A band saw is a machine that runs a flexible, continuous blade around the wheels. It consists of two wheels, one for each upper and one for the lower.
What’s a band saw used for?
Band saws can be used for many purposes. They are safer than table saws, and they won’t cut straight. A table saw can be used to cut joints like dadoes or rabbets, but these joints can also be cut easily with a router.
A band saw can be used to cut metal or wood in straight or curves with the right blade. There are many options for blade width and tooth count. For tighter curves, narrower blades work better while larger blades can be used for straighter cuts. A smoother cut is achieved by having more teeth per inch, while those with fewer teeth per inches will produce a quicker but less precise cut. A good general-use blade could be 1/2-inch wide with three teeth per in.
A band saw’s size is measured in inches. The most common measurement is 14-inch. The width of the saw blade is measured between its throat and the column supporting the upper wheel.
Band saws come in a variety of sizes and prices, from small benchtop machines up to large freestanding models for professional shops. The 14-inch freestanding saws are the best value for money, and used ones can be found easily.
How to set up a band saw
The blade must be correctly installed in order for a bandsaw to do its job. This is the most difficult part of using a bandsaw, but it is not difficult.
- Unplug the saw, and then open its cabinet.
- The blade tensioner can be released. Loop the blade onto the bottom and roll it onto top. Make sure that the teeth face toward the top.
- Now tighten the tensioner until the blade is free from slack.
- Rotate the top wheels by hand until the blade is in the middle.
- The manufacturer will give you instructions on how to tension the blade correctly. The width of your blade will determine how much tension you apply.
Band saws use guides above and below tables to keep the blades on their wheels and track accurately. First, ensure that none of the guides touch the blade. Follow these steps to finish:
- Start at the top and loosen the bolt that locks the blade. Next, adjust the thrust bearing so it is about the thickness of a businesscard without touching the blade.
- Next, you will need to move on to the guide blocks along the blade’s side.
- Adjust the locking bolts to the right thickness for your blade.
- Align the guideblocks so they are in line with the gullets between your teeth.
- The majority of band saws have similar guides below the table. These guides should be adjusted in the same manner as the upper ones.
- Adjust the table until it is square to the blade. Turn the knobs to the left of the table. Set the table squarely using a combination square. Next, tighten the knobs.
Straight lines using a band saw
Do you want to make a straight line using your band saw? These steps will help you cut straight lines with your band saw.
- Set the blade guard at about 1/2 inch from the stock before making any cuts.
- You will need to check that the blade cuts parallel to the fence every time you change it.
- Take a scrap piece measuring 2 feet long and draw a line parallel to one end.
- You can cut that line as close to the eye as possible.
- If the scrap is properly aligned with the blade, it will feel straight and you won’t have to make any adjustments.
- Holding the workpiece on the table, stop the saw and turn it off.
- Mark the table when the blade stops moving.
- The bolts holding the fence should be loosen. Next, adjust the fence to the line you have drawn. Finally, tighten the bolts. This is the fence setting that is parallel to that blade. To adjust the width of your cuts, you can move the fence around. You can either buy an aftermarket fence or clamp a straight piece to your table if your saw does not have one.
Cut Curves using a Band Saw
Match the curve to the blade first. These are some tips to help you get started:
- A narrower blade is best for very tight curves. Too narrow a blade can make a difficult cut and result in a less smooth surface.
- Keep the workpiece moving at a steady, light pace, and turn it as necessary along the blade. A smooth cut is impossible if you stop to adjust your approach.
- It is best to keep the lines straight. As long as you don’t go too far, it is okay. It’s much more difficult to repair if you get inside the line.
- It is a good idea to first make a series relief cuts to get tight cuts. These are cuts that are “perpendicular” to the curve and then continue to the layout. The scrap will fall away as you cut the curve, and the relief cuts allow the blade to move freely.
You’ll be more productive with a band saw the more you use it.