Band SAW BASICS: WHAT DO Band SAWS DO. Band saw size


If you have any experience with or knowledge about woodworking, then you know that there are many different types of saws, each with their pros and cons.

Today we are focused on one of the most versatile of all saws: the Band saw.

What do Band saws do? Band saws can do many exciting things, including woodworking, ripping lumber, and even cutting metals. You can make incredible curves and scrolls with a Band saw too. On top of that, you can resaw and reset edges and faces of the board. And you can make veneer, bent laminations, and small logs.

Today we’re going to discuss in more detail everything that you can do with a Band saw.

And if you’re in the market for a new machine, then we will give you several suggestions. But before we get to the saws, let’s go over some of the Band saw basics.

What Is a Band Saw?

A Band saw, sometimes written as a bandsaw, is a power saw that uses a long blade loop stretched between two wheels.

You can think of the blade like a ribbon that continually rotates along with the wheels.

Band saws are most often used for woodworking. However, you can also use them for lumbering and metalworking.

The main advantage of using a Band saw is that you can do the highly uniform cutting. This is thanks to the evenly distributed tooth load.

A bandsaw can easily cut curved or irregular shapes. It works a lot like a jigsaw, but it allows you to have more control.

FAQ. How to choose a Bandsaw Blade

Band saws aren’t the only saws that can make intricate cuts. But they are arguably the easiest to use.

Only a small part of the blade loop shows in the cutting area.

However, most Band saws allow you to make adjustments to expose more of the blade. This is helpful if you’re working on larger pieces of wood.

Because Band saws feature small-sized blades, you can use them to make detailed, intricate cuts.

With these machines, the blade loop comes up through the center of the table on the saw.

The table is where you place the wood before you move it to meet the blade.

Band saws also let you adjust the speed, and they let you make mitered and angled cuts, depending on the table surface of the saw.

There are several different types and sizes of Band saws. We’ll go over some of them in a minute.

To learn more about the basics of Band saws, watch this great video:

The Band saw’s history goes back a long way. And there were many different versions of this saw before the machine that we have now.

Notable dates in the history of Band saws include:

  • The first British patent for a Band saw went to William Newberry in 1809.
  • The first American patent for a Band saw went to Benjamin Barker in 1836.
  • A patent for the modern blade of the saw went to Anne Paulin Crepin in 1846.
  • In 1858 improvements in the mounting of the saws were made by Henry Wilson.
  • Wide commercial use of Band saws began around 1878 with the Cincinnati-based J. A. Fay and Company.
  • In 1908 a foot power Band saw was introduced by the Silver Manufacturing Company in Salem, Ohio.

The earliest versions of Band saws weren’t at all practical.

The problems that they faced were because the technology had not yet been invented to create durable, lasting blades.

Because the blade loops are continually bending and flexing around the wheels, the pressure caused the blades to break most of the time.

So it became a priority to improve the blades. Once a new welding method using new steel alloys and advanced tempering techniques was developed, everything changed for the Band saw.

The new functional blades instantly made the machine more feasible.

Since the 1800s, there have been significant improvements made to the Band saw.

Once the machine was commercially produced, it quickly became popular among builders and lumberyards.

You can read more about the interesting history of bandsaws here.

What’s the Difference Between a Band Saw and a Scroll Saw?

In the woodworking world, you will often find people debating about choosing between a Band saw and a scroll saw.

It can be a tough decision because both of these saws are excellent at handling curved cuts.

They can both make super accurate scrolling cuts that you can use for numerous applications.

The two saws are similar because of what they can do. But there are some significant differences too.

The main one has to do with the blades and how they move.

They have very different blades

Band saws use blades that are in a continuous loop around the saw’s wheels. With Band saws, the blade cutting direction is always downward.

This feature allows the Band saw to handle more substantial work, like cutting down large pieces of lumber.

Scroll saws look similar to Band saws, but they differ in how they work.

With a scroll saw, the blade moves up and down reciprocating rapidly. Scroll saws work more similarly to a jigsaw than a Band saw.

One benefit of the scroll saw is that it allows you to make cuts inside of the wood. That means that scroll saws don’t require an entry point cut.

For this application, you would first drill a hole in the wood. Next, you would thread the blade up through the hole. Then, you can begin your cutting from there.

The differences in the blades change the way the saws cut. The up and down movement of the scroll saw lets you make more precise cuts.

Scroll saws allow for tighter curves. They also leave you with a smoother surface after the cut. Often the pieces don’t need any sanding at all.

Band saws are king when it comes to versatility

While it’s true that scroll saws offer some advantages when it comes to precision, they can’t compete with the Band saw when it comes to versatility. It’s not even close.

One cool thing about the Band saw is that it can make cuts nearly as precise as a scroll saw while also giving you the ability to tackle more substantial cutting tasks. Band saws can also handle harder materials.

You can use a Band saw to do things like cutting irregular and curved pieces, plastics, pipes, and larger pieces of lumber.

Band saws will help you with ripping, resawing, and breaking down boards to smaller pieces.

While the Band saw offers much more versatility than a scroll saw, we believe that both are useful tools to have.

However, if you have to choose just one of them, we recommend the Band saw.

Types of Band Saws

As we’ve discussed, Band saws are mainly used for cutting wood. But they can also be used to cut metal.

There aren’t two different machines for cutting wood or metal. Either way, you use the same saw, it’s just the blade that is different.

But with that said, there are some different types of Band saws available on the market today.


These Band saws are most often used for cutting pieces at right angles or miter angles.

Horizontal Band saws are generally floor mounted. They are used for making basic cuts with different materials.

With this type of Band saw, the cutting position is horizontal. That means that the idler and drive wheels are positioned lengthwise on the saw.

This type of saw is driven by an electric motor that has a belt and pulley. And it lets you easily make adjustments and change the speed.


Vertical Band saws, also called contour saws, are very versatile.

You can use them for filing, polishing, and contours. They’re also great for all simple stock piece cutting.

Vertical Band saws are just as the name suggests, they are vertical machines that are usually driven by an electric motor with belt transmission.

You use this saw by moving your wood against the blade. This machine allows you to manipulate the wood in different ways, including at various angles.

The belt on these machines allows you to adjust the speed.

The loop blade works by rotating between the idler wheel, which is mounted above the worktable, and the drive wheel, which is located under the worktable.


This type of Band saw is extremely popular with woodworking hobbyists.

The great thing about benchtop Band saws is that they are more mobile than floor standing machines.

They also cost a lot less than floor standing saws. They are designed to be attached to a flat solid surface. This surface will serve as a stable base for the machine.

Believe it or not, benchtop Band saws can be just as versatile and powerful as large floor standing units.

And it’s a bonus that they are more portable. They also don’t take up much space.

Floor standing

These are the most expensive type of Band saw. They are ideal for contractors and professionals who have commercial cutting needs.

However, they are a bit much for home use. Most hobbyists go with smaller benchtop units.

Floor standing saws are extremely powerful, and they are capable of cutting significant sizes.

Beyond the power and size benefits, another major advantage with this type of saw is that it offers a larger workspace, positioning, and table size.

If you want to make some intricate cuts or rip large pieces, then you will find it much easier with a floor standing saw.


Portable and handheld Band saws are very different from other Band saws.

