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Band Saw Techniques

by Jenny Mae Talaver August 13, 2020

Band Saw Techniques

A band saw is a workhorse cutter. This is great for both DIY and heavy-duty tasks. This can handle many different materials, including wood, metals, and meat. This can make both straight and curved cuts.

Cutting with a band saw offers you a lot of versatile applications. There are many band saw techniques you can learn and practice to get the most out of your tool. You can use these to expand your skills in band saw cutting.

Once you know the techniques of using a band saw, you will be able to create products such as furniture, tools, décor, and more. You can even earn money from selling workpieces made with a band saw.

To help you get started, the Rock Hard Toolz presents this guide on Band Saw Techniques.

Band Saw Techniques

Basic Cutting Techniques

Straight Cuts

A straight cut is one of the basic cuts you can make with a band saw. But it requires practice, a steady hand, and severe concentration. 

One way to ensure your band saw cuts straight is to maintain your band saw and its blades. Clean and lubricate it regularly with oil.

For straight cuts, position your fence parallel to the band saw blade, typically on the left side of the blade.

Resawing

This band saw technique involves cutting thinner and smaller pieces of material from a larger piece.  Use a band saw that is at least 3/4 inch wide, to reduce deflection in the process.

To resaw, first lower the band saw foot to the same level of the work piece.  Turn on the blade. Feed the wood into the blade with firm pressure applied to the piece. Keep doing this slowly, until you cut the board completely. For best results, use a jig to hold the workpiece stable against the fence.

Simultaneous Cutting

You can also do stack cutting or simultaneous cutting with a band saw. You can only do this as long as the pieces are the same size.  Stack the pieces together, secured with strong tape.  Adjust the foot of the band saw to the height of the work piece. 

Feed the stacked pieces carefully into the band saw.

Cutting Strips of Veneer

For veneer strips, cut with a thin, fine-tooth blade that is at least 1/2 inch wide. Adjust the guide blocks and drop the blade guard until it is just above the wood to be cut.

Hold the board against the fence with a featherboard - with the edge to be cut parallel to the blade. Adjust the fence until the desired thickness of the strip is just to the far side of the blade. Turn on the saw, and push the board through the blade slowly while holding it firmly. Repeat as necessary.

Carve a Circle or an Arch

Cutting curves is one of the band saw’s fortes. You can start making curves with the right band saw blade.

Here are some to guide you in your band saw cutting:

  • 1/8-inch blade = 3/16-inch minimum radius cut
  • 3/16-inch blade = 5/16-inch minimum radius cut
  • 1/4-inch blade = 5/8-inch minimum radius cut
  • 3/8-inch blade = 1 1/2 inch minimum radius cut
  • 1/2-inch blade = 2 1/2 inch minimum radius cut
  • 5/8-inch blade = 4-inch minimum radius cut
  • 3/4-inch blade = 5 1/2 inch minimum radius cut
  • 1-inch blade = 7-inch minimum radius cut

Start cutting curves by checking that your band saw's table is square to the blade through the angle between the blade and the table with a combination square. Then pencil in your your curve on the board and set the board flat on the band saw's table. Lower the blade guard wherein the bottom of the guard is just above the level of the board, and lock the guard in place.

Turn on the band saw and position the pencil line parallel to the blade at the point where the blade should enter the wood. Hold the board flat on the table and ease the board through the moving blade. Keep the blade just outside of the pencil mark.

To rotate the board for curves, move the board right or left on the table as needed and never lifting the board off table. Continue rotating and easing the board until the entire profile is cut, then turn off the band saw. Lastly, lift the wood away from the table after the blade stops turning.

Advanced

Once you know the basic cuts you can do with your band saw, you can practice them then proceed to some advanced techniques below.

Set the Guides Close to the Wood

Set the band saw guides close to the wood. Position the upper blade guides as close as possible to the lower blade guides (which are mounted under the saw's table), so you get the best cuts. This technique also makes the band saw operation safer.

Cut on the Outside Edge of the Line

To avoid saw marks, smooth the edge of the cutting line. Cut on the outside edge of the line. But this takes a lot of practice to execute, especially if you work on a curved line.

Start with just enough distance to leave a bit of wood showing between the line and the saw kerf. Take advantage of an oscillating spindle sander for this technique.

Instant Zero Clearance

Get annoyed by offcuts jammed next to the blade in the saw's throat plate? Create zero clearance. Cut a kerf in a piece of thin cardboard from a cereal box and tape it to the table.

Make Relief Cuts

For making contoured profiles, relief cuts are a must. First cut in to the line along the curves and at the transition points. This will help cut more continuously and  ease the operation into a series of short, manageable cuts.

Start at the Shallow Angle

Another great technique for contoured cuts is to start at its shallowest angle. This will help the blade veering off the line and popping out your band saw. If the angles are shallow at both ends of a contour, start at each end and cut to the middle.

Use a Band Saw as a Saw Mill

One of the most advanced band saw cutting techniques is to turn your band saw into a saw mill. The steps are pretty easy, but you need a lot of mastery and strength to do this.

Use a sled to support the log on the band saw table, to secure it in place. Adjust the sled, as necessary. Turn off the band saw after cutting, remove the board then repeat the cutting process until you finish cutting the logs.

Aside from having outmost focus on the cutting, you need also to be strong enough to steady the workpiece as you resaw. If you are not careful, just the slight loosening of your arm can lead to accidents. 

Conclusion

A band saw is one of the most indispensable tools you can have in your workshop. To get the most out of this tool, you need to learn and practice the cutting techniques. As you progress through your band saw skills, you can create many different works from furniture to woodcrafts.

The eleven band saw techniques discussed in this article are just a few of the things you can do with a band saw. We hope this guide has helped you get inspired to work magic with this power saw.

To learn about band saws and other tools of the trade for DIYers and professionals alike, go to Rockhard Tools. We offer you everything from product reviews to how-to guides.  Rockhard Tools  provides top quality masonry drill bits, jobber twist drill bits, anchors and fastening systems, hacksaw blades, jig saw blades and more.

Jenny Mae Talaver
Jenny Mae Talaver



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