Bandsaw Syllabus

February 2011 note: Woodworkers are fortunate to have one more manual added to the group discussed in this syllabus. I consider this new manual an important addition to the literature on the bandsaw, but, unfortuately, to do a proper integration of the book's contents would require a concentrated period dedicated to revising and updating the syllabus itself, a task that I will attempt soon. In the meantime, anyone considering the addition of a bandsaw to the home shop should seriously consider adding Rollie's manual to his library of woodworking manuals: -- by Roland Johnson, the title is Taunton's Complete Illustrate Guide to Bandsaws -- This is the statement by Google Books:

The bandsaw is a woodworking favorite and the workhorse of any wood shop. Craftsmen and women turn to this practical tool for a wide array of tasks -- cutting curves, ripping stock, making a variety of useful joints, using guides and templates, and transforming thick boards into veneer. Now woodworkers can learn to make the most of their bandsaw in this valuable addition to the acclaimed COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE library. The format is highly visual, covering all there is to know about working with a bandsaw -- from basic uses to some of the most advanced techniques -- including shaping operations and sophisticated joinery. Safety and bandsaw maintenance complete this essential guide.


bandsaw template


sears bandsaw 1933


sears bench saw

Sold by Sears, this is a Dunlap 6-bench saw, model 103.0207, as pictured on Old Woodworking Machines website


Note on the photos above:

If you're like me, as a woodworker, you're attracted to the beauty of old woodworking machines, two of which are illustrated above. I just acquired a Dunlap 6-bench saw, model 103.0207, as marketed through Sears in the 1930s. My Dunlap is rusty and neglected, desperately in need of restoration.

For me, then, old woodworking machines exhibit a simple, but authentic honesty. But I prefer to work with the current crop of power tools. Nonetheless, as I mention below, vintage bandsaws are among the most prized tools to restore and use.

(For years, I have owned a 1945 model GP Dewalt 12" Radial Arm Saw and a 1947 model 10E Shopsmith combo tool. Both are operational, and lately regularly used.)

Today's woodworking tools are more adequately powered, have greater convenience, and bigger work surfaces. The bandsaw above boasts the capacity of cutting workpiece up to 5 inches thick. And, OK, maybe you like the sleek looks of today's Powermatic 66 over the 6-inch 1930s-vintage Dunlap bench-top saw, above. With a cutting capacity of about 1 3/4 inch, today these bench saws are only museum pieces, but in their day, proudly owned, and -- in a restored state -- they are still a beauty to behold.



Table of Contents:

A. Introductory Remarks;

B Bandsaw Anatomy and Characteristics;

C. The Bandsaw Family;

D. Blade Anatomy and Terminology;

E. Blade Suggestions;

F. Changing Blades;

G. Bandsaw Cuts;

H. Blade Tension;

I. Coping With Blade Drift;

J. Adjusting the Guides;

K. Summary of features to check for the quality of a bandsaw;

L. Bandsaw Safety Guidelines;

M. Recommended Bandsaw Manuals;

N. Buying And Restoring Vintage Bandsaws;

O. Reviews of Bandsaws;

P. Articles on Bandsaws.


A. Introductory Remarks:

I have had my bandsaw for 4 years, and candidly admit that I still consider myself a "newbie". One of  the most useful tools in a shop, a bandsaw can, like a table saw,  do most of your cross-cutting and  ripping,  But -- for dimensioning rough-sawn stock -- it really shines in resawing  thick/wide workpieces or slicing off  thin pieces of veneer, in cutting  curves, circles, tenons, and dovetails like a jigsaw, scroll saw and/or tablesaw, in following templates like a router, and, uniquely, in sawing  compound curves (for more on these capabilities see Lonnie Bird, cited at the end of this handout, pp. 5-12). 

Where it lacks versatility, primarily because of limited table size,  is in cutting sheet goods. Limited table size (i.e., the bandsaw’s “throat”) also limits its cross-cutting capacity.

Thus, my reason for the logo, "Thinking Beyond the Tablesaw", refers to my conviction that the bandsaw rightly serves as a major power tool in a shop.  ( see my bandsaw below.)

