The best band saw has well and truly evolved over the years, rightfully earning the description “power tool”. Now, it is not only used in woodworking, but is also an essential tool in metalworking and in cutting a wide variety of materials that could not be cut by other, lesser, tools.
Many are daunted by the idea of having to work using a band saw, because they see it as something that is complex and requires special knowledge. To a certain extent, they are right. However, learning how to use a band saw is something that anyone and everyone can do, provided that they are determined and dedicated enough to learn how.
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Step One: Get To Know The Band Saw
Before one can fully appreciate the benefits of using a band saw and take advantage of those benefits, it is important to first get to know this power tool. You must first understand how it works.
In the past, the band saw is often overlooked in favor of other power tools. But if you ask the experts, they would recommend the band saw to be one of the first tools that should be procured.
Familiarize yourself with the band saw and its components. Knowing what each part does will help you understand how it works, so you can use it properly.
Step Two: Set Up The Band Saw Properly
To achieve those flawless cuts using your band saw, it must be properly set up.
- Set up the band saw and the band saw table at a comfortable height, ideally above the height of the user’s waist in the case of bench-top and table-top band saws. Most band saws come with fasteners to lock them into place; use them correctly.
- The band saw blade must be installed correctly. See to it that the blade has the proper tension. If it doesn’t, adjust accordingly. The adjustments may be made using a tension adjustment screw or knob, depending on the design and make of the band saw.
- Set the band saw blade tracking and make the required adjustments for the blade guide and the back bearing. The guide bearings must also be set in order for you to be able to have full control of the movement of the blade in any direction, whether it is in a straight motion, from side to side, or forward-backward motion. The blade guide, on the other hand, should be positioned close to the surface of the wood or material that you will be cutting. But be careful that it is not too close, since it may lead to binding or jamming. Use your judgment wisely.
- Adjust the height of the blade guard so that it freely moves up and down in a way that still covers or exposes the length of the blade – as the case may be – in accordance with the thickness of the wood or some other material that will be cut. Once you have made the adjustments, lock it down.
When it comes to setting up your band saw, your best bet would still be reading all the manufacturer’s instructions that come with the band saw upon purchase. Do not forget that not all models are the same, and manufacturers may have incorporated designs or components that are unique to their own model of band saw.
Step Three: Start Cutting
Of course, before cutting, you should already know what type of cut you will be doing, as well as the exact type of blade that you are going to attach to the saw. Remember that a band saw is designed to be able to make several cuts, whether it is straightforward ripping of the material or resawing, or even making curved cuts.
- First, lay out the material that you will be cutting and mark out the area that will be cut. Make clear, identifiable lines using a pen or a marker. Your choice of a marking tool will depend on the material, of course. A lead pencil will not be visible on metal, while using a thick marker on wood would be too much.
- Turn on the saw, but give it time to gain speed. Consider this a warm-up for your saw before you set it to the material and start cutting. See to it that the saw is stable – no wobbling anywhere. If there is noticeable instability, turn it off to make the proper adjustments.
- Once the saw has come to speed, carefully feed the stock or the material to be cut, making sure that the blade will follow the lines you have marked earlier.
- Start cutting!
Step Four: Handle it with Care
Safety must always be a priority when working with power tools, and you have probably experienced getting cuts and other similar injuries while working with some of them. Fortunately, most band saws these days are equipped with safety features that keep these incidents to a minimum.
While shopping for a band saw, one of your considerations are the safety features. By the time you are ready to start work, you already ought to know what these features are and how to use them. Again, read the manufacturer’s instructions regarding these features to be in the know.
Most safety features of band saws are not designed solely to protect users from injuries; they are also there in order to keep your band saw in good working condition and make it last longer. As a matter of fact, a lot of the tips for maintaining a band saw pertain to some of these safety features.
Turn the saw off when you are done using it. It is not enough to just turn it off, however. It would be better to unplug it completely so as to avoid turning it on when the switch is accidentally bumped against.
Many are inclined to turn their band saws into workhorses, and there is nothing wrong with that, especially if you have a lot of projects to work on and you rely greatly on this power tool. However, you must also return the favor by using it properly. It is not enough that you are taking full advantage of the many key features of the best band saw. It is also important that you use it correctly and with a lot of care and caution.