Band Saws Buying Guide
There is no tool mightier or more important to the craftsman than the band saw. Think of the band saw as the lion of the carpentry forest. It's big like a lion, roars like one, and it can rip up pieces of stock like you wouldn't believe. Band saws do a lot more than just cut curves.
- Type: All band saws are variations of the two main types: the floor standing model and the smaller bench mounted band saw. Professional craftsmen favour the standing cabinet models because they have more extensive features, larger motors, and stronger frames than the smaller bench mounted units, but that is not to say the smaller units cannot produce professional results--most work-from-home craftsmen use this latter model with great effect.
- Blades :
- Blade Type:The type of blade that you use should correspond to the job upon which you are working. The regular tooth blade has finer tooth pitches for smoother cuts in all woods, but it is not for re-sawing. The hook tooth blade (with 10° rake angle) is best for thick, hard, or difficult to cut woods. The skip tooth (0° rake angle) blade is an all purpose blade that is the best choice for softer woods and re-sawing.
- Blade Depth: The depth of cut is the distance from the table to the upper blade of a saw, and this characteristic determines the thickness through which a blade can cut. Most blades cut only through the depth with which the saws are marketed, but there are risers that can be bought to extend the depth of certain blades.
- Throat: The throat is the distance from the blade to the vertical frame section of the body of the saw, and this feature determines the width of the cut. The throat on a free-standing cabinet band saw is usually more than the bench-top models.
- Blade Size:
|Blade Width||0.3 cm.|| 0.5 cm.|| 0.6 cm.||1 cm.||1.3 cm.||1.9 cm.||2.5 cm.|
|Cut Radius||0.5 cm.|| 0.8 cm.||1.6 cm.||3.8 cm.||6.4 cm.||14 cm.||17.8 cm.|
- Motors : Most bench models use a 3/4 to 1 horsepower motor, whereas professional models will have larger motors with variable speeds. Speed variation won't be a big issue for woodworkers, but for those who will be working with metals and plastics--metals and plastics require varied speeds for cutting.
- Tables : Every band saw should have a cast-iron, steel or aluminium alloy table which tilts up to 45-degrees for angled cuts. The table will typically be about 16-inches in both width and length, equipped with a miter track.
- Band Wheels: Look for band wheels that have tyres with cleaning brushes for easy upkeep.
- Dust Ports : Look for a unit with a built-in dust collection port to connect your shop vacuum.
- Rip Fences and Mitre Gauges : These two add-ons will prove very useful when ripping, re-sawing and cross cutting.
Setting Up a Band Saw
Before setting up your band saw, read the instructions--which will include information on setting the blade tension and adjusting the blade guides, thrust bearing and side bearings--thoroughly. Neglecting these important steps will decrease the performance of the saw and make blades much more likely to break. The instruction manual is your guide for how to use a band saw properly; it will help you with set-up, technique, safety, and all the uses of your band saw.
Tuning a Band Saw
- First thing to do before installing and centring a new blade is to unplug the band saw.
- After the band saw is unplugged, adjust the top wheel so that the blade is centred on the wheels.
- Check the tension. There should be enough tension to prevent the wheels from slipping, but not enough to stretch the blades--the wider the blade, the more tension you should apply. Inadequate tension will lead to offset cutting, so increase a little at a time until the cut is straight and controlled.
- Set guide blocks to miss the teeth but support the rest of the blade.
- Wrap a single layer of #24 paper around the blade to set the side clearance.
- Set the back up roller so that it supports the blade when cutting, and does not loll when the blade is idling.
- With the blade running, hold a sharpening stone against its back corners to round them off--this will allow you to cut sharper corners with less binding.
- Make sure the table is set square to blade, and the fence is set to the straight edge of the plywood.
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