I have heard that Europe ’s equivalent of OSHA will not allow stacked dadoes, which means that, for dadoing and rabbetting, greater emphasis falls upon shapers and router tables, and a de-emphasis upon table saws. Take the capacity of dadoing/rabbetting  away, a table saw’s other major attributes are cross-cutting and ripping, both tasks that also can be done on the bandsaw. In other words, you can make the case, as did Gary Rogowski,  a Portland-based  professional woodworker/teacher, in a recent issue of FW, that a bandsaw is a more important first purchase for woodworkers than a table saw. I doubt, though, that US woodworkers would widely embrace this claim, at least to the point of making a bandsaw their choice for first purchase over a tablesaw.


Now it is true that, in comparison with the polished cuts possible with Forrest blades on the table saw, the quality of cuts on the bandsaw come up short. (Clean up of cuts can be done easily with the jointer and/or planer or performax sander, but it is still a choice each woodworker has to make.)  On the other hand, safety considerations, like no kickback, and the narrower width of the kerf, which means less waste sawdust, give bandsaws specific advantages. But this is a choice each woodworker makes, according to his particular likes and needs.


This session begins with an analysis of several pieces of furniture constructed primarily with the bandsaw. Some I built myself, and one piece that I just refinished. Together, the constituent parts that comprise these pieces show the wonderful versatility of bandsaws.


  B. Bandsaw Anatomy and Characteristics:

diagram of bandsaw


The blade (1), the most important part of any bandsaw, is a continuous loop, mounted between wheels (2), each with hard rubber tires (3). The lower wheel, driven by a motor (4), turns the blade. The blade passes  though a table (5). An upper blade guide (6) above the table and a lower blade guide (7) below it prevent flexing or drifting of the blade. The wheels, table, and guides are mounted on a frame (8). The frame consists of two sections, upper and lower, separated by a column (9). The horizontal distance between the column and the blade, – the measurement that determines the designated size of a bandsaw -- is the throat (10). A cover (11) protects the frame and the column. Fence (12) is not shown.

 [Diagram adapted from Nick Engler's Using The Bandsaw]


General Considerations:  

Before you buy or use a bandsaw, understanding the anatomy of the machine is helpful, for either adjusting/tweaking, to make the bandsaw run smoothly, or, if you are planning upon buying a bandsaw, knowing the features and options available will help make a wiser purchase.

C The Bandsaw Family

Two branches, floor models and bench tops, constitute the bandsaw repertoire:

Floor Models, General Use:

Floor models rest on open or enclosed bases, are more versatile than the benchtop machines, their larger motors and heavy frames offer faster cutting and less vibration and capacities (e.g., resawing) are significantly greater than bench tops. (Below is my Laguna 18" bandsaw, a floor model that I have added (1) mobility kit -- made locally -- (2) enlarged the table to 4' X 4' and (3) created an 6-foot long,  biesemeyer-like, fence, adjustable for blade drift.)

bandsaw table

If you wish to see more on the table and fence that I created for my Laguna 18, check this page out

Bench tops: 

For limited shop space and/or budget, and you only plan to use a bandsaw for light cutting in thin stock, a benchtop saw might work for you. Just do not expect to do much heavy-demand cutting. (for an illustration of a bench-top model, scroll back, above, to "B. Bandsaw Anatomy and Characteristics".)

D: Blade Anatomy and Terminology

To use the band saw correctly, it is important that you select the best blade for a particular application. Blades are selected by metal type, width, thickness, set, pitch, tooth form, and length. Changing one factor can greatly alter the cutting characteristics of the blade.

It is important that you understand clearly what different band-saw terms mean. Manufacturers, tradesmen, engineers, and craftspeople don't always use the same terminology. For example, now we define blade thickness by the ac­tual thickness of the blade. A blade that is .025 inch thick is called "twenty-five thousandths." In the past, blades were sized by a "gauge" system similar to how sheet metal is still sized, and to-day the terms gauge and thickness are often used interchangeably. The gauge number used, however, isn't the same as the actual thickness of the blade. Some older woodworkers still refer to the gauge system; consequently, younger people don't know what they are talking about.

