Woodworking Bandsaw: Let’s Cut Some Curves

What’s A Bandsaw Used For?

The main thing that a bandsaw can do that a table saw and a circular saw can’t do is cut tight curves and irregular shapes. I can also cut almost near perfect circles, you can’t do that with a table saw. It can also be used for turning thick slabs of lumber into more manageable and thinner cuts of wood for projects. Wood workers like this power tool for turning scrap lumber back into useful pieces of wood so hold onto it.

Woodworkers who are in the business of making furniture will more than likely have a bandsaw in there workshop. It’s a very valuable tool for cutting out cabriole legs for wood tables and chairs. The cabriole leg has two different curves and the bandsaw makes easy work in the design of these types of legs while at the same time leaving behind a smooth cut that won’t take a lot of sanding.

The bandsaw is good for crosscutting short pieces of wood. If your thing is woodturning, the bandsaw works great for sawing off the corners of wood bowl blanks and spindles. The benefit of doing this before mounting the spindle or bowl blank on the wood lathe is it will save on having to sharpen your spindle and bowl gouges if you have the traditional style of turning tools. The same goes for carbide turning tools too.

Is the bandsaw just used for cutting wood? Nope, you can use it for cutting other materials like metal. You just have to make sure that the bandsaw has a metal cutting blade on it.

What To Look For In A Band Saw

Well to answer that question you need to figure out what you have room for. Does your workshop have the room for a floor model band saw? If not then the bench top style may be the way to go if you don’t have enough room. It’s a good thing that they come in different sizes to accommodate your needs and of the wallet. The bench top saw is a great choice if your limited on space.

They are easy to move if needed due to the small size. However since they don’t weigh as much as floor models, they do need to be bolted down to the end of a work bench to prevent movement when sawing. Better yet build a stand with wheels and mount it on that for easier portability. Keep in mind that these smaller saws are only good for well, small projects. Jewelry boxes and small children toys come to mind. However they don’t have the capacity to saw down wider ranges of lumber but they are more economical.

Personally I like the 14″ floor model, I like having the extra weight that comes with it, extra weight amounts to stability. This type also comes with a larger work table which also adds stability when cutting down larger slabs of wood such as logs. You can make small to medium sized things with this. If you plan on making different wooden projects this is the way to go. Try to see your future path and if you can afford it always go just a little bigger but not too big.

What Is The Throat Of A Bandsaw

The throat of the saw is defined by the measurement from the saw blade to to the inner edge of the vertical beam or column as some call it. For instance if you have one of those smaller bench top saws that’s a ten inch the largest width of wood that you’ll ever be able to cut is just shy of ten inches. I would say nine and seven eighths would be maximum to ensure you have sufficient clearance to cut without the work piece getting bound up.

Some manufactures of band saws determine the size by the diameter of the wheels that the saw blade rides on. The wheels are located inside inside of the safety and normally there is two wheel. In short the diameter of the saw wheels and the depth of the throat mean the same thing.

Resaw Capacity

The resaw capacity is the distance from the top of the band saw table to the bottom of the upper blade guide when it’s raised to it maximum height. The problem with finding out what the resaw capacity is for a bandsaw varies quit a bit from one brand to another. So if you’re in the market to buy this saw be warned that no two saws are alike. Do the research and ask questions before buying.

Resaw Blocks

If by some chance that you buy a band saw that doesn’t have the height capacity you were looking for, you can purchase what’s called a riser block. Buying a riser block is a lot cheaper than upgrading to larger bandsaw and it doesn’t take very much effort on your part to install one.

This option does have a few draw backs though. The first being is when you increase the resaw capacity the upper blade guard needs to be replaced with one that is longer than the original. The blade guards are extremely important especially the upper one The upper one when adjusted correctly will stabilize the blade when you resaw.

The other downfall of riser blocks is that when installed you’ll find out that all of your original band saw blades will no longer work. It pays to try and think ahead of what are the largest projects that you’ll ever want to do and adjust accordingly. Me personally I like to go a little bigger if I can afford to. You never know what the future may hold.

