If you are a woodworker, you cannot work without a band saw machine. This should be the first machine that should go into your woodshop. It is versatile and it is very important in expanding your range.
There are a couple of things that you have to take into consideration before you decide to use a band saw since it can be a very dangerous tool.
• Go through the manual very carefully
• Be sure that you understand fully the instructions before you use the machine
• Before you use it you have to learn the applications and also the limitations
• You have to reduce vibration, so it is advised to anchor the band saw either on the floor or on a workbench
How to set up a band saw
You must have a flat and level table for your band saw; it also has to be square to the blade. You should use an accurate square if you want to check this. You can also adjust the table if it is not 90 degrees. You can use the trunnions, which are located under the table. You can release them and they can move the table to any angle that you need. Under the table there is also a bolt with a lock nut and it will help you keep the table square simply by adjusting the bolt. There is also a bolt on the column table that screw into the end of the slot, which has to be removed to change the blades. Once this bolt is replaced, it can be used to level the table.
Another thing that is important here is the table insert which needs to be lower at the front but higher at the end. You can use thin ply for the insert, which is very easy to replace and it will not damage the blade at all.
How to set up the bottom guides
Most of the saws have bottom guides, which can be fixed to the main frame but they can be adjusted at any time. If you want your saw to run correctly then you need to adjust the bottom guides. They can be fitted on a shaft and if you want, you can remove it from the saw itself. If you want to do this you have to turn the guide over and this way the side guide rollers will be at the top very close to the top guide rollers. When you reduce the distance between the rollers you are increasing the beam support. To adjust the side roller clearance with the blade a paper can be used. This can be time-consuming but once you master it, it can be worth it and you will get the best results.
How to set up the blades
Choosing the right blades can be nerve wrecking. After a while you will end up with a range of blades. Larger blades are used for large and also for deep cuts and smaller blades are used for fine cutting and for making curves. You have to be extra careful when setting up the blade. You can adjust the top wheel to allow the blade to center on the wheel. After this adjustment is done you have to try a couple of times to see if you are satisfied with the band saw performance before you start working.
There are some saws that have tension scales, but they are not very accurate so you better use them for work that is up to 50mm thick.
What can you do with a band saw machine?
1. Re-sawing – You can saw a board along its width so you can produce two pieces with inner faces. You can use this process for many purposes such as making thinner pieces or to make a box in which the figures run continuously.
2. You can reset the edge of the board – you can re-cut the edge rather than leave it the way it comes from the mill.
3. You can reset the face of the board – here you are maximizing the effects of the grain and the figure. For instance, table legs usually look better when they are curved and with the annual ring pattern is oriented at somewhere around 45 degrees. This way you are producing similar figures on four faces.
4. You can make veneer – If you are opened to new design possibilities then you should work with thick veneer. You can saw a board in couple of thin slices and later they can be used as matched sets. This will add refined look to your work.
5. You can make bent laminations – This is yet another technique that can expand your possibilities in designing new things. Bent laminates are sawed from a thick board.
6. You can process small logs – You can also use your band saw to process small logs, like the ones that come from your backyard.
You have to bear 2 things in mind when you decide to use a band saw. Firstly, even before you start cutting, the machine must be running at full speed. Secondly, you must protect your fingers and in order to do that you must use a pushing stick. You must have the band saw tensioned to the tension you need for a given cut. You should always draw a line on the wood where you want to cut it. You should also give some extra space for the saw blade and also in case you make some mistake while working. When you start the cut you should keep a slow and steady pace. If you cut too fast sawdust is created which can push the blade and instead of a straight cut you will end up with a wavy cut. Mind you fingers once you reach the last few inches. You can pause and instead of pushing the board now, you can pull it. You can have a perfectly flat wood if you run it again over the jointer or planer. To make you safe while working with a band saw, refer safety tips.