Band saws are indispensable tools for most woodworkers and DIYers, thanks to their versatility. These saws come in handy for cutting curves, re-sawing veneers, and even when you want to rough out turning blanks.
However, to make the best cuts or get the desired outcomes from your band saw, you need to ensure you use it correctly and know how to tackle typical challenges that may arise.
Here we provide a few handy band saw tips and tricks to help ensure you get the best from this versatile saw.
1. Loosen Band Saw Blade Tension
If you do not plan to use your band saw every other day, it is a great idea always to remember to loosen the tension on the blade.
Doing this is vital for protecting the tire as leaving the stress on creates a flat spot on it, which can cause annoying vibrations when starting the saw.
These vibrations can also cause false alarms as they are pretty loud, and many people often think the band saw is broken.
The vibrations eventually dissipate as the flat spot on the tire goes up, but it can be scary for the user.
2. Clean Out Saw Dust from the Tires
Another thing that often leads to a noisy band saw when starting up the tool is the accumulation of sawdust between the tires and blade.
When the blade gets hot, it can fuse the sawdust to the tire. Therefore, when the saw is running, it vibrates more and is quite noisy.
A simple way to remove the sawdust is using the edge of a chisel. All you have to do is go around the entire tire and remove any sawdust clinging on the surface.
Making this part of your routine band saw maintenance can be beneficial at keeping the tool running smoothly.
3. Check Whether the Blade is Dull
Band saws blades tend to dull much faster than those on most other power saws as they are mostly steel with little to no carbide in them.
Hence, to keep the tool cutting smoothly, you need to know how to check for blade dullness.
A simple way to check whether the blade is dull or not is by grabbing the teeth with your fingers.
If the edge is still sharp enough, the teeth should want to hook you the same way a fish hook does. A blade that does not do this is dull and needs sharpening or replacement.
4. Master How to Deal with Band Saw Blade Drift
Ideally, the blade on your band saw should never drift, but unfortunately, at some point, it does end up drifting when cutting. Blade drift is often a result of things like a dull blade and how the tires are set up.
But the good news is that you can compensate for the drift to ensure you still get straight cuts. One way to do this is to identify the drift angle with a test piece of wood and then set up and adjusts the fence angle to compensate for the drift.
Also, you can use a speed square since many band saws do not come with fences. You can set up the speed square to compensate for the drift angle once you know it or set it up square if you are making small and simple cuts.
Woodworkers can also place the speed square over a piece of wood for larger or thicker wood pieces to give it an extra lift.
5. Use Pivot Fence or Table Saw When Cutting Veneers
A pivot fence can be handy when cutting veneers as it helps ensure the thickness of the wood remains even by ensuring you can easily compensate for the blade drift.
The pivot fence allows you to pivot or tilt the wood in different directions as it moves through the blade so that you can maintain a straight cut line even as the blade’s edge tries to drift.
Alternatively, you can use a table saw with a thin blade, such as the 7-1/4-inch blades, to cut slots in the wood.
These slots provide a line or track for the band saw blade to run in when cutting the veneer. For most woodworkers, this method is often easier than using the pivot fence.
A band saw is a handy tool to have in the workshop as you can use it for various things, given its versatility. However, to get the best cuts from one, you have to use it correctly and master the technique.
Also, knowing how to deal with potential challenges that can arise is vital.
While you should get good at it as you use the band saw more and more, the tips and tricks above will be a very useful starting point.