But because of the way that the blade moves, they have still considered Band saws.

Portable Band saws have a small cutting area and are about the same size as handheld circular saws. They are mainly used for job-site work.

Handheld machines are especially useful for plumbers who use them to trim pipe.

Some builders and contractors also use them for cutting small workpieces. It’s not unusual for these types of saws to be used on metal or plastic.


And finally, there are meat Band saws. These are used by butchers to trim down and cut large pieces of meat.

There are many affordable meat saws on the market, even floor standing machines. They are ideal for hunters who like to cut their own game after hunting.

Meat Band saws were designed to cut through flesh, fat, and bone with very little waste. They look similar to regular floor standing Band saws, but they use a special blade made just for meat.

One thing to note with meat Band saws is that they are not meant to cut any material other than meat.

The Woodworkers Guild of America has some more excellent information about Band saws in this short video.

As we’ve been discussing, Band saws are super versatile. They can handle intricate cuts easily.

band, basics, saws, size

You can also use them to size down larger pieces of wood. Here are some of the most common uses for Band saws.


Band saws are incredibly versatile for working with wood. And the more you cut with them, the better you’ll get at your craft.

Woodworking is the most common use for Band saws. You can do some amazing things with wood with this machine.

Band saws usually come with the angle, fences, and table. These things will allow you to make crosscuts, straight cuts, miter cuts, and a wide range of freehand cuts.

Band saws let you use wood in many different ways. For one, if you have a large piece of wood, you would first use the Band saw to cut it down to more manageable chunks.

Then you would use the saw again to get the exact size that you want. From there, you can use the machine to make curved cuts.


When the Band saw was first invented, it was intended to be used for ripping lumber. People still use it for that reason.

Ripping means cutting down large pieces of wood along the grain. When you rip the wood, you cut down a sizeable unworkable piece of lumber into smaller, more functional pieces.

The cutting capacity and large table size on a Band saw make it simple to line up various pieces in a row.

You can then run those pieces along a miter guide or fence to quickly turn them into even smaller pieces.

One example of this is to use the Band saw to cut down a big piece of lumber into fence pieces all the same size.

Cutting metal

As I’ve said, you can also use Band saws to cut metals. They’re accurate and useful for it.

Intricate detailed cuts are indeed more difficult when you’re cutting metal, but if you’re careful, you can do it.

You can cut many different metal materials with a Band saw.

Believe it or not, you can usually use the same saw to cut both metal and wood. You just need to use an appropriate blade.


Resawing is another thing that you can do with a Band saw. It means sawing a piece of wood along its width.

Using the saw this way turns the wood into two book-matched pieces. This feature is helpful when you’re trying to make things like matching cabinet doors.

You can also use resawing to turn thicker boards into thinner pieces of wood.

This video will show you more about resawing.

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty Band saw that could handle professional use and very thick wood, then you should take a look at the Jet JWBS-14DXPRO.

This saw provides increased control and power thanks to the high tension spring design.

It features a cast-iron frame and a unique stand that includes plenty of storage. On top of that, it also comes with an incredible five-year warranty.

The downside to the Jet saw is that it is quite expensive. It’s also too heavy to move around.

If you want a rip fence, you will have to purchase it separately. Another thing that was lacking on this machine is that the tension isn’t even across all blade sizes.

Powermatic 1791216K Model PWBS-14CS

The Powermatic 1791216K Model PWBS-14CS is another excellent Band saw that you should consider.

It’s another heavy-duty machine capable of professional work. It comes with a built-in halogen work lamp.

And the extra-large cast iron worktable is expandable for added stability. This saw does not require any assembly. As the Jet saw, it comes with a five-year warranty.

As great as this saw is, there are a few limitations that you should know about.

First, it’s difficult to make adjustments to this saw. The alignment, expandable worktable, and tensioning belt are all tricky to adjust. This saw is also too heavy to move around.

SKIL 3386-01

Another Band saw worth your time is the SKIL 3386-01. This saw is much smaller than the first two we looked at.

It’s lightweight and easy to move around the shop. We recommend this benchtop machine for beginners. It’s super affordable, and the adjustments are straightforward to make.

This saw also comes with an LED lamp to give you a clear view of your work.

One limitation to this saw is that it is not powerful enough to handle large or professional jobs.

We like that it’s lightweight and portable, but the lighter weight also makes it a bit more unstable than some of the others.

You should also know that this saw only has a one-speed engine with low horsepower.

WEN 3962

The WEN 3962 is another benchtop Band saw that comes with a stand. It offers excellent performance at a low price.

This saw is precise and powerful. It comes with a work light and a stand. And it is ideal for beginners.

One thing worth noting is that the ultrasensitive controls need frequent adjustments.

The initial setup with this machine is also a bit difficult. Another thing that we weren’t crazy about is that you have to remove and adjust the belt to change speeds.

This adjustment isn’t a significant problem, but it is a minor inconvenience.

Rikon 10-305

If you want one of the best benchtop Band saws on the market this year, then you should consider the Rikon 10-305.

The thing that stands out about this saw is the incredible price. You’ll also appreciate the durable cast iron table and the compact size.

Another thing we liked about this saw is that the tracking adjustments are easy to use. It also comes with a five-year warranty.

The downside to this saw is that it doesn’t come with multiple speeds. It also doesn’t come with a stand.

We found that the table tilt can be awkward to adjust too. Also, the machine’s horsepower doesn’t impress us.

Grizzly G0555LX

The final Band saw on our list this year is the Grizzly G0555LX. One of the things that stands out about this machine is the weight.

This is a particularly heavy piece of equipment, weighing 247 pounds. That means that it can handle a lot of pressure.

It has a sturdy cast iron frame. We also really like that it comes with a lower and upper ball bearing blade guide and an adjustable fence with a magnifying window. Another great feature on this saw is the computer balanced cast iron wheels.

We didn’t have too many complaints about this machine. If we could alter anything, it would be to add more horsepower. We’d also like it if the dust port was a little deeper.

A Final Thought

As you can see, Band saws are incredibly versatile machines. And you can find them at just about every price point.

Before you purchase a new Band saw it’s essential that you decide what you’ll be using the saw for.

That will help you to choose the right machine to meet your individual needs.

We recommend all six of the saws on our list. But our top pick this year is the Grizzly G0555LX.

It will do a great job, whether you’re a professional or a home hobbyist. And you can get it without breaking the bank.

Best of luck with your search, and happy woodworking!

Band Saw Uses and Types

What are the uses of a Band saw? Which is the best Band saw for woodcutting and which one for metal cutting? Horizontal vs vertical, which one should I buy? Let me help you with the answers.

If you need a reliable tool that can cut wood, lumber, and metal, while also being able to make curved cuts, then a Band saw may be for you. Now, as far as power tools go, the Band saw is probably not the most famous one out there. When you think of power tools, you probably think of things like drills, table saws, circular saws, etc. Many people probably do not even know what a Band saw is. In this complete guide, I will tell you everything that you need to know about Band saws.

What is a Band saw?

Conceptually, a Band saw is a very simple tool. A single, continuous Band of metal which is toothed is placed between two wheels. The wheels are rotated by the bandsaw motor, which gives the metal Band its cutting power. This metal Band that is toothed is called the Band saw blade. The rotation of Band saw blade enables it to cut through not only softwood but also lumber and metal.

