Bandsaw Tips

My Laguna LT18 ACM bandsaw features a 3 hp motor.

When resawing green wood, use wide bands if possible.

My Laguna 18” bandsaw is one of the real workhorses in my studio. Next to my lathe and my Stihl chainsaws, it is one of the most versatile and valuable tools I own. In the early days of my studio, I did not have this valuable tool and most of my rough processing was performed with one of my chainsaws. Whilst the chainsaw was fine for knocking off corners and bucking logs into smaller sections to mount on the lathe, it did not offer a lot of accuracy.

These 1" wide bands will be resharpened
using my bandsaw resharpening protocol.

In addition, the wide kerf consumed a lot of wood if you were making repetitive cuts across a wide log, or section. When I needed to make turning squares and more precise cuts, I would use a friend’s bandsaw to reduce wastage. It was not long before I knew I needed to get my own. The thinner kerf of the band allowed me to save precious timber, which meant more useable stock when working with high figured and expensive exotics.

Although I’ve done lots of precision cutting on my bandsaw, most of my work on it is gross cutting of green wood, and resawing stock into smaller billets and turning squares. I’m limited somewhat by the height under my guides, which is 12”… This works for most of my projects, so it has not been that big of a hindrance.

If I were buying a bandsaw today, I would opt for one with at least 16” under the guides and outfit it with the largest motor that I could get on it.

A 1" wide by 1.3 TPI band is
mounted on the saw. Notice the blue
ceramic guides from Laguna.

In talking with other woodturners around the country, most seem to be using ¾” wide 3TPI (teeth per inch) bands on their saws. Some are using courser bands as well, like 2.3TPI, or 1.3TPI. Few of the turners I know use the wider bands, like 1.0” or 1,25” when resawing, even though their saws can accommodate the wider bands.

When I first got my bandsaw I did the same thing, since most turners said that a ¾,” 3TPI band was a good choice for green wood. In using these bands, I found that the beam strength of the band was insufficient when making thick cuts in green wood; say 8” to 12”. I also found that the 3TPI band would sometimes clog with some timbers, even though I lubricated the band periodically during the cut.

I started experimenting with other types and configurations of bands in an effort to improve my green wood cutting performance. Yes, I’m rarely content to go with the flow… I like pushing the limits to see if there is a better/cheaper, or more efficient way to do things. It’s hard wired in me to experiment and see if I can find a better way to do something. After lots of experimentation, I ended up using a 1.0” wide band with 1.3TPI for most of my green wood cutting and processing.

Close-up view of a 1" wide by 1.3 TPI
band, showing the coarse tooth configuration.

The wider bands provide much greater beam strength during the cut and help to keep the band from wandering, especially when working on thicker blocks like 10” or more. The 1.3TPI tooth configuration allows more room for the swarf to accumulate under each tooth until it can be expelled, which helps to improve my overall throughput and virtually eliminates clogging during the cutting.

Most bandsaws feature a metal nameplate that
lists the maximum width band that can
be used on the saw.

Based on this, I don’t order 3TPI bands at all anymore. They work well most of the time, but the performance on the 1.3TPI bands has been stellar in my studio, so that’s what I’m using these days. The only drawback to using course bands is the surface quality of the cut. It is rough for sure, but I’m not making veneer. I’m doing rough cuts, taking off corners and making turning squares from green wood. The surface finish is not that important anyway, since it will be turned away when the piece is finish turned, or roughed out on the lathe.

If you have never tried the 1.3TPI or 2.3TPI bands, give them a go the next time you order some bands for your saw. If you’re like me and the other turners I have encouraged to switch to these bands, you’ll be glad you did!

Note: On the odd occasion, I will also use a 1.25” wide band that features 1.3TPI (most wet/green wood) or 2.3TPI (semi-dry green wood and dry stock).

This dust collection port on my Laguna
LT18 bandsaw is located just under the guides on the side
of the lower cabinet. It was added
approximately 2 years after I purchased the saw.

Tip: Collect dust from two places on your saw for greater efficiency. If you have an older style band saw, chances are you only have one dust collection port (my Laguna was originally configured with only one dust port, on the back of the saw), either under the guides on the lower part of the band saw, or on the back of the lower section, (usually near the right rear corner when the saw is viewed from the rear).

This dust collection port is located on the
rear of the lower section of my bandsaw and
was the only dust collection port originally outfitted
on the bandsaw. The dust collection hose
has been removed for photographic clarity.

If you have a dust collection port in only one of these locations, install another one in the other location. Having two dust collection ports really increases the efficiency of the dust collection and will help to prevent accumulated dust/resins from being glazed onto the lower wheel when cutting sticky green wood.

Safety Note: Always follow all manufacturers safety instructions before working with your lathe, or any of the tools or products you may use. If you are unsure about any operation, obtain competent professional instruction before proceeding. Use and wear all necessary safety devices during turning and observe safe woodturning practices to prevent accident or injury.

Steven D. Russell is a professional studio woodturner, teacher and writer. He has written numerous articles for international woodturning magazines, which have been published in more than 78 countries around the world. Steve has demonstrated in numerous cities across the United States. His studio, Eurowood Werks, specializes in bowls, platters and hollow forms with unique visual and tactile treatments.

Steve is also the current and founding President of the Lone Star Woodturners Association, Inc., an AAW member chapter. The LSWA is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization dedicated to teaching and demonstrating the art and craft of woodturning.

Steve is also a featured writer for the Guild of Master Craftsman's "Woodturning" magazine, published in London England. Woodturning magazine is the world's leading magazine for woodturners. Look for his articles covering technical topics, or project based articles in an upcoming issue.