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.
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.