A band saw uses a continuously rotating band of metal with a serrated edge to rip and crosscut lengths of lumber with smooth and straight edges and to cut irregular shapes. Like a belt sander, a bandsaw uses a series of motor driven wheels to drive the cutting band at a speed capable of ripping thin clean boards from larger slabs. Bandsaws are more suited for cutting long straight cuts than any other power tool.
Problems with the functionality of band saws usually arise in the realm of blades. Because of their length, band saw blades are subject to a unique host of tool-specific dilemmas particular to band saws, as well as the litany of dilemmas present in all bladed power tools. The functionality of a band saw can be seriously restricted by any number of these specific dilemmas. When properly tuned, a band saw is one of the most versatile and practical tools in the shop, when neglected, it is an enormous was of space.
Here are the top 5 problems commonly associated with band saws – and how to solve them!
#1 Blade Vibrations
A good indicator that your band saw blade should be tuned is the development of excessive blade vibrations. These vibrations can make it hard to cut on a straight or curved line, as well as making functional operation more dangerous. If your band saw blade is vibrating excessively first make sure that the tooth pattern is appropriate for the material being cut. Thicker material requires less teeth per inch than thinner material. If the teeth are too coarse for the material being cut, blade choice could be the cause of your vibrations. If the blade choice seems appropriate, try tightening the blade tension and stepping up the blade velocity. After doing this try increasing the feed pressure of the material being cut. More often than not, the combination of these things will reduce or eliminate your blade vibrations.
#2 Blade Stalling
Another common band saw-specific dilemma is blade stalling. While band saws are a powerhouse in the shop, the large amount of friction inherent in a continuous blade system means that blade binding and stalling can happen. If you are having trouble with your band saw blade stalling it is likely due to excessive feed pressure or inappropriate blade choice. If feed pressure does not seem to be the issue switch to a finer toothed blade and see if that helps.
#3 Blade Twisting
An array of different forces act on a band saw blade during cutting. Frequently the variables of blade tension, blade width, tooth pattern and material thickness can cause unintended changes in the functionality of the blade. One such change in functionality is the development of a twist in the blade. Blade twisting tends to be the result of high blade tension, high feed pressure, inappropriate blade thickness and improperly adjusted blade guides. If you are struggling with blade twist first try reducing blade tension and feed pressure. If the twist persists, switch to a thinner blade and move the blade guide farther from the piece being worked on. This should straighten things out.
#4 Stripping the Blade
Because the force involved in cutting with a band saw is so great, it is relatively easy to strip the cerated teeth off of a band. While there are a variety of reasons a band might become stripped, the functional repercussions render a saw temporarily useless. This band stripping is generally the result of a combination of things including: the blade teeth being too coarse for the material being cut, too much feed pressure, band velocity being too low, and insufficiently secured cutting material. After retiring a stripped band, make sure to consider these factors before replacing the band and returning to work.
#5 Cleaning Internal Wheels
The rubber covered wheels that power the cerated band of a band saw are a crucial part of a band saw’s overall functionality. Keeping these components clean is one easy way to ensure that your saw has a long and productive life. While cleaning these wheels is an easy and quick process, it is frequently overlooked. Start by taking the wheel housing off of the body of your saw, exposing the wheels, band and blade guides. With the wheels exposed, use a tooth brush or similar precision scrub brush to clear buildup and debris from the flat outer surface of the wheel.
Of course, all starts with a quality tool. I always say: “Buy cheap and you have to buy twice” because it is so true in most cases. But sometimes you can even save money by reading reviews not only to find the best bandsaw, but also to get the most bang for your buck!