Five Tips for Better Bandsawing
No-hassle approach delivers smooth, straight cuts
Synopsis: The bandsaw can be the most useful tool in the shop, provided you know how to set it up properly. Blade type, blade alignment, and correct tension are the keys to getting the bandsaw to do a multitude of woodworking jobs such as ripping stock and cutting smooth tenons, fine inlay stringing, perfect veneers, and curved patterns.
In my first year of design school in the early 1970s, I remember the shop manager telling me that the bandsaw was the most useful piece of equipment in a woodshop. This struck me as a dubious statement, given that we were standing in a workshop filled with state-of-the-art European woodworking equipment. But time and again he proved it.
After I graduated in 1974, my first purchase was a 15-in. General bandsaw. However, I soon realized I could achieve the accuracy and versatility I had experienced at school only if I set up the saw the way my shop manager did.
Once I figured out the keys to success, I came to rely on that bandsaw. With a single blade, I routinely cut smooth tenon cheeks, fine inlay stringing, and perfect veneers that use the entire height capacity of my machine.
I also do all of my ripping on that 15-in. bandsaw. The task is safer and requires less horsepower than the tablesaw, and the narrow kerf consumes less wood. New employees and students are surprised at first by my preference for ripping on the bandsaw, but they are converted quickly. Although I have three excellent industrial tablesaws in my shop, they are used almost exclusively for dadoing, squaring panels, and cutting shoulders on joints.
There are three key elements to getting the most from your bandsaw: blade type, blade alignment, and moderate tension. My approach contradicts some of the common advice for…