Band saws come in different shapes and sizes, each with unique selling points and purposes. According to Popular Woodworking Magazine, the band saw is regarded as one of the most versatile power tools on the market. It is renowned for its ability to cut through just about any material. However, it is not often the first machine purchased for a workshop.
The material you’re working on within any project you’re completing will determine which of the different types of band saws to use. Vertical or horizontal, meat, timber, and metal cover are just some of the band saws available.
This article will take you through some of the different band saws, some common uses, and a general guide to band saw safety that can apply to any of these powerful tools.
Metal Band Saw / Metal Cutting Bandsaw
Of all the different band saws, a metal band saw is the ideal power tool for jobs requiring you to cut through brutal metal.
Metal cutting band saws generally fall into two categories: vertical and horizontal band saws. The horizontal metal band saw is usually used to cut the stock down to size, whereas You can use the vertical one for more intricate jobs such as filing, polishing, and contour cutting.
They require some extra maintenance, though, and generally have some additional features. A cooler that keeps the blades lubricated and cool. As well as brushes, brush wheels, and metal chips, everything is protected by lubrication. The blade is both standards to find on these types of band saws.
Unlike other saws, band saws can cut through a range of materials other than just wood, making them a popular tool in most workshops. Metal band saws are ideal for projects that involve:
- Creating new blades for use in different types of band saw;
- Cutting metal stock down to smaller, more manageable sizes;
- Filing and polishing the metal to finish the product;
- Cutting pipes and bar stock to length.
Wood Band Saw / Band Saws for Woodworking
A wood band saw is a popular choice among amateur and professional woodworkers. The wood band saw is a versatile machine, often compared with the table saw as one of the essential power tools in carpentry.
While smaller stationary band saws are used in workshops, timber mills also operate large-scale band saws for ripping lumber. The band saw has the unique ability to work with timber of a larger diameter, and because they have a smaller kerf or cut size, there is less quality timber wasted.
Wood band saws operate the same as any band saw, with the blades located on a continuous loop of metal teeth that perform succinct cuts through the timber. Inside the wood band saw category lies another subcategory, with saws of varying sizes and blades, each designed for specific use:
- Head saw: These are large band saws responsible for making the first cut in a log. With 2 – 3 inches of tooth space, they’re capable of profoundly impacting timber. They also feature silver teeth, allowing the blade to back out from a cut without getting stuck.
- Resaws: Another large type of bandsaw whose primary duty is to cut the stock into smaller sections, generally against the timber’s grain.
- Double-cut saws: Unlike regular band saws, a double-cut saw gets its name by having cutting teeth on both sides. They usually’re as big as a head saw, and their opposite turning teeth make this tool ideal for cutting through the material without getting stuck.
The Meat Band Saw
A meat band saw is used for cutting and carving various types of meat. They’re generally made from stainless steel and are constructed to be easy to clean and maintain due to the sensitive material they work with.
Meat band saws are a butcher’s best friend, not only reserved for professionals. Many passionate meat lovers have their meat band saw at home to create perfect cuts of steak and lamb. They also can add extra features, such as sausage-making spout or mincer.
Professional butchers and farmers use a meat band saw to divide their meat for sale, providing a precision cut that’s tough enough to slice easily through thick bones.
Meat band saws are responsible for a large percentage of the injuries obtained from the different band saws, so new technologies have been introduced to detect appendages that have come in contact with the blade.
In New Zealand, where meat production is exceptionally high, the Meat Worker’s Union recorded 18 severe injuries within 12 months due to accidents with a band saw, making them a risky machine.
Horizontal Band Saw
The horizontal band saw is one of the broader categories of the band saw, favored by both amateur and professional carpenters. These types of band saws help cut more extended materials down to size. However, more is needed for producing complicated shapes or curved lines.
A horizontal band saw works by holding the material stationary while the band saw blade swings down through the cut. Once the cut is complete, the saw will automatically turn off with a switch trip to avoid potential injuries to the operator.
