Chosing the right bandsaw

Date Posted:9 November 2015 


Bandsaws are essential in the woodworker’s shed as they can cut precise curves in wood, tenons and smaller rabbets and rip larger pieces of timber. With all of the different types, models and pricing which is the best one to purchase for your projects.

There are two main types of band saws

  1. Floor standing cabinet models
  2. Stand or bench top mounted

Cabinet models are typically built for professional use, whereas the smaller units are better suited for the home-based woodworker. The cabinet models have more features and larger motors, and usually feature a stronger frame which leads to more consistent cutting. That isn't to say, however, that one cannot get professional results from a bench-mounted band saw.

The two main things to consider when choosing a band saw are the depth of cut and the throat. The saw's depth of cut is the distance from the table to the upper blade guides. Many band saws are marketed on this feature alone, which tells the prospective buyer how thick of stock can be cut using the band saw. However, some saws that have only a six-inch depth of cut can have an optional riser added to the unit which extends the depth. This allows some less expensive saws to be able to cut thicker stock, particularly when re-sawing.

The throat is the distance from the blade to the vertical frame section of the body of the saw. This distance determines the width of cut that can be completed on the band saw. The throat on a free-standing cabinet band saw typically exceeds the 12 to 14-inch throat of smaller, bench-top models. When you see the term "18-inch Band Saw" advertised, realize that it is the throat measurement to which the manufacturer is referring.

Another consideration is the size of the band saw's motor. Most home-level models incorporate a 3/4 to 1 horsepower motor, whereas professional models will have larger motors with variable speeds. For woodworkers, the variable speed won't really matter, as slower than max speeds should be incorporated when cutting metals and some hard plastics.

Every band saw should have a cast-iron, steel or aluminium alloy table which tilts up to 45-degrees for angled cuts. The table will typically be about 16-inches in both width and length, equipped with a mitre track. Look for band wheels that have tires with cleaning brushes to keep the wheels clean. Look also for a unit with a built-in dust collection port, for connecting to your shop vacuum.

Two very useful options that you should add to your band saw (if it doesn't come already equipped) are a rip fence and a mitre gauge. These two add-ons will prove very useful when ripping, re-sawing and cross cutting.

A band saw is among the safest of power woodworking tools, but the saw is must be set up properly before use. A band saw is a fun tool to work with, but only if used correctly.

Timberbits can assist with choosing the correct band saw for your project, contact us today.

Timber Movement can be frustrating, you have just spent hours if not weeks perfecting your timber project only to find the timber warping and joins splitting. Maybe the timber doors no longer close properly or lids no shutting snuggly.

This is because timber moves; it expands and contracts in relative humidity and there is nothing that can be done about it. The only way to combat this is to allow for the movement in the designing and building phase.

This may mean using special joinery, a particular join or a different way to glue parts together. You are trying to allow the timber to move freely while not compromising the project.

Wood moves because it acts like a sponge. When the surrounding air is damp, wood absorbs moisture from the air and expands. When the air is dry, it releases moisture and contracts. And this movement can be considerable. As a rough rule of thumb, a 300mm wide piece of hardwood can expand or contract as much as 1% across its width. (It moves very little along its length.) So with the seasonal changes in humidity, furniture is taking in and releasing moisture all the time. If a project isn't designed to handle this, then you're asking for trouble down the road. 

There are 2 different types of processes when drying timber

  1. Kiln dry
  2. Air dry

Kiln dry is after the timber has been cut into the desired size it is placed inside a kiln (oven) and heated. This heat evaporates the moisture in the timber so there should be minimal to no movement.

Air drying is the traditional way to dry timber which has the timber placed on top of each other with small bits of timber separating each layer to allow for the air to circulate. It needs to be in shade and protected from the rain. This process can take months or years for the timber to be fully dry.

When purchasing timber it is imperative to know the moisture content, high moisture content will result in the timber moving.

Having a basic knowledge of timber movement should enable even the woodworker hobbyist to design and build projects taking the expansion and contraction into account.


Comments (1)

Nice wide board floo

28 December 2015
Nice wide board flooring looks like at least 150 mm sorry 6 in wide, also looks like spettod gum.Vertical grained timber wall panels don’t work for me, colour too close to floor but different timber or may be limed. Ceiling panels work.Darker timbers like the table top work well against the floor.Wegner Y chairs work anywhere

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