To standardize vocabulary, the following terms will be used throughout.



BEAM STRENGTH: After reading the details of beam strength given by Duginske (pp. 155+) and Bird (pp. 44+), I have opted to treat it as a too technical term, best illustrated with a diagram. WIDER BLADES HAVE GREATER BEAM STRENGTH .

As the diagram below illustrates so well, the wider the blade, the greater the beam strength, which makes the blade "stiffer", less likely to bend when thicker stock is fed into it. The diagram below is adapted from Bird, p. 45.

To work effectively, though, wider blades need greater tension. However, beam strength is complicated by the function of the Thrust Bearing, discussed in J. Adjusting the Guides, and illustrated in the section on Bandsaw Guides.

beam strength



BODY: The band material without the teeth. It is pliable enough to tolerate the constant flexing cycle. 

TEETH:The teeth do the cutting. On some blades, the teeth are hardened. Some teeth are made of a harder material than the blade.  

GULLET:The space between the teeth; holds the sawdust during the cutting process. The less teeth per inch, the greater the gullet, and thus the greater sawdust clearance.  

BACK: The back of the blade contacts the thrust bearing during the sawing. 

PITCH: Describes how many teeth there are per inch of blade. It is usually referred to as Teeth per inch (TPI). 

TOOTH SPACING: Refers to how far apart the teeth are. "Fine" refers to many teeth. "Coarse" refers to few teeth.

tooth spacing

KERF: Width of the saw cut. 

WIDTH:The distance from the front to the back of the blade. The wider the blade, the greater the beam strength. Beam strength is a term used to describe resistance to deflection. 

SET:Bend of the teeth. Set is measured at the widest point. The more set, the wider the kerf. With the teeth set, the blade cuts a kerf wider than the body of the blade. 

GAUGE: Blade thickness. 

SIDE CLEARANCE:The difference between the body of the blade and the kerf. side clearance is determined by the amount of blade set. It prevents binding in the kerf and allows the workpiece to be rotated around the blade, creating a curve. 

GULLET DEPTH: The distance from the point of the tooth to the back of the gullet. The greater the depth, the greater the gullet's capacity to hold sawdust. 

BODY WIDTH: The blade width minus the gullet width. Because, functionally, it is width of the blade, it determines the beam strength.  

GULLET CORNER: The corner of the gullet. The sharper the corner, the greater the likelihood of premature breakage. Gullet corners are usually rounded for this reason. Blades usually break at the gullet corner. 

TOOTH POINT: The point of the tooth is the cutting or scraping edge. It does the most work and suffers the most wear during the sawing process. 

RAKE ANGLE: The angle of the tooth face in relationship to the tooth back.

clearance set




Blade Anatomy (cont'd)

The blade, again, one of the most important considerations in a bandsaw, determines the quality of the cut in the work piece. Is it reasonably smooth, or is it too rough? You can use cheap blades, or you can pay phenomenal prices.  A blade with a regular tooth pattern has more teeth than blades with other patterns. Blades with skip and hook teeth have less teeth because of the wide space between the teeth.  

Blade set, i.e., the "front" of the blade, which determines the width of the "kerf", is wider than the back of the blade. (For more on blade set and related topics, see directly below and pages. 44+ of Mark Duginske for extensive discussion and illustrations.) The kerf is wider than the blade's thickness,  because the blade's teeth are bent or "set" -- with the difference between the body of the blade and the kerf  called "side clearance". Side clearance prevents the blade from binding in the saw kerf and creating heat. Side clearance is especially important for the bandsaw because it allows the work piece (or stock) to be rotated around the blade. Thus, for a precise cut when ripping or resawing, to position the fence to the blade, you measure from the blade’s “set tooth” on the fence side. Like the illustrations, the illustrations  below are also from Duginske.




E. Blade Suggestions:  

The type of blades you choose depends on the type of work that you are doing. For general woodworking needs, a blade from each group below would be good choices.  

·        A ¼-inch, 6 TPI skip-tooth blade is a good general blade for curves and straight cuts.  

·        A ¼-inch, 14 TPI standard-tooth blade is good for tight scroll work, gives a good finish, and is good for crosscutting and joinery.  

