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Band Saws: Beginner’s Guide

by Jenny Mae Talaver February 11, 2020

Band Saws: Beginner’s Guide

Band saws are one of the most essential cutting tools for any worker, especially craftsmen. They offer a lot of versatility in cuts, great for DIYers and professional workers alike.

Not only do they create intricate cuts, they also are the easiest and most efficient saw to use for any worker.

You can find band saws mostly used in woodworking, metalworking and lumbering. With its ability to cut irregular or curved shapes, you can work magic in any creative project.

To help you get started with this efficient cutting tool, the RockHardToolz team presents this beginner’s guide on band saw. You can use this to learn how to take advantage of band saws for DIY projects to commercial production.

In this guide, we shall discuss the following areas of contention:

  1. What is A Band Saw?
  2. Types of Band Saw Blades
  3. How To Use A Band Saw Efficiently
  4. Conclusion

What is A Band Saw?

A band saw is a saw with a long ribbon-like blade that consists of a continuous band of metal with saw teeth, stretched between two or more wheels.

Band saws started from a British patent of William Newberry in 1809. This early band saw was not durable, though. It constantly failed amid the regular flexing of the blade over the motor’s wheels.

The first American band saw patent that gave birth to the modern commercial band saw is from Benjamin Barker of Ellsworth, Maine, in January 1836. This was expanded into a commercial design by an engineer named Paul Prybil.

Soon there were band saws everywhere, particularly among lumber yards and builders.

Band saws pack a lot of functionality in their large built, especially for masonry and furniture making. Its band saw cuts uniformly from an evenly distributed tooth load. You can also get more control in the process since the saw blade comes up through the flat surface of the table, where the workpiece is moved into the saw to create cuts.

Band Saw Blades

Depending on what you want to use it on, band saw blades vary in size and types. Each band saw blade varies in the number of points (teeth) per inch, the gauge (thickness) of the blade, and its width.

The common rule of thumb for band saw blades: the narrower the blade, the tighter the curve it will cut.

Here are four of the most common types of band saw blades:

  1. Hook tooth blades have wide set teeth and are more closely spaced. Use them to cut hardwoods, harder non-ferrous metals, and also plastics.
  2. Skip tooth blades have widely spaced teeth that offer optimal chip clearance. They have deep gullets. They can cut woods, softer metals, and soft, non-ferrous metals like aluminum.
  3. Wavy and raker-set tooth blades are most often utilized when cutting ferrous metal.
  4. Blades without teeth are used to cut more fragile pieces such as ceramics, certain plastics, and for very smooth cuts in other materials. The cutting edge on toothless blades consists of a surface that has tungsten carbide chips bonded to the teeth.

Types of Band Saw

There is a type of band saw for any task or material you want to work on.

Here are some types you will encounter in workshops, hardware stores and online marketplaces:

Metal Band Saw

Band saws for metal cutting have specifically-designed blades to cut metal better while mitigating waste and allowing for better control.

Wood Band Saw

Band saws are typically designed for wood cutting. You can find many band saw blades that cater to different woods.

Vertical Band Saw

Its name comes from its vertical cutting position, typically driven by an electric motor through a belt transmission.

They are very versatile, great for cutting tasks from simple stock piece cutting to contours, filing, and polishing.

Horizontal Band Saw

This is a floor-mounted machine that makes basic cuts on solid steel, tubing, and irregular pieces. Its name comes from its blade’s horizontal cutting position - cutting down into the workpiece. The material being cut is mounted in a vise attached to the bed of the machine.

Workers mostly use them to cut pieces at right angles or miter angles.

Floor standing band saw

Most pro-grade band saws are large floor standing saws. They are very powerful, spacious, and high-cutting saws.

They are great because they have larger workspace, table size, and positioning. This makes intricate cutting and ripping large piece much easier than with smaller models. But they are not for the diyer or homeowner because they are most expensive type of band saw.

Benchtop band saw

If you want the efficiency of floor standing band saws but at a diyer-friendly price, get a benchtop band saw. They are mobile versions of floor standing models.

Benchtop band saws work as powerful and versatile as floor standing models, but do not take as much space as the latter.

Portable/handheld band saw

Portable and handheld band saws are similar in size to a handheld circular saw. They can cut only small pieces which makes them great for trimming excess from work pieces.

They are mostly favored by plumbers to trim pipes, either metal or plastic.

Meat band saw

Meat band saws are named after the only thing they can cut – meat. Butchers use them to cut and trim down large pieces of meat.

They cut through bone, flesh, and fat, with minimal waste. If you like to hunt or cut meat before a long meal prep, you can get an affordable meat band saw.

How To Use A Band Saw Efficiently

You can use a band saw for many tasks, including:

  • Woodworking - crosscuts, miter cuts, straight cuts, and any range of freehand cuts with a wood piece.
  • Ripping lumber – its original purpose in the 1800s. Band saws can cut down large pieces of lumber along the grain. Take a large, unworkable piece, and systematically cut it down into several functional pieces using a band saw.
  • Metal Cutting – you can cut metal tubing, sheets, and planks.

Here are some tips on how to use a band saw efficiently on a few tasks:


  1. To resaw (cut a large piece of wood into a thinner, smaller piece), lower the foot of the saw to the corresponding height of the work piece.
  2. Start the blade, and feed the work piece directly into the blade, giving the wood a little pressure with your hands.
  3. Protect your fingers by using a push-stick to send the wood through the blade.

Cut an Arch or Circle

  1. Adjust the foot of the band saw to the height of the work piece.
  2. Cut small pieces from the wood surrounding the circumference of the circle.

Cut Pieces Simultaneously

  1. Stack the pieces together and secure the stack with masking tape.
  2. Adjust the band saw's foot to the appropriate height.
  3. Feed the stack of wood through the blade just as you would a single piece.

Make Straight Cuts

  1. Tune the guide on the band saw by loosening its Allen screw. Place a small piece of an index card between the guide and the blade.
  2. Tighten the Allen screw until the index card is held tight between the guide and the blade, then remove the card.
  3. Lubricate the table with lubricating oil to make sure wood glides smoothly across the blade.

How To Maintain A Band Saw

As with any tool, long-lasting efficiency is only possible with regular upkeep. That means cleaning and storing your band saw safely.

  1. Start by locking the band saw’s knob in the off position, and then unplug the machine from the power source. If you have one, use your blower or air compressor to blow any sawdust and other debris away from the band saw.
  2. Remove rust, dirt, and carbon dust. Take a piece of steel wool and dip it into liquid rust remover, then rub the steel wool on the top of the table to loosen and scrub away the rust.
  3. wipe any dirt and carbon dust off the table using a clean towel with any solvent. Then apply a small amount of car wax onto the surface.
  4. While wearing gloves, remove the blade from the band saw. Using liquid rust remover, thoroughly clean the blade with either steel wool or a wire brush.
  5. While the blade is still removed, clean any areas that hold the blade, such as the wheels and the pitch of the band saw. Once that’s done, spray resin remover on them and clean with a wire brush.
  6. Store your band saw in its accompanying case or a spacious enough bag for it to be safely put until your next use.


A band saw is one of the most worthwhile tools to get for your woodworking, crafting, or building business. With one in your hand, you can cut many different materials from wood to meat. It works fast and efficiently and can be your heavy-duty work partner.

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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