A band saw is one of the most useful woodworker’s tools. It a versatile tool that comes in handy to make cuts that other alternative saws cannot. On this note, it is useful for both professional and DIY woodwork projects.
For you to get the most use out of your band saw, you need to understand how to use it. If you just acquired your band saw and confused about where and how to start, this article is a great resource. You will learn the basics of using a band saw to get you started on your projects.
Understanding the Different Blade Types
A band saw can cut different materials, and each needs a specific blade. It is, therefore, essential to understand the materials you will be working on most of the time to select the most appropriate blade.
The three standard blades for band saws are the hook-tooth, skip-tooth, and the regular-tooth blades. Hook tooth blades are large and come with a deep gullet. These are ideal for making fast cuts.
Skip-tooth blades, on the other hand, are ideal for cutting plastics, softwood, and nonferrous materials. They have spaces between individual teeth that prevent residual build-up when cutting.
Regular tooth blades are useful for general cutting purposes. These suit different materials, such as wood, metal, plastic, etc. Regular tooth blades are the most common of all types.
Step by Step Procedure of How to Use a Band Saw
Step 1: Cleaning
Before setting up your band saw for cutting, you need to keep a few things in mind. You want to ensure it is functional and capable of cutting the material at hand.
The first thing you should do is clean. This can come across as obvious, but as a beginner, you may not find the need to do so. Cleaning removes dirt, left-over residue, or any other build-up. Any dust on the blade can affect the quality of the cut hence the need to clean.
Step 2: Choosing the Blade
As mentioned, the blade you use with the band saw should be appropriate for the type of material you are cutting. While regular-tooth blades work well for most jobs, it is essential to change it for heavier materials. Also, you might want a finer blade for more delicate materials.
Step 3: Checking the Blade Tension
When the saw is not in use, the blade tension should not be on a high. When it is time to use it, make sure you raise it to a suitable level. If your band saw has a window that you can use to monitor how low or high it is, make use of the feature. The blade tension is one of the elements that affect the quality of the cut, so make sure it is set correctly.
Step 4: Setting the Blade Guides
Blade guides are accessories that ensure the blade level stays in place. These come in two sets; one lower and the other higher. Set them up appropriately such that they are close to the blade. This will ensure a clean, seamless cut.
Step 5: Setting the Blade Guard
Before you start cutting, ensure the blade guard is as close to the wood as possible. A simple way to understand this is to ensure a large portion of the blade is not exposed when making a small cut. If you are making different cuts, therefore, you will need to set the guard according to the size of the cut.
Step 6: Plugging in the Saw
It is advisable to keep the band saw unplugged when not in use. After ascertaining the blade tension and guard are in place, go ahead and plug the saw in.
Step 7: Cutting
Cutting using a band saw is a technique you have to learn and practice. But, it is not as hard as you may think as long as you have everything set appropriately. On this note, it is essential to note that the band saw leaves marks on the edge after cutting.
It is, therefore, advisable to allow a little extra material to smooth the edge after cutting. Also, cutting on the outside of the line helps to minimize the amount of material you will have to remove when smoothing.
Making curved lines takes practice because you have to follow an irregular line. Until you master the skills, it is advisable to start far from the cutting line, so you have a little material to play with.
The best way to make curved cuts is by starting with relief cuts. This is whereby you cut a contoured profile by following lines along the curves and transition points. Move slowly to ensure a clean, smooth cut.
Step 8: Unplug the Band Saw
One of the safety principles you should keep in mind is unplugging the saw after use. Once you have completed your cuts, unplug it before you can handle any other part of the saw.
Step 9: Release blade Tension
It is essential to release the tension of your blade after each cutting session. This increases the lifespan of your blades, and your band saw in general. Keep note that it is loose, so you have to tighten it next time you have a cutting project.
Step 10: Clean Up
Ensure you dust off any dirt or debris from the cutting process. You want to keep your saw in the best condition when in storage. Cleaning it up after every use will minimize the number of times you have to do a deep clean on it. Also, it contributes to its functionality and efficiency.
You can make the most use out of your band saw. But you have to understand how it works. You can follow the steps above to set up and use your band saw. Here is a quick rundown of the process:
- Clean the band saw
- Choose the right blade
- Check the blade tension
- Set the blade guides
- Set the blade guard
- Plug-in the saw
- Make your cuts
- Unplug from power
- Release the blade tension
- Clean up and store appropriately