·        A ½-inch (or 1 inch), 3 TPI hook-tooth or hook-skip tooth blade is good for thick stock and straight cuts.


Below is a group of illustrations that Duginske uses to demonstrate how the "set" of teeth in a bandsaw blade affect "kerf" and "side clearance".


(1) Wheels


Most bandsaws have two wheels, although some have three. The upper wheels perform two important functions:


(1) Adjust vertically, to provide blade tension or to release tension for blade changes, and

(2) Allow you to adjust the wheel’s angle, to keep the saw blade tracking properly.


The bandsaw's motor powers the lower wheel, either directly or by a V-belt/pulley system. Bandsaw wheels are typically made of cast iron, although, to keep costs down, some bandsaws have aluminum wheels. Some woodworkers prefer of iron wheels, for their weight, but acknowledge that if they are properly balanced, aluminum wheels work well.


Aligning a Bandsaw's wheels


To operate satisfactorily, your bandsaw has to be accurately adjusted. It is wrong, evidently, to assume that the band saw comes from the factory already adjusted and ready for serious work.  Learning how to align and adjust your doesn’t require special tools, just a little time and patience.


Align the blade to run or "track" straight. "Tracking" is the term that refers to the positioning of the blade on the wheels. If not aligned, the blade travels over the wheels with a twist or a bend. A properly aligned blade has a better chance of cutting straight and lasting longer.


Band-saw wheels are either crowned or flat. Truth: Flat wheels are slightly crowned. Both designs have advantages and disadvantages. Each design affects the blade differently, which means have two different tracking systems.


The crowned wheel is used on the 14-inchers, Sears, Delta, and Taiwanese models. The flat-wheel design is often used on larger industrial saws and some European machines.


(3) Tires

All bandsaws have rubber tires stretched around their wheels. The tires give the blade traction and cushion the blade to protect the teeth, although on my Laguna, using a one inch resaw blade, I “track” the blade so that its teeth project just over the edge of the tires. Most bandsaw tires are crowned, meaning that they are higher in the middle and slope toward the edges. Some say that this makes it easier to keep the blade “tracking”, that is, running straight, but I have heard other opinions, suggesting that “crowned tires” make tracking more difficult. Many bandsaw problems can be traced to worn tires.

Changing Bandsaw Tires To show that, indeed, I am still a newbie, I confess to never had to change the tires on either of my bandsaws. Given my state of bliss on a matter that many claim is truly tension-developing,  about the only helpful gesture concerning tire  changing  on a bandsaw wheel is to cite a FW article (July-August, 1992) pp 50-53. In the article -- with several helpful color photos, the veteran woodworker, Robert Vaughan, walks you through the procedure. In the article, Vaughan discusses "removing old tires and cleaning the rims," "stretching on new tires" -- this is where the photos payoff -- "equalizing the tire and cementing it on", "trimming and crowning," "rebalancing the wheel," and "brushing after every wheel".


(4) Motor:

In a bandsaw, a motor’s power is significant. From my survey of the three bandsaw manuals listed at the end I have determined that there does not seem to be any consensus on motor strength, except that 1 hp is considered “minimum” and  1 ½ hp is minimum for resawing. Power to spare is better when cutting thick stock, often called for in resawing. Generally, 18 inchers come in at least 3 hp. Fourteen inch bandsaws range from ¾ hp, but as FW’s tool guide 2004, pp. 12+ (on 14 inchers) notes,  powermatic, delta, and laguna 14 inch bandsaws now offer 11/2 hp motors, which gives them the capacity of resawing and ripping that approaches the 18 inch 3 hp models.

(5) Table:

A good-quality table is made from cast iron or aluminum, machined flat. To support stock, heavy or light weight, as it is being cut, a bandsaw’s table should be able to function without flexing. To create strength and stiffness, tables should be heavily ribbed, which you can check for by viewing a table's underside.

