Adding a bandsaw to your workshop will change the way you work forever. A bandsaw enables you to cut large sweeping curves, ultra-thin custom veneers and create fine details much more easily and safely than any other type of saw.
But choosing the right bandsaw is a daunting task, especially if you’ve never used one before, so here’s a guide to show you the things you might want to consider before purchasing your very first bandsaw.
New Versus Refurbished
The first thing to consider is whether to purchase a new or refurbished saw. The answer to this question really depends on your available budget and how much use you will get out of the saw.
If you run a busy workshop, you’ll find you use your bandsaw more than any other type of mechanical saw in your arsenal. In this case, it would be wise to purchase a new saw, which should give you many years of reliable service. On the other hand, if you are more of a hobbyist, a refurbished saw is probably the way to go.
If you go down the refurbished route, you should only purchase machinery from a reputable supplier. Many older saws have been replaced because they no longer meet the latest health and safety regulations, so purchasing an older saw may result in you buying a saw that is unsafe.
A reputable supplier will rebuild the saw to comply with all the latest regulations, including installing reliable braking and guarding systems.
There are two things to consider when choosing a bandsaw: the depth of cut and the throat.
The depth of cut is the distance between the table and the upper blade guide. This determines the maximum depth of material that can be cut with the saw. Some cheaper saws have a maximum depth of six inches, which can be extended up to 12 inches with the use of risers. Larger saws come with a depth up to 36 inches.
The throat is the distance between the cutting blade and the column. This distance determines the width of cut that can be achieved using the saw. For example, a 14″ bandsaw has 14 inches of space between the blade and the column, so the maximum width of cut is 14″.
Typically, freestanding machines have a wider throat than smaller, bench top varieties. When you see a saw advertised as a 16″ bandsaw, it is referring to the throat of the machine.
Once you have established the size of saw that you need, it’s time to think about power. Most benchtop machines use electric motors, which provide moderate horsepower. This type of machine is really only suitable for occasional use.
Freestanding machines typically have more power, with some offering variable speed motors. This makes them suitable for precision cutting of a variety of materials, including wood, plastic ,and metal.
There are two must-have accessories for all bandsaw operators: miter gauges and rip fences.
The mitre gauge is essentially a guide that moves inside the miter slot of the saw, allowing you to cut an angle between 45° and -45°. Rip fences allow you to create precision rip cuts.
The most common type of rip fence is the Biesemeyer Commercial T-square, which is simple to operate and adjust while being made from high quality steel.
Try to look for a bandsaw that includes these two accessories, because you’ll have to fork out for them at some point if it doesn’t. Also, when you’re looking to buy bandsaw blades and accessories, make sure they are of good quality and come with a recognised guarantee.
Features to look for
There are several safety features to look for when purchasing a new or refurbished bandsaw, including a tension controller to adjust blade tension, a large dust collection port to collect waste material and a pulley wheel brake, which eliminates gliding when the saw is turned off.
Band wheel cleaning brushes, which help clean the band wheel when in use, prevent the build-up of sawdust and other waste from contaminating the mechanism.
When you purchase a bandsaw, you should take care to make sure that the saw is powerful enough for your expected workload.
If a new model with the power you need is out of your price range, you would be well advised to purchase a reconditioned saw rather than buying one that is not powerful enough for the job.
Understanding the blade configurations and power outputs is key to getting the right kind of saw for you.
Get the specification right and a bandsaw will be the best investment you ever make.