We are reader-supported. When you purchase through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more›
People, including both professionals and DIYers, prefer the band saw more and more for its versatility and easy usability. In fact, very few power tools can perform as many various cuts as the band saw. Also, it is perfect for woodworking, the metal industry, and even in butcher shops.
And in all these regards, a portable band saw can be a game-changer. However, many people don’t know how to use a band saw. They are also unaware of the band saw safety tips. In fact, the band saw is responsible for minor cuts and finger injuries of butchers, woodworkers, and metal workers, as OSHA reports.
Since a portable band saw has become part and parcel of all workshops, construction sites, and homeowners, we take the responsibility to describe how to use a portable band saw. Our integrated discussion will also include safety tips while using the portable band saw so that you remain safe always.
Table of Contents
- How to Use A Portable Band Saw
- Safety Tips While Using the Portable Band Saw
How to Use A Portable Band Saw
Very few power tools are as useful as the band saw when it comes to woodworking. What’s more, a portable band saw offers the users to transport the power saw to different places to accomplish various cutting projects.
It enhances the usability of the portable band saw. However, when you are using the band saw for the 1st time, you might not precisely know how to use it properly. Hence, we have prepared the following guideline for you to use a portable band saw safely.
Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with The Band Saw
A band saw operates with a serrated blade. There is a pulley mechanism that allows the edge to perform continuous cuts. It is slightly different from the table saw. Its trigger switching operation is much like the circular saw and power drills.
But it has a separate switch to select the right speed suitable for different cutting projects. You must go through the user-manual of the portable band saw before you prepare it for the projects’ cutting requirements.
Step 2: Understand the User Manual
When you read the user-guideline of the band saw, you must understand it appropriately. You must go through the user’s manual to clearly understand the safety features of the band saw. Since it operates with an exposed blade, a band saw operates entirely in a different way.
The serrated and exposed blade cuts through almost any material, including wood, iron, steel, and soft copper. And it won’t hesitate to cut fingers when it comes along the cutline.
Step 3: Don’t Ignore the Safety Features
While you operate any power saw, always wear tightly fitted clothes. Loosely fitting clothes are one of the major reasons for power tool injuries.
Also, wear protective goggles and hand gloves before you start the cutting procedure. The goggle will protect your face and eyesight. Also, wearing safety boots will safeguard your feet from any accidental fall offs of the cutting material or the saw.
Step 4: Prepare the Band Saw
At first, you will have to prepare the portable band saw to make the cuts accurately. It includes the following steps-
- Adjusting the track: The track adjustment will allow you to fix the band saw blade pathway as it moves through the two various pulleys. The band saw track must be aligned correctly with the cutting material to drive right across the cutline. Otherwise, your cutting won’t be accurate.
- Handles for tension release: You will see the tension release handle right in the saw frontal section. You can use the handle to quickly change the portable band saw blade if it is old or too dull. Before you start the cut, check the edge properly and change it, if need be.
- Guide roller: When you operate with the band saw, check that the guide roller moves freely on its line. The moving guide roller prevents the blade from getting damaged due to bending or wrapping. You must remove any debris from the roller guide to allow it to rotate freely.
- Check the cutting shoe: This metal guide is made flat and features a notch. It stops the cutting material from dragging against the rear-drive pulley. It is essential for cutting accuracy.
Step 5: Making The 1st Cut with The Portable Band Saw
When you have prepared and checked all the credentials of the band saw and wore proper safety gears, it is time to make your 1st cut with the power tool. You must go by the following steps to perform the first portable band saw cut precisely and safely.
- When you want to cut any metal or wood material with the saw, you must outline the cutting pattern. Use a pencil and measuring scale to outline the cut properly. It will help you align the band saw blade with the cutline quickly.
- You should lock the loose cutting material in its position to vibrate or move while you operate the band saw. You can use a vice or clamp to hold down the pipe or wood blocks. It prevents the pip from spinning. Alternatively, you can ask help from your friends to hold the material if you don’t have a clamp or vice. Also, supporting the material will ensure accurate cuts more.