For blade changes, a table has a slot that runs from the throat to the table edge, either at the front or right side. (If the table is not well constructed, i.e., with  plenty of “ribs” on the underside, the slot can be a source of weakness, because it extends or “cuts” through half of the table’s surface.)  To keep the table "halves" aligned at the blade slot, a tapered pin is inserted into a hole in the table’s edge. (If a bandsaw’s table is warped, the two halves will twist out of alignment when the pin is removed.) According to Lonnie Bird, placing the slot to the side allows the trunnions to be spaced farther apart, which makes the table stiffer. (The trunnions are the mechanism used to tilt the bandsaw"s table.) The larger the table, the more useful it is. The standard miter gauge slot is 3/8 inch by ¾ inch, which means that you can use a miter gauge from other machines, like a table saw.



(6) (7) Bandsaw Guides


There are three types of bandsaw guides: (1) blocks, (2) bearings, and (3) the new ceramic. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.



bandsaw guide


The two guides, one above the table, another below, are essential for stabilizing the blade so, as it passes through the stock, cuts are accurate.

Guides contain three essential components:

two blocks, one on each side of the blade,  and a rearly positioned “thrust bearing.

The thrust bearing prevents the blade from being pushed rearward when the blade is cutting. Guides are adjustable and require attention constantly to determine whether they continue to be aligned.


(8) Frames

In comparing the discussions of bandsaw frames in the manuals (cited at the end of this handout) by Mark Duginske and Lonnie Bird, I think that Bird’s is superior. (Nick Engler does not provide much info on bandsaw frames.) For me, at least, Bird’s method of setting out the differences among the variety of frames makes for easier understanding.

Although bandsaw designs can vary, essentially there are only three types of frames: (1) two-piece cast-iron, (2) one-piece cast-iron or aluminum, and (3) the welded steel box (for example, the Laguna 18 inch.).  The frame, the most important component of every bandsaw, supports the wheels, table, and guides. It must be rigid enough to resist bending under the load of a tensioned blade.

(10) Bandsaw Size

Band-saw size, measured by the width of the throat , is the distance between the blade and the (9) column or post. This measurement, slightly less than the wheel diameter on two-wheel band saws, will give a two-wheel band saw with 16-inch wheels a throat width or size of about 15½ inches. This is because the guard on the column side of the saw takes up about half an inch. Throat height, the distance from the top of the table to the lower portion of the upper guide, limits the width of board that can be resawn.  Three-wheel bandsaws have larger throats (I am not going to touch on three-wheel bandsaws in this session.)

(11) Wheel covers:

Covers on a bandsaw are vital for safety. Historically, bandsaws had no covers over the wheels and blade. With the large exposed blade, a wrong move could be disastrous, or,  if the blade breaks, it would fly off the wheels.

Changing a blade requires removing the covers, so to make the process fast and hassle-free, the covers should be hinged and equipped with a quick-release catch. My Laguna cannot operate with the cover's doors open.


F. Changing Blades:

 When shopping for a bandsaw, consider the ease of changing blades. It is not as quick and easy as changing table-saw blades. When you change a bandsaw blade, you must do the following ten things: (1) disconnect the saw from its electrical source, (2) open the covers, (3) release the blade tension, (4) remove the blade, (5) install a new blade, (6) retension the blade, (7) track the blade, (8) adjust the upper and lower guides, (9) adjust the upper and lower thrust wheels, and (10) close the covers.


To make this time-consuming chore faster, here are a few features to look for when buying a new bandsaw:

(1) Hinged covers, like my Laguna , truth is, I have never used another bandsaw,  but evidently there are bandsaws where the covers are secured with threaded knobs

(2) Quick-release catches: both upper and lower doors on my Laguna  are welded together, with two catches, one upper, one lower

(3) Large, easy-to-reach tension handwheels: helps cut down on time needed to change blades

(4) Easy table-slot alignment : a tapered pin

(5) Hinged or slotted blade guards: these are attached to the guidepost to shield the blade

(6) Foot brakes: used to stop the bandsaw quickly.

