Band Saw Uses: Types of Cuts and Materials

Band saws are large, powerful tools for making precise cuts through tough materials. They’re handy machines to have around, especially if you need to make the same cut repeatedly. With a bandsaw, you can stack multiple pieces of wood on top of each other and give them identical cuts. 

That ability to cut large, vertical amounts of wood is just one of the things that makes band saws great. Their powerful motors let you cut through dense timber and even tougher materials like metals, and they can also make more complicated curved cuts.

How Do Band Saws Work?

using band saw with wood

Band saws use a continuous loop of metal called a “band” that runs around two wheels. One wheel is connected to the blade, and the other is connected to the table, which moves the material you’re cutting. As the wheels rotate, the band also rotates. It’s caught between the wheels, and as it turns, it pulls the blade in one direction to make the cut. 

The band’s blade is made of a series of teeth that cut cleanly through a wide variety of materials. There are several different types of blades that can be used with a band saw. Some blades have teeth on the inside and outside edges, but most blades only have teeth on the inside edge.

How Do You Make a Cross Cut with a Band saw?

making cross cut with bandsaw

When making a cross cut with a band saw, you simply push the board into the moving blade horizontally, perpendicular to the wood’s grain. Some people prefer to use a push stick or other form of blade protection. 

If you’re cutting a board longer than the length of your table, you’ll need to support the end of the board with clamps or wedges as you cut. Otherwise, the table will stop the board from moving and you’ll be unable to finish your cut. 

The best way to determine how much support you’ll need is to measure the distance from the table to the blade. Subtract the length of your board from that number and then add a few inches for safety.

Can You Make a Rip Cut with a Band Saw?

making rip cut with bandsaw

A rip cut is a cut along the grain of the wood. Most bandsaws are not designed to make rip cuts, but some people like to use them for rip cuts anyways. They find that some lumber that’s hard to cut with other saws is more manageable with a band saw.

A band saw can be a good fit for a rip cut because the thin blade is less likely to be pinched by the wood. Band saws also constantly push the wood down, making errors less likely by keeping the wood in place. 

You can buy or make a rip fence for your band saw if you want to make your rip cuts as easy and simple as possible. A rip fence certainly isn’t necessary, and isn’t always useable with especially large pieces of wood, but can be a great help.

You should also make sure that you make rip cuts with a blade with a low TPI (teeth per inch) such as three or four. You should have a larger blade as well, at least half an inch wide, and make sure the blade is centered and well-supported before you start cutting.

Can You Make a Curved Cut with a Band Saw?

making curved cut with bandsaw

Yes, you can make curved cuts with a band saw, though they’re a bit more complicated than straight cuts. You can make curved cuts by adjusting the tension on the blade and/or the feed rate. There are a few different ways you can adjust the tension on the blade. 

You can change the blade guides, loosen or tighten the blade clamps, or loosen or tighten the blade itself. Each of these will affect the tension in different ways. Adjusting the feed rate will change how quickly the blade moves.

This can be helpful if you want to make a more gradual curve. If you want to make a sharper curve, you can also slow down the feed rate.

What Materials Can You Cut with a Band Saw?

working on project with bandsaw

Band saws can cut most common materials, including wood, hardwood, plastics, and metals. They can’t cut as quickly or easily through materials like cork and rubber, though, so keep that in mind when choosing your materials. 

If you’re cutting through a lot of very dense wood, it’s a good idea to spray your saw’s blades with cooling oil. This will help the blades move more easily through the material, extending the life of your saw. 

If you’re planning to do lots of cutting through metal, consider buying a band saw that’s designed for it. These saws are equipped with thicker blades, and they’re designed to move more slowly, making it easier to cut through metal.

You should make sure to rest your blades frequently if you’re cutting through especially hard materials like metal and hardwood. That’s because this kind of cutting can cause the blade to overheat quickly, which makes the metal softer and causes it to dull quickly.

How Portable Are Band Saws?

Band saws are large and heavy tools, which means they aren’t the most portable machines. Most portable band saws are still pretty large and heavy, though a few models are designed to be more easily transportable.

If you need a band saw that’s truly portable, you may need to look into a smaller saw. 

If you still want a powerful machine, you can opt for an electric band saw that’s plugged into an outlet. If you want more portability, you may want to consider a smaller saw. Smaller band saws are often bench saws, which are designed to stay in one place while you use them.

What Kinds of Band Saw Blades Are There?

bandsaw blades

There are a few different types of blades you can use on a band saw. Circular blades have teeth on the inside and outside edges, while straight blades only have teeth on the inside edge. Some band saw blades are designed to be used for heavier-duty cuts and materials. 

Double-edged blades have teeth on both sides and are useful for making rip cuts through thicker materials. If you’re cutting through wood or soft plastics, look for blades with more teeth. Blades with a higher tooth count create cleaner cuts and can still cut quickly through softer materials.

On the other hand, blades with fewer teeth deliver more power and are better for cutting through harder materials. You should also pay attention to what materials your blades are made from. While carbon steel will work for softer materials like wood, you should bimetal blades for metals, especially thick pipes.

What Band Saw Blade Teeth Types Are There?

There are several different types of teeth on band saw blades. Blades with teeth spaced out twice as wide as normally are called skip tooth blades. These are good for making more clean cuts since they don’t bite into the material as quickly as other blade types. 

You can also find blades with straight teeth, which are used for cutting thicker materials. For more delicate cuts, you can opt for blades with raker teeth. Raker teeth have a diagonal pattern that’s less aggressive than other types of teeth.

What Are the Advantages of Using a Band Saw?

Band saws are great for making large amounts of identical cuts. If you need a number of pieces of wood cut to the same length, a table saw can be difficult to set up for each one. A band saw is much easier to set up for multiple cuts. 

You can stack the wood on top of each other and use a push stick or dowel to feed it through the saw. Band saws are also useful for making cuts that would be difficult or impossible with a table saw. You can make curved cuts with a band saw, which often isn’t possible with a table saw.

What Are the Disadvantages of Using a Band Saw?

Band saws are very powerful tools, which means they can be difficult to learn how to use properly. Make sure to use a push stick and wear safety gear, especially when cutting through metal. 

Band saws are also large and heavy, which means they can be difficult to move. It can be tough to find a place to store one, and moving them around your shop can be a pain.

If you’re working with a smaller band saw, it can be a challenge to cut larger materials. Large band saws can easily handle thicker pieces of wood, but smaller models often can’t.

What Are the Different Types of Band Saws?

There are two main types of band saws, vertical and horizontal. Vertical band saws are designed to be mounted to the wall and cut straight up and down. Horizontal band saws have blades that cut from side to side. Some horizontal band saws are designed to be bench-top models, while others are floor models.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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