect for practice. The wooden saws help you gain the correct hand positioning to use it properly. Try using a wooden bandsaw before dealing with the more dangerous, metal band saws.

Meat Grinder Band Saws

The meat band saw is a popular tool amongst butchers. Meat Band Saws are easy to clean because of the sensitive materials butchers need to work with. This type of band saw is utilized for meat cutting and makes it easier to grind, chop, and dice your meats as desired. Some have additional features such as a mincer or a sausage making spout.

Meat grinder band saw.

However, meat band saws are very dangerous. Meat band saws are responsible for up to 50% of the injuries obtained in comparison to the other saws on this list.

In fact, the Meat Workers Union in New Zealand recorded over 18 injuries within a time span of 12 months due to accidents related to the machine. Take serious caution when using a meat band saw by wearing protective equipment and working with a complete regard to safety.

Flat Band Saw

One advantage of flat band saws is that it is used for cutting longer materials. It allows them to cut them down to size and is perfect for straight cutting. But, it's not useful if you're planning to create complicated shapes. Still, it's a suitable choice for amateurs and professionals in the woodworking industry.

The flat band saw works by keeping the material stationary and in place. The blade swings through the cut, resulting in a polished and clear design. After it's complete, the saw will turn completely off. Flat Band Saws use a switch trip which helps prevent injuries. It's a safe band saw that helps create simple cuts.

Angled Band Saw

Angled band saws are different than its horizontal counterpart by the way it cuts the material. The saw does not move, but the work place moves to create intricate cuts. Angled band saws can cut complicated shapes which is a huge advantage compared to flat band saws.

Angled band saw being used.

Mobile Band Saws

Sometimes, woodworkers need a band saw on the go. This is where mobile band saws shine. Mobile band saws are used to cut curved lines, straight edge cuts, and irregular shapes. They work with the same quality of technology as the other band saw types on this list.

Also, it comes with a band of serrated metal that is pulled along two wheels. This allows the band saw to make precise cuts and great shapes. No matter the skill level, mobile band saws are a great solution if you want a safer way to cut raw materials.

Band Saw Manufacturers

Now we are going to take a took at top band saw manufacturers on the market.

Milwaukee

A favorite brand amongst professional woodworkers, Milwaukee offers high-quality band saws for all types. Their goal is to help woodworkers finish their projects through giving the best products to their customers.

Delta

Delta Machinery is a reputable company that develops band saws. For over 90 years, this company has followed their mission. Their primary goal is to create products that allow woodworkers to complete their projects with more precision. Thus, it's a trusted company that guarantees band saws of the best quality.

Porter-Cable

Porter-Cable is a company that has provided woodworking materials for over 100 years. They specialize in making high-quality band saws, and accessories to protect your average woodworker. Look into this company if you want a band saw that's of substantial quality and will last for the long run.

Porter-Cable brand band saw

Dewalt

This American based company shines in creating tools for all sorts of projects. Since 1920, Dewalt has created products that were used to improve the time spent on woodworking tasks. The company is a great choice for those wanting quality woodworking tools that will enhance their skills.

Rockwell

Rockwell Automation is the largest company that's known for delivering industrial products. With over 20 million products sold, Rockwell ensures that each of their customers will have the right tools needed to complete their woodworking projects.

Examine Your Band Saw Before Cutting

Band saws use a multitude of wheels and blocks to keep the blade in the right position when cutting. Because of this, you'll want to make sure that they are checked for any sort of wear. Failure doing this step leads to an excessive amount of wear and tear on your blade.

Eventually, your band saw blade will break if you aren't careful. Check your blade's tension and make sure it's within the limit limits that are outlined in your band saw's manual.

Prepare to cut for your stock after your band saw blade is correctly adjusted and set to an appropriate level of tension. When your motor is shut off, place the stock on the band saw's table. Then lower the blade guards to around 1/4th to 1/8th of the stock.

If you leave the blade guard's tension setting any higher, you run the risk of breaking your blade.

How To Choose A Band Saw Blade

Remember, there are multiple band saw blades that are used for different tasks. Blades such as skip tooth, hook tooth, wavy-set, and rasker-set are utilized for almost any wood working project.

Skip tooth blades come with wide spaced teeth which is used to help soft metals such as aluminum. Hook tooth blades are closed spaced blades with wide teeth.

They are commonly used to cut hardwood and stronger, non-ferrous metals like plastic.

For ferrous metals, you'll want to use wavy or rasker-set blades. Your wavy-set blade works with a horizontal band saws that are used to cut ferrous metal.

Different types of blades for a band saw.

Most band saw manufacturers sell blades that relate to the purpose of your project. For instance, there are general woodcutting, non-ferrous or ferrous metal, and scrolling blades.

Essential Parts To Look Out For

Before buying a band saw, you should pay close attention to several things.

Table Size

It's important to know the size and type of your table. The larger the size, the easier it is to guide your stock through the saw. A good table has the option to be set at a 45-degree angle.

Some band saws come with a fence for easier resawing and a miter gauge for crosscut sawing. The size of the table is the first thing you should look into before getting a quality band saw.

Band saws have a tendency to vibrate while in use. Regardless of the model or size of your table or bench, it should be built with a sturdy cabinet. The bench models should be clamped, screwed, or bolted on a sturdy surface.

Band Saw Blades Width

Band Saw blades come in a variety of widths that range from 1/8" to 1" in size. When creating straight cuts, your blade should have the same width as your saw will handle. The wider your blade, the straighter the cut.

When cutting irregular shapes, your blade should match with the radius of the cut. Also, it's important to have a variety of blades to be used for various projects. Changing blades is easy on most saws and increases a number of projects you can do.

Most band saw blades come coiled. You must release the blade from the coil to prevent it from cutting you on accident. First, hold the band saw with the back of the blade in your direction. Rotate the right and left wrist thumb up simultaneously.

Keep your hands inward while doing this. Continue to twist your wrists to make the blade create a triple loop coil. Tie the loops in three different sections, then use a rust-preventative spray to keep the blade remaining functional.

Motors

Band saw motors come in different sizes. For instance, most motors range from 1/3 to 1 – ½ horse power. If you plan on cutting smaller stock, then a 1/3 motor is good for you. However, larger stock that needs to be resawed will need a larger motor for it to work properly.

Conclusion

To conclude, a band saw is a versatile piece of equipment. It gives the user the ability to create complex shapes, cut pieces with more precision, and finish their woodworking projects. It's a necessary tool that ensures a perfect cut almost every time.

Cutting wood using a band saw.

Now that you know everything about band saws, we'll start to speak on our buying guide. A band saw is a great investment, and we want to help you find the best products that'll work for you.

Ultimately, our band saw buying guide will give you the information needed to get the best quality band saw in inventory and make you a better woodworker.

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