Basic Operations Of The Bandsaw

The basic operations of the saw are pretty easy to learn. There are just a couple things to keep in mind before operating and during operation. The easiest thing that you should do for yourself is inspect the bandsaw blade every now and then for sharpness and pitch buildup. A clue that a blade might be dull is when your cutting and you see or smell smoke, that’s an indication that it’s time to change the blade.

it’s important to remember when cutting wood with the bandsaw that it doesn’t zip through wood very fast like the circular and table saws. You have slow down when you push the wood through the blade. If the blade acts likes it fighting to get through the wood and you know that the blade is sharp, that’s probably a clue that you need to slow down a little bit. You’ll find that if done correctly that the cut will be pretty smooth compared to a table saw cut.

When cutting keep in mind that it’s standard practice when cutting with your line to cut on the scrap side of the wood. Funny thing about woodworking is some mistakes can’t be fixed.

Bandsaw VS. Table Saw

There has been some questions about which saw to buy. Well there’s no easy answer for this question because they both excel at different things where woodworking is concerned. The bandsaw does a really good job when something needs to be notched because of the straight up and down position of the blade, it won’t leave an over cut. When cutting curves there is no better tool except maybe the scroll saw. The bandsaw is the go to tool for furniture and cabinet makers because of the precision and versatility of the saw.

The table saw excels at ripping and crosscutting large pieces of wood like plywood and it does it pretty quickly. However it leaves behind a rough cut when done. It can’t cut round corners like the bandsaw can. I can notch out corners of wood with the table saw but it leaves a nasty over cut that has somehow be hidden. Resawing lumber is a problem for the table saw because the blade won’t raise up high enough to cut through taller slabs of wood.

Band Saw Blades

Alright, some things to note about the bandsaw blade itself. For one the the blade always travels in a downward motion when cutting through wood. You’ll notice when cutting how little vibration you have compared to other saws.That’s because the downward motion of the band saw pins it down on the work table of the saw. This is a benefit because it gives the saw more stability and eliminates kickback. Since cutting downward you’ll also notice that sawdust will stay below the work piece which makes following your marked line a lot easier to follow.

Why is the bandsaw called a bandsaw? It’s because the saw blade doesn’t have a beginning or an end. I’ts one continuous loop that rides on two tires with a rubber coating that keeps the blade in place. The different sizes of the band saw blades is what makes this saw so versatile. They come in a range of sizes from 1/8 of an inch wide which is the smallest one that’s made. The largest band saw blade that you’ll ever need for medium to small band saw projects is a 3/4 inch wide.

The thing with the blades is you have to make sure that you buy the right size blade for the saw that you have. If you don’t know then you need to look at the manual that came with the saw. The next thing to focus on is buying the right width of band saw blade for the project that you’ll be working on. Down below I have provided a table that can help in choosing the blade that you’ll use.

Band Saw Sizes And Radius

Blade WidthCut Radius
1/8″    3/16″
3/16″    5/16″
 1/4″     5/8″
  3/8″              1-7/16″
 1/2″               2-5/8″
   5/8″              4″
    3/4″        5-1/2″

7 Band Saw Projects

There are many band saw projects out there that can be made ranging from easy to hard and anywhere in between. Some of the easiest projects for a beginner to make are what’s known as band saw boxes and jewelry boxes. These boxes range in all kinds of sizes and shapes. Maybe you’ll want to try your hand at making some nice wood furniture or tables that have really nice cabriole legs. Of course I wouldn’t attempt this until you have some experience built up.

Another easy project that a beginner can work on is address signs for a house. These backing can be made out of a plank from a wood pallet. Here’s the catch, instead of going down to the lumber yard and buying the numbers, why not buy a really nice plank from the lumber yard and tracing out your own house numbers and cutting them out with the band saw?

Something that we don’t see much of anymore are round wood picture frames. Sure anybody can make a square one but a round one? It’s one of those intermediate band saw projects that’s fun to do. You can also carve out simple children’s toys like airplanes or animal figures.