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HOW TO


BANDSAWS
BUYER'S TIPS
-Look for saws with blade guides that can be adjusted quickly and accurately.
-Choose a bandsaw with a built--in cleaning brush to remove sawdust and resin buildup.
-Buy a model With at least 3/4 hp if you plan to cut curves in stock thicker than 2" board.
-A table with the blade slot on the side, instead of the front, makes blade changing easier.
-Save money by selecting a model with a fence and mitergauge as standard features-it will cost more if you decide to add them later.

This sturdy machine makes it easy to tackle a wide range of jobs. he bandsaw is a powerful and versatile machine. With a few adjustments, you can use it to cut curves, straight lines, bevels, and miters in both thin and thick materials, and even for crosscutting and ripcutting or resawing stock.
A bandsaw consists of a narrow, steel strip blade that runs in a loop around two or three large wheels, called band wheels, that are driven by a motor or belt-andpulley system. The mechanisms are encased in a metal housing. The blade is mostly concealed by the housing and by an adjustable blade guard that moves up or down to accommodate the


thickness of the material you're cutting. Adjustable guide blocks or bearings located both above and below the cutting area support the blade on its sides and back and keep it from slipping off the band wheels, or wandering from the cutting line.

Choosing a bandsaw
In addition to stationary floor models, there are benchtop bandsaws available. These smaller units are less expensive and can be easily stored out of the way when not in use. They are, however, less powerful and offer more limited features. The important features to consider when purchasing a bandsaw include its speed, throat capacity, cutting depth, and possible table settings. Keeping these points in mind will help you to select a saw that suits your basic work requirements.

The speed of a bandsaw is measured in terms of how many feet the blade will travel in a minute (called Surface Feet Per Minute, or SFM). Most bandsaws have a top speed in the range of 2500 to 3000 feet per minute, depending on the model. Most wood cutting is done using the top speed settings, but some machines have slower speed settings for cutting other materials, like metal, plastic, or hard, thick woods.

Throat capacity, which determines bandsaw size, refers to the distance between the cutting blade and the back arm of the saw, and indicates what width material can be cut. This number can range from 10" to 20", but a bandsaw with a 14" throat capacity is a good choice for general-purpose work. A three-wheel bandsaw will have greater throat capacity than a two-wheel saw because its blade has to travel back to the third wheel, leaving more room behind the blade. These models have the drawback of taking up more floor space, however, and they tend to wear blades out faster. A threewheel saw may be worth it, however, if you plan to be cutting a lot of wide stock.

The cutting depth of a bandsaw is also an important feature to consider. Most bandsaws will cut material up to 6" thick, but this also varies from model to model, so look for a saw that has the clearance you'll need. Some manufacturers offer riser kits that increase the cutting depth. Bandsaw tables are generally square and fairly small, ranging in size from 10 x 10" to 20 x 20". Most models allow you to tilt the table to 45°, making it possible to use the saw for bevel and mitercuts. Better models allow you to adjust the table at a range of increments and have knobs or other devices that help to make precise adjustments and then lock the position securely. Also look to see if the table comes with a miter gauge or rip fence, or has slots to accept them.

Bandsaw blades
The size, shape, and placement of the teeth in bandsaw blades vary widely.
Blade widths range from 1/8" to 3/4". Wide blades work better than narrow ones for cutting thicker material or straight lines, because they're stiffer and tend to stay on track better. Always choose the widest blade possible for the radius of the curve you're cutting.
The number of teeth per inch also affects how well a blade will cut material. Use a blade with more teeth per inch for cutting hardwood and other dense materials. Use blades with fewer teeth per inch for cutting softwood or thicker pieces.
Different band wheels accommodate different blade thicknesses, or gauges. Using a gauge not intended for the band wheels will cause premature wear on the blade. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for the correct gauge.

Installing a blade
1 With the saw unplugged, open the frame housing and loosen the tension on the blade guides and bearings. Carefully remove the blade from the band wheels.
2 Center the new blade over the top wheel, then around the lower one, making sure the teeth are pointing downward.
3 Adjust the tension of the wheels by raising the upper wheel until there is no slack in the blade.

