A bandsaw is a bulky tool, mostly used for woodworking. And if you’re planning to install a new bandsaw in your workshop then here’s a perfect article for you. Although the tool looks bulky, using it is extremely easy. Do not worry about looking at its size as you can do perfect custom cuts using a bandsaw. Keep reading below and by the end, you’ll get to know the tool better.
What is a Band Saw Used for?
A bandsaw is a powerful tool used to make both straight and intricate cuts on the material. Woodworkers mostly use a bandsaw for making custom cuts on the material. But you can also use it for making an accurate straight cut.
The tool comprises a sharp blade in the middle that goes from one end to the other. The long blade is supported by pulleys that rotate in one direction for making smooth cuts. Set the right blade and you can use the bandsaw to cut metal and wood both.
You can set different blades on the bandsaw. A general thumb rule is, more teeth per inch of the blade will result in smoother cuts. Also, a narrow blade is ideal for following tight curves while a wider blade is a good choice for making straight cuts.
Setup Your Bandsaw
Setting up your bandsaw right is one crucial part. Do not let the large wheels of the tool make you feel skeptical as it is extremely easy to set up a bandsaw. It determines how smooth the saw will cut through various materials. Also, a perfectly set bandsaw will not require frequent blade adjustment. Thus, increasing productivity. Follow the below steps to set your bandsaw machine perfectly.
- The large wheels or say pulleys of any bandsaw are enclosed in cabinets. So before opening cabinets, it is important to unplug the saw.
- Then, open the cabinets to access the bandsaw blade.
- Release the blade tensioner and slowly loop it onto the bottom wheel. After a few loops on the bottom, roll the blade on the top wheel. Here, make sure that the blade teeth face downwards for smooth, burr-free cuts.
- Now begin tightening the blade tensioner just enough to remove slack. Adjust the tensioner in such a way that the blade is not too tight nor too loose.
- After setting the blade tension of the bandsaw, you need to set the blade track in the middle of the wheels. And for that, you need to rotate the top wheel manually. Keep adjusting the tracking knob till the blade falls in the middle tracks of both wheels.
- It is always a good idea to follow instructions on the included user manual for best blade setting and tensioning. Also, blade tensioning varies according to the width of the blade. So refer to the provided manual or ask for professional help.
Cutting Straight Lines Using a Band Saw
There are instances where you need to make a small straight cut. And it is obvious, you’d not like to switch to other cutting tools like a circular saw or miter saw for making a straight cut. Instead of looking for other alternatives, you can use the bandsaw for cutting a straight line. Thanks to the centrally placed blade that makes a smooth straight cut. Follow the steps below to make a straight cut with your bandsaw.
- Set the blade guard to 1/2-inches above the stock.
- Many entry-level bandsaws for residential use features a laser guide that eases making straight cuts. But do not worry if your model misses the laser guide as you can simply mark the material surface with a pen or pencil.
- Adjust the fence on the side and set the material next to it with the marked line facing the blade straight.
- Turn on the power and slowly push the material towards the blade with the help of a push block.
- Do not force or pressure the material. Let it pass through the blade at its own pace. Make sure to use the right blade to cut the right material.
- Once the material is cut, stop the machine and let the blade stop completely.
- Similarly, you can use the bandsaw for resawing wood which is also a kind of straight cut with the wooden board staying vertical to the worktable.
Cutting Curves with a Band Saw
Bandsaws are perfect for cutting curves, making intricate cuts, or some custom design cuts. You can easily spot a bandsaw in a wooden workshop that involves designing wood or metal. Learn how to cut curves with a bandsaw by following the below steps.
- The first and foremost thing to do is, match the blade to the curve. Use a narrow blade for cutting tight curves.
- Mark the surface properly with a dark pencil.
- The best way to intricate cut a large wooden board is to make multiple relief cuts. Relief cuts are simple straight or lightly curved lines you cut perpendicular to the board. They help prevent the blade from binding especially when cutting a sharp curve.
- Push the material towards the blade to cut the curve. It is okay to take a few breaks in between for a better cut.
- Stop the blade once the cut is done.
Cut Nonferrous Metals
A good commercial and home bandsaw is not just limited to cutting wood. You can also use the tool to cut non-ferrous metals like carbon steel, aluminum, copper, zinc, etc. The only thing you need to set or take care of is, using the right blade.
Cutting nonferrous metal with a bandsaw requires a hard blade with a lot of teeth per inch. For example, you’ll need a bandsaw blade with 8 teeth per inch to cut aluminum, brass, copper, soft bronze, etc at low speed.
Use an alloy steel blade for high-speed cutting of stronger metals. A bandsaw blade with 24 teeth per inch is perfect for cutting angle iron, galvanized pipe, mild steel, etc.
If you are still confused about how to use your bandsaw, here is a simple video tutorial that can make it easier for you.
There are a few things to take care of while operating such a sharp tool. And safety shouldn’t be overlooked.
- Safety glasses are a must while using a bandsaw even if the tool is connected to a shop vac.
- Adjust blade guard according to the thickness of material for better cuts. Also, the right adjustment prevents stressing the blade so you can cut longer without readjustments.
- Push the material slowly while making an intricate cut or cutting a tight curve. Do ‘relief cuts’ while cutting tight areas to prevent any errors.
- Increase the lifespan of your bandsaw blade by releasing tension after each session. This way the blades will remain sharp for a longer duration for better and safe cuts.
- Make use of push block while resawing or passing large blocks of wood boards through the blade.
- Do not push the material towards the blade as it is extremely dangerous.
- Use the right blade to cut specific material. Cutting metal requires a hard blade with several teeth per inch than cutting wood.
- A bandsaw can produce heavy noise while cutting several materials. Cover your ears with headphones to avoid any damage to the hearing organs.
Compact, domestic, electric, or commercial, bandsaws come in various forms. And these are extremely helpful power units for carpenters, woodworkers, and hobbyists. From making straight cuts to cutting a wooden board at a sharp angle, a good bandsaw is highly versatile.
Directing the material towards the blade is much easier than adjusting the tool itself. And this quality of bandsaws makes them a common tool at any woodworking shop. And now that you have a better idea about what a bandsaw can do, I am sure you’ll be able to pick the best bandsaw for your home/shop.