When it comes to power saws, a band saw is one of the most popular in workplaces worldwide. This powerful cutter is mostly used in woodworking, metalworking and lumberyards. This is a versatile tool – able to cut straight lines, curves, irregular and curved shapes.
Once you equip it with the right blade, you can cut through a wide variety of materials from wood to metal to meat. They are very easy and efficient to use.
When it comes to band saws, the cutting capacity of your tool depends on the blades it will run with. Each blade type works for a specific cutting task and material to cut. But it can be overwhelming, given the sheer choice on the market for band saw blades.
The Rock Hard Toolz team presents you this comprehensive guide on the types of Band Saw Blades to help you choose blades and get started working with your band saw efficiently.
There is no one-size-fits-all for band saw blades. You need to choose your blade based on the material you will cut, the task and your skill level.
Band saw blades are available in different lengths and types. The types of blades vary in the blade tooth styles and the blade composition.
The standard band saw blade is the regular tooth blade. This works on general purpose cutting tasks. This blade is designed with straight faced teeth, evenly spaced, deep gullets, and zero rake angle.
This cuts accurately soft and thin materials such as softwood, thin sheets, wood, and metals. You can use this for contour cutting.
Skip tooth blades are designed with zero rake angle, widely spaced teeth and shallow gullets.
They can cut a wide variety of materials from wood to nonferrous metals and plastics. Use them for most woodworking applications.
While not as precise as regular tooth blades, they offer a faster, smooth cutting. They cut through large volumes of material without clogging.
Hook tooth blades are designed with deep gullets and large, widely spaced teeth. You can often find them with an undercut face with a positive 10° rake angle.
Use them for tough materials such as plastic, hardwood, cast iron and non-ferrous metals. They also make faster, more coarse and longer cuts. But they can’t make small, accurate cuts.
Variable tooth blades are also known as broach-tooth blades. They are very beneficial because they work with less vibrations. This means more longevity for the band saw, less noise pollution, and a better work finish.
Use this for resawing and woodworking.
Variable pitch blades have a group of different pitch throughout the length of the blade. For example, a 6-10 variable pitch blade will have 6TPI group followed by a 10TPI group of teeth.
Wavy tooth blades helps the band saw in cutting shapes. This works well for sawing thin sections of tubing, sheet stock, and many other materials.
Band saw blades also differ in composition and make. Each blade type is specifically designed for certain materials.
Here are the most common types of band saw blades by composition:
This is the most common and affordable band saw blades. Made from carbon steel, these blades can cut soft materials from wood to plastic. You can see them mostly in woodworking shops.
These band saw blades are composed of two different types of metals, commonly spring steel and HSS. They are flexible and hard enough to cut through tough materials.
They are mostly used to cut steel, cast iron, structural steels, channels, pipes, aluminum, brass, bronze, copper and other non-ferrous minerals.
These are more expensive than carbon steel blades. But they can increase blade life for longer and faster cutting.
This is more long-lasting than a bimetal blade. Use this for hard to cut materials like concrete.
These tungsten-tipped blades can cut abrasive materials.
This is one of the strongest blades in the market. You can use this to cut hard materials such as metal, metal, wood, brick, concrete, reinforced concrete, tiles, marble, porcelain, ceramic and glass.
Other band saw blade types include:
Pallet Dismantling Band Saw Blades: Cuts through nails without wear.
Meat Band Saw Blades: Cuts all types of meat, including frozen and animal carcasses.
Now that you know the basic types of band saw blades, let's proceed to the matter of how you choose your own blades for work.
Wherever you are in your skills in using a band saw, the choice of which band saw blades to get is a very complex and thoughtful process.
Here are some steps to follow in the process:
1. Check your band saw.
Read the manual of your band saw to find the necessary length, thickness and width of blade it can work with. The size of your saw’s wheels typically determines thickness and width: Smaller machines (9–12" wheels) need thinner and narrow (1⁄2" or less) blades to prevent breaking the welds. If you have a larger saw, you can equip it with thicker and wider blades.
The type of band saw you have will also dictate which blade you will cut. Metal band saws need blades that can cut metals. Meat band saws are exclusive to blades for meat.
2. Consider the material that you will work.
Choose your blade by how it can handle the material you will cut. It should be able to handle softness or hardness of the material. If you get a blade incompatible with the material, you risk broken blades, broken saw or accidental injuries.
Choose your band saw blade by its TPI (tooth per inch) as the tooth pitch will dictate what materials the blade can handle.
Coarse blades are 2-6 TPI and can handle soft materials. For example, green, undried wood need the widest 2-3 TPI skip-tooth blade that your band saw can take.
Fine blades are 10-24 TPI and can cut hard materials such as thin sheets and steel. For instance, carbide-tooth blades can handle dense, abrasive exotic woods.
3. Know exactly what cuts you want to do with the band saw.
After looking at the material you will work on, choose what cuts, patterns or designs you do with this. Each band saw blade offers specific styles of cuts. And the TPI of the blade will also determine the cuts it can make.
In practice, the more teeth per inch, the finer the cut will be; the fewer teeth per inch, the rougher the cut will be.
Here are some band saw blade types we recommend for common cutting styles you will do with a band saw:
Tight curves (less than 5⁄8 " radius) and delicate, thin materials: 1⁄8 " or 3⁄16 " 10–14-tpi standard-tooth blade.
Curves greater than 5⁄8 " radius: 1⁄4" 6-tpi standard- or skip-tooth blade.
General ripping and crosscutting: 1⁄2 " 3-tpi standard- or hook-tooth blade.
Resawing: widest 3 TPI skip- or variable-tooth blade
Cut-Off Sawing: Use the widest blade your saw will take. Wider the blade, the straighter the cut will be.
4. Evaluate your budget. After considering the material and types of cuts you will work on, think of how much you can spare to invest for your band saw blades. Get the band saw blades that you need for your specific tasks and do price comparisons. Read product reviews, especially on Amazon, to know what blades work for the workers in a similar situation as yours.
Once you have your band saw blades, remember to keep them in good condition regularly. Check your blades before and after every use. Rub them regularly with mineral oil.
A band saw is a versatile and powerful cutting tool. With this, you can work on many different tasks and cutting styles. But its efficiency mainly depends on the blade it cuts with. Choose to buy and stock your workshop with the blades that are compatible with your saw and will work for the materials you will regularly work on.
We hope this guide has helped you learn more about your band saw and the blades you will equip it with. Get inspired to work more efficiently with a band saw now!
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.