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What is a Vertical Band Saw?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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When manufacturing wood or metal products, making cuts with precision can be difficult, especially when cutting curves or other shapes. A vertical band saw is particularly useful for such functions. A vertical band saw is a stationary device that uses a rotating continuous band of metal with teeth on one side to cut various materials. The saw blade is mounted vertically, so that the blade runs perpendicular to the material being cut.

A vertical band saw can be powered by any number of sources. Early versions of the vertical band saw used wind power, steam power, and even animal power to run the blade. Modern versions of the vertical band saw are typically powered by an electric motor to provide a consistent power source that does not affect the speed or precision of the blade.

Lumber mills often use a vertical band saw to rip timber. Most mills prefer the use of the band saw as opposed to a circular saw for two reasons: one, the band saw can cut a larger diameter piece of timber, depending on the size of the blade and the machine, and two, the band saw has a smaller kerf, or cut width, which means less lumber gets wasted. Such large bandsaws are stretched over large wheels that prevent the blade from bending at such a degree that a break might happen. The blade is stretched very tight to aid in precision cutting.

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Some versions of vertical band saws feature feed functions that help the person operating the saw to feed the piece of material through the machine. There are a few different types of feeds, ranging from gravity feeds to hydraulic feeds, and the type of feed used typically depends on the size of the saw and the type of materials being cut.

Cutting curves on a band saw is easier than doing so on other types of saws. The size of the curve depends largely on the width of the blade being used, the amount of lateral flexibility the blade will allow, and the size of the machine. Cuts are sometimes limited by the distance between the blade and the back of the machine, so for larger cuts, a larger machine is necessary. Today, many factories use automated band saws, which can be controlled by computer and do not necessitate a human operator to guide the functions. Such saws, however, often do need a human operator to feed the material into the machine.

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jmc88
Post 4

@kentuckycat - My uncle has actually owned a Wood Mizer for quite a few years. I just bought his third one a few months ago. Like you said, they are very neat to watch. They are even more fun to use.

My family owns a lot of forest land in different areas that has been passed down over the years. The problem is that a lot of the land is just in small patches, and it is hard to get a logging company to come out and take such small tracts of land. That was when my uncle had the bright idea of buying the saw and just cutting the wood ourselves. Granted, it is not nearly as fast and

efficient as a sawmill doing it, but it works.

Since he has been doing it for several years, we have a pretty good number of customers that buy the wood. A lot of them are woodworkers that like types of wood like honeylocust and hackberry that loggers don't usually bother cutting down. They are nice trees, but not worth a lot of money to the general public.

kentuckycat
Post 3

Has anyone ever seen the horizontal band saws that you can buy to cut timber? They are called Wood Mizers or something along those lines, I think.

I just watched a video of one of them. I can't believe I had never seen anything like that before. Basically, what is was was a long base where you could put a full log. Then it had what was basically a band saw turned sideways. It was one some type of a track so that it could go back and forth down the log. It was operated by a guy just sitting at the end using a joystick or something. You could set the depth of the cut and everything. Once

the saw made its pass, you had a board that you could use for a woodworking project or whatever you wanted it for.

Has anyone ever seen one of these in action? Are they hard to use? Also, what would one of them cost? It looked pretty expensive.

matthewc23
Post 2

@titans62 - Good questions. It really all just depends on the types of projects your son works on. The good thing about the band saw is that it is useful for almost anything depending on the blade you use.

Like the article mentioned, band saws are mostly thought of as being used to cut curves. That shouldn't be confused with something like a scroll saw, though, that can cut very tiny, precise curves. A band saw is more useful for cutting large curves like for furniture.

Like I said, though, the type of blade you use can change the purpose of the saw. The blades are measured by their width. A wider (deeper) blade will be able to make

very straight cuts, whereas a more narrow blade will curve easier.

One thing you might try is just to casually mention band saws around him and see what his reaction is. If he wants one, he might mention wishing he need one.

titans62
Post 1

My son does a lot of wood working, and I am looking to buy him some type of a saw for his birthday. I was wondering if anyone here who has used one would consider it an important tool to have, or if it is just something extra for specialty jobs.

The only thing that I know is that he doesn't have one. He has only been doing woodworking for a couple of years, so his saw collection is still fairly small. He just has the major types right now.

If you are wanting to buy a band saw, what types of things should you being looking for? Are there different sizes and quality? What are some of the better brands? Also, how much do band saw blades cost? I don't want to get him something that he is going to have to spend a lot of extra money on.

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