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Band Saw Basics

Updated on April 14, 2012

A band saw is one of the most used pieces of woodworking equipment for making intricate cuts and is often considered the ultimate woodworking tool for cutting curves. But a band saw can easily make straight cuts and rips as good as a table saw can as well as rip stock of much greater thicknesses and widths. No matter if you’re cutting curves or straight lines, owning and maintaining a quality band saw is crucial to the success of most of your woodworking projects. Use this guide to band saws and you’ll be certain to get the most out of one of the most used pieces of woodworking equipment in your shop.

  • While a band saw may be one of the safest tools in the woodworking shop, it can still be very dangerous if misused. Be sure to wear the proper eye and ear protection as well as tight fitting clothing.
  • Always be sure to check your band saw before making any cuts. Once the blade has been tightened to the appropriate tension, all pulleys have been checked and the blade is free and clear from obstructions, you can turn the machine on.
  • When starting your band saw, be sure it comes to up to full speed before cutting any stock to prevent undue stress to the blade.
  • Make certain your materials are always flat on the work table. Never attempt to cut any materials free hand.
  • Use the band saws rip fence to cut straight rips quickly and safely. With a set gauge, you can easily rip materials to a specific length as accurately and efficiently as a table saw.
  • Cutting curves in material is easy when you trace the pattern directly onto the stock. Cut almost to the line, leaving enough play in the cut line for sanding and shaping.
  • Tight curves can be tricky and may be best left up to a jig or scroll saw. If materials become jammed in a curve, grip the material tightly with one hand, then shut off the motor with the other. Never back a piece of material out of a band saw with the motor running
  • Relief cuts can help to make tight curves and corners. By removing waste materials first, then making the final cut, you can prevent the blade form binding and pinching during the cut.
  • If you need to cut small materials, it’s best to use a push stick or fence to hold materials in place. Never place your hands closer than three inches away from the blade.
  • Never push small materials out of the way until the motor has shut off. Instead push small scraps away with the next piece of material you’re going to cut.
  • To avoid saw blade cut burns on your materials, use a sharp blade free from pitch and resins that can slow down or clog the blade. Blade alignment can be another cause of wood burns and should be checked prior to cutting hard woods like oak or pine
  • Building or buying band saw woodworking jigs can really help to maximize the efficiency of your band saw allowing you to cut perfect circles, make tapered cuts and rip uneven stock.


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      Camero68 5 years ago

      Definitely a helpful guide to a newbie in woodworking like me. This power tool will be very helpful for my future projects. At least by learning this basic techniques, I will have a good start.