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12 Nov Band Saw Basics

When cutting curves into wood, it’s likely your best bet is to use your trusty band saw. With that being said, these handy machines can be used for more than just that – but first, it’s important to get familiar with it.

What is a Band Saw?

Band saws are mainly found in one of two forms: floor-standing cabinet models or shorter models that are made for being mounted. Both operate in the same way, using a single looping blade that is tightly-strung around one wheel above the saw table and one below. When cutting lumber, wood is to be placed on the saw table, guided through the blade, and moved to follow the intended curve line. Band saws are also used when cutting tenons, veneers, straight cuts, or compact rabbets. It’s important to note that band saws and band saw blades come in a multitude of sizes, so do your research when it comes to finding what’s best fit for your needs.

Tips & Tricks

  • Reduce tension: Alleviating tension on the saw after not using it for 3+ days will help delay the process of metal fatigue, which would cause the blade to break sooner rather than later. If your machine doesn’t have a quick-release apparatus, simply turn the the tensioning knob 2-3 times.
  • Cut outside the lines: If you’re new to using a saw blade, it may be in your best interest cut outside the lines. This minimizes the removal of any extra material, while also allowing more space for smoothing edges.
  • Double-check dullness: If you start experiencing slowed-down feed rate, burning and noticeable difficulty following preciseness, it’s time to check that blade. Sometimes the blade might not be dull after all, it might just be dirty and need a good, proper cleaning.
  • Cutting contour: Before going at your contoured piece, try cutting transition points and lines along the curve first. By doing this, any waste simply falls off upon reaching the relief points, making your cuts quicker and easier to manage.

Staying Safe

As always, safety comes first when using any machinery! Here are a few ways to ensure safety when using your blade saw:

  • Proper clothing: Of course, wear your safety glasses as you would with any other woodworking tools. Blade saws chop away at wood at a fast rate, which often causes tiny pieces of wood to fly nearly anywhere. Not wearing loose-fitting clothing, especially long sleeves, is also a simple reminder, but highly important to note.
  • Keep it flat: Never free-hand your stock in mid-air. Ensure your stock is placed flat against the table at all times.
  • Keep your distance: Make sure your hands are at least 3 inches away from the blade at all times (note: your hands should never be along the cut line, 3 inches away or not!). Also, never reach across the band saw. This means if its on/off switch is on the right, don’t use your left hand to turn it off.