Bandsaws are very useful tools when it comes to woodworking. Plus, if you have the right blade, cutting metal or even butchering whole cows are possibilities too. Whether you need to cut straight lines or curves and shapes, bandsaws can do it all. That said, if you want to buy a bandsaw, in order to be safe while using it, and to be able to properly maintain it, you need to know what the various parts are, what they look like, and how they work.
#1: Frame and Base
One of the most basic components of a bandsaw, although also one of the most important, is the frame. It’s so important because it holds everything together, all of the separate components. You can usually choose from metal and plastic frames, with metal obviously being the more durable of the two. A steel frame is your best bet if you are going to be doing a lot of heavy-duty cutting.
The base itself is another part of the equation here, which people usually put in the same category as the frame, as both are directly attached to one another, often with no real differential from one to the other being visible. The point here is that for a full-size bandsaw, you want a thick and heavy metal frame, along with a fairly wide, heavy, and stable metal base.
The more durable and thicker the metal used for the frame, the longer the machine will last, and the thicker the base, the more stable it will be.
The next major component of a bandsaw is the table, also known as the work surface. This is where the wood or other material being cut is supported. The table looks much like it does on a jointer, a long, wide, and thick metal surface, and yes, you do really want this surface to be made out of metal, something high quality like stainless steel.
It is very important that this table be smooth, durable, and resistant to scratching. It needs to stay smooth in order to allow the material to effortlessly glide over it.
The throat of the bandsaw, while a small component per se, is a very important one. The throat is that small and narrow slit seen on the table. This is where the blade passes through. You cannot have a bandsaw without a throat, because then there would be nowhere for the blade to pass through.
Keep in mind that the length of the throat will determine the size of the cut that the bandsaw can make.
The next important component of a bandsaw, what some would say is the number one most important component, is the blade. The blade of a bandsaw is very thin and features plenty of serrated teeth. It case comes in the form of a band or one continuous loop. That looped blade is fitted into a set of wheels or rollers which power it and dictate blade tension.
The important thing to note with bandsaw blades is that they come in many types. When purchasing a bandsaw blade, there are various factors that you need to consider, such as the number of teeth per inch, tooth configuration, and the material which the blade is made of.
For instance, blades can be carbide-tipped instead of just being made of normal steel. Depending on what you need, you can find blades that are ideal for hardwood, softwood, engineered wood, metal, and even bone too (for butchering animals).
#5: Lower and Upper Wheels
When you look at a bandsaw, you should see two relatively large wheels, one at the top, and one at the bottom. These wheels are what the blade is attached to and need periodic cleaning. The blade is fitted onto the lower and upper wheels to form one continuous loop, with the wheels moving in a uniform direction to power the blade at high speeds. These wheels can be made out of a variety of metals. Now, these two wheels do not perform the same functions.
The lower wheel is what the motor is attached to. A specialized strap or loop, also known as the power transmission, is used to attach the motor to the lower wheel and transfers the power generated by the motor into blade motion.
The upper wheel on the other hand serves a different purpose. The upper wheel can be minimally adjusted for position in order to adjust the tension of the blade. This is important when it comes to changing blades, as you need to loosen the tension to take the blade off, and then increase the tension to attach the new blade.
#6: Blade Guides
The blade guides are a small set of wheels, generally three wheels, that you will see on bandsaws, right at the top where the blade comes out. There will usually be one wheel guide behind the blade, and one on either side, for a total of three-blade guides. The purpose of these guides is to keep the blade in one specific place at all times.
Simply put, these guides make sure that the blade doesn’t move around or move out of place.
Of course, another crucial component of any bandsaw is the motor. The motor is where the blade gets its power and motion from. Bandsaws are generally electric in nature, and they all require AC power from a wall outlet, although portable bandsaws will often be battery-powered.
On a full-size cabinet bandsaw, the motor gets its power from the AC current, it produces motion, which it then transfers to the wheels via the power transmission, which then powers the blade to move at very high speeds. Without a motor, a bandsaw would not be able to do anything.
Generally speaking, the average power of a bandsaw motor is around 2.5 HP, although this can of course differ from one bandsaw to the next. If you want to ensure maximum cutting power and speed, then you need a larger and more powerful motor.
…And Many More
Ok, so now we have listed all of the major components of a bandsaw, but there are still many more, mainly those used for making a variety of adjustments. Although we do not have nearly enough time to cover them all, look below for a complete list of the other components which your bandsaw may or may not come with:
- Tracking knob
- Tracking lock lever
- Quick tension lever
- Blade tension scale
- Blade tension handwheel
- Guidepost elevation handwheel
- Real rail
- Upper bearing guides
- Guidepost lock knob
- Pulley alignment hub
- Table tilt handwheel
- Table tilt scale
- Lower dust port
- Upper dust port
- Motor lock handle
- Motor handle
- Upper and lower doors
- Door catch
- Tracking window
- Miter slot
- Resaw fence
- Foot brake
- Guide tube
- Safety key
As you can see, there are quite a few components on a bandsaw that you need to be familiar with.
Some may say that one component is more important than the other, but the fact of the matter is that if your bandsaw is missing any one of them, or if any components are broken, the whole operation comes to a standstill. As such, so that you don’t run into any issues when using your new bandsaw, it does really help if you are familiar with your particular machine.