When it comes to the most widely used woodworking tools, band saws are undoubtedly at the top of the list. Even though they are not particularly suitable for novice woodworkers, the precision and versatility of band saws are nearly unmatched, greatly surpassing any miter or table saw. If you want to improve your woodworking craft or set up your own small workshop, you should definitely get yourself a quality band saw.
Throughout this article, we will talk about what makes a band saw a great one, and what you should pay attention to when looking for the best band saws.
If you want to rip down billets and cut round turning blanks, you will need a band saw with a powerful motor. A band saw that features a motor with less than 750 watts will likely struggle in that case. For that matter, you should look for the models with motors that have more than one horsepower (750 watts). Keep in mind that there are also some models that feature some pulleys, which allow for different power ratios. While this can increase the power of the saw, it will do that at the expense of its cutting speed. Therefore, take into consideration your needs and try to strike a perfect balance.
The cutting height
Next up, pay attention to the cutting height. This height is the distance from the saw table to the top guide while it is fully extended. This distance will determine the actual size of the blank you will be able to cut. For a standard woodturner, you should look for a minimum of 6 inches (around 150 mm). However, you should once again pay attention so as not to buy a saw that has a motor with less than one hp, as it will struggle to cut 6-inch blanks.
Rollers and blade guides
When cutting, there will be two reactions. The rearward movement of the blade and the wood’s forward movement. If your blade constantly moves too far rearward, there is a big chance it will off the wheels. There is also the sideways movement of the blade, which, if not controlled, can lead to imprecise cutting. To counteract these movements, your band saw should have ball bearing races and guides. Here, you should know that smaller bearings usually rotate faster, but also wear out quicker.
Guides are mainly used to counter the twisting force. These typically include ball bearings of solid thrust plates. Pricier band saws are typically equipped with ball bearings, but solid thrust plates are also acceptable too. For accurate cutting, these guides should be adjusted correctly as well as firm.
When it comes to the blades, the majority of experienced carpenters will agree that course cutting blades are perhaps the best ones. When it comes to choosing the right blade, you should pay attention to its teeth, and their classification, which is TPI (Teeth Per Inch). For woodturners, a value of 3 TPI is considered the most appropriate one. A blade with 3 TPI will easily handle green wood and dispose of any sawdust, without causing excessive clogging. There are also blades that feature an extra set of teeth, which are great for sawdust clearing and cutting tight circles. Even though they are a bit pricier, you should consider buying such a blade, if your budget allows.