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Choosing a bandsaw

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by J.H., May 19, 2019.

  1. J.H.


    Feb 25, 2019
    After hand sawing wood blanks and then spending way too long cleaning up the mess in order to get it flat i have decided its time for a bandsaw of some sort.

    After reading some threads here i have seen conflicting opinions regarding having a dedicated wood bandsaw for scales, and then something like a porta-band for profiling knife blanks; or just using a porta band for everything.

    So i just wanted to get some updated opinions on the matter and see what you guys use.

    I wont be buying two machines so if i go with a wood bandsaw ill keep using my angle grinder for profiling knives, but thats alright it only takes 15 minutes or so anyway.
  2. Lieblad


    Jul 24, 2015
    I use both bandsaw and tablesaw. Either saw needs a good ripfence. Thats something you would have to improvise with a Portaband.
    If I dont need to worry about kerfwaste, tablesaw gives far better finish.
    J.H. and Ken H> like this.
  3. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    For scales I use a table saw with a thin blade to reduce kerf waste. A portable band for profiling is really great.
    J.H. likes this.
  4. Matt Rochester

    Matt Rochester

    Nov 28, 2014
    You’ve got a better chance cutting wood with a metal saw than metal with a wood saw. If I only had one(which I’d be hard pressed to only have one) then I’d say a good wood saw would be it.
    J.H. likes this.
  5. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    The knifemaker's defacto standard bandsaw is the Harbor Freight/Grizzly/etc. 4" X 6" bandsaw.
    It costs about what a portaband and stand costs, but it has much greater capacity.
    Portabands are good if you don't have room for a real bandsaw.
    You can cut wood (slowly) on a metal saw, but you won't have much luck cutting metal on a wood saw.
    AVigil and J.H. like this.
  6. Joshua Fisher

    Joshua Fisher

    Mar 27, 2018
    J.H. likes this.
  7. J.H.


    Feb 25, 2019
    Thank you guys for the input, think ill be starting with a wood bandsaw as that will save me the most time, and at a later point add something for metal cutting.
    Regarding using these 4x6 bandsaws, (a quick google suggests they are all the horizontal cutting type) is that assuming they have the capability to be locked in a vertical position?
  8. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    Yes, they can be used vertically. You should make a better table for vertical use.
  9. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    I have a 4x6 saw as my only saw and use it for cutting anything.
    I have a 6 tpi blade for cutting wood and splitting blocks.
    I have a selection of bi-metal blades in different tooth configurations for steel and handle materials.

    The saw can be used horizontal or vertical.
    I have only used my horizontally three times in nearly 10 years.
  10. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    I use a Dewalt variable speed portaband on a SWAG table. I use it for everything. High speed for handle materials and 10 tpi blades for handle materials. Lower speed and 14 tpi blades for steel. I process my own elk scales from sheds and use it to cut wooden handle materials too. I had a free standing 14 inch wood band saw. Gave it away. It was just taking up space in the shop. I just didn't use it anymore.


    This is a small part of a group of 63 knives I'm working on right now. The Dewalt cut out everything here, blades, bolster materials (brass, stainless, nickel and copper in the whole batch), stabilized wood, wood, elk , sheephorn, camel bone, jigged bone and G10, (pictured here stabilized wood, elk and sheephorn). Cut all pins and lanyard tubes and then trimmed all excess bolster, pin and handle materials after glue up. Works very well for me.
  11. J.H.


    Feb 25, 2019
    Thats interesting, is there any significant cleanup required to get the scales flat afterwards compared to the wood band saw you had?
    Either way impressive what that little machine can process.

    Have you built a work table to use with it in the vertical position?

  12. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Another option is to pick up a used older bandsaw where the motor hangs on the bottom and uses a V-belt drive. You can swap the motor for a 3/4-1HP 3 phase motor and get a cheap open frame VFD. The pair will cost less than $200, and maybe even as low as $100. You could also use a DC motor and drive. Switch the blades and change the speed as needed. The old 12" craftsman bandsaws are readily found and very good units. I saw a nice clean one for $75 the other day at a thrift store. If I had the space right now, I would have bought is to convert and given it to Steve (my SIL).

    Same goes for the old 4X36 craftsman belt sanders. They are easily converted to VFD and can do any sanding task. A glass platen or ceramic tile platen is a wise addition, too.
  13. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011

    No not any more than the wood bandsaw. I use a 9" flat disc to flatten scales.
  14. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    Every one of this style I have ever bought came with a table to use in the vertical position.
    They are a little flimsy but they serve their purpose fine for me to get the job done.
    The 4x6 saws are marketed as Vertical/Horizontal saws.
    I used to flatten on my 2x72 and that worked just fine, but now I use my mini mill and a surface plate.

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