MOTHER's Band Saw Survey: Choosing a Band Saw

MOTHER's band saw survey helps homesteaders when comparing and choosing a band saw for work around the homestead.

| September/October 1985

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    Diagram: Parts of a band saw.
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    Before you purchase this major tool, you might first ask yourself what kind of work you'll be doing with your band saw.

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  • 095-091-01

Last issue we presented a guide to choosing a suitable table saw. Now we continue with MOTHER's Band Saw Survey to help homesteaders when choosing a band saw. (See the band saw diagram in the image gallery.)

MOTHER's Band Saw Survey: Choosing a Band Saw

Versatility is the band saw's strong suit. For the cost of a single tool, the home woodworker actually has the use of [1] a precision machine that's capable of cutting curves, circles, and intricate shapes in wood up to half a foot thick, [2] a hard-working ripsaw that can accurately slice a hefty piece of lumber into thinner boards, and [3]—with the addition of a special platen and an abrasive belt—a convenient edge sander for flat or contoured stock.

All band saws share the same basic design. A loop of steel blade centered on two (or sometimes three) large wheels mounted in the same vertical plane does the cutting; adjustable guides fastened near the center of the blade's straight span keep the toothed edge in line, both laterally and against rearward pressure; and a motor, connected by belt (or, less often, directly) to the lower wheel, moves the blade. The upper wheel(s) are mere idlers and can be adjusted to keep the blade tracking a straight path.

So if there's not a whole lot of difference between one design and the next, what explains the wide variations in price among tools of similar capacities? Read on, and you'll find out . . . and be sure to study the chart in the accompanying article MOTHER's Band Saw Comparison Survey Chart, as well, to determine what the manufacturers and importers have available to suit your particular needs.

Match the Tool to the Task 

Before you purchase this major tool, you might first ask yourself what kind of work you'll be doing with your band saw. If you plan on tackling a considerable amount of resawing, especially of oak and other furniture-grade hardwoods, be certain the tool has sufficient power and cutting capacity to slice board after board without overheating. (A 3/4- or 1-horsepower motor—at least—and a cutting depth of 6 inches or more are desirable under these circumstances.)


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