Band saws are a must for the woodworker at heart as these versatile blades make cutting cabinetry, furniture pieces, decorative moldings, and other craftwork fun. In addition, the long, sharp blade provides the smoothest cuts, which makes sanding and planning much easier. They also vary in tooth patterns for cutting a variety of materials.

There are various types of band saws, each with their own uses, including the stationary band saw, the cordless band saw, the portable band saw, and the harbor freight bandsaw.

What Are Band Saws?

Band saws are power tools that are most commonly used for cutting curves, also known as compound cutting. Though these tools are generally useful for wood cutting, with the appropriate blade, they can also be used to cut metals, ceramics, and plastic.

  • These tools contain two wheels, sometimes three, that house a thin rotating blade. This serrated steel blade is shaped in a hoop and provides an incredibly deep cut that makes it ideal for cutting thicker pieces of wood. Furthermore, the blade moves at about two to three thousand feet per minute, which allows for faster work.
  • Band saws come in various sizes, from about 10 to 48 inches, which is typically identified by the depth of the throat of the saw. Likewise, the capacity of the tool is determined by the depth of cut the saw will make.
  • The blade of the band saw also comes in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate various tasks, which are often identified by the gauge thickness of the blade, the number of teeth per inch, and the width. The narrower the blade, the smaller the curve that can be cut.
  • Band saw blades also have varying types of teeth. For instance, some have wavy set teeth, whereby the teeth are set at a wider distance than the depth of the band, creating a wavy appearance, while others have-skip tooth blades and some blades are even toothless.
  • Some band saws come on a table, which is typically around a square foot, which can be used for cutting longer wood pieces. Most band saw tables also include an adjustable miter fence and an adjustable, removable fence that serves as a guide. Some tables also tilt to provide a horizontal work table.

What Are Band Saws Used for?

Because the band saw can be utilized for free-cutting, it can be employed for a variety of tasks, including:

Making Curved or Irregular Cuts

  • Making curved or irregular cuts is the most common use of the band saw is making curved or irregular cuts, such as round table tops, curved furniture legs, or arched trim, etc. When a square piece of stock is cut on one side, once the offcuts are reattached, then the other side is cut.

Re-sawing

  • Re-sawing, or sawing thick or wide stock into thinner stock, is another common use of band saws, which is most often used when making door panels and other furniture from larger stock. They can even be used to make your own veneer. Veneers are thinly sliced blocks of wood that enable you to create various designs.

Repetitive Cutting

  • Band saws provide an incredibly deep cut, which allows you to cut through several pieces of wood at one time to make identical cuts, which saves time on performing repetitive saw work. In this case, you could simply use a template and a follower jig clamped to the saw table. Just attach the template to the uncut wood, using double sided tape, and then run the template against the follower.

Reset the Edge or Face of a Board

  • Typically, the wood that comes from the mill contains edges that are rough and jagged. Band saws enable you to re-cut the edges, so that it is more stylishly aligned with your project. Likewise, sometimes the grain and figure of a wood piece may be unappealing, in which case the band saw can be used to sharpen curves and enhance the ray figure for a more refined piece.

Non-Ferrous Metal Cutting

  • Using a fine tooth blade, band saws can also be used to cut non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum, copper, and brass, which can then be used for decoration as part of your woodwork.

Common Issues with Band Saws

Over time, band saws, just like any other piece of equipment, can begin to act up or function improperly. Some common issues with band saws include:

Blade Tension

If you encounter problems with your blade following the line or the blade wanders back and forth, it may be an indication that your blade is loose. To adjust the blade tension, simply locate the large knob that is used to replace the blade. Shut off the equipment, then turn the knob clockwise a few times to tighten the blade. Test the blade, then repeat this process until the blade follows the line precisely.

Dull Blade

If you find that you have to push harder than usual to force the wood through the blade saw, or you notice light smoke coming from the blade or the wood when sawing, then you could have a dull blade. Simply turn off the band saw blade, then inspect it for burnt teeth. If you discover burnt teeth, replace the blade as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Offset Guide

The guide is another common issue that can cause your band saw to malfunction. If you find that the blade wanders back and forth, even after adjusting the tension, your guide could be offset. Just adjust the guide knob until the guide is at the proper height and then return to cutting.

us navy office using a band saw
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U.S. Navy officer cutting a steel beam with a band saw.

Summing Up

In the end, band saws make woodworking fun by creating a simple and exciting way to both explore and expand your wood making creativity. Whether its creating intricate scrollwork for decoration, ripping, or re-sawing, the band saw is your tool. However, because the band saw contains a fast, sharp blade, it can cause serious damage, therefore, be sure to follow all safety precautions when using your tool.

Images from depositphotos.com and wikimedia.org.

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