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If you’re a serious woodworker, you probably have a band saw. It’s one of the most versatile power saws, capable of cutting through a variety of materials and with applications ranging from metalwork to cutting lumber into thinner boards.
We’ll tell you how a band saw works and then go through some of the things it can do for you.
One of the biggest things people use a band saw for is to make curved cuts in wood. Because the blade is stationary and runs on a loop, you can cut bigger, denser pieces of wood than with a smaller, portable saw.
You’ll probably want to trace out the pattern you’re cutting on the saw ahead of time, because you’ll need to move the wood yourself. This will cut down on operator error. You’ll also want to use a thinner blade. We’d recommend one that is a quarter-inch.
One of the most difficult tasks in woodworking is cutting a piece of wood into two thinner pieces of wood, known as resawing. It requires time, patience, and a saw that doesn’t have a limited cut capacity. Because a band saw remains static on the table and runs the blade in a loop perpendicular to the teeth, you can use it for resawing.
You’ll want a thicker blade for resawing, because it’s going to put your blade through some paces. The good thing is that you’re making a straight cut, so you don’t need a thin blade. You’ll also want a fence to keep your cuts straight.
The same action that allows you to resaw allows you to mill lumber. This is basically resawing a raw log along all four planes. The first cut is going to be the most difficult because there are no flat surfaces. After that, it’s a matter of cutting off the rounds. Once you’re done, you can even resaw your rough lumber to your desired thickness.
Make sure you use a thick blade, and don’t try to mill lumber bigger than the vertical space available on your table. Also, go nice and slow to prevent damaging your blade.
Although it’s not usually recommended to cut multiple pieces of wood at one time, if you need to make sure that multiple pieces of wood have precisely the same angle, a band saw can do that. Tape the pieces of wood you need to cut together so that they hold fast. Measure out the angle you need to cut and outline it on the top one. Position a fence and use blocks to move the stack through, following the outline.
We’d suggest using a thick blade for maximum safety, but this is a situation where it’s possible that you need precision because you need to cut curves of some kind. Get the thickest blade you can that will still allow you to cut your curves accurately. If you can get to, as they say, “close enough for government work,” and sand it the rest of the way, that’s probably a good idea.
You don’t need to limit your materials to just wood. With the right blade, you can also cut PVC pipe and even some metals. Some band saws specialize in cutting metal and are a little more powerful, but you can use a wood band saw to cut certain soft metals.
Picking the right blade for that is like choosing between a hand saw to cut wood and a hand saw to cut metals. The one for metals will have smaller, sharper teeth that are closer together.
A band saw is a versatile addition to anyone’s workshop. Because of its unique construction, you can use it to cut curves or straight lines. It’s one of the few saws that you can use to resaw lumber or turn trees into usable wood. It can also cut a variety of materials if you get the right blade.
Before buying one, we’d suggest that you check out the different ones available, figuring out what you need it for and getting enough power to do the job. One key, however, is making sure that you get the right blade for the job. The blade you want for making curve cuts is not the blade you’ll want for turning a tree into floor molding.