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Delta band saw.

A bandsaw is a saw with a long, ribbon-like blade of toothed metal stretched between two or more wheels. Material is cut by moving along material along the table and into the path of the blade and can be used with or without a fence. As this method of cutting may be applied across a variety of materials, variations of the band saw are used across industries, including woodworking, metalworking, lumbering, and even in food processing and butcher shops. Advantages include a uniform cutting action as a result of an evenly distributed tooth load, the ability to cut irregular or curved shapes, and the ability to make cuts to irregularly shaped material.

Most bandsaws have two wheels rotating in the same plane, one of which is powered, although some may have three or four to distribute the load. The blade itself can come in a variety of size and tooth pitch (teeth per inch, or TPI) which enables the machine to be highly versatile and able to cut a wide variety of materials including wood, metal and plastic. When cutting curved shapes, the minimum radius of a curve is determined by the width of the band and its kerf, or thickness.

Here at the Idea Shop, we have two vertical bandsaws that we outfit with different sized blades to cater to a variety of projects.

Machine Details


A bandsaw can be outfited with different types of blades to cut various materials in different ways. Variable parameters in bandsaw blades include thickness, width, tooth size, teeth per inch, blade rigidity. Always choose a suitable blade for the type of cut you wish to make, straight or curved, and for the material you are cutting, wood, metals, plastics, etc.

Choosing the appropriate bandsaw for your project:

  • A thicker blade for more rigidity and straighter cuts
  • A smaller, thinner blade for more intricate cuts
  • A higher tooth count for cut smoother, slower cuts
  • A lower tooth count for faster cutting/ripping

When in doubt ask Idea Shop personnel.


Wood blade for bandsaw

Blades intended for use on wood or other similar density materials can be generally categorized by the following characteristics:

  • Larger teeth
  • Fewer teeth per inch


Multipurpose blade for bandsaw

Acrylic and Other Plastics Acrylic and other plastics can be cut quickly and easily on the bandsaw. For straight cuts to acrylic, see the Table Saw.

Metal While we have limited metal cutting capabilities here in the Idea Shop, we can make select cuts to softer metals (aluminum, brass, soft steel). Consult with staff before planning an extensive project; we may direct you to one of the other shops on campus.

Miscellaneous Materials The bandsaw is great for cutting a wide variety of materials. However, before cutting an unconventional material (anything other than wood or acrylic) please consult with a staff member to see if the bandsaw is most appropriate for your project.

Safety Instructions


  • Wear safety glasses at all times.
  • Evaluate your material, and adjust the machine according to your material.
  • Ensure you are using the proper blade (width, teeth) for your project. Ask a staff member for advice if you are unsure.
  • Set the upper blade guide to approximately ¼” above the material to be cut.
  • When making adjustments, ensure machine is unplugged to avoid accidental starts.
  • Check stock for defects before cutting, such as knots, cracks, and foreign objects.
  • Plan sawing procedures so there is a minimum of backing out.
  • Make relief cuts in preparation for sharp curves
  • When handling long pieces of wood, set up a work stand for material to rest on way out of machine, or ask staff for help.

Using the bandsaw

  • Make any cuts with material resting on the table (and not up off the table). The blade cuts with a clockwise downward rotation, and will pull your material downwards into the table.
  • Always keep fingers out of the path of the blade (be especially aware at the end of a cut) and a safe distance from the blade. Body parts should never enter the area of the colored circle guard on the table.
  • Feed material into the blade at a moderate rate of speed; too slow will generate extra heat, and too fast will put additional stress on the blade. A staff member can assist you if you need a refresher.
  • Listen for a consistent cutting sound when operating the machine, and take care to avoid any harsh screeches or squeaks that occur when undue stress is placed on the blade. Ask a staff member if you are unsure.
  • When operating the machine, keep well balanced and stand carefully to avoid injury from unexpected slips or falls.
  • If you need to back out of a cut, allow the machine to come to a complete stop before doing so. Do not back out of a cut with the machine running, as this can pull the blade off of the wheels.
  • If the band saw blade breaks or comes off the wheels, step away immediately, shut off the power without endangering yourself, and notify shop personnel.

Clean Up

  • Turn off the power after using the band saw and stand by until the blade has come to a complete stop.
  • Clean the table of scraps after the blade stops moving. Never pick pieces of wood from the machine while it is in motion; if absolutely necessary, use a push stick or brush.
  • Reinstate the power lockout after you are done using the machine.

Best Practices

  • Cut flat stock whenever possible. When cutting dowels or other round stock, use approved holding device and get permission for this special setup.
  • Blades are different widths and may require relief cuts to be made when cutting small radius curves.
  • Lubricate the blade with a dry lubricant stick if blade is dull or cutting through harder materials.
  • Turn on the dust collection system before using the band saw.


Instructional Video:

Machine Proficiency

In order for an individual to advance in machine proficiency they must demonstrate ability to perform certain actions or tasks. All levels include abilities and concepts from lower levels.

This section is primarily for student workers.

Level 0

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Correct cut setup
  • Awareness of machine
  • Student has calm and steady bearing

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Placement of hands
  • Shuffle of hands when pushing
  • Use of push stick
  • Adjusting fences
  • Thoughtful material positioning
  • Making sure machine is full speed before cutting
  • Not backing out of a moving cut

Level 1

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Contour cut setup
  • Tilting the table
  • Independently selecting proper blade for material

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Why contour cuts start at shallowest angle
  • Proper TPI (Teeth Per Inch) of blade for cutting various materials
  • Proper Blade Width for straight cuts, curved cuts, and different material
  • What is blade Kerf and how does it affect how you cut along a guide line

Level 2

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Planning and performing difficult curve geometry
  • Using a circle cutting jig to cut a disk
  • Performing safe and effective Resawing of a plank of wood

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Adjusting ceramic blocks
  • Proper use of a feather board
  • What jigs, fences, or guides can be used on the saw and how they can be adjusted

Level 3

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Changing the blade
  • Tensioning the blade
  • Adjusting guide bearings and thrust bearing
  • Replacing cooling blocks

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Cleaning the wheel to reduce blade slippage
  • Squaring the cooling blocks and centering the blade to reduce wobble/vibration