4 Check the tracking of the blade by turning the wheels by hand. As you turn the wheel with one hand, turn the tracking knob with the other to adjust the tilt of the wheel's axis. Adjust it until the blade stays true, running in the center of the band wheel rim.
5 Make the final adjustment on the blade tension. Some bandsaws have a tension indicator that tells the proper setting for a particular blade width. If yours doesn't, adjust the tension so the blade can flex no more than 1/4" from side to side. Double-check the tracking once more.
6 Adjust the top and bottom guide assemblies by first setting the thrust bearing. The thrust bearing should just barely contact the back of the blade so the blade will neither slide backward nor grind against the bearing.
7 Next, align the guide blocks (or bearings, depending on the model) by setting the upper and lower guide on the left side first, checking with a square to ensure they're aligned equally and aren't bending the blade. Space the guide blocks so there is a paper-width gap between each block and the side of the blade. When the left guides are set, adjust the right guides to the same paperwidth distance from the blade.
8 Last, set the guide blocks so they line up equally with the concave points in the teeth of the blade, called the gullets. Positioning the guides here will give the blade optimum side support without bending or touching the teeth.

Coil bandsaw blades for easy storage. To coil a handsaw, blade, hold the blade (wearing protective gloves) with the teeth pointing away from you so it forms one large loop in front of you. Hold one end of the loop down with one foot, and let the top of the loop bend toward you. As the loop falls toward you. bring your hands together and cross the blade over on itself to form the coils. Lower the blade to the floor; and gather and tie the three coils together.
Basic bandsaw use
Always keep your hands behind or to the side of the blade as you guide the work. Also be sure to lower the blade guard down to within 1/2" of the stock to be cut before you begin any cut. Readjust the guard each time you change workpieces.
Turn on the bandsaw and begin the cut, feeding the work at a steady pace. Because the bandsaw blade makes rough cuts, it's best to work on the waste side of your cutting line. Rough edges can be sanded later. Work patiently, to avoid forcing the workpiece or twisting the blade in the kerf.

Cutting freehand curves
1 Lay out the path of the cut. Prepare turning points by drilling pilot holes, or by making parallel straight cuts into the waste area to create maneuvering room for your blade (see photos below).
2 Guide the work with both hands, using one hand to guide the workpiece from behind the blade. The blade will have a tendency to wander from the line during freehand cutting, so pay close attention.

Crosscutting
Most handsaws have a miter gauge resembling those used on a tablesaw, which can be used for crosscutting and miter-cutting. To crosscut long pieces, you may need to attach a miter-gauge extension to the the head of the miter gauge.


Ripcutting
Because it leaves a very narrow kerf, a bandsaw wastes little material, which makes it a good choice for resawing lumber into thinner stock. However, a bandsaw cuts less smoothly than a tablesaw, so you'll probably need to run the cut edges through a planer or jointer after cutting them.
WOODWORKER'S TIP

Using a template

Make a template to use with your L-block to cut several workpieces with the same shape.
1 Transfer the pattern of the shape you're cutting to a piece of scrap 3/4" stock, and cut out a template using your bandsaw, sawing just to the waste side of the lines. Sand the rough edges.
2 Set the uncut workpiece on the saw table and attach the template to it with hot glue or double-sided masking tape.
3 Clamp the L-block to the table of your bandsaw, perpendicular to the blade, so the blade fits inside the notch at the tip of the block.

4 Guide the workpiece so the Lblock stays in contact with the template at all times. Unclamp the workpiece and sand the edges.

Cutting parallel curves
Rocking chair feet and chair backs are examples of pieces that have parallel curves.
1 Lay out both cutting lines on the workpiece. Make the first cut freehand, then sand the cut edges.
2 Determine the distance between the parallel lines. Clamp your Lblock to the table of your bandsaw, so the distance between the saw blade and the tip of the Lblock equals the distance between the parallel layout lines.

3 Make the parallel cut by guiding the cut edge tight against the tip of the pivot block as you feed the wood into the blade.

Bevel-cutting
Tilt the bandsaw table to cut bevels and chamfers. Most bandsaws have a gauge under the table that indicates the angle of the tilt, but it is a good idea to doublecheck the angle with a protractor and make test cuts on scrap material to avoid expensive mistakes.


Cutting compound curves


The bandsaw is ideal for cutting workpieces with curves on more than one plane, like cabriole legs for a table or chair.
1 Lay out the cutting lines on each face of the workpiece.
2 Make cuts on the top face of the workpiece, saving the waste sections to use when cutting the other sides of the piece.
3 Tape the waste sections back to the workpiece to keep the outer surfaces flat, then rotate the workpiece a quarter turn to make the cuts on the adjacent side.
4 Repeat steps 2 and 3 to cut the remaining sides.


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Updated: 11/2017   copyright 2012 U-Repair.com