Making a curve cut is very easy when you have a bandsaw and anyone can do it. But not many people know the advanced tips and tricks that would make your bandsaw a super machine. I have been in the bandsaw business for decades. I have spent my whole adult life finding the perfect cut or educating people about the different utility of the bandsaw or saw in general.
In this article, I’m going to tell you how to use a bandsaw smartly. My tips and tricks will help you to get a better outcome when you would be cutting wood. These tips are results of my years of experience and these are also approved by my other experienced friends.
So, what are we waiting for? Let's get deep into it.
- What is the differentiating factor?
- 14 Tips to smartly use your Bandsaw
- Tip 1: Cutting the Outside Edge of the Line
- Tip 2: Cut Nonferrous Metals
- Tip 3: Instant Zero Clearance
- Tip 4: Make Relief Cuts
- Tip 5: $1 Blade Guide Setup
- Tip 6: Immediately Replace a Dull Blade
- Tip 7: Release the Tension
- Tip 8: Upgrade the Blade
- Tip 9: Switch to Cool Blocks
- Tip 10: It's All in the Wrist
- Tip 11: Start at the Shallow Angle
- Tip 12: Round the Blade to Improve Performance
- Tip 13: Install a Bigger Table
- Tip 14: Set the Guides Close to the Wood
What is the differentiating factor?
There are different types of band saws available in the market which also comes in different sizes and price ranges but they more or less do the same job and are the same instrument. A saw with teeth which goes through a table and rotates on 2 wheels. Bearings and guides are located below and above the blade and hold that in a state as the cutting in progress. What you do is place the board simply on the table and then push it through the blade.
Usually the beginner level benchtop saw provides mobility over cutting strength. They have the top most cutting width and height. The more lightweight the construction is the more vibration there is like to be.
If you want to cut thick wood it can sometimes push them behind their limits. But in general, it is okay. The 9- and 10-inches saws are made to do the light works. They would work just fine as long as you do not push so much into it. And of course, the price is unbeatable.
The 14 inches band saws are commonly used for heavy-duty construction. They usually have iron-cast components, super blade guides and induction motors and so on. They also have a greater span of blade choices. Combining all these features you get a top-notch bandsaw with super blades and super cutting capabilities.
However, the question arises? Is it worth the price to have a massive joint! The answer is simple, if you consider yourself an avid worker, it would serve you more in the long term.
14 Tips to smartly use your Bandsaw
Tip 1: Cutting the Outside Edge of the Line
First of all, let’s consider cutting on to the outside edge of the line. In general, the bansaws leave marks on the wood, therefore it is a good idea to have extra space for getting smoothing at the edge. When you cut the outside edge of the line, it would minimize the degree of elements you need to remove.
Nevertheless, you need practice in order to accurately follow the border of a line. Things can get worse if you are dealing with a curved line. Therefore, master the skill first and it is advisable that you keep a bit of the wood. One important thing to remember here is that your bandsaw’s best pal is an oscillating spindle sander.
Tip 2: Cut Nonferrous Metals
Secondly, let's discuss how to cut nonferrous metals. If you want to cut thin-walled brass, copper or aluminum you should have a blade which has a lot of teeth. One important thing to remember here is that you need to make sure that the teeth are hardened. In case you don’t have one, you would go through the risk of having a dull blade quickly.
Tip 3: Instant Zero Clearance
The third thing we are going to discuss is about quick zero clearance. Sometimes it gets really annoying because of the delays which are caused by offcuts becoming jammed beside the blade in the throat plates of the saw. What you need to do to avoid this hassle is simple: cut a kerf from a cereal box and then just tape it to the table.
Tip 4: Make Relief Cuts
Since we know about quick zero clearance let's talk about how to make relief cuts. It can be really easy to cut a contoured profile if you cut the line along the curve first and then the transition points.
After that, when you saw the profile, the waste would fall away whenever one reaches one of the relief cuts. This process usually frees the blade and then continues to effectively reduce each contour to a series of short handleably cuts.
Tip 5: $1 Blade Guide Setup
The one-dollar blade guide setup is one of the best tips I have in my bucket. Use a dollar or a piece of paper as a spacer in order to suitably set up a saw that is equipped with thrust bearings and blade guides.
In order to mitigate friction and save it from overheating those metal elements should be positioned slightly away from the blade. You can detach the blade guard in order to keep the process simple and easy. At the offset, set the blade guide approximately ¼ in. which is above the stock height you are going to cut. After that, fold the one-dollar bill into four thicknesses.