Band saws, like many other power tools, come in both portable and stationary varieties (they are also often referred to as floor and tabletop models). Both are essentially the same power tool, with the only real difference being the ease with which they can be moved.

How a Band saw works

The basic working principle of a Band saw is that a rotating Band of metal-blade cut through the material. Many of you are no doubt familiar with how a reciprocating saw works. A single blade is driven up and down by an internal motor in order to generate cutting power. This is how a variety of saws work, including jigsaws, reciprocating saws, etc. A Band saw works a bit differently. With a Band saw, rotating wheels drive a single Band of continuous metal (this is where the “Band” in the name comes from) which performs the cutting action.

Depending on the type of model you are using, either you will have to control the blade or your material (I will talk more about this difference later when I talk about the differences between vertical and horizontal Band saws).

The main value of a vertical Band saw is how versatile it is when it comes to cutting. Not only can it make the sort of straightforward cuts that a table saw can (although a vertical Band saw cannot really match the pure volume and cutting power of your average table saw), it can also make curved cuts.

Band Saw Blades

As with pretty much every kind of saw out there, Band saws come with a variety of different blades that work best for different kinds of jobs.

Regular Band saw blades are ideal for making accurate cuts on thin materials like softwoods and plastic sheets.

Skip tooth blades are ideal for cutting through wood, non-ferrous metals, and plastics. These blades have widely spaced teeth with no rake angle to avoid clogging and get cuts are clean and accurate.

Hook tooth blades. These blades cut aggressively into all kinds of materials, including metal, wood, plastics, etc. These blades cut quickly but are not a good idea if you want small, accurate cuts.

Alternate Set blades: These are blades with one tooth offset towards left and next one offset towards the right. They are mainly used by wood turners and those who do wood carving.

Types of Band saws

There are two main types of Band saws; vertical ones and horizontal ones. The main difference between the two lies in whether you have to feed the material you are cutting or the blade itself. There is also horizontal/vertical combination Band saw.

Horizontal Vs Vertical Bandsaw

While they both work on the same principle, they have different uses. Let me explain.

Horizontal Band Saw

On a horizontal bandsaw, the workpiece is fixed and the blade on the swing arm is brought down on to the work. The main benefits to horizontal saws are their ability to cut tougher materials and larger amounts of materials. This makes them more popular in factories or in professional workshops where volume matters. Horizontal Band saws are widely used in the metalworking industry. Most machine shops, tool rooms, and manufacturing units require an effective method to quickly cut large metal bars into smaller sizes. The horizontal bandsaw replaces the older power hacksaw in metalworking industry since bandsaw is way faster.

The metal cutting bandsaws are equipped with coolant units. The coolant that flows over the blade and on to the workpiece has two factions. The coolant liquid dissipates heat from the blade and work-piece and it also washes the metal chips away.

Horizontal bandsaws are designed for making straight cuts. Bandsaws with rotating work holding base also enable them to make angular cuts. However, you can’t cut radius or intricate shapes on a horizontal bandsaw. Their size and bigger price tag tend to make them unsuitable for a lot of home workshops.

Vertical Band Saw

With a vertical Band saw, the blade circulates at a fixed position and the work-piece is fed against the blade. So, you have to carefully maneuver the material that you are cutting into the blade. This allows for a variety of cuts. Likewise, it also makes things like curved cuts significantly easier. Because of this vertical bandsaw is often called the contour saw.

How to use a Band saw to cut inside profile? The vertical Band saw usually comes with a blade welder. When you want to cut an internal contour on a sheet, you have to cut the blade first. Then insert the blade through the hole in the work-piece. After that use the built-in welder to join the two ends of the blade. Next, proceed to load the blade on the drive wheels and adjust the blade tension. The Band saw blade should be loaded in such a way that the cutting teeth are pointing downwards. Switch on the machine and start moving your workpiece to get the blade to cut the desired path. This is how you will cut the internal contour on a Band saw.

A vertical bandsaw is an excellent power tool for cutting complex shapes both internal and external. You can use it make straight cuts, angular cuts, curved cuts and intricate contours. However vertical bandsaws lack the power of the horizontal bandsaws. Hence, they cannot be used to cut large sized solid blocks.

Combination Band Saw

In a horizontal- vertical combo saw, you have the option to lift-up the blade head into a vertical position. Once you lock the machine in the vertical position, attach the work table and you are good to go. This offers the best of both horizontal and vertical Band saws.

However, it has disadvantages. First of all, they are not rigid as a dedicated vertical bandsaw. As a horizontal saw their cut capacity is smaller than a dedicated horizontal Band saw. You may have to keep changing the blade often since horizontal bandsaws require much wider blades.

If you are a hobbyist or DIY enthusiast and your work involves a lot of straight cuts as well as curved cuts, then go for the combo. Otherwise, you are better off with a dedicated horizontal or vertical Band saw.

Bandsaw uses

In this section, I am going to tell you what sort of Band saw setup is the best for each kind of job.

  • The primary use of the Band saw is to cut irregular shapes that includes straight and curved
  • It is also the most widely used machine tool for resawing.
  • You can do long rip-cuts, crosscuts and even cut the full log.
  • Horizontal bandsaws are more effective than hacksaw for cutting long sized meterial into smaller sizes.
  • Band saws are also used in food industry for meat cutting.

So, whether you are cutting wood, metal, or even meat, you can pick out the Band saw that will meet your needs the best.

Band saw for woodworking

One of the main uses of all saws (including Band saws) is to cut wood, so there is no doubt that most of you are curious about the best set up for cutting wood. Well, my personal opinion is that for wood cutting, you should go for a vertical or combination saw.

A horizontal saw can be good for cutting logs into smaller pieces. My recommendation is to get a vertical Band saw with a standard blade and you will be able to handle most, if not all, standard home woodworking jobs. You can use a vertical Band saw to cut wood to size, for resawing, to cut curves and shapes and more.

If you need to cut a lot of wood, consider investing in a hook blade for your Band saw, which will allow you to cut through large volumes of wood much quicker. Woodcutting Band saw blades are made out of high carbon steel. You can also get a bimetal blade for higher performance and blade life.

Band Saw for Re-sawing

One of the most commonly used machine tools for re-sawing is the Band saw. They are ideal because you can cut different sizes and even do the re-sawing of the full logs.

Resaw: For those who don’t know; resawing is the operation of cutting along the grain to reduce the thickness of the workpiece. Resawing is similar to rip-cut, but you are splitting the thickness instead of width.

While you could do the re-sawing on a table saw, you are limited by the diameter of the blade. There is a limit to which the blade can project out from the surface of a table saw. When you use a Band saw for re-sawing, you can raise the upper blade guide to accommodate workpiece with a larger width.

Tip: Use a Band saw fence to perform the re-sawing precisely. You should ensure that the fence is parallel to the blade or square to the table. Once you push the work against the fence and feed the workpiece towards the blade, the fence will act as a guide.

