The usefulness of a band saw is that it can cut a variety of different materials. Also, it can make a variety of different cuts. But like any other saw, this saw also needs to be approached with caution. All the safety measures should be taken into consideration. Throughout the article, we are going to keep our main focus on using the band saw and keeping yourself safe too.
Knowing the Saw
Before using any saw, it is of course necessary to know its parts and how it functions. So in this point, you will learn about the basic parts of the band saw and how they operate.
Frame: It is not any fancy part. It is only the structure that supports all other components of the saw. It also acts as a protective layer to some parts.
Blade: This saw generally uses a blade of large band. It revolves around the two wheels (upper and lower). In this way of revolving, it cuts the material.
Blade Guard: It is obvious from the name, isn’t it? The blade guard covers the blade and hence protects your hands against the blade itself. This is an important part that contributes to your safety. Keep in mind that this blade guard covers that part of the blade which you are not using. So, it means that it covers the unused part of the blade.
Rear Blade Guard: This part is also like the blade guard. But it is not a part of the blade guard. It covers the rear part of the blade, that’s all.
Table: The saw of course has the table (this part might have caught your eye). The table is important in supporting the material you are going to cut. You cannot hold the material in the air and cut it. That is way too dangerous and doesn’t make sense either. Hence, the manufacturers provide the table.
Upper Wheel: It is one of the two wheels present in the saw. Both are very important parts. The upper wheel is an adjustable wheel and it allows you to control tension. In addition to controlling tension, it tracks the blade. And also, the upper wheel blade protects the operator of the blade.
Lower Wheel: The lower wheel is another important part of your saw. It helps to power the wheels. How does it do that? It connects to the motor and does so by a system of pulley. In such way, it powers the wheels and contributes significantly too.
Lower Wheel Cover: When working with this saw or any other saw, there is always the risk that the blade might come off. If this happens with this saw, then the lower wheel cover helps to protect you. So, it is a pretty handy part of the saw. We are learning how to use a band saw SAFELY after all, right?
Fence: It comes in handy when you are making rip cuts. It allows you to set the distance. With the distance setting done right, you can achieve better rip cuts.
Guide Post: The guide post is a part that is needed pretty much all the time. It is there to allow you to raise and lower the blade guide.
These are some of the important parts of the saw that you need to know. Likewise, there are also other parts like blade guides, tires, etc. User’s manual is a pretty helpful source for learning these things.
Resaw with Your Band Saw
Generally, with any piece of board of wood, there are three cut methods. The rip cut, cross cut and resaw cut. The three differ from each other. And all three are used for different work that the user needs to be fulfilled. Among the three, the resaw cut is most uncommon. But it is a cut which a band saw can perform pretty well.
Cutting any board and splitting them into very thin pieces is known as resawing. Your band saw is one of the most capable machines for resawing. It is so capable that it can even resaw a large log.
Resawing can also be done with a table saw, and many people might suggest using the table saw. But it involves much risk to the user. That is why it is better to use the band saw in my opinion since the focus of the writing is about using the band saw safely.
It is noteworthy that you should use a wide blade when and if you are resawing.
You already should know that your band saw is good at making curve cuts. You do know that, don’t you? Well, if you did not know then now you know. When you are cutting a curve in a wood piece, sometimes the saw might bind. To prevent this binding of the saw, a relief cut is made to ensure your safety.
So the relief cut frees the blade and allows it to continue making curve cuts.
All about Blade
First and foremost, you need to keep in mind that the material you are going to cut determines the blade you will use. So, not all materials are going to be cut with only one same blade. You will need specific blades for specific materials. Therefore, be sure to check the blade and if it will cut your material.
For example, with your band saw you can cut metal. You should try to use a fine-toothed blade for cutting metal. Also, make sure that you harden the teeth of the blade. You do not want a dull blade for cutting a strong workpiece like metal, do you? It is dangerous for you and harmful for your saw too.
This is just a common mistake that so many people make. They do not change the blade of the saw. While some just forget to change, there are many who act lazy, to be honest. Sorry but that is the harsh truth for many people. If you want to be a proper DIY worker, you need to work hard my friend. So don’t be lazy and make sure you change your blade once in a while.
Next thing to discuss is the blade tension. The blade tension is too important to forget. Always set the right and appropriate tension height. The height will differ. It depends on the cut you are making and also the material you are cutting. When you are done with the cut and leave your saw for a while, you need to do something. If and when you are not working with your saw, it is important that you do not leave your blade tension high.
