Cutting Better Curves on a Bandsaw

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    cutting shapes on a bandsawHow To More Effectively Cut Shapes and Curves on a Bandsaw

    Bandsaws are not only ideal for resawing, but they also make it possible to cut curves, contours, and complex shapes. While their design often makes smooth business of curvaceous cuts, it also presents certain limitations. The saw blade can drag or bind, large panels are notoriously difficult to maneuver, and tight-radius cuts can be especially tedious to complete. Where contours are on the table, one can quickly become frustrated with the process, and dissatisfied with the results. Fortunately, though, there are a few tricks you can incorporate to change your contour cuts from rough and ragged, to smooth and fluid.


    Round the Corners on Your Bandsaw Blade

    One of the easiest ways to ensure a smoother cut on your bandsaw, is to round-over the corners of the saw blade. Removing the rough, square edge on the back of the blade allows you to cut tighter curves, and will ensure easier blade flow through each of your cuts. The rounded edge results in less resistance, less vibration, and, because it prevents breakage, a longer blade life, too. So, do it. Here’s how to round over the corners on your bandsaw blade: Turn on the saw and, using a finishing stone, simply grind-down the back corners of the saw blade, and round over the back. The movement of the blade will do most of the work for you. While you’re at it, you can also smooth the weld on the blade. Having a rounded, seamless saw blade will ensure the blade glides easily through each cut, and will help you maneuver through tight curves.

    Begin Curved and Shaped Cuts at the Shallowest Angle

    Another way to ensure a smooth contour cut, is to begin each cut at it’s shallowest angle. This ensures the most tedious part of the cut is completed when you have optimal control, and the risks of the blade veering off course, or producing ragged results are reduced considerably. If a contour cut begins and ends with equally shallow angles, start two separate cuts at each end of the cut-line, and cut to (and meet) in the middle.

    Make a Series of Relief Cuts (Meeting, Though Not Intersecting, Your Cut-Line)

    Cutting a long contour with a bandsaw can be difficult for a few reasons, but chiefly because while cutting the length of a curve or scroll, the actual work piece can be too large, or the cut-line too intricate to finish in one pass through the blade. When working with larger pieces then, or those with multiple angles, transition points or tight radius curves, make a series of relief cuts in the waste-side of your material that run crosswise to meet your cut-line (without actually intersecting it). Thanks to these relief cuts, as you cut your profile, the waste-side of the cut will fall away in sections freeing the blade to travel effectively and without hindrance. In essence, these cuts turn one long contour into a series of smaller ones that you can cut all at once.

    Set Your Blade Guides Close to Your Cutting Material

    Ensuring your blade guides are positioned close to the material you’re cutting puts your upper blade guides as close as possible to the lower blade guides. This does two good things for you and your cuts, these things are: enhanced blade control for more precise blade guidance, and reduced tooth exposure for safer cuts. Keeping your blade guides tight allows you to produce the most stable cuts with super-crisp results.

    And that’s it. Make these few adjustments to your bandsaw cutting routine, and your contours will be smooth as silk.