Band saw for metal cutting

For cutting tubes, sheet metal, metal plates with smaller thickness vertical Band saw is ideal. You can cut various shapes easily using the vertical saw. Use a fine tooth raker pattern or alternate tooth blade to do the metal cutting. The rule of thumb for Band saw is to have minimum 2 to 3 tooth in contact with the workpiece you are cutting. That means the thinner your workpiece the more teeth per inch you need.

Get a bimetal Band saw blade for long-term repeated use. If you are cutting softer material like aluminum, brass or even mild steel then high carbon steel blades will also work well.

If you need to use your Band saw for cutting metal bars, solid rods and plates into size, then purchase a horizontal Band saw. As I said earlier, these are more expensive and a lot bigger than vertical saws, so not everyone will be able to get one. However, if the price is not an issue and you have enough space in your workshop for a horizontal Band saw, then I really recommend getting one. They have more than enough power to cut metal reliably.

If you are unable to get a horizontal Band saw, you can still cut metal along a straight-line with a vertical Band saw. But it is less accurate and slow process.

Band saw for meat cutting

Unless you are cutting a ridiculous amount of meat at once, then a regular vertical Band saw is more than powerful enough to cut through tough meat reliably. However, you will want to make sure that you are using a blade meant for precision cuts; using something like a hook tooth blade will destroy the meat. I would suggest you get a dedicated meat cutting bandsaw since they are clean and smaller and easy to handle.

Buyers Guide.What to look for?

The type of saw, size, motor capacity and available speed are some of the things you should look for while buying a Band saw.


Bandsaw are available in horizontal and vertical configuration. I will explain in details on the difference between horizonal vs vertical Band saws under the Band saw types section.


There are four sizes that you should be aware of.

Overall Size: First is the overall size of the Band saw. If you take a look at the available options, you can find a small portable bench top bandsaws to large floor models for industrial use. While a tabletop version may be good enough for crafts work, carpenters and serious woodworking professional would need a floor model. Buy the one according to your work requirement.

Throat Size: The second is the throat size. This is the distance between the column of the machine to the inner edge of the blade. This is the widest size of workpiece you can have inside the blade and body of the machine. So a 12-inch Band saw will have a throat distance of 12 inches.

Depth: Next is the depth of cut. It is the distance between the bottom of the blade guide to the top of the table. This is the maximum height of workpiece you can cut on a Band saw. Those who are planning to do a lot of resawing should note this dimension is an important one.

Finally the size of the table: A larger table size will provide you with adequate support for supporting bigger sized workpiece which makes handling easier. You will also need a bigger table if you plan to use miter fence to do angular cutting on Band saw.

However keep in mind that if the table is too big and if you have smaller arms, you may find it difficult to reach closer to blade while cutting irregular shapes on small workpieces.

Motor Power

They normally range from 1/2 HP to 3HP in power. Nearly all the bandsaws can cut thin sheets and rip boards. However you need more horse power for cutting thicker material and resaw.


Different types of materials to be cut calls for different speed. Hence if you are planning to cut a variety of materials get a Band saw with variable speed.

As a rule of thumb, softer the material, higher should be the speed. So you should set higher speed for soft material life wood, plastic and plywood whereas harder material like steel should be cut with the slowest speed.

Who should buy a Band saw

Almost anyone can benefit from having a Band saw in their workshop. However, there are two kinds of people who will benefit the most from one. Firstly, those who regularly need to cut various shapes. For example, to make crafts, artwork, templates etc. If you are one of them, then get a vertical bandsaw.

Secondly, those who run a professional workshop (or butcher shop) and who regularly need to cut large amounts of materials to size; the latter will greatly benefit from a horizontal one. Think of horizontal Band saw machine as a power hacksaw that is much more efficient.


Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the use of a Band saw. If you have any questions feel free to ask me.

How to cut very thin sheet metal on a Band saw?

As I explained earlier in the article, ideally you should have at least 2 teeth must be in contact with your sheet metal when you make the cut. So what if the sheet thickness is smaller than the distance between two teeth. Here is a neat trick.

Sandwich your thin sheet metal between two pieces of wood or plastic sheets that are thicker. You could either clamp them or use glue to stick between the wood or plastic sheets. Now the effective thickness of your workpiece is more and hence the number of teeth is in contact also increases.

What is the recommended Band saw speed?

In general softer work piece like wood, plastic, plywood etc. are cut at higher speeds. On the other hand, harder materials like steel require a slower speed. The speed of a Band saw blade is expressed as FPM or feet per minute. The general rule is to use slower speeds for harder material and higher blade speed for softer ones. Based on my own experience and referring the MIT guidelines, I suggest the following speeds.

Plastic is a soft material. But I recommend a reduced speed is because higher blade speeds produce more heat that can cause the plastic to melt.

Depending on the size of the saw, here is a quick Band saw speed chart for general purpose. 12-inch Band Saw = 2600 Feet per Minute 14-inch Band saw = 3200 Feet per Minute 16-inch bansaw = 3800 Feet per Minute 18-inch and above = 4000 – 5000 Feet per Minute

What feed should I use on a bandsaw?

Refer to the blade manufacturer’s specification. The best way identify is to look at the chips. You don’t want to see burned chips. While you are cutting steel curled silvery chips are the indication of correct feed.

If you feed the work/blade too fast, the blade will deflect resulting in poor edges and blade breakage in worst cases. On the other hand, if the feed is too less and the blades are not sharp, the cutting teeth may not be able to penetrate into the material to be cut.

Can I use one blade for all types of cutting?

Ideally, you should get a coarse blade for cutting software materials like wood and plastic and a fine blade for cutting harder materials like metal. Thin sheets will also require fine Band saw blade with more number of teeth per inch.

How is the size of a Band saw determined?

The size of the Band saw is usually determined by the throat depth of the machine. The throat-depth is the distance between the blade and the column.

Band Saw Usage Tips

  • Adjust the movable saw guide (upper saw guide in case of vertical saw) to the closest position you can considering the overall thickness of the workpiece. This will ensure minimum blade deflection and allows you to increase the feed.
  • Use the right blade for the right job.
  • Ensure proper tension to the saw blade by moving the adjusting hand wheel. Excessive tension will cause the blade to break while insufficient tension will result in the blade getting slipped out of the drive wheels.

Band Saw Safety

  • Never touch the blade the while it is running. The circulating blade will pull your fingers in and can cause serious injuries.
  • Do not touch the blade immediately after you finish the cutting. The blades that do not use coolants are usually too hot to touch. If you must change the blades, wait for it to cool down. Or use gloves to protect your hand.
  • Use proper protection while changing the blades. The long flexible blades can spring out and cause injury.
  • Use your hands clear-off the circulating blade while pushing the work-piece against it. Use a push stick or a wooden block to push your work towards the blade.

Bandsaw Basics for Wood Bowl Turners

How important is it for a woodturner to have a bandsaw?

A bandsaw is an essential tool for woodturners, especially wood bowl turners. The bandsaw helps remove excess material in order to make the process of turning a wood bowl more efficient.

Understanding how the bandsaw works, using it safely, and showing it all due respect will make wood bowl turning quicker and easier.

A simple design, a thin metal continuous blade tensioned between two wheels powered by a motor, can save time, money, and bowl gouge steel. Understanding and safely operating a bandsaw to process wood bowl blanks is what this article will cover in detail.