Now, how to raise and lower the blade tension? Well, it depends. Many saw will provide a quick mechanism to complete the task. And there are some that will need you to spend a little more time.
Again, remember to lower the tension when you are not working. Because if you do not, it might break the blade prematurely. Now, you do not want that to happen to your precious blade, do you?
Like any other saw blade, the TPI concept has an effect on the band saw blade too. Remember this basic concept? Fewer the teeth your blade has, the rougher the cut you are going to get. You will get a smoother cut with more TPI.
The blade guide contributes to getting a good cut. There are two guides that are present. Both help to keep the blade in its proper place. How do these two little guide help? It is simple. Just keep them closer to your blade, and you will see the result yourself!
Okay, that’s enough about blade stuff. Let’s move on to the next point.
Ready Your Workpiece
Sometimes you will have materials that are too big for your saw. You will need to cut those big materials and turn them into small pieces. If you do not do that then the material might get stuck in between your machine and its blade. And that is one dangerous situation that you do not wanna get into.
To prevent this from happening, it is most suitable to measure the material before placing it onto the saw. In this way, you will know whether the material is going to fit throughout the cut or not.
Adjust the Speed
As humans we are impatient. We want to get through things at a quick pace. But I am sorry to inform you that you cannot do that all the time. You need to have some patience in some specific work.
Now that your saw has this adjustable speed controller, you have more reason to be haste. But there are times where you need to lessen the speed. For example, it is okay if you go at a high speed when you are cutting soft materials like wood. But it is only going to be your loss if you decide to go that fast when you are cutting harder materials like metal.
If you go fast when cutting a hard material then you risk damaging your blade and ultimately your saw itself. So, adjust the right speed for different materials. Do not just go at one pace. And have some patience, will you!
Keep Yourself Safe
Well, I told you that our main focus is going to be on this point. More important than anything else is your safety. But before we go through the safety issues, why don’t I tell you a good story that occurred with me and my grandpa.
When we got our brand new band saw, my grandpa started to give us a proper idea about the machine. He just knew every tiny detail about any saw.
So finally we got to the cutting part. My grandpa picked up a small piece of wood to cut, to show us how it works. And so as he was cutting, I saw some chips on top of the table near the rolling blade. So, I tried to remove the chips and I successfully did so. But as soon as I did, my grandpa quickly turned the machine off and told me never to do that again. Why did he tell me that? I will tell you later in the safety points.
Your saw blade moves with rotational motion. It rotates at a good speed too. As it cuts wood or other material, there falls off little pieces of the material.
These can catch you. Your arm, face and other body parts could be in the line of fire. That is why it is absolutely necessary that you wear proper safety gear.
Safety glasses are a must. The eye is the softest part and at more danger than any other body parts. So get the glasses on before you start using the saw.
You can also wear a full helmet that also has a glass to cover your whole face. This will protect the eyes along with the whole face.
The arms are the closest to the blade and the chips that are flying all over. So, it is recommended that you wear a long sleeved shirt. But try not to wear one which is loose, but a skin fit shirt.
Although the noise is not that big of a deal with this saw, it is still better to wear some hearing protection. This will give you more comfort to work with the saw.
Blade guard height
Before even starting your saw, you will have to set the right height. Do not try to be smart and set the blade guard too high. You should know that the less part of the blade that is exposed, the better it is for you. You will have less blade exposed to cut yourself with, right?
Avoid silly mistakes
When you start your saw, wait until the blade reaches enough speed. If you start cutting instantly before the blade even gets going then you will put pressure on the motor. And if the material is too hard then it might cause serious damage to the blade.
Keep the material touched with the table. Do not even think of trying to cut while holding the material in the air. It is a must that the material should remain on the table during the whole cut.
Remember the story?
Yes the one with me and my grandpa. This next silly mistake that a lot of people (including me) make relates to that story. When cutting, there will obviously be some chips that will be scattered on top of the table. Some will try to remove these while they are cutting or using the saw. That’s the mistake. Never try to remove anything while the blade or saw is on. If you have to remove those chips then turn the saw off and then remove them.
Also, sometimes you might want to step away from the cut. If you do need to step away for some reason then just follow the same procedure. Turn the saw off and wait till the blade stops completely. That is how you stay safe using a band saw.
Keep it clean
It is necessary that you always clean up after finishing using the saw. There will be plenty of cleaning up to do by the way. So, do not be lazy.
A band saw is another versatile tool to have in your possession. You can make so many different cuts with it and also cut a variety of different materials. You can do all that and use a band saw safely by following the simple safety rules that we discussed in this article. Stay safe and have a blast with your saw!