How To Use a Portable Band Saw (Without Losing a Finger)
A portable band saw is a very handy tool. Sometimes known as a portaband, these saws enable you to work almost anywhere, especially if you opt for a battery powered model.
If you are looking to buy a new band saw, I recommend that you take a look at our recent in depth analysis on the best Portabands available in 2016. You’ll find out all you need to know there.
In this article we will delve right in to give you helpful advice on what to do when you’ve purchased your saw and are ready to get to work. This is how to use a portable band saw the right way:
Step 1: Safety and Preparation
Preparing the Saw
Once you’ve picked up your machine or it has been couriered to your door and you have carefully assembled it, you should take time to read through the user manual.
I know, I know, who reads a manual these days. In fact you may be a seasoned pro and have used bands saws for years, what could you possibly have to learn?
HOWEVER, that doesn’t make any difference. Whenever you are dealing with a new piece of equipment that has the power and capacity to slice through bone marrow at a flick of a switch – you need to fully familiarize yourself with the tool in question.
It is important that you understand the unique characteristic of your saw. Every model is slightly different. You should especially take heed of any safety recommendations from the manufacturer.
Checking the blade
If your band saw is new, it stands to reason that your blade will be too. Therefore you have nothing to worry about.
If your blade is old however, you need to check to see whether it is sharp enough to be up to the task in hand. Also, bare in mind the type of material you plan to cut, as this too can determine the type of blade you should have installed.
If you need to change the blade, most portable band saws will have a tension release handle for quick access and change. Again, if unsure, consult the owner’s manual.
Preparing the Work Space
It may be an obvious point to make, however you should make sure that your work environment is free of children, pets and nagging partners.
You do not want distraction while you work. You definitely do not want to be bumped into; in short, the less external disturbances the better.
Also, you should consider your clothing. Safety glasses and gloves are very important. Avoid wearing loose jewellery or clothing that could easily swing in front of and get caught in the moving blade.
Step 2: Using the Saw
So you have got all the prep work out of the way, you know your machine, the environment is clear of distraction and your loose gold necklace is safely stored. It’s time to get to work.
Marking the materials
Before you start making the cut, you need to mark the material at the correct angle for your needs. When cutting pipe, mark around the diameter so the finished results will be true.
Fastening the material
When cutting you will need to ensure that any loose material is safely held in place.
The best way to do this is with a vice that clamps the material to your workspace, (or a friend lending a helping hand – although this can sometimes be a hinderance if the friend gets in the way.)
The fact is, materials such as a pipe or a bar can often begin spinning once the blade gains traction during the cut. Any out of control materials can end up causing the operator to make mistakes. Heavy materials may also end up on the operator’s foot when they fall free.
Ensuring that the material being cut is not going to fly off during the process is extremely important.
Executing the Cut – Step by Step
- Place the blade against the stock to be cut. When you do this, check that the blade is parallel to the line you have marked to cut. (The shoe of the saw should be set firmly against the stock).
- Squeeze the trigger to start up the saw, and then apply a light pressure for the blade to begin cutting along your mark.
- Let the saw do the work. Do not force the tool or apply excessive pressure. This is a sure fire way of breaking your blade or causing inferior work.
- Keep a close eye on the blade making sure that it is aligned with your cut mark. Slow the saw to adjust if necessary.
- When you reach the end of the mark line, be aware that the material may flex or bend slightly, this can put added pressure on the blade and should be compensated by slowing the pace of the cut.
- Hopefully you are prepared for the free end of the stock to drop undeterred to the floor, (or is otherwise fixed in place). Whatever your precautions, make sure that your foot isn’t there to break the fall.
- Once the cut is complete, release the trigger and give the saw blade time to stop moving before setting the tool down.
- Once you are happy with both the cut and the fact the saw is at a standstill, you can rest it on a clean and level service.
And there you have it!
You have completed your first safe operation with your portable band saw. Furthermore, the finished result is a clean professional looking cut.
If you remain unsure, the following video will help demonstrate how you should go about using a portable band saw. Get educated, stay safe and have yourself lots of DIY fun.