Some of the benefits of using a horizontal band saw include the following:
- A quieter cut than most saws, making for a calmer workspace;
- Extreme precision and accuracy when cutting straight lines;
- The ability to set up your cut and then leave the machine to complete it, even turning off automatically once done;
- Ability to cut wood, metal, and plastics with ease;
- No heat-affected zone after use, meaning safer operation with less risk of injury
Vertical Band Saw
A vertical band saw varies from its horizontal counterpart in how it cuts through the material. The saw itself doesn’t move; rather. The workpiece moves through the blade to create intricate cuts.
A vertical band saw is so versatile that it can create complicated shapes and lines that other band saws can’t compete with. As well as being adept at cutting complex shapes, the vertical band saw can perform precision-cut straight lines, making it a great all-rounder power tool.
These saws have a great cutting capacity and the ability to cut through materials fast, and with brush wheels installed, they have safety measures to ensure chips don’t become stuck in their metal teeth.
The vertical band saw is capable of cutting with ease. It also usually features a built-in welder. The welder helps create new blades or repair old ones and can route the blade through the center of a part to make interior cuts to the material.
Portable Band Saw/Handheld Band Saw
A portable band saw would be a wise investment for people who need to use their tool on the go or have many different jobs in different locations.
Portable band saws can cut straight edge cuts, curved lines, or irregular shapes, showing real versatility. A handheld band saw works with the same technology as other band saws, with a continuous band of serrated metal pulled along two wheels to perform its cuts.
Not just ideal for those who work on the move, the portable band saw can help cut stock too large for a regular band saw or even on those projects where you can’t physically bring the workpiece to your machine.
These machines have so many uses that they’re a popular choice for amateur carpenters and larger-scale workshops to have on hand. Portable band saws can:
- Perform cuts on material that isn’t accessible to your workshops, such as metal signposts or railroad ties;
- Work with materials that are too large to fit on the table of a regular band saw, allowing you to work around the object;
- Cut pipes and metal with reduced vibration and a cleaner cut, thanks to its consistent pressure
Although they’re often touted as one of the safest power tools, you still need to know the safety precautions for operating a band saw. A stationary band saw poses a more minor threat than machines with a movable blade or saw, lowering their risk for injuries.
According to the Fine Woodworking Magazine, there are 12 cardinal rules for band saw safety that you should follow. These rules apply to all types of band saws and apply to working with any material. However, some styles may have additional regulations regarding their safe operation.
- First and foremost, you should always consult the individual guidelines for your band saw as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Always ensure that fingers and other body parts are kept out of the blade’s path.
- When approaching the end of the cut, be sure to decrease the feed pressure.
- While the saw is in use, always keep the wheel covers closed.
- Adjust the upper guide roughly a quarter of an inch above your material before use.
- Always utilize the blade guard and keep it in place.
- Before changing blades, disconnect the band saw entirely from its power source to avoid accidental starts.
- As with any power tools, always wear eye protection while in the workshop.
- In the case of a broken or errant blade, ensure the machine has come to a complete stop before opening the wheel covers.
- If you have chips stuck in the throat, make sure you stop the saw before clearing the obstruction.
- Use push sticks stored in your miter slot to keep your fingers away from the blade.
- Always keep your workpiece in contact with the table at the exit point of the edge.
Not only is the band saw adept at making curvaceous cuts, but they can also perform precision crosscuts and rip lumber. So if you have a quality band saw in your workshop, you’ll already know how smooth their cuts can be and perform with minimal effort.
Band saws all operate on the same system, using a pulley system and wheel to move the blade around regardless of their intended use. This system allows for a safer cut due to the reduced risk of kickback, making this power tool much more secure than a table saw.
If you’re looking for a band saw for your workshop, you’ll need to determine how much space you have available. Some amazingly powerful and Best benchtop models can still get the job done without taking up too much room.
If it’s your first time using one, don’t just assume you’ll be able to get it right on the first try. Like any powerful tool, it takes skill and practice acquired over time, so begin with test materials first.
Learning the tension of the blade is crucial to perfecting the use of this machine, but this amount will differ depending on your workpiece, blade, and the model of the band saw you use.
Although they can be a little tricky to maneuver at first, once you’ve gotten the hang of your band and saw, you’ll wonder how you lived without it in your workshop. With all the different types of band saws available, it’s fantastic to see how many advancements this power tool has made since its humble beginnings in the 19th century.