A bandsaw is a versatile piece of woodworking shop equipment that every woodworking shop should have.
Band saws have a lot of advantages – you can cut unlimited lengths of straight lines or in different curved shapes. You can also cut pieces of different thicknesses with reasonable accuracy.
Like all good things, there is always a downside. Bandsaws too have their own set of drawbacks. One major issue that many bandsaw users face is that they tend to cut crooked.
In this post, we examine the reasons why your bandsaw might be cutting crooked, how to remedy it, and answers to some of the common questions about bandsaws.
Why does my bandsaw cut crooked?
When all seems to be going well, suddenly, your bandsaw starts behaving weirdly. The cuts become crooked and can take on a convex, concave, wavy, or beveled appearance.
Why is this happening? There are several reasons that this could happen to your bandsaw but fortunately, there are ways to rectify the problem.
A Dull Bandsaw Blade
If your bandsaw blade is dull, it can reduce the speed and make a crooked cut. It’s like cutting a steak with a dull knife. You have to add more force to your knife to cut the steak. Similarly, a dull blade will increase the load on the machine and slow it down. The blade starts veering from side to side, causing a crooked cut
You can remedy this problem by changing to a new blade or sharpening the existing one. After sharpening and lubricating your blade, there should be some improvement to the performance of the bandsaw.
Under the category of incorrect installation comes using the blade incorrectly, not using a suitable blade for a particular material, or placing the blade wrongly. You should make sure that you use the right blade and assemble it correctly.
If the bandsaw cuts crooked, first check if the teeth of the blade are pointing in the correct direction. Check if the bandsaw has the correct blade installed.
Blade Running in the Wrong Direction
Different types of bandsaws have different requirements for blade direction. A vertical bandsaw will have the teeth moving downwards onto the job. The teeth of a horizontal bandsaw, on the other hand, will move towards the wheel.
The simple remedy for this problem is to check the direction of the blade in relation to the type of bandsaw. You may need to change the connections of the machine to change the blade direction. In case of doubt, get an electrician to do the job.
The speed requirements vary according to the material being cut and the thickness. Even a slight variation in the “inch-per-minute” speed of the blade can make it cut crooked. Usually, medium speed suits cutting lumber the best.
You can fix the issue of crooked cuts due to incorrect speed by adjusting the machine to the correct speed. Most manufacturers provide information on the different speed requirements for different materials and thicknesses among other information. You will find this information printed somewhere on the machine.
Adjust the speed and tension of the blade according to the type of material and thickness. Spending some time studying the specs printed on the machine can help you to get the best from your bandsaw.
Worn Bandsaw Wheels
A bandsaw wheel has a rounded surface on the top of the wheel called the crown. It holds the blade in position and plays a critical role in giving support to the blade while on the highest point of the wheel. Once the wheel becomes worn, the blade may meander about, resulting in a crooked cut.
The simple remedy to this problem is to either get the wheels replaced or repair them.
Incorrectly Aligned Blade Guides
If you don’t find any issue with the blade wheels, the problem could lie with the blade guides. A typical bandsaw has three blade guides, two on the side and one on the rear. If the blades and blade guides are misaligned, it could cause crooked cutting.
The solution to this problem is to ensure that there is sufficient clearance between the guides and the blade. While you check the bandsaw guides’ positioning, you can also check the alignment of the wheels and inserts.
After reading all the information we have provided here about bandsaws, you might have a few questions. Here are the answers to some of the commonly-asked questions about bandsaws:
How thick can we cut wood with a bandsaw?
You can cut almost any size of wood with a bandsaw provided you use the right blade. The blades of a bandsaw vary in width depending on the thickness of the wood to be cut. Refer to the charts on the machine that provide information for the blade required and other technical stuff.
What should be the speed of a bandsaw?
The quality of your cuts varies according to the speed of your bandsaw blade. For woodworking, a slow to medium speed is appropriate.
Why does my bandsaw vibrate?
A bandsaw can vibrate for several reasons. The primary reason for vibration in bandsaws is due to wheels not being perfectly round or if they are not centered properly. Vibration can also occur if the blade is running at a speed that coincides with the resonant frequency of vibration of the material.
How can I choose the best bandsaw?
At the very outset, there is nothing such as a “best” bandsaw. A good bandsaw meets all your cutting requirements. You can consider the following factors while selecting or building a bandsaw:
Decide whether you want a benchtop or floor-standing model.
If your jobs are heavy go for a steel or cast-iron frame but you can get a plastic frame if your workloads are likely to be light.
Choose a bandsaw that has a motor of adequate power. Most bandsaws have 1hp motors, but you may require a more powerful motor for heavier jobs.
The “throat” of a bandsaw refers to the distance between the vertical frame and the blade. If you expect to cut larger jobs, then select a bandsaw with a wider throat.
Having a bandsaw table of sturdy material like steel, cast iron, or aluminum will benefit you. Look for a bandsaw with an extendable table, if possible.
Look out for extra features that will enhance your working experience. For example, things like a quick-release blade or LED lights are always an added advantage.
Having a bandsaw on your woodworking shop floor is an added advantage, and most woodworkers have one. Don’t get left behind because the benefits are many as we have seen here.
However, with the benefits come a few downsides wherein you see that your bandsaw isn’t performing the way it should. In such an eventuality, you can follow the best practices that we have outlined here to get the best out of your bandsaw.