17 Use of the Band Saw

Safety Rules

Before starting the saw:

  • Ensure all guards are in place
  • Ensure the proper blade is installed for the type of cut being performed, and that the teeth are pointing down to the table. It is possible to install the blade backwards
  • Ensure the proper blade tension is set. Note that some bandsaws have a mechanism for quick release of tension that is used after every cut or at the end of the day
  • Ensure the blade is tracking properly.
  • Adjust the guide post so the upper guides are no more than 1/4″ / 6 mm above the workpiece
  • Inspect the guides (side and thrust bearings) both above and below the table for proper adjustment

While using the saw:

  • Allow the saw to reach full speed before feeding the stock
  • Cut at the correct feed rate. Blades with a higher TPI need a slower feed rate
  • If the blade starts to track forward and backward in relation to the thrust bearing during operation, or if you hear a rhythmic clicking sound while the saw is running, shut it down immediately. This is usually a sign that the blade is about to break. Lock out the saw and inspect the blade for cracks
  • If the blade breaks during use, shut off the power immediately. If the saw has a foot break, use it to stop the saw as quickly as possible to prevent damage to the interior of the saw
  • Do not twist or apply side pressure to the blade, it can cause it to break
  • If the blade breaks during use, do not stand to the right of the saw as the broken blade can protrude in this position.
  • Keep your hands a comfortable distance from the blade. If you slip and your hands are too close to the blade, you could be injured.
  • Be particularly aware of where your hands are positioned near the end of the cut. As the saw completes the cut, there is no resistance to the force being applied by the operator and the parts will move forward suddenly. If your hands are in the way, you will be injured.
  • Keep the workpiece in contact with the table at all times. With a bandsaw, the direction of force is down, if the workpiece is unsupported above the table, the blade will grab it and force it down on to the table.
  • Never crosscut round stock that is not properly supported and secured in a carrier. The leading edge of the round will be above the table, posing a hazard. The blade can grab the wood and spin it out of your hands
  • Use a push stick to complete cuts any time your hands are close to the blade
  • Do not use dull blades, they cause you to apply excessive force which increases the risk of an accident
  • Follow all general machinery safety rules

Stock preparation

Unlike the table saw, the bandsaw can be used to cut stock that is not perfectly flat or straight. While the face being cut needs to stay in contact with the table, boards that are warped, cupped, or otherwise out of flat can be cut on the bandsaw as long at the piece is mostly supported in the area where the blade is cutting.  Because the direction of force of the blade is down onto the table, stock can be freehanded through the blade without needing a straight edge. The bandsaw is the right tool to straighten stock in preparation for other other machines such as the table saw and jointer.

There is no minimum length or size of stock that can be safely machined on the bandsaw, but small pieces must be guided in a way that doesn’t risk running your hands into the blade. Use push sticks for small parts, or use appropriate work holding devices.

When cutting solid wood, always inspect it for foreign objects such as staples as these will prematurely dull or damage the blade and can pose a safety hazard. Never place any wood that will be machined on the floor as it will pick up grit and other hard debris and damage cutting tools.

The bandsaw can be used for cutting composite materials such as MDF and plywood. With the correct blade, it can also be used for cutting metals, plastics, paper products, and other materials. Always use a blade designed for the materails being cut.

License

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Woodworking Machinery by Sandra Carr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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