So, you’ve decided you need a bandsaw for either professional or personal use, but you’re a little stuck.
There are so many options to choose between – do you want to go corded or cordless? And what additional features, tips and tricks should you be looking out for? Luckily, we have all these questions answered for you in this Bandsaw Buyers Guide.
Find yourself stuck for time? Not a problem. We’ve made a quick overview below of the ultimate bandsaw buying guide:
- Bandsaws are found in a cordless, compact version and also in corded, free standing (cabinet) and benchtop form
- Regardless of the type of bandsaw, common features all include a blade, motor, and blade tension/tracking
- There are three common blade types; hook-tooth, skip-tooth and regular-tooth blades
- Bandsaw blade speed is measured in FPM – feet per minute
- Broken blades can be welded if you’ve got the correct equipment – saving you an additional hit to the wallet
Firstly, let’s brush up on the definition. What exactly is a bandsaw?
Well, a bandsaw is similar to a scroll saw, with its ability to carve interesting patterns and a focus on its precision. However, the similarities stop here – a bandsaw is more powerful than its scroll saw cousin, and can be used to cut a vast array of materials.
Bandsaws are identified by their design – a blade powered by a motor, traveling through wheels, exposing the blade which is used to make cuts.
If you were a little unsure as to what a bandsaw is, that should clear it up for you.
In Detail: Types Of Bandsaw Available & Features To Look For
We’ll be covering the types of bandsaws which you can find, and have categorized them into two types: the free standing and benchtop bandsaw, which required a constant flow of power through a plugged electrical source.
The second is the compact bandsaw, which is cordless, and powered by a battery.
Both have their pros and cons, and it’s important to establish your need for a bandsaw and the setting you’ll be using it within, in order to assist you with choosing the correct option.
Benchtop/Free Standing Bandsaw
You can find these bandsaws either in cabinet form, a free-standing beast of a machine, and the benchtop – which you can attach to a bench to a table (fancy that being the name, huh?)
The benchtop & freestanding bandsaw are powerful saws, both being used for professional and personal use. With a powerful resawing ability, and also the potential to be used for a variety of projects – it’s not a surprise as to why these bandsaws are a staple within the workshop of a hobbyist.
It’s very important to keep your table in prime condition, as any debris or damages can affect your quality of work and damage the table whilst doing so.
Table: The Throat Size & Bevel
Obviously, the table is a vital component of the bandsaw – as it’s on this very feature that you’ll be making your cuts on.
Commonly, you can find this type of bandsaw made in two separate frame materials: cast iron and steel frames.
Both are incredibly durable, and have an incredibly long lifespan when compared to other saws that are available to purchase.
Bandsaw tables have a common defining feature – which is the throat size. This is a term that sets apart each bandsaw from the other, and this refers to the space behind the blade which reaches out to the furthest point of the table.
Larger tables have larger throat sizes, and are ideal for those working with larger pieces. You can find throat sizes ranging from 9”, to a massive 21” on free-standing models.
Making Adjustments: The Bevel
For a quick re-cap, the bevel refers to the angle at which the table can be tilted, either left or right.
Most bandsaws, either freestanding or table/benchtops, have a bevel ability of 45°. Why would you need a table with a bevel?
Well, as a majority of bandsaws feature a table with a tilting option, this can add a variation to your cutting game – should you need to use this, as it’s perfect for making angled cut. This is a benefit when making cuts that require a little more flexibility and variation than a straight rip.
Bandsaws can be found with an array of additional features, some which are crucial for enhancing the quality of your work.
A common accessory found on benchtop & freestanding saws is the adjustable lamp/light.
Not only does this provide better light for your surroundings, yet it also gives you more visibility when working on difficult applications. A majority of these lights are adjustable, with some being fixed.
If you’re using different materials and also different thickness levels of these materials, a universal set speed won’t always do the trick. This is where a variable speed option comes into play, allowing you to control the speed at your preferred pace.
