Graphical Construction Glossary >> Tools. >> Power Tools >> Band Saw
Travelling around the Mekong Delta in Vietnam I came across many of these large horizontal band saws in boatyards that were building traditional timber craft.
In my experience large saws like this are fairly common but they are invariably have an upright or vertical orientation. Saws with blade sizes like this 6" to 8", 150mm to 200mm are called band re-saws.
The majority of band saws today in small joinery and home workshops range in size from very small for model makers to up to about 36" or 900mm. The size refers to the the diameter of the pulley, so my old 36" Robinson would be able to cut a circle of say 34" radius. That is I have to deduct a touch for the guard around the enclosed section of the blade.
Just because they are great for cutting curves, do not think this is all that band saws are used for. They are very handy for lots of small sawing jobs. They are used just as much for cutting straight as for cutting curves. One advantage of a band saw over a circular bench saw is the thin blade width. Ripping up strips out of sheet material quite often gives an extra strip or two than if a TCT bench saw was used.
The photo above is a typical example of a modern small shop saw. At a guess it is around 30". The bottom wheel is the one that is driven and the top one is an idler.
The food industry has long used band saws and as a result they have provided a service to the general joinery trades in that the blades developed for butchers work very nicely for cutting laminates and plastic, The blades are typically quite narrow, saw less than 3/4" and the tips are heat treated for longer life.
Most woodworking saws have now got tungsten tipped versions for greater life between sharpening, but to the best of my knowledge the band saw does not use them, so when cutting very abrasive material a modern butcher's blade can be used. Unfortunately they can't be sharpened like the HSS blades so they have to be thrown away when they are badly worn
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