Bandsaw basics for wood bowl turners will cover:

band, basics, saws, size
  • identifying the parts of a bandsaw
  • how to adjust the bandsaw blade
  • how to select an appropriate blade
  • how to handle the blades
  • how to safely operate the bandsaw
  • how to trim a wood bowl blank on the bandsaw

Why A Bandsaw?

You may be asking, why do I need a bandsaw? Well, if you do only a handful of turned wood bowls, or you have a friend that will let you borrow their saw, then you may not need one.

If you only occasionally make a turned bowl, yes, you can turn away rough cut squared excess bowl blank corners with the bowl gouge on the lathe. But once or twice rounding your bowl blanks through the bandsaw and it will be clear that the pounding you take when turning off square corners on the lathe is not worth the trouble.

If you plan to frequently turn wood bowls, a bandsaw is a huge time saver. And even if you are borrowing a friend’s saw, you will still want to acquaint yourself with the various components of a bandsaw and understand how to safely operate that bandsaw.

Bandsaw Identified

The parts of a bandsaw are pretty simple and straight-forward. Two wheels support a continuous metal saw blade. Power is provided usually by an electric motor which rotates the wheels and turns the blade.

Bandsaw wheels are usually metal and covered with rubber tires. Yes, these are called tires. The tires help cushion and center the blade as it revolves on the wheels.

On the right side of the machine, where the blade makes contact with the cutting material, the blade guide resides. The blade guide serves a couple purposes by helping to keep the blade straight and true while also safely shielding the rotating blade.

The table surface of the bandsaw in the business end of the machine where the rubber meets the road, or better, where the wood meets the teeth. Many bandsaw tables will have adjustments so they may be tilted to create angled cuts. Also, on the table surface is usually a straight groove, or miter slot designed to accept the rail of a sliding guide or jig.

Protective doors cover the two bandsaw turning wheels during operation. Latches keep the doors closed and secure.

Various knobs are located around the saw. Most of the knobs are designed to adjust the tracking, location, and tension of the blade.

Bandsaw adjustments

The most significant adjustment for any bandsaw is the blade tracking. The blade needs to track true and centered for ideal performance.

Stop. Before you start turning knobs to seek this “ideal performance,” take a minute to learn what is what.

I’m speaking from experience here. Turning a couple knobs seems innocent enough, but you can quickly create a major headache and have a bandsaw that appears to merely reject its own blade, over and over.

Here’s what I learned, the hard way. Typically the lower wheel is straight and does not have an angled adjustment. The upper wheel usually has an up and down adjustment and an angle adjustment. If you get all of these moving at the same time, you can go crazy trying to fix the mess.

Instead of just turning knobs, look carefully at how the blade is tracking. With the saw off and unplugged, rotate the top wheel by hand several times. Is the blade riding on the crown of the tire, on the wheel? If so, stop, don’t do anything else. You’re good to go.

If the blade is riding on the front or back of the tire and wheel, some adjustments need to be made. Read your owners manual to see how this is best done. Typically, it will only take a small modification of the wheel angle to recenter the bland on the wheel.

When making bandsaw blade adjustments, a little movement goes a long way. So, easy does it on the adjustment knobs.

Adjusting Blade Tension

Again, see your specific bandsaw manual for the details on how to appropriately adjust the tension of the blade.

On my machine, I loosen the blade guide and position it back a bit and away from the blade. With the blade snug, but not fully tensioned, the saw is turned on, and the blade rotates. The tension knob is then tightened until any flutter or vibration leaves the turning blade.

With the tension set and the saw off, the guide is then repositioned over the blade in its proper protective position.

Bandsaw Sizing

The space from the exposed blade to the left side of the table is called the bandsaw throat. This space determines the widest the material can be that passes to the left of the blade.

From the table surface up to the highest setting for the bandsaw blade guide is called the depth. This distance determines the limit of the height of the cutting material or bowl blank.

By the way, these dimensions for cutting space rarely match the named size of the bandsaw. Instead, the bandsaw is typically sized based on the wheel diameter.

For instance, I use a 17” Grizzly Bandsaw and its throat is 16 1/2” wide and the cutting depth is a little over 12” tall. The outer diameter of the turning wheels is 17” wide, hence the saw’s name. I have also, used a 10″ bandsaw and it was fantastic for specific tasks.

The throat and depth determine how much material the bandsaw potentially can cut. These are important dimensions to compare to the size of blanks you may want to trim on the bandsaw.

While a 17” bandsaw can easily handle a bowl blank that is eight inches tall and 16 or 18” in diameter, a 14” bandsaw may only have a cutting depth of five or six inches. With a six-inch cutting depth, or height, a 14” bandsaw cannot handle blanks taller than six inches.

Selecting A Band Saw

The motor is also an essential component to size when selecting a bandsaw that’s right for you. If you will be cutting larger blanks, a more substantial two horsepower or larger motor is ideal. For blanks five inches and less, a one horsepower to one and a half horsepower motor should work fine.

Essentially, the larger the horsepower, the more force to cut the wood bowl blank. If there are options and you can afford a slightly larger motor, you will be thankful in the long run that you made the investment in more power.

Also, be sure to match the bandsaw motor voltage to what you have available. powerful units are sometimes available in both 110V and 220V, or just 220V.

Bandsaw Blade Sizing

When sizing bandsaw blades, there are four elements to consider:

1 – The bandsaw blade length is specific to each model bandsaw. For instance, my 17” Grizzly Bandsaw uses a 131.5” long blade. That’s the only length that will fit my machine, so there really are no options here. Use the length specific to your bandsaw.

2 – Bandsaw blade widths come in many options. There are a few tradeoffs here. The width of a blade will control how straight it cuts. For example, a 1/4” wide blade will move more freely than a 3/4” wide blade.

You may be thinking, if a wider blade equals a more accurate cut, then why not get a 1” or 1.5” wide blade. You can do this, but the take, from the “, give and take,” is turning small tight curves becomes more difficult with wider blades.

The width of the blade dictates the turning radius for that blade. Narrower blades can turn tighter small circles, while wider blades turn wider arcs.

3 – Teeth per inch (TPI) on a bandsaw blade will dictate how much material is cut and how clean a cut is made in a particular cut material.

There is a formula for calculating TPI, that looks like this.

Let’s look at this closer. If we are cutting a bowl blank that is six inches high at the highest point, the formula will look like 24 / 6” (high) = 4 TPI. So a three to four TPI blade should work well. This is a relatively course aggressive blade, precisely what we need to get through thick green wood bowl blanks.

Now, on the other hand, if we wanted to make some smooth cuts on a one-inch thick piece of plywood, our three to four TPI blade is going to rip and tear the plywood fibers. Instead, we need a different blade. Using the formula, 24 divided by 1” = 24 TPI, this is a much finer and smoother blade required for cutting plywood.

4 – The final measurement, blade thickness, seems to be an afterthought. I can share from experience, don’t overlook the blade thickness. At least not for turning green wood bowl blanks.

I ordered a 131.5” long, 1/2 wide, 3 to 4 TPI blade that happened to be.025” thick. The thickness didn’t even occur to me at the time. The blade cut fine, but when I’d move the green wood bowl blank, the blade would wander around and force me to twist and turn the wood blank to try to keep a normal path.