A compact bandsaw is a cordless, portable bandsaw used mainly by contractors, due to the versatility and compact design of the tool. Unlike benchtop or free standing bandsaws, a compact bandsaw generates its power through a rechargeable battery.
These power tools may look to be a miniature version of the benchtop bandsaw in size alone – yet they pack a fair amount of punch – as you’ll find out within this article.
As these bandsaws are geared towards contractors with their heavy jobsite use, they are manufactured with long-standing durability in mind. Compact bandsaws can stand most rough conditions and settings, as well as featuring a raft of features that have user comfort as a main focus.
An important component of the compact bandsaw, the battery provides the power for the tool. This allows for cuts to be made in many locations and under different environments, and for this reason alone makes the compact bandsaw a prized possession in the arsenal of a contractor/DIY’er.
As there is no primary plugged source for a compact bandsaw, the power stems from the battery which must be charged in order to perform for your session.
Many can last for a few hours consecutively. Some manufacturers (DeWalt and Milwaukee, for example), provide the public the ability to share their respective branded batteries between cordless tools of all types, in an ever-growing battery sharing platform.
Feel free to check out some of the bandsaw reviews we have created, which focuses upon these models in particular.
Like the benchtop and free-standing versions of the bandsaw, there are a number of additional accessories which can be found in a compact bandsaw. Most of their aims look to make the cutting process as efficient and accurate as possible.
LED lighting is a common, additional feature found in bandsaws, and are used to illuminate the dark environments contractors can find themselves in. Some provide a line of sight for accurate cuts under lights, which is beneficial for improved visibility.
Variable speed triggers/dials allow for speed to be maintained, usually with two-speed settings. This is a helpful feature for those who are working with a variety of materials, promoting quality cuts.
Features Found In Both Types Of Bandsaw
As they are cut from the same mold, there are important features and terms of note that apply to all versions of bandsaws.
Without these, you wouldn’t be able to use a bandsaw – so they’re quite important!
If you’ve used any type of power tool, you’ll be well aware of the importance of the blade.
Pending on the material you’re cutting, blades can come in many forms, with TPI (teeth per inch) being the main factor in determining the speed and smoothness of the cut.
Blades can break and bend, and it’s for this reason as to why it’s a beneficial idea to look into bandsaws that have a blade tracking adjustment feature – as this will monitor the general wear and tear of your blades, saving you an expensive replacement in the future.
Luckily, a majority of benchtop and even compact bandsaws have this feature, so it’ll definitely assist you when working on your projects. We’ll be discussing blades at length, later within the next section of this guide.
The motor may as well be the heart of the saw, regardless of its’ type. Without a motor, you’d have the same results as using a plain old hacksaw, so it’s a vital component of the bandsaw.
The bandsaw motor, both in compact and benchtop form, is measured in amps. You can find bandsaws holding motors that contain up to 10 amps and higher. This provides the power for the blade to cut through the chosen material with.
The speed on the motor is measured in ‘feet per minute’ or ‘FPM’. This is the amount of time it takes for the blade of the bandsaw to move in a minute, with higher speeds found in motors of powerful capability.
Motors can be found in two types: brushless and brushed – and we’ll describe the differences between the two, as well.
Brushed motors are incredibly common in all power tools, and have existed for quite a long time.
A brushed motor contains two important parts; brushes and a commutator, which is what is used to pass through energy within the motor. Like all tools and their parts, these carbon brushes can become worn and torn after time, which means you lose out in effective output and also quality.
A brushless motor loses both the commutator and carbon brushes, replaced by a small electronic circuit board which dictates energy delivery. The circuit board is able to adjust output accordingly, meaning it won’t draw on all the energy it has created for a task which doesn’t require it.
Due to the brushes and commutator being replaced in brushless motors, brushless motors are more powerful, eliminating unnecessary friction and providing a constant flow of energy that is not restricted by physical components.
Blade Tension, Tracking & Adjustment
Across the corded or cordless versions of bandsaws, many will come with the ability to track blade wear and tear, as well as providing the option to adjust the tension to your preferred level.