(12) Fences:


The fence provides the opportunity to cut stock to a  precise width. Especially useful for resawing and slicing. Critical is that the fence is rigid and can be locked securely on the table. Also critical is the ability to set the fence to accommodate for a blade’s drift. Often critical to accurate cutting, blade drift is a factor that you must determine for each blade, which means an ability to first determine the fence’s “angle” and then “lock” it a that particular angle. My homemade fence set-up allows me to lock the fence at both infeed and outfeed sides of the table, but after the appropriate  “angle” is determined. . There are several other variations on “fences”, for resawing, slicing and other functions, and to view these, check the manuals listed at the end.


G. Bandsaw Cuts:

bandsaw cuts

Illustration from Duginske bandsaw manual





H. How Much Blade Tension Is Really Necessary?

The revisionist boys are at work on the matter of "blade tension". 

The data for the three paragraphs below are straight out of Lonnie Bird's manual, but note below the claims of Fine Woodworking's (November 2004) Michael Fortune. (My personal copy of November's FW is missing, so I can't give any more info than what's here.) I also consulted Mark Duginske.  Blade manufacturers recommend 15,000 psi for a carbon-steel blade and 25,000 psi for a bimetal, spring-steel, or carbide-tipped blade. Following these guidelines will give the blades maximum beam strength when sawing stock of maximum thickness, such as when resawing or slicing veneer from a wide board. Beam strength is needed to keep the blade from flexing and spoiling your stock. (Mark Duginske, in Woodworker's Journal (February 2007), pages 66-73, discusses blade tensioning issues, in connection with comments on whether after-market blade tension gauges are necessary.)

Less tension is required for less demanding sawing, such as when cutting contours in 1-in.- to 2-in.-thick stock. Cutting stock less than 2 in. thick does not place nearly as much load on the blade as when cutting thicker stock.

Check the manuals below for the variety of methods for checking blade tension, including tension gauges, sound, and deflection, using a finger.

  I. Coping With Blade Drift -- and this section shows that reading woodworking magazines pays off sometimes.

coping with blade drift

First, let me argue that to avoid blade drift, (1) have your blade sharp, and (2) avoid using blades used to cut circles or curves. Why? Cutting circles and curves places more wear and stress on only one side of the blade, thus dulling the teeth, whether "set" to the right, or the left, whatever the case. (See Shopnotes, below)

FW November 2004, article by Michael Fortune, on bandsaw, argues two things: (1) lower blade tension and (2) adjust top wheel to eliminate blade drift.

Shopnotes offers this solution "bandsaw resawing and blade drift",  no. 83 Sept/Oct 2005, pp 30-31: "blade drift" is caused by the teeth on one side of the blade cutting more aggressively than the teeth on the other side. The blade follows the path of least resistance and pulls to one side (far left drawing). With a straight fence, you don't have a way to deal with a wandering blade.

In FW ,# 159 (November/December 2002), "Soup Up Your 14-in. Bandsaw " John White talks about coping with blade drift on p 47, and also, on same page, recommends an adjustable fence that "extends just beyond the sawblade teeth." Also see pp 64, 66, 70, of Taunton 's 2005 Tool Guide. pivot point fence


One way to cope with blade drift is the Pivot Point Fence:  A Pivot Point Fence allows you to easily overcome the problem of guiding the cut along the layout line. First, carefully note how the blade is "tracking", and keeping the thickness of the resawed part of the workpiece at uniform thickness. Naturally, pivot the trailing end of the workpiece slightly to correct for any drift.



barrel cut

A. Barrel Cut.
When you end up with a cut that's rounded from top to bottom, you've experienced "barreling." There are two easy solutions for a barrel cut. First, make sure the blade is properly tensioned and increase the tension if necessary. Next, the upper guide assembly should be positioned as close to the workpiece as possible (detail 'a'). These steps will keep the blade from flexing in the cut.  



angled cutB. Angled Cut. Sometimes the cut is perfectly straight, but the workpiece tapers from top to bottom (diagram above). This angled cut has a couple of possible causes. The first could be that the blade or fence is not per­pendicular to the table. If this isn't the problem, take a look at the guide blocks. If not adjusted properly, they can force the blade out of alignment.



J. Adjusting the Guides

For accurate cutting, above and below the table. the  blade needs to be fully supported at the back, with  thrust bearings, and  on both sides. Set the guides so that they are not in contact with the blade until the blade starts to wander. When the saw is not running, set the guides right next to the blade but not touching it.    

