A bandsaw is one of the most precise tools that you can use for cutting wood and metal. Operating a bandsaw is relatively simple, you just place your chosen material on the saw table, set an appropriate speed for the blade, and then guide your workpiece through the blade to achieve the shape that you desire.
However, there are some intricacies to using a bandsaw. Bandsaws have the potential to make a wide variety of cuts when used correctly, the trick is finding the best possible blade for the job. There are various different bandsaw blade sizes out there, so learning about the most common types and when to use them is one of the easiest ways to become more proficient.
For a lot of cuts, using general-purpose bandsaw blades will be just fine, but for certain jobs, you’ll need something more specialised. If you want to cut a tighter radius, then you’ll want a thinner blade as this allows you to be more precise. However, before ordering narrower blades, you should check the specification of your bandsaw. The thinnest blade many bandsaws can run is 1/4”, so if you’re in need of a 1/8” or 3/16” blade then you might have to slightly alter your bandsaw by putting a thin piece of wood over the guides.When straight cutting, it is standard practice to use wider blades, but the issue with wider blades is that your bandsaw may struggle to tension them. Therefore, it should be ok to use a general-purpose blade, provided it is properly tensioned.
Cutting metal with a bandsaw is quite different to cutting wood. The majority of wood cutting bandsaws will be able to cut metal when they are set to a slower speed. However, it is important to note that this may still be too fast for ferrous metals such as mild steel. The general rule is that the harder the metal the slower your blade should be, but as you’d imagine there are a number of variables that affect this (quality, thickness, etc.). So, before cutting, it would be advisable to do some research on recommended cutting speeds.
The next thing to consider is the number of teeth per inch on your blade. The more teeth your blade has, the smoother the finish will be, but this will also require you to slow down the cutting speed. Based on this information, you might think that it makes sense to always use the maximum number of teeth possible, but this puts you at risk of burning your workpiece because the cut speed would often be too slow. Therefore, you’ll want to have a few different TPI blades for different situations. More teeth are preferable on thinner blades when you need the cut to be smooth and precise, but on a thicker blade you’d want a lower TPI in order to get a more aggressive cut.
There’s a lot to take into account when operating a bandsaw, but once you get to grips selecting the appropriate blade thickness, TPI, and cutting speed for your job you’ll be well on your way to achieving the perfect cuts that you desire and unlocking your bandsaws full potential.
About the Author
Harry Steel is the Marketing Coordinator at Baileigh Industrial and has a longstanding passion for metalworking.