Once it is done, position the bearing behind the blade. Following step would be to bring the assembly forward till the fronts are rested. Last but not least, you can make use of the unfolded dollar to set the guides on to the two sides. Keep doing the same process again in order for positioning the thrust bearing and lower guides.
Tip 6: Immediately Replace a Dull Blade
Now that you know the one-dollar bill trick, let’s move into how you can immediately replace a dull blade. This an essential task. When you see that the feed rate is slowing, hindrance in following a line and sign of burning you got yourself a dull blade.
Perseverance is not the answer in this situation, you need to immediately change the blade. You should toss the blade before you check it. Sometimes it might happen that the blade is just dirty. In a case like that all you need to do is give it a thorough cleaning. Use a high-quality blade cleaner.
Tip 7: Release the Tension
Our seventh tip would be about releasing the blade tension. By releasing the tension of the blade, the life of the blade can be extended if your saw is sitting idle for a while. The time period can be more than three days.
There are some bandsaws which have a quick release system. If you are lucky enough to have one of those you are good to go. But if you do not have one rotate the tension knob ⅔ times and you also should be good to go.
If you keep the tension for a longer period of time, it would give it a metal fatigue, a state where the blade might break prematurely and cause tracking problems.
Tip 8: Upgrade the Blade
Our next tip is about upgrading the blade. I would recommend that you replace the blade which comes with your bandsaw. If you just simply change the blade it would increase the performance of your blade manifold.
I would recommend buying a blade which has hard teeth which are cut. It is true that a blade of that caliber is costly but it would pay you more in the long term and in terms of performance.
Besides the quality of the blade there are two things that you should consider when purchasing a new blade.
- Width: The wider that blade the better it is for the thick wood and straight cut. Usually the wider blades wander very less compared to a narrow blade. However, if you want to have curve cuts the narrow blades are more desirable then. The narrow the blade the tight it can turn. Usually a narrow blade would give you a 3/16 in. cut, which is a very small radius.
- TPI or Teeth per inch: The lower the TPI the better it is for cutting a thick stock. On the other hand, if your blade has a high TPI it would give you a smooth surface. However, the cut would be slow.
Even though the narrow and wide blade are essential and functional, but for the midsize blades you would get the best deal. The midsize blades range from ⅜ in. to ¼ in. wide. They can give you both curves and straight cuts.
If you install those blades it would give you the flexibility of not changing the blade frequently. It should be also good enough for a typical wood cutter. However, if your bandsaw goes through a heavy use quotidianly then you can think otherwise. If you opt to cut a thick board into thin boards, purchase a resaw blade.
A resaw blade is specifically designed for that. It would also save the blade from devastating twisting. A resaw blade can also cut aggressively because of its spaced teeth.
Tip 9: Switch to Cool Blocks
Let us now talk about switching to cool blocks. “Square steel blocks” -These can be sometimes responsible for making the blade overheat. They can also dull your blade quickly. If possible, replace those with Olson Cool Blocks.
These have self-lubricating technology which would prevent overheating. At the same time, these are very soft and as a result it won’t damage the teeth of the blade.
Tip 10: It's All in the Wrist
Everything about the wrist: Here you will find the easiest way to coil a blade. The only thing you need to do is rotate your wrist at 360 degrees and then
- Use one of your hands to hold the blade with your palm facing out and the teeth facing away. It is recommended that you wear gloves.
- Then stabilize the blade with your foot
- Put a wood block below the blade
- Then compress the blade into an oval
- After that, slowly rotate your wrist so that the blade begins to coil.
- Keep doing the same thing till your palm faces out.
- In order to capture the coiled blade, use your free hands.
Tip 11: Start at the Shallow Angle
Let's now talk about how to start at the shallow angle. At the shallowest angle strat a contoured cut. If you are cutting in the opposite direction it can give you a ragged edge. If your angles are shallow at either side. start at one end and cut to the middle and do the same for the other side.
Tip 12: Round the Blade to Improve Performance
The next tip is rounding the blade for improving the performance. Cutting tight curves, reducing the blade vibration and increasing the blade life by turning the blade with a blade finishing stone. You can start by detaching the back corners, then rounding the back. It might take about 5 minutes.
Tip 13: Install a Bigger Table
Now let’s talk about installing a bigger blade. Sometimes it becomes evident and necessary to use a bigger blade. In that case, purchase a blade that suits your needs and use these tips to change the blade.
Tip 14: Set the Guides Close to the Wood
Last but not least, setting the guides in order to close to the wood. There are many benefits of doing so. First of all, it positions the upper blade closely to the lower blade and you get the best result. Secondly, it is safer because it is less exposed.
So, there you go! Our 14 tips and tricks to use your Bandsaw effectively.