Band Saw Guide
What is a Band Saw?
Band saws are cutting tools with a blade consisting of a continuous toothed metal sheet. The blades are mounted on two pulleys, one of which stays idle, and the other is driven by a motor. Today, band saws are one of the most commonly used machines to cut materials. With evenly distributed teeth, you can produce consistent cutting on virtually any kind of workpiece.
Band saws are primarily used to cut metals, wood, plastic, ceramic and other materials. They are also used to cut irregularly shaped metal sheets. Metalworkers and woodworkers rely heavily on these machines. It is not uncommon to see a sawing machine in workshops these days. Let us take a deeper look into the band saw machines in the rest of this article.
Horizontal Band Saw, WayTrain Taiwan
The Advent of Band Saws
The band saws were first invented in 1809. Despite the innovative idea, the machine remained rather impractical because no one was able to produce precise and durable blades at the time. Damage to the workpieces was inevitable because the blade was not strong enough for constant operation. Several years later, a new welding technique had emerged that made the production of strong band saw blades possible. And by 1836, the first practical band saw was introduced in the United States and began to pervade the market.
Some may wonder why it took so long for band saws to finally come to the market The reason was that metalworkers and woodworkers were too accustomed to electric hacksaws at the time – a power sawing machine that excels at cutting large pieces of metals. Not only were the sawing machines able to meet basic machining needs, but they were also very affordable. However, it wasn't long before people started to realize that the adoption of band saws was a welcome shift and a long time coming. They were simply more durable, convenient, and versatile.
Types and Applications
There are many types of band saws today. Over the course of their development, the blades have been optimized for different materials, volumes, working environments, etc.
Band saws for woodcutting are typically used to cut wood strips and planks. But in order to cut large timbers, you may have to resort to something substantially larger, such as a timber mill. Cutting the large-diameter timbers with a timber mill is often referred to as "ripping", which can be achieved using a portable sawmill as well.
Figure 1. Heavy Duty Wood Band Saw
Metal band saws can produce very smooth cuts on metals. They are typically divided into horizontal and vertical types. For cuts that require high precision, the vertical band saws are the better choice. They are stationary machines that move the workpiece sideways through the blade to produce the cut. It excels at making both straight and curved cuts.
For straight cuts on smaller materials, horizontal band saws are often used. The saw blade moves downward in swift motion as the workpiece remains in a fixed position, producing a straight, clean cut.
Figure 2. Horizontal Band Saw, WayTrain Taiwan
Highly mobile machines featuring multi-functionality. They are suitable for both industrial and home applications. These compact machines can perform cutting on straight edges, curved edges, and irregular shapes. Thanks to their mobility, these saws are often used to cut railway sleepers and even metal poles.
Figure 3. Portable Band Saw, WayTrain Taiwan
Band Saw Blades Explained
The blades are an integral part of band saws. You should always have different selections of them available depending on the application. They can come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are specified by the number of teeth per inch, the thickness or gauge, and the width of the blade.
Generally, the thinner the edges, the finer the cuts. And blades with smaller teeth are more suitable for metal cutting. For woodcutting, blades with larger and fewer teeth are preferred. Here is a basic guideline showing you how to choose your band saw blades:
Capacity & Radius
The maximum capacity and the minimum radius are the two most important factors when choosing the blade. If you want to resaw, bevel, or cut off, use a blade with a maximum width. This way, you can produce a nice, smooth cut without breaking the blade. If you want to perform contour sawing, use a blade narrow enough to cut the required radius.
It is also important to choose the correct blade thickness. Continuous bending, heating, and cooling can cause metal fatigue and eventually failure. The thickness of the blade depends on the diameter of the grinding wheel and the work to be done. Thicker blades can withstand the greater cutting strain caused by straight cutting but are more likely to break due to bending and twisting actions. A thinner blade can easily accomplish this job. The table below shows the ideal blade thickness for various wheel diameters.
For any form of precision cutting, the rule of thumb is to retain at least three teeth in the material at any given point in time. This improves stability and precision and is ideal for cutting metal and wood. Using coarse-toothed blades to re-saw and cut through tougher materials. For general wood cutting work, it is recommended to use four teeth per inch (TPI) blades for rough and quick cutting, and 14 TPI blades for slower and smoother cutting.
Band Saws Today
In recent years, most bands saw machines are operated by computer numerical control (CNC) systems. A CNC band saw machine has preset feed speed, return, descent, part feeding, and part fixing functions. With its high degree of automation, it is impractical and unproductive to deploy an operator to every machine to oversee the operation.
In fact, one operator can control multiple automatic band saws. Automatic band saw machines rely on digital control to make cutting efficiency higher, and even perform more complex cutting tasks. Because of these advantages, most modern metal band saws are equipped with CNC controllers to adapt to today's processing requirements and standards.
Need help searching for your next Band Saw ?
IMTS Exhibition includes manufacturers from around the world. Send us a message with your requirements and our IMTS Experts will happily help you with your questions.