Build a Bicycle-Powered Band Saw

With our bicycle-powered band saw, you can take your bicycle out of winter storage and put it to use.

| May/June 1985

I'm a carpenter, and for years I assumed that the best way to cut wood was to plug in and "go with the flow." For small jobs I'd still use my trusty handsaw, but for long, straight cuts I'd grab my two-horsepower circular saw and seek the nearest three-prong outlet.

That was OK when I was at a contract job site, but when I was working at home — especially through our mean, lean Wisconsin winters — it seemed as if a goodly share of my profits was being metered away to the local utility company while I was left with the crumbs.

And, of course, the cold season also kept me from my favorite pastime, bicycling. So, in order to fit one solution to these two seemingly disparate problems, I researched — then built — my "bandcycle" ... a bicycle-powered band saw that makes accurate crosscuts, rip cuts, and miter cuts through soft- and hard-wood, and — with a simple blade change — saws through mild steel and aluminum as well!

Because the tool is made almost exclusively of common materials and salvaged bicycle parts, it cost me a good deal less than a commercial model with similar features. And though I'm not about to claim that it's as convenient or powerful as an electric saw, it's a heck of a lot cheaper — and even sort of fun — to operate.

Band Saw Basics

I didn't reinvent the wheel when I pieced together my bandcycle. In fact, I just patterned my design after a conventional band saw. Typically, the lower wheel is held rigidly on its axis, while the upper wheel axle can be tilted a few degrees from horizontal to keep the blade from wandering off the rim.

That toothed steel band passes through a slotted table and is held in line by two guides, which keep the blade in position when it makes long, straight cuts and also prevent it from twisting on a curved slice. In addition, the guide above the table is adjustable to accommodate various thicknesses of stock, and both guides incorporate a thrust roller that runs against the back of the blade to keep it from being pushed off the wheels under pressure. Finally, band saw wheels are usually fitted with flat rubber tires to protect the set in the teeth and to prevent blade slippage.

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