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This is definitely a great time to invest in a good band saw. With so many options – models, types, and make – to choose from, chances are greater that you will be able to get the band saw that is perfect for your specific needs, whether it is for cutting wood, metal, or some other material.
But with so many options to take your pick from, choosing the best one could prove to be quite a challenge. The best way to go about it, then, is to consider some salient factors or points and look for specific key features that make up the best band saw for you.
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Key Features to Look For in a Band Saw
Many would say that the key feature of a good band saw is its ability to cut curves. However, that should not be the only thing that must be considered, especially if you want a unit that will let you enjoy all the many benefits of using a band saw.
1. Cutting capabilities
In order to be deemed of good quality, a band saw must be able to make curved and straight cuts effortlessly. To be more precise, it must be able to rip and re-saw, and make crosscuts. It should also have the ability to handle curves and angles. A band saw that can also work with compound cuts is deemed to be a good investment, especially for those who make use of band saw frequently.
- The depth of cut. This refers to how deep the cut of the band saw can go, usually expressed in inches. Basically, it is measured by the distance from the band saw table to the upper blade guides. Depending on the size of the saw and the type of material it will cut, the range of the depth of cut could be as short as 6 inches to as much as 36 inches. Fortunately, there are now models that allow the depth to be extended, just by making small adjustments or using optional risers.
- Throat capacity. The throat capacity is the maximum width of the cutting ability of the saw itself. It is equivalent to the measurement between the blade and the frame. Choosing the throat capacity will depend mainly on the size of the wood or material that you will be cutting. Smaller bench top models usually have 12- to 14-inch depth of cu If you have a larger unit – say, a cabinet-type model – and you’ll be cutting through thick material, you might want to consider looking for more than 14 inches, or one with a bigger throat capacity.
2. Speed settings
We are talking here about the cutting speeds. Ideally, a good quality band saw must be able to cut at a speed of 3,500 feet per minute, although the speed would really ultimately depend on the material that is being cut. Wood can be cut at a speed of 5000 feet per minute, while aluminum can be handled with around 1000 feet per minute. Material such as brass and steel, on the other hand, will require a much slower speed, probably around 100 feet per minute. When it comes to plastic, however, you must exercise caution, since there are different types and properties of plastic.
Therefore, you must closely refer to the manufacturer’s notes on a unit’s applicability to cutting plastic, and the speed recommended for it. One thing to look at when checking out the speed is the size of the motor since it will affect the horsepower which, in turn, is indicative of the band saw’s variable speeds.
3. Adjustability of configurations
You should be able to make the proper adjustments in order to customize the band saw’s functionalities to your specific needs. The key adjustments are often made to the tension of the blade, the blade guides and the bearings. If the band saw you are considering allows adjustments to be easily made on these, then you have a winner in your hands.
4. Table top size
Depending on your usage and the type of material you will be cutting, you also have to consider that size of the table top, since that is where they will be supported. On average, a band saw table measures 16 inches x 16 inches. It won’t make sense to purchase a band saw with a table that cannot hold the materials you will be working on. For added functionality, some models also design their table tops to be tiltable up to a 45-degree angle.
5. Frame and Stand Material
Look at the frames and stands of the band saw. What are they made of? Usually, the frames and stands are made of materials such as cast iron and welded steel, although aluminum frames are also starting to become popular. Welded steel is generally preferred because of its ability to absorb vibration, but they need to be in several layers in order for them to be considered as durable and heavy duty. The advantage of aluminum is in its weight; it islighter, but still tough and strong enough to handle cutting jobs.
6. Safety features
Look for a band saw that comes with safety features that will prevent accidents and injuries, such as cutting yourself with the blade. Preferably, choose one with strong casing. Set up should also be easy and not put you in any danger of getting injured.
7. Other accessories
More and more models of band saws are also equipped with additional accessories designed to make the whole cutting process easier and more user-friendly. These also increase the functionality of the band saw, making it perform better when it comes to resawing, ripping, and crosscutting. Examples of such accessories are rip fences and miter gauges.
Remember that the “best band saw” for you may not be the best one for another user. That is because you may have a different reason for using the band saw, or the other user could be using it more frequently than you do. There is nothing wrong with relying on user reviews and testimonials for some products, but you should also exercise your judgment and be objective when making your decision.