If you are unfamiliar with industrial grade machinery, you may not have heard of a band saw and how it differentiates from other slicing equipment. Bandsaws are a staple piece of industrial hardware, but what are they used for specifically? How do they stack up to other slicing machinery, and are they safe? In this article, we will discuss the details of bandsaws so you can get an understanding of their operative capabilities and use case.

What is a bandsaw?

So, let’s get started with the basics, what is a bandsaw? A band saw is a piece of industrial machinery used to slice materials. The main cutting mechanism is a thin, high-powered blade, positioned between rotating mechanisms, (although modern, industrial bandsaw machines will simply have metal boxes visible above and below the saw.) The blade remains stable and stays in the same position, whilst the material is positioned on a flat surface at the base of the blade for it to slice through. This makes the bandsaw incredibly stable, accurate, and able to cut curved shapes.

Bandsaw cutting wood

Can band saws cut metal?

Although bandsaws are commonly used for wood, they can be utilised for cutting soft metals and even steel. Industrial grade bandsaws such as the Karmetal Bandsaw range are designed specifically with sheet metal slicing in mind. Woodworking bandsaws usually have a vertical blade. Whilst sheet metal bandsaws usually have a horizontal blade for downward motion. If you don’t have a dedicated metal cutting bandsaw, the ability of the machine to cut metal will depend on the teeth in the blade. Smaller teeth and a higher tooth count per cm/ inch on the blade are recommended for slicing materials other than wood. The blade speed for cutting metals should be 30-90m per minute, whereas the common band saw speed for slicing wood is around 300 metres per minute.

When to use a bandsaw.

Bandsaws generally have longer blades, meaning you can stack and cut multiple workpieces if you need to generate the same slice on all of them, in comparison to the shorter blades of table and jig saws. Some modern bandsaws have adjustable blade lengths, so you can extend the blade for larger workpieces, whilst maintaining more accuracy and reducing the blade for smaller ones. While other machinery may be fine for people mostly working with thinner material sheets, a bandsaw can be incredibly efficient and practical for thicker pieces, with the powered blade slicing through the material in mere seconds like a knife in butter. In industrial scenarios, band saws can be an affordable alternative to laser or plasma cutters. Not only are they reliable and have a long lifespan, but they are also cheaper to purchase, operate and maintain.

Is a band saw safer than a table saw?

Generally, band saws are considered safer than the average table saw. This is largely due to the blade being positioned above the workpiece. The workpiece is usually kept in place on the work surface and doesn’t get caught in the rotating blade, reducing the chance of kickback – which can occur when using a table saw. However, as with most industrial machinery, there are still safety risks. This is most apparent when cutting corner notches. The table saw isn’t particularly safe or practical for corner cutting and you should turn off the blade each time you finish the notch on each angle, otherwise, kickback can occur. Meanwhile, the straight bandsaw blade means it is much safer to pull back the workpiece after completing a cut. Table saws may not have the material versatility of a bandsaw without an increase in potential safety hazards.

Bandsaw vs jigsaw – cutting curves

Band saws are very effective at cutting curved shapes in materials. The difference between a bandsaw is that you hold the workpiece, whereas, with a jigsaw, you hold the saw. The stable and consistently positioned bandsaw means generating curves can be very accurate and there is less room for error if you are following a pre-drawn line or markings. With a jigsaw, you must maintain the steady blade yourself. Another thing to note is the bandsaw blade cuts downwards, pulling the wood dust or shavings below the bench, whilst a jigsaw slices upwards, creating shavings and dust to fly out above the table.

Does your bandsaw need maintenance or repair or are you looking for an entirely new one? At ACRA Machinery, a member of our expert team of professionals can give you guidance for your business’s specific needs. We have a variety of bandsaws and other industrial machinery available at our Melbourne warehouse and can answer all your band saw questions.

If you believe a bandsaw could be the right fit for you, or for info about more of our sheet metal machinery, get in touch with us by calling 03 9794 6674 or contact us via our online enquiry form.