Later, I tried a blade that was exactly the same, except it was.030 thick. Guess what, it cut smooth and didn’t wander. I was shocked the amount of difference a mere five 1/1000 of an inch made.

If you’re only turning bowl blanks, you will probably only need a couple blades, one on the bandsaw and a duplicate backup blade. However, if you want to cut a variety of different materials on the bandsaw, be aware there is a proper blade for every task.

Don’t think the course three to four TPI, 1/2” blade is going to work for all of your woodworking tasks. Take the time and change out the blade when your needs change.

Changing Blades

Changing blades is not that difficult, especially after you’ve done it a couple times. Like always, read your manual and do what your manufacturer recommends.

With the power off and the bandsaw unplugged, open the two separate wheel cover doors. Depending on the brand and model of the bandsaw, there may be a quick release for the tension, or you may need to loosen the tension adjustment knob. Either way, tension on the blade needs to be released.

Just release the main tension and don’t accidentally adjust any of the fine tuning adjustment knobs mentioned above. Yes, I wandered down that road once too. LOL

Next, examine the table and move any inserts or guards that will be in the way of removing the blade.

Wear safety glasses and a pair of thick leather gloves and grip the blade while taking it off the bandsaw wheels. Watch where the bandsaw blade is contained and slowly free it from each section of the bandsaw. Usually, the blade needs to be rotated ninety-degrees to pass out of the table surface. Do that step last.

How to Fold A Bandsaw Blade

Here’s how to fold a bandsaw blade. With the blade free from the bandsaw, hold two ends of the loop up and out in front of you. While gripping the blade, twist your right hand clockwise while keeping your left-hand stationary. Be careful to not get scraped by the blade teeth when making this fold.

Fold the blade over until two distinct loops appear, then fold the remaining third loop up onto the first two loops. Gently hold the three loops and jiggle them until they even out into three equal folded loops.

Another way to fold the blade is to first step on the blade loop. Position the teeth away from you and twist your wrist as you lower the coiling bandsaw blade down into its folded loops.

The blade should collapse and fold into thirds in a tight, neat loop. Once the blade is contained, use twist ties or zip ties to secure the loops from springing open.

Hang the blade out of the way, but handy so it’s ready to be used when needed.

11 Bandsaw Safety Tips

  • First and foremost, read all the manufacturer’s instructions, safety tips, and advice specific to your bandsaw.
  • Whenever making any adjusts to the bandsaw, turn off the power and unplug the machine.
  • Lower the guide down to the lowest point over the bowl blank being cut. Do not leave the guide up too high, lower the guide as needed while making a cut
  • Keep any body parts at least 4 inches away from the Band saw blade at all times
  • If it is necessary to control material being cut within four inches of the blade, do so only with wood push sticks.
  • Never backup while making a cut. Reversing direction can potentially reposition or derail the blade.
  • Don’t pinch or bind the blade. It is ok to pull material out behind and away from the back of the blade if more the four inches from the blade. Be sure not to pinch the cut material together which can constrict the blade
  • Never freehand cut round material on its round end on a bandsaw. Round material, such as a small diameter limb, does not have a flat supported bottom and can potentially, twist, bind and damage the blade, or worse. Use a specific supportive jig when cutting any material without a solid flat, supportive bottom
  • Be sure the area around you is clear and clean at all times. Your body position and posture should be stable and secure. Never lean or reach towards the bandsaw.
  • Know all the ways to shut off and stop the bandsaw. Occasionally check that emergency shut off switches are operating properly.
  • Remember, even though you’ve turned off the bandsaw, the blade will continue to cut until it comes to a complete stop.

Cutting Bowl Blank

I use cardboard circle templates to quickly visualize and create round cuts on green wood bowl blanks. The cardboard circle is temporarily held in place by an awl which it tapped into place with a mallet.

With the circle template in place and safety glasses and respirator on, I turn on the bandsaw. When the blade is up to speed, I feed in the left edge of the green wood bowl blank and begin following the edge of the cardboard circle, without cutting the cardboard.

Here is the critical part of the process. When the awl, which is perfectly centered in the blank, is positioned approximately ninety-degrees off the right side of the blade, imagine the awl is now fixed.

Instead of fixating on the cutting edge of the blade and its relationship to the cardboard circle template, I FOCUS on the awl and keeping it stationary. If the awl remains still and the wood gently rotates to the blade around the pivot point of the awl, a perfect circle will be formed with minimal effort.

Bandsaw Maintenance

Follow all guidelines indicated in your user manual and instructions first, as always. Clean, grease or oil any specific locations stated in your manual when necessary.

In general, keep the bandsaw and area around the saw clean. Remove any sawdust buildup in the wheel housings and anywhere on the bandsaw. A vacuum system attached to the saw’s dust ports and running during operation is the best way to keep dust under control.

band, basics, saws, size

Wax can be applied to the bandsaw table to make the movement of green wood bowl blanks more smooth. This also aids in the cutting process when rotating the bowl blanks.

If a particular blade seems to not be cutting too well or is getting bogged down, there are waxes and dressing that can be applied directly to the blade. Follow the instructions carefully when applying. Friction reduction can be helpful especially when turning very wet green wood, or very hard wood dry bowl blanks.

Just like bowl gouges, blades need to be sharp as well. If a blade is not cutting smooth, getting hot, smoking, or bogging down, sharpen the blade, if possible, or replace the blade with a sharp one as soon as possible.


The bandsaw can make quick work of bowl blank production. This gives us wood bowl turners more time at the lathe doing what we really enjoy doing, making bowls.

Even though the design of the bandsaw is quite simple, we do need to give this powerful machine the respect it deserves, and in exchange, it will provide us with countless pieces of readied material to turn at the lathe.

Click here to see what bandsaws I recommend. Let me know if you own a bandsaw, and what kind. What would you like to add to the article? Leave me a comment below.

Thanks, and Happy Turning!Kent

Комментарии и мнения владельцев

Debra Traverse I have a question about bandsaw blades. My understanding is that a.035 thickness with 3 to 4 TPI is ideal for green wood bowl blanks. I have a significant supply of 100 year old chestnut and oak. Very dry, very dense. I know I’ll have to keep my gouges sharp to work with these pieces. My question is, what type of bandsaw blade would you recommend for cutting blanks out of dry seasoned hardwoods? Thanks!

Kent W Debra, Good question. The same blade will work for fresh green wood and the older dense pieces. And, by the way, ENJOY that wood! Chestnut is amazing. All the best to you and Happy Turning!

Jan Johnson you mentioned a bandsaw blade width of.035 inch instead of.025 width. curious, did the extra width cause an adj ustment of the blade saw bearings?

Kent W Jan, No bearing adjustment, but tension adjustment. This thicker blade guides very nicely and does not wander like thinner blades. Happy Turning! Kent

Ole Tater Not to be critical ” BUT” wearing long pants and sturdy shoes with socks should be a ” Safety Issue ” when working in any shop. Be it wood / metal / glass.

Kent W I completely agree. It is an unspoken “give and take” we have in Florida where the temps average in the mid-90s and the humidity can be at 100% each morning for months on end. Perhaps I’ll make new images when I’m able to actually wear long pants.

