Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ready the Band Saw for Wood Turning

After the wood lathe itself, one of the most used tools in the woodturning workshop is the band saw. For many woodturners, after the lathe and the grinder have been bought and set up, the band saw is the next purchase for large machinery. A few simple steps make it a better tool for woodturners and other woodworkers.
Like many woodworking machines, the band saw needs to be set up and periodically tuned for safe and accurate use. Most such machines in the home shop are typically two wheel saws, fourteen inches in diameter. The size refers to the diameter of the wheels and not to the depth of cut which will likely be in the six inch range.
Those wheels will look much like bicycle tires with rubber rims. While they will of course be clean in a new saw, as the tool is used the tires need periodically to be brushed clean of dust which will cake on to them especially from green softwoods. They also need to be properly lined up.
This means they need to be parallel to one another and running coplanar. There should be a means to adjust the distance of the free running wheel, that is, the one not powered by the motor. While this may be form shims, set screws or some other method, it should be noted in the instructions from the saw. A straight edge spanning both wheels, placed immediately before the axles, should touch the top and bottom rims of both the top and bottom wheels simultaneously for the wheels to be coplanar and parallel.
Once this is done, the blade should run at the center of both wheels. There will be an adjusting knob to track the blade. With the saw unplugged rotate the wheels by hand and adjust to track in the middle. Tighten the blade so it can be moved a quarter of an inch at center or follow the instructions with your saw. Each blade will need to be tracked and tensioned when it is installed and may need periodic adjustment during use.
A band saw is useful for wood preparation both for small projects and for large. For small, finer cuts a one quarter inch six tooth blade is a good one to start with for general use and wood up to a couple of inches thick. Heavier green wood for bowls and the like will require a three eighths three point blade or something similar. Like all saws, blades need to be kept sharp and clean for good use. Having a couple of extras on hand is a good idea.
Band saws are versatile for straight or curved cuts and a valuable asset for the woodturner. They are easy to set up and use as well as being one of the safest cutting tools in the shop.