For professional and amature carpenters alike, the band saw is one of the most useful and versatile tools available. A well-skilled carpenter can use a band saw in a variety of ways to make many different cuts. These cuts can range from small, delicate carvings to large, irregular shapes. Band saws can be used to rip thick lumber into smaller pieces, create finely-crafted mouldings or sturdy furniture legs. Some band saws can even work with things other than wood!
Because of the variety of band saws available, it’s important to know what sort of saw you’re looking for. This guide will help walk you through the different types of band saws that are available, and also give you advice on how to know which one is right for you and your projects.
Different Types of Band Saws
- Horizontal Band Saw
Horizontal saws are band saw where the blade sits horizontally. To use, the worker has to bring the lumber down on top of the saw. These are great for breaking down large pieces, but not for intricate crafting and carving.
- Vertical Band Saw
Vertical saws have the blade placed vertically. While this can be used for a number of things, they are much better for finely-worked details.
- Metal Band Saw
These saws come with a special blade that is specifically designed to cut through metal. They can be both horizontal and vertical.
- Wood Band Saw
The most common type of band saw, these versatile tools are used on wood, as the name implies. They come in a variety of types:
- Double cut, with teeth on both sides of the blade,
- Resaw, which have tiny kerfs (slits) used to cut timber into small pieces, and
- Head, which have large silver teeth on the blade specifically to tackle hardwoods like oak and cherry.
- Meat Band Saw
These saws are made for butcher shops to cut through meat and bone. The main difference here is the stainless steel construction, which is easier to clean than a normal band saw.
- Portable Band Saw
As the name implies, these saws are built to be on the go. Smaller and more lightweight, they still pack the punch of a regular band saw, making them extremely popular.
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- Tube Saws
The band saws are built specifically to cut through lengths of pipes and tubings, including metal, PVC and plastic.
- Dual Column Sawing Systems
These larger, more expensive systems use hydraulics to raise and lower the entire sawing system up and down as they work. These larger saws are perfect for heavy-duty work where manpower simply isn’t enough.
- Production Dual Column
Like a dual column system, this hydraulic system uses a “box” design for faster, industrial applications. These are great for serial applications where repetition is the name of the game.
- General Purpose Pivot Style Horizontal Saws
The most popular style of saw, this horizontal saw features a swinging top that pivots down, scissors-style, making it easy to plan and cut.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I choose a band saw?
After looking through the list above, you might have an idea of what type of saw you need. Depending on use and material, the right saw might have already become obvious. However, there are two other factors to consider when buying a band saw: depth of cut and the throat.
In short, “depth of cut” refers to the maximum height of a cut, or how thick a piece of wood can be and still be cut through. “Throat” refers to the maximum width you can have with a piece of wood before the back of the saw table interferes with the cut. So, depending on the pieces you’re working with, you might have to look for band saws of the same size.
How do I use a bandsaw?
Really, we could write a whole article on this question alone, so we’re going to have to give you the short version here. But, in a nutshell, this is how to use a bandsaw:
First, set up the blade by loosening and releasing the blade tensioner, installing the blade (teeth facing down towards the table), and tightening the tensioner again. Consult the manual for your specific band saw to know exactly how much tension is needed. Then, set up the table so the guides are square and not blocking the blade in any way.
To cut straight lines, simply mark the line that you want to cut. Then, with the blade saw on, move the piece through the blade directly along the line. Make sure to use all appropriate safety gear. To cut a curved line, the principle is the same – simply move the piece through the saw, turning the wood as needed to stay on the line. Curves – especially tighter curves – will require thinner blades, so you might have to change them as you work. The more you do it, the easier it will get.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when purchasing a band saw. Depending on your needs, your saw might range from small and portable to large and industrial. Just make sure to consider all options before making that final decision.