Garry I know about the weather in Florida 36 years east coast I also worked outside for those years, now in Tennessee with four seasons and great hard woods

Learn some tricks and tips for making surprisingly smooth bandsaw cuts.

Synopsis: Learn how to cut curves on the bandsaw so smooth and flawless that they require very little smoothing and sanding afterward. Michael Fortune gathers his top tips for cutting curves, from choosing the right bandsaw blade to setting the tension and guides correctly. One of his neatest tricks is a method for slightly twisting the workpiece so that you can make a smooth cut and stay exactly to the line, every time. Tips for cutting compound curves and for flawless smoothing are also included.

I have exhibited my work for many years and have noticed that people respond to curves. They’ll stop, look, and then run their hands along the curved edges of a piece. Square furniture rarely invites this personal interaction.

I use all manner of curves in my work, from irregular, free-form curves to regular curves with exact radii. All of them must be free of irregularities that could catch the light unevenly or be easily detected when you pass your hand along the edge. The fastest way to cut curves is on the bandsaw. The bandsaw is a crude machine, however, and the results can be rough, with major smoothing and sanding required. I will show you how to cut curves on the bandsaw so smooth and close to the line that they require very little cleanup afterward.

The first step to cutting attractive curves, whether true arcs with a single radius or irregular, flowing curves, is knowing how to draw them. I cover that in Fundamentals on pp. 24-28.

Success starts with setup

Match the blade to the curve

A coarse blade for a smooth cut. For all bandsaw cuts, including curves, a coarse blade like this 1/2-in., 3-tpi model will run cool and track a line more effectively than a fine blade. The finer blade will run hotter and will clog with sawdust quickly, making it wander.

Tighter curves require narrower blades. For example, a 1/2-in.-wide blade won’t make it around a 1-in. radius.

Start with the blade and guides

A 14-in. bandsaw is a good size for cutting curved furniture parts. The key to great performance is picking the right blade for the job and setting up the saw properly.

Pick the right blade—It might seem counterintuitive, but a coarse blade (3 tpi to 4 tpi, skip tooth) will make very clean cuts. A finer blade, with too many teeth and small gullets in between, will clog with sawdust pretty quickly, causing it to overheat and dull prematurely. The blade will also tend to dodge left or right as it works to avoid the compressed sawdust, resulting in a wobbly cut line.

Be sure to match the blade width to the radius you are cutting (see chart, above). In general, tighter curves require narrower blades. Finally, be sure the blade is sharp and clean. A dull blade will always seek the path of least resistance, and it is rarely in the direction you want to cut. You can tell a blade is getting dull when it takes extra pressure to cut the stock. A dull blade also runs hotter, and the end of the kerf will be dark where the teeth were in contact with the wood. You may also notice that the sawdust appears slightly toasted.

Set the tension and guides—Once you have the proper blade in hand, it’s critical that you set the tension and guides to ensure good results.

With the guides pulled away from the blade, adjust the tension and track the blade so that it’s centered on the upper wheel (for details on setting up the bandsaw, see “Five Tips for Better Bandsawing,” FWW #173). I do not overtension bandsaw blades. In fact, I lean toward undertensioning them. For example, my 1⁄2-in. blades will be tensioned only to the 3⁄8-in. mark on the blade tension scale. The lower tension works because the coarse blades I use cut flawlessly and are easy to steer along a pencil line. The lower tension also saves wear and tear on the bandsaw tires and doesn’t overstress the frame of the bandsaw. Overtensioning a narrow blade, such as the 1⁄8-in., 3⁄16-in., and 1⁄4-in. sizes, risks having the blade create a groove in the tires. Once that happens, any blade will become almost impossible to track.

Next, adjust the guides and the thrust bearing to ensure sufficient blade support for the curved cuts. Finally, check that the table is square to the blade, lower the upper guide to within 1⁄2 in. of the workpiece—enough to block your fingers from passing under—and you’re ready to cut.

Bring the guides close to the blade

To keep the blade from twisting excessively during a curved cut, it’s critical that you keep the guides and thrust bearing close to the blade.

Cutting close to the line means less cleanup later

An essential woodworking skill is being able to cut to a curved line on the bandsaw. I see a lot of students and beginning woodworkers struggle with this task. I’ll show you the secrets to making smooth cuts within 1⁄32 in. of any cut line, without the need for fancy jigs.

Let the blade do its job—When cutting, don’t push too hard. Feed the workpiece slowly and steadily. With a sharp blade, the work should practically feed itself. Trying to make the blade cut too fast will create a rough surface and a wandering cut.

It’s also helpful to have good task lighting focused on the cutting area so the pencil line is clearly visible. As you cut, always be aware of where your hands and fingers are. It’s easy to lose track of them as you navigate the curves.

Plan the sequence of any curved cut so that it is not necessary to back out along the curved kerf. Backing out can be problematic, especially if the kerf has closed up, and you risk inadvertently pulling the blade off the bandsaw wheels.

A really twisted trick—The most common problem encountered when cutting a freehand curve is that the cut is wavy and not always precisely parallel with the line you want to follow. The set on the blade’s teeth (the distance the teeth project from the sides of the blade) allows the wood to move from side to side until it encounters the flat sides of the blade.

I found a way to overcome this problem by slightly twisting the wood during the cut so that one side of the kerf remains in contact with the back edge of the blade (see photos, facing page). In essence, the back of the blade serves as a steady rest, eliminating the side-to-side wobble and allowing you to control the cut with precision. The technique certainly takes some practice (you may want to try it with a wider blade at first), but you’ll be shocked at the results.

Offer support where needed—If you’re cutting a large piece, the small table of the bandsaw may not provide enough support. Also, the workpiece or the offcut will tilt slightly and snag on the edge of the bandsaw table as it is swung around. To avoid this problem and make the cut safer, use either an outfeed support or a large auxiliary table that’s clamped to the bandsaw table, or both.

When bandsawing thin stock, tearout is often a problem. To prevent tearout on the bottom of a thin workpiece, back up the cut using a thin sheet of hardboard taped to the bandsaw table. With this method you can make splinter-free cuts in stock as thin as 1⁄16 in. By the way, the rough blade still works in thin stock.

Tricks for compound curves—There are cases where it is not possible to have the wood always in contact with the bandsaw table. Cutting a compound curve can require that the part be lifted off the table at various points. This is not safe, because the cutting action can slam the wood onto the table, drawing your fingers in or pinching them underneath. One common method of supporting the workpiece is to tape the offcuts to the blank after each side is cut. This is a typical procedure for making cabriole legs, but it works for any leg that is shaped on multiple sides.

Another method is to use a block under the concave area of a workpiece, a technique especially useful when you’re cutting a curved apron or drawer front. Be sure to orient the workpiece with the show face on top.

Smooth cuts guaranteed

Customize your bandsaw table

A simple auxiliary table can help support large workpieces and can prevent tearout on thin stock.

Make a bigger work surface

Use a zero-clearance table for thin stock

Use relief cuts to cheat

How to bandsaw a radius tighter than a blade will allow. First remove the bulk of the waste (left). Next, make the relief cuts perpendicular to the cut line. The number of relief cuts you make depends on the severity of the curve. Now you’ll be able to remove the rest of the waste along the line, steadying the workpiece against the back of the blade (right).