The upper and lower thrust bearings  support the back of the blade to prevent feed pressure from pushing it off the saw's wheels. Set them just slightly behind the blade. They should not spin until the stock is fed into the blade.  

The side blocks or bearings prevent the blade from twisting or bowing sideways. Like the thrust wheel, the side supports should contact the blade only when there is pressure from cutting. If the side supports are set too far from the blade, the blade will wander, making it difficult to saw accurately.

To  prevent damaging the teeth of the blade, set the guides behind the gullets. Then slip a piece of paper or a dollar bill between each guide and the blade, and bring the guide toward the blade until it barely grips the paper. Lock the guide in place before removing the paper.    


K. Summary of features to check for the quality of a bandsaw (Adapted from Lonnie Bird)  

One of the best ways to judge the quality of a bandsaw is the smoothness of the saw as it is running. As Bird notes,   bandsaws have more rotating parts than most woodworking machines—tires, wheels, and pulleys, and,  if the saw is going to run smoothly, these parts must be trued and balanced. Working with a vibrating bandsaw is unnerving.  

Operate the bandsaw with the blade tensioned correctly. The wheels  should be balanced,  cast from iron or aluminum, and the wheel’s rim must be turned true and concentric to the shaft hole.  The motor should be powerful enough (at least 1 ½ hp) to drive the blade for resawing and other heavy-duty functions. 

The best pulleys are cast as well as turned true and concentric with the shaft hole. The guidepost should be sturdy, rigid, and parallel to the blade throughout its travel. (Bird shows you how to check.) Tables should be flat and rigid. The table casting should be thick and heavily-ribbed so that it will not flex under the load of a heavy work piece. Examine the underside of the table and determine whether its ribs should are in crisscross pattern of extra metal. Does the table tilt easily and accurately? If the bandsaw is mounted on a stand, it should be stiff, rigid, and fully capable of supporting the saw without twisting or flexing.



L. Bandsaw Safety Guidelines

(Adapted from Lonnie Bird's The Bandsaw Book, Taunton , 1999, pp. 86-87.)

 Unlike operation of the tablesaw, where dangerous things can happen outside the control of the operator, e.g., blade will “kickback” stock, in operating the bandsaw safely, the operator plays a critical role:

  1.  Keep your fingers out of the path of the blade.
  2. Gradually decrease the feed pressure as you approach the end of the cut.
  3. Use push sticks when ripping narrow stock or when resawing.
  4. Always keep the wheel covers shut while the bandsaw is running.
  5. Keep the upper guide adjusted approximately 1/4 in. above the stock.
  6. Keep the blade guard in place.
  7. Disconnect the bandsaw from its power source before changing blades.
  8. Always wear eye and ear protection when operating a bandsaw.
  9. Wear gloves when handling large blades.
  10. Protect your respiratory system.  

    M. Recommended Bandsaw Manuals:  

    Note: If you are like me, before I was able to buy my bandsaw, I eagerly purchased books (Mark Duginske's and Lonnie Bird's) on bandsaws, which sort of had the opposite effect that I anticipated. Because I could not actually examine the machine's parts to confirm their existence or try out recommended techniques, I ended up getting frustrated. Now, with several years experience using the bandsaw, these books have far more impact. Today, especially with what I know about bandsaws now, if I were going to choose one of the three, with the background I have from a few years experience, I think that I would choose Bird first. Included in his advice are two checklists, one for points to think about when buying a new bandsaw, the other on buying a used bandsaw.

    Lonnie Bird, The Bandsaw Book, Taunton , 1999. Bird, a professional woodworker and teacher, writes authoritatively and illustrates his advice with over 200 colored photos and black and white drawings.
    Mark Duginske,  Bandsaw Handbook,   Sterling  , 1989. Before Bird, this was the Bible. While Duginske’s textbook lacks the color photos, the largest manual, it contains much valuable advice for operating the bandsaw and doing projects using the bandsaw.

    Nick Engler, Using the Bandsaw, Rodale,1992. The smallest of the three, Engler’s guide, full of solid advice, includes black and white photos and numerous “two color” illustrations.  