Blade tracking has the important job of monitoring the lifespan of the blade, which will give you a clear indication on the quality of the blade can give you, as well as pinpointing any damages and preventing these from also occurring.
Blade tension is quite self-explanatory, however I’m happy to explain for you, anyway. This can be found in either knob or lever format, and gives you complete control over the tension of the blade itself. In most cases, this is also how you’ll be swapping out your blades when it’s necessary to do so.
Bandsaw Blades: The Types You’ll Find
A bandsaw derives its name from the blade, which is one of the longest blades you can find, as it loops to form a band.
There isn’t a one-blade fits all for applications, as you require different blades for various jobs. We’ll look into these common blade types next.
Hook type blades are perfect for cutting through materials quickly and with extreme ferocity. Materials such as thick woods, hardwoods, certain metals and plastics are what this blade has for breakfast.
The teeth on hook type blades are larger, and have a deeper gullet. Due to this, you’re able to cut an extremely quick pace using this blade.
Skip type blade have more space between the teeth on the blade. The reason for this? Well, the abundance of space prevents build up of resin on the blade, which can compile through use.
This makes the skip type blade perfect for cutting through non-ferrous materials, soft woods and also plastics.
We’ll start with the general blade you’ll find comes with many bandsaws upon purchase, the regular type of blade.
This blade is perfect for all applications, performing best when used in cutting materials that are both finer and thinner than others.
This type of blade is one that many users have multiple of, due to their universal acceptance.
As these are general purpose blades, they provide you with the flexibility to be used on a majority of materials.
What Would You Be Using A Bandsaw For?
Bandsaws are also the perfect tool for resawing, another common use for the machine. Resawing is the process of wood through the direction of the grain, as this reduces the wood into thinner blocks.
Irregular cuts are what a bandsaw excels at – with the sheer power and easy flexibility regarding movement a defining feature of the tool. Curved cuts can be made, through even the thickest pieces of materials.
There is a great variety of cuts you can make with a bandsaw, and here are some examples:
- Miter Cuts
- Bevel Cuts
- Compound Cuts
- Rip Cuts
Bandsaw Blade Maintenance: What To Know
As the blade continuously moves and doesn’t stop until you decide it’s time, the blade of a bandsaw can become damaged over time, due to general wear and tear and in some occurrences, negligence.
It’s quite important to keep an eye on your bandsaw tracking adjustment feature – so you can replace, clean and keep your blades performing at a high level.
Rust can occur overtime, and can also damage the blade if left untreated. If you’ve checked the entire blade and there’s no signs of rust, your next step is to clean the blade – so you can keep your cuts smooth and uninterrupted.
To clean blades, it’s quite simple. There are a number of ways that you’re able to do this.
You can use a degreasing agent, or soak in soapy water. A wash with a degreasing agent, soapy water or alternative, (oven cleaners are also quite efficient at cleaning blades) will remove any resin which has built up over time.
You’ll notice an improvement in the quality of your blade once you use it again, especially if you found that certain materials were bogging down when being cut.
Broken Blades: What To Do?
Broken blades can occur for many reasons. General wear and tear, plus forgetting to care for your blades are common ways which lead to a broken blade.
Yet, this doesn’t mean that you have to rush to the closest hardware store and buy a replacement blade. If you’ve got all the correct tools, you’re able to fix them yourself, with the power of welding.
However, there are going to be situations that will put the blade beyond repair – and it’s these times in which a replacement blade should be on your agenda, if you’re not one to have any backup blades in storage.
There you have it – a complete guide on bandsaws of all types.
I’m hoping that this is able to assist you with any doubts you may have about the bandsaw, especially if you’re looking to begin your woodworking journey and are a little unsure as what is the best way to start off.
I’d also love to hear your comments – what’s your favourite thing about the bandsaw?
Or perhaps I missed something, or you would like to share some helpful tips with our readers?
Whatever they may be, leave your thoughts below.