Straight cuts in curved work

Bandsaw cuts are rougher on the bottom side. So, when ripping a curved panel, such as a table apron or drawer front, be sure the show side is face up. If the concave side is the show face, cut it against a fence (left). If the show side is the convex face, support the cut with a block screwed to a fence (right). Locate screws where the blade won’t hit them.

Simple methods to remove sawmarks

Any cuts made on the bandsaw, no matter how skillfully done, will need to be cleaned up to remove the sawmarks. Curves can be smoothed using hand tools or sandpaper. Whatever your approach, the goal is to create a flawless surface that’s easy on the eyes and fingers.

When working with solid wood, I always look first at using a compass plane or spokeshave to smooth or fair a curve.

I use custom sanding blocks made to match the curve. I often make these blocks from the offcuts or trace the pattern onto a separate blank. The closer the sanding block is to the shape you’re after, the better you will be able to smooth the curve. If the workpiece is convex, the sanding block is concave; a concave workpiece gets a convex sanding block. Serpentine curves or curves made from variable radii may require several sanding blocks.

I also fair curves using a belt sander fitted with a curved wooden block mounted to the sander’s platen. I mount my sander to a custom table so that I have more control over the workpiece (see drawing, below) and I keep the platens for future jobs.

Remember, once a surface has been sanded, by hand or by machine, grit will invariably be left behind. Any hand-tool work or routing should be done first; other­wise, the embedded grit will destroy your cutting edges.

Flawless smoothing

Here are four great options for polishing off your carefully cut curves.

Plane or shave

Follow the grain when planing. On a curved piece, the grain changes direction. So if you use a compass plane (left) or spokeshave (right) to refine the shape, pay attention to the grain to avoid tearout.

Sanding blocks

Make curved sanding blocks that match the profile. Staple sand­paper to the bottom of the block. For a concave block, it’s better to use spray adhesive. If you have problems with the paper tearing, reinforce the back of the sheet with duct tape.

Precise belt-sanding

Soup up your sander. Fortune mounts curved wooden blocks on the metal platen of his belt sander. He mounts the sander in a shopmade table to add even more precision.

To see more of Michael Fortune’s work, go to

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Portable Band Saw Buying Guide

Portable Bandsaws are a uniquely flexible tool, able to cut metal, wood, and plastics while leaving a smooth work service. On top of that porta Band saws are much easier to handle than reciprocating saws and allow you to get through your work with the least amount of effort. They are perfect for cutting awkward items like tubing quickly and cleanly.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at three of the most popular handheld bandsaws on the market and help you understand which one is right for you.

What to Look for in a Porta Band

There are a few key differentiators that you need to be on the lookout for when you’re buying a portable bandsaw:

Opening Size: You’ll typically see saws with openings from 1.5″ to 5.0″ openings with a slightly lower cut capacity. While a larger opening obviously leads to more flexibility with the stock you cut, you have to consider that larger capacity saws will be both heavier and likely more expensive than smaller saws.

Weight: These tools can vary in weight significantly from ~6lbs all the way up to 25 lbs. Make sure you think through how you’ll be using the saw or you may end up with rubber arms at the end of the day.

Corded/Cordless: As with just about every other power tool on the market these days you’ll need to make a decision about whether or not you want to pay for the increased flexibility offered by a cordless tool.

Accessories: There are a number of saws on the market that are sold without blades and batteries. If you already have these, it’s a great chance to pick up the tool at a lower cost. If you don’t then you need to make sure you understand exactly what will be in the box when you open it.

The Saws We’ll Look At

We’re going to be looking at three highly-rated saws that cater to three specific use cases:

First, the Corded Milwaukee Portable Band Saw 6232 features a large cut capacity and eliminates the hassle of charging and changing batteries. This saw makes a lot of sense for users who need access to a saw that doesn’t require portability.

Second, we’ll look at the much smaller. but much more portable, Cordless Milwaukee Porta Band 2429. This saw is less than seven pounds and doesn’t require a wall outlet. The trade-off is that the cut capacity is less than half of it’s bigger brother.

Finally, we’ll dig into the DeWALT Cordless Deep Cut Portable Band Saw, which blends the best features of both the two Milwaukee Band Saws: large cut capacity and battery-powered operation.

Corded Milwaukee Portable Band Saw 6232

So let’s dive into the saws. First, we’ll be looking at the big daddy Milwaukee. This beast of machine clocks in at nearly 15 pounds. So if you’re going to be using it for an extended period of time you will be building some muscle (although I will say, using this will still be easier than a hacksaw). The opening is among the widest that you’ll find on any portable Band saw at 5″ wide by 5″ deep.

I’ve included a video of the saw in action down below, if you watch it you’ll see that it cuts through 3 inch steel tubing in less than 40 seconds. I’m primarily a woodworker, but if this saw can handle slicing up steel that quickly, I have no doubt that it can take care of rough cutting 4×4’s when I need it.

There are a couple of points about this saw that are worth mentioning. First and importantly, it doesn’t come packaged with blades, you’ll need to purchase them separately and they run ~20.

Second, the build quality is top-notch, if you check out the Amazon reviews, fully a 3rd of the reviews take the time to mention the quality. A lot of this has to do with what Milwaukee calls Job Site Armor Technology and the tools all metal direct drive system. The “Job Site Armor” is a composite casing for the tool and it provides crush resistance that you don’t get in plastic-bodied equipment.

Finally, if your looking for a saw that can also function as a standard mounted Band saw then this might be the best bet for you. The SWAG Offroad V4.0 Portaband Table is an extremely popular accessory that provides the necessary conversion.

Cordless Milwaukee Portable Band Saw 2429

If your looking for a Band saw that emphasizes portability, then look no further than the Milwaukee 2429. This 6.5-pound porta Band sports a battery that allows for maximum portability. It’s ideal for cutting small tubing or rebar quickly while you’re out in the field. What you gain in portability, you give up in material handling. The opening on the 2429 is only 1 5/8ths wide.

I’ve included a video down below that shows the 2429 in use, you can see how easily it cuts through 2 pieces of rebar at the same time. Note how easily and cleanly the cuts are made. This product is primarily targeted towards electricians and plumbers, but anyone working with conduit or tubing would find this tool beneficial.

The Milwaukee 2429 runs significantly cheaper than the larger 6232 and in comes packaged with a blade, a case, a battery and a charger. Everything you need to get started using the tool is in the box.

Cordless DeWALT Portable Band Saw DCS374B

The last saw we’ll look at is the DeWALT DCS374B. This saw combines the 5″ cut capacity of the larger Milwaukee saw with the battery-powered operation of the 2429. While this porta Band saw does feature the easy mobility you’d expect with a battery, it is heavy. weighing in at 14.5 pounds.

This saw features a variable speed trigger and an LED light to light-up the cutting area. As you’d expect with any DeWALT tool the build quality is top-notch. If you decide to purchase this saw keep in mind that it doesn’t come with a blade or a battery. If you’re already running 20 volt DeWALT tools that won’t be a problem for you, but if you not it can be a meaningful jump up in price.

I’ve found a video produced by Sparky Channel that shows the saw in action and you can see how well the saw performs. Sparky even demonstrates how to use the saw effectively on the job site without a vice.