    N. Are you considering buying and restoring a vintage machine?

    "Restoring Woodworking Machinery," adapted from Dana M Batory and David E Pollak, Vintage Woodworking Machinery: An Illustrated Guide To Four Manufacturers. Mendham, NJ astragal press, 1997, p 132-136.

    Naturally, my focus here is the restoration of Band  Saws, but anyone interested in buying any type of woodworking machine would do well to consult Vintage Woodworking Machinery first. I am considering buying my own copies of the book. In addition, those interested in restoration of old woodworking machines, become acquainted with the old woodworking machines website.  (I have only examined one volume in what promises to be an ongoing series, dedicated to surveying ALL major woodworking machinery manufactured in America, quite an ambitious undertaking.) your next question, perhaps, is "Why would I want a an old, used machine?" Quite simply, because of the possibility of getting a machine that is of of better quality and at approximately the same price (or cheaper) than what is available on the marker today.

    Remember that the basic anatomy of some woodworking machines haven't changed much for centuries. into this category definitely fall bandsaws, jointers, and planers. Yes, these new machines may have some new "bells and whistles," but underneath, they are the same. And another payoff from restoring your own machine is surely that you acquire an understanding to how the machine operates, and can keep it performing at a high working level.

    Numerous members of the NCWA have purchased and restored major woodworking machinery. Rick Anderson bought and restored a ca. 20-inch General bandsaw, for example. I myself bought and restored a vintage (can't tell whether it comes from the 1930s or 1950s) shaper, with a 3/4 inch spindle. (Out of the original shaper table and some miscellaneous accessories I created a shaper/router combo. ) I suspect that a survey would turn up many additional examples of woodworking tool restoration. Not given here is a set of recommendations on restoring old woodworking machinery. to see this, you will have to obtain the book.

    On just bandsaws, this is what Batory and Pollak have to say, 



    Band saws can be very trying machines because of the adjustments necessary to get the upper and lower wheels into exact alignment with one another. On some saws there is no adjustment, so you're stuck with what you get. If the arm on the casting warps, you will never get the blade to track correctly. The wheels are generally covered with rubber tires that are cemented on. In time, the rubber gets brittle and cracks. These tires are available for most saws, but it takes some experience to glue them on and get them crowned correctly. There are places, however, that will dothis for you. The blades are tensioned by a spring and tracked with a knob that tilts the top wheel. The blade runs through guide blocks which wear out fairly quickly, and is supported from behind with bearings or another hardened block. The upper guides are supported by an arm that moves up and down parallel to the blade to accommodate various thicknesses of stock. The table should be relatively flat and should tilt easily to 45°.


    It is important that both wheels be balanced, have adequate guards, and that all open blade areas be guarded as well. Many large bandsaws are equipped with a brake. Accessories might include a mitre slide and a fence.

    O. Reviews of Bandsaws:

    FW Review of 18-inch bandsaws May-June 2004, pp. 64+

    Unfortunately, Minimax not included in review

    Review of 14-inch bandsaws (in Taunton ’s 2004 tool guide a buyer’s companion), pp. 12+

    Article notes that 11/2 horse power motors are becoming the new standard for 14 inch bandsaws

    FW Review of bandsaw blades. April 2004, pp. 76+

    PW December 2002 p. 30+ High praise for Grizzly's $375 14 inch/1 hp bandsaw

    AW "How to Buy a Bandsaw" January 2002 By Editor: George Vondriska

    P. Other articles on bandsaws (for access to some of these articles subscriptions are required ):

    FW159 November/December 2002 Soup Up Your 14-in. Bandsaw

    Interesting and potentially useful, this  article shows how to increase the size of your 14-incher by extending the post.

    FW 157 July/August 2002 FW Bandsaw Tune-up

    FW 153 Tools and Shops Winter 2001/2002 14-in. Bandsaws Reviewed

    FW 148 March/April 2001 FW Choosing Bandsaw Guides

    FW 143 July/August 2000 FW Bandsaw Your Own Veneer

    FW 140 January/February 2000 FW All About Bandsaw Blades

    AW October 1997 Super-accurate resawing