A bandsaw is a woodworking machine which has a continuous band driven by two wheels. The band has cutting teeth and is run in a continuous loop, unlike a reciprocating saw which is drawn back and forth over the material to be cut. Bandsaw machines can be either horizontal, with the blade lowered onto the material, or more commonly vertical, with the material fed into the machine.
The bandsaw is best suited for resawing or ripping -- cutting a board into two or more smaller boards, cutting irregular shapes or curved shapes, and stacked cuts -- cutting several pieces the same way by stacking them. The narrow blade facilitates small, sudden curves and delicate cuts. Although a bandsaw can make angled and mitered cuts, it will not cut as precisely as a table saw does.
The most important step in using a bandsaw in woodworking is the blade adjustment and tension. This can make all the difference in accurate cutting and avoiding a broken blade. The bandsaw blade is used under high stress and tension, and if improperly adjusted, can break during use.
The quality of the blade is also very important, because a poorly welded or cheap blade will break easily. Other causes of breakage include forcing or twisting the blade, feeding the wood too quickly, and using a dull blade. Another tip for using the bandsaw in woodworking is to use the widest blade possible for the cut you are making — this will reduce the possibility of breakage.
Steps to perform a simple resawing cut:
- Adjust blade.
- Square table to blade.
- Transfer a reference line onto the board to make an accurate cut.
- Use the fence to guide the wood through.
- Work slowly!
Stacked cuts can be made in much of the same way, but make sure that all pieces are stacked perfectly. Any mistake made on the first will be exaggerated on the bottom piece. Making a curved cut must be performed in a more free hand manner, without the fence. The intricate cuts that can be made with a bandsaw make the machine an important and necessary component in any woodworker's shop.