Guide To Bandsaws For Students And Beginners
The average tool box usually contains a selection of hand saws and hacksaws for straightforward manual trimming of wood, metal and plastic. Power saws are essential for intricate or heavy-duty work. They include table saws, circular saws and the jigsaw.
However, one of the most versatile cutting tools for professional applications is the bandsaw. It's also an ideal saw for beginners, as with a bit of practice and know-how it can be used to cut or shape a variety of materials, combining practicality with creativity.
What is a Bandsaw?
A typical bandsaw is generally a free-standing machine equipped with a long, narrow blade. The metal of the blade is flexible enabling it to be looped around two wheels. These rotate at fast speeds, providing the blade with its cutting strength. Between the wheels there is usually a table or platform where the material you want to cut can be positioned. The table provides a firm, level work surface, helping with accuracy when sawing. Near its centre, there is a large slit where the blade passes through as it rotates from one wheel to the other.
The design of the bandsaw dates back to the early nineteenth century. It has gradually evolved into a highly adaptable saw, making it suitable for many industries. These include all types of manufacturing, timber processing and even cutting meat. You can saw decorative wooden edgings or shape components such as cabriole legs. Bandsaws cut through hollow or solid metal bars, and can be used to pare down large pieces of timber into more manageable sections.
Bandsaws can be operated manually or automatically providing a variety of speeds for single or high-volume projects. At SawsUK, we also offer bespoke bandsaws, tailoring the design to precisely suit specific manufacturing requirements. These may include sawing individual components or large, uniform batches for any industry, including aerospace and mining.
Different Types Of Bandsaws
There are many different designs of bandsaw. Each category has its own specialised capabilities with individual models incorporating a host of features.
The horizontal bandsaw is often found in engineering where it's ideal for heavy-duty, high-volume tasks. Jaw size usually ranges from around 130 millimetres to 400 millimetres.
A manual bandsaw typically has gravity feed, providing additional control when sawing lightweight components. For heavy components some models feature an easy bow lift mechanism through a counterbalanced spring and lever.
You'll find vertical bandsaws in many workshops. They are usually ideal general purpose machines that can saw, file and polish all types of metal including aluminium and stainless steel. Some models have blade lengths of 4445 millimetres that are capable of variable speeds of up to 1584 m/min.
Typical features include indicators for band and tension, adjustable table tilt, grinding and welding facilities. Optional extras could include a wheel kit to help you easily move the bandsaw to another toolroom location.
This type of labour saving semi-automatic bandsaw helps increase productivity for light, repetitive tasks such as sawing metal tubes to size. It takes just one switch to return the saw bow.
Some large models include hydraulics to clamp and lift heavy components. A new introduction on particularly robust models is a hollow band arm for improved stiffness and cutting accuracy.
The busiest toolrooms often feature fully automatic bandsaws. They're perfect for high volume, heavy production and can even be pre-programmed to run throughout the night.
Features of automatic bandsaws can include touch screen control, hydraulic clamping, linear guided frames and swivel heads.
What is a Bandsaw?
As a student, you won't be let loose on any of the above machines until you've learned the basic principles of band sawing. You'll learn these by using an educational bandsaw.
What Is An Educational Bandsaw?
Specially designed educational bandsaws are ideal for students. Beginner bandsaws operate as effectively as a standard machine, but they are equipped with additional safety features. They help you learn the skills of your trade with confidence. Student bandsaws are usually fitted with blade lengths measuring up to 4400 millimetres that are suitable for cutting wood, plastic and all types of metal.
The special safety features of educational bandsaws include emergency stop and kick stop switches. A large red button that's highly visible for beginners to quickly bring the machine to a halt is a standard safety feature on some models, while on others it's an optional extra.
Additional ceramic guards such as a parallel fence positioned on either side of the bandsaw's platform are designed to keep you safe while learning how to use the blade. A main difference between a beginner bandsaw and a standard version is the security key system. It means the bandsaw can only be operated once an authorised instructor has used a key to unlock it.
The technical features of educational bandsaws are impressive. They often include throat depths of between 390 millimetres and 585 millimetres. A cast iron, rack and pinion tilting table, and blade tension gauge, are often standard features. Accessories for student bandsaws may include wheels for mobility, a device for controlling blade speed, and a potentiometer, a type of manually adjustable resistor.
How To Safely Use Educational Bandsaws
Bandsaws are considered to be high risk machines. The Health and Safety Executive has strict guidelines concerning how they are to be used, particularly for training purposes. As a student, you cannot operate educational bandsaws without supervision from a qualified instructor.
Before even being allowed to use beginners’ bandsaws, you have to display a mature attitude towards operating machinery of any kind. A detailed, written record of your progress also has to be kept.
The majority of bandsaw accidents happen when the operator's hands collide with the high speed blade. Even setting or maintaining the blade can often result in injury. Educational bandsaws usually have parallel, ceramic guards to ensure your hands are kept safe from the blade and any moving parts of the machinery.
You should not push the material you are cutting with your hands, use a pushing stick when using a vertical bandsaw. Student bandsaws are designed for minimal maintenance. They are routinely fitted with highly durable components such as interchangeable seals and solid, rubber covered flywheels. Dust extraction is an important safety factor, with a double intake producing effective air clarity.
Best Starter Educational Bandsaws
Leading brands such as Meber make great quality bandsaws for educational purposes. Choosing the best student bandsaws relies on finding machines with essential safety features such as a self-braking motor. The brake is usually operated with your foot and can often bring the motor to a stop within a couple of seconds. An integral cleaning brush on a lower wheel helps reduce the amount of sawdust or swarf.
Beginner and educational bandsaws are often relatively small compared to the immense sizes of some vertical and horizontal models. The size of the bandsaw is usually determined by the throat measurement, which is typically up to 600 millimetres. This indicates the maximum size of the pieces of timber or metal you'll be sawing. Whatever the throat size is, it's usually around 2.5 centimetres smaller than the blade's wheels.
How To Safely Use Educational Bandsaws
1. Do I Have To Wear Safety Glasses?
You should always wear authorised eye protection when using machinery of any kind. Safety glasses are usually made of polycarbonate that's resistant to impacts and scratches. If you already wear glasses, eye protection can fit over the top or you can have safety glasses made to match your prescription.
2. I Have Been Told To Remove Jewellery. Is This Necessary?
Rings, necklaces and watches can unexpectedly become entangled in a bandsaw. It's also a safety requirement to wear close-fitting clothes, keep sleeves out of the way and ensure long hair is securely wrapped up.
3. When Sawing A Curved Design, Can The Material Be Pulled Back?
Going into reverse is dangerous as it usually results in the blade coming off.
4. Where Should Metal Or Wood Be Held When Operating A Bandsaw?
Position your hands on the edges of the material, making sure they are aligned to either side of the blade. Don't place your hands where they can be fed into the path of the blade.
5. Should A Curved Component Be Sawn Directly On The Cutting Line?
It's best to saw on the side to be wasted. The design can then be filed down to the correct size and shape.
6. What Do I Do If The Blade Snaps?
Immediately hit the emergency stop button and unplug the bandsaw. Leave the material and the blade for the supervisor to deal with.
7. Should I Push Harder If The Blade Reaches A Knot In The Wood?
You should never force material through the blade. A firm, but light feed should be sufficient. The blade just needs extra time to work its way through a knot.
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