If you’re someone who’s into woodworking, you’ve definitely heard of a band saw before. Band saws are heavy-duty cutting machines that a lot of woodworkers use. However, there’s a question that you might naturally ponder: are band saws dangerous?
Seeing as the tool is used to make cuts on solid materials, it’s only a natural question to arise. However, the way I see it, everything is dangerous if you use it incorrectly, and don’t know enough about the safety precautions.
A band saw is the same. As long as you know what the machine is capable of doing, and what safety measures to take around it, it will be perfectly safe to use this machine. Otherwise, you’ll be in danger.
In today’s blog post, we’re going to look into the possible dangers that come with using a band saw, and ways you can avoid it. Let’s get started!
What Is a Band Saw?
As you know, a band saw (also called a bandsaw) is a cutting tool. The functional part of this machine is a continuously running, serrated metal band or sheet. The cutting band remains running in one plane, while you guide your chosen material to make cuts as you need.
Depending on the direction the band is running, a band saw can be either vertical or horizontal, the former being more popular among woodworkers. Other types include double cut, benchtop, and resaw band saws.
On the other hand, as the cutting band is the integral part of the band saw, you should also know about the types of bands that are generally used.
Depending on tooth configuration, there are three types of bands used in band saws:
- Regular: Straight and evenly spaced teeth with deep serrations, used most commonly
- Hook: Further spaced undercut teeth with deeper serrations, good for fast and rough cuts
- Skip: Wider spaced teeth and shallow serrations to prevent the band from getting clogged
What Can You Do With a Band Saw?
You can cut with a band saw.
What can you cut with a band saw? While it’s commonly known as a woodworking tool, it’s not all a band saw is. Aside from cutting any sort of wood from hard to soft, band saws can also cut plastic and in some cases, metal.
As it’s a powered tool, a band saw can cut without a lot of effort on the woodworker’s part. The band runs smoothly and the serrated band ensures uniform cuts. Also, there’s the option to move the material you’re cutting to make sure you can make cuts any way you want.
Some band saws can do even more. Double-cut saws can make cuts on both sides, and they’re used in heavy-duty industrial settings. If you want more precise and intricate cuts, there’s both benchtop and resaw band saws.
Now that you know what you can, and may do with a band saw, let’s take a look at what not to do with this tool.
What Should You Not Do With a Band Saw?
Are band saws dangerous? They absolutely are, even more so if you’re heedless of the danger and act recklessly around this machine. To make sure you’re at least minimally safe, never do these things around a band saw:
- Do not operate a bandsaw without wearing protective gear
- Do not try to clean small wood pieces or other debris while the tool is running
- Do not try to change or adjust the setup while to the machine is running
- Never put your fingers or thumb on direct line of the blade
- Do not reach across the blade, or cross your arm while it’s powered
- Do not remove the guard on the blade saw, no matter how much in a rush you are
- Do not use the machine to cut wood pieces that have screws, nuts, bolts, nails, or similar object in it
- If you notice the machine malfunctioning, do not continue to work and immediately cut the power and stand away from it
- Do not use the band saw without training
- Do not disregard the safety instructions from the band saw manufacturer
- Do not make unplanned cuts
- Do not wear accessories, loose clothing or ill-fitting gloves while you’re working
Remembering these things can provide a good degree of safety while you’re using a band saw. Aside from these, also remember the general rules of using heavy machinery, such as not using the machine while drunk, unfocused, or sleepy.
What Is the Danger Zone of a Bandsaw?
The danger zone of a bandsaw is the space to its right. In case the band of the saw breaks, it will ricochet off the table and shoot out to the right. The band shooting off at high speed is very dangerous and might cause great harm. That’s why, while the machine is running, no one should be standing to the right side of a band saw.
What Injuries Can You Get From a Bandsaw?
You’re using a powered cutting tool, so it’s safe to assume that if anything goes wrong, your fingertips and hand would be the first to get injured. To be more specific, you could get a nasty cut, or even lose a finger or two.
Here, mentioning a survey on 1002 woodworkers may be relevant. Band saws accounted for 6% of the injuries. 366 people out of the 1002 needed amputations, 2% of which were from band saw related accidents.
What does that tell you? It tells you to be careful about using powered saws, and that amputation seems to be a common occupational hazard.
However, cuts and gashes to your hand aren’t the worst that could happen. Improper use could also lead to electric shock or even start a fire.
Even worse, if the blade breaks off and you’re in the line of fire as it shoots off the table, you can get really bad injuries on your body aside from your hand.
Now that you know how bad it can get, do you know what to do? Make sure to not do the things I cautioned about in the section above.
Is a Band Saw Safer Than a Table Saw?
Any woodworker worth his or her salt would be able to tell you that a table saw is the traditional choice for a woodworking workshop. If you’re after straight, smooth and even cuts, you really can’t beat a table saw. In fact, if you never use any other powered tools for woodworking, you’d at least have to use a table saw; it’s that basic.
However, just because a table saw is basic, doesn’t mean it’s the best. Moreover, it’s also not very safe.
So far in this blog post I’ve explained all the ways a band saw can be dangerous. But a table saw can be even more risky to use. The reason for this is the blade.
The blade or band of a band saw goes in a downward motion and it usually pulls the wood you’re cutting downwards, towards the table. This cuts down the possibility of pieces flying off.
On the other hand, the circular blade of a table saw goes in an upward motion, and it runs towards the worker, not away from. This increases the