- Now you will have to align the cutline of the material with the portable band saw blade. When you place the blade close to the inscription, make sure it has a parallel adjustment. The edge will have a perpendicular position with the stock. This is ideal for 9-degree and square cuts.
- Now, you will have to start your band saw. Squeeze the trigger on the saw and allow the blade to reach its desired speed. When you are sure that the band saw blade has come to its desired cutting speed, start the cut.
- You just need to hold the blade mildly on the cutline and don’t require pushing the stock’s edge. The blade teeth can remove only a minimal amount of material with each pass. So, don’t pressurize the saw blade to cut beyond its limit.
- Use a push stick to slowly push the cutting stock towards the blade of the band saw. Some people, however, suggest rocking the saw slightly while cutting thick materials. It allows you to remove the kerf easily.
- Furthermore, you must watch the saw blade so that it is appropriately aligned with the cutline for the whole time.
- When your blade reaches near the end of the stock, slow down the blade. For this, remove your hand from the trigger. The remaining speed of the band saw blade would work through the rest of the cutting material efficiently.
That’s how you can use the portable band saw to make the first cut easily.
Safety Tips While Using the Portable Band Saw
Almost 5% of all injuries and accidents caused by a power tool is attributed to the band saw. Also, a study by Oxford University shows that around 3% to 5% of the band saw users at least received a minor cut. The research was done extensively among 250+ woodworkers and butchers.
Therefore, you must know how to safely operate a portable band saw. It is essential for your safety and the accuracy of the cutting result. Some standard safety tips for portable band saw use includes the following-
Marc Adam Rules for Safety
Marc Adam from Kansas City Woodworker’s Guild has developed five universal safety rules for power saws. These all are applicable for the band saw too.
- Your finger must be at least 3 inches away from the band saw blade.
- When you start a new cutting job, always check the blade tension and tracking.
- When you use the band saw, ensure a flat standing and safe stance for you.
- Never use your thumbs to push the cutting material
- When you cut an extensive log or bump wood, use a jig at its bottom for safety
Prepare the Cut
It includes checking the band saw adequately, such as blade strength, sharpness, and connections. If you are using a band saw the first time, you must read the user manual too. Finally, choose a flat and sturdy surface to work with the band saw as it vibrates heavily on an uneven floor.
Choose the Right Blade
A blade is mostly responsible for cutting performance and the safety of the user. So, you must get the most appropriate blade for the portable band saw.
Consider its width, teeth per inch, and construction material with the covering to get the right blade. You must ensure that the blade width matches the cutting material. Otherwise, it might backfire to cause injuries.
Also, you must not use an old or dull blade with the band saw. It is like inviting injuries to cut your fingers.
Upper Guide Setting
A band saw comes with a fence guide. When you place the cutting material, make sure of two things-
- Firstly, the fence guide should be as close as possible with the cutting material such as wood.
- Secondly, it should be close but not touch wood itself.
When you position the wood and guide of the saw blade near, it prevents the blade exposure. So, your fingers are less likely to touch the edge. It also supports accuracy in cutting jobs.
Blade Guard Adjustment
The purpose of the blade guard is to cover the blade as much as possible. When you adjust the top guard, make sure it covers the entire edge. The blade guard protecting stops your fingers from slipping inside the blade.
Maintain A Safe Distance
You should never go too close to the band saw. Flying projectiles and sawdust might harm your eyesight and face. It is recommended that you use a push stick to push the cutting material towards the saw blade.
This way, your hands will remain away from the cutline.
You won’t have to Newton or Einstein to work with a portable band saw. When it comes to how to use a portable band saw, you will only need to keep a few factors in mind. You have to fix the right blade, align the cutline, and push the stock safely from a distance as you operate the portable band saw. However, we recommend you to go by the books and maintain the safety features for smooth, accurate, and safe cuts.
After completing your first cut with the portable band saw, don’t forget to clear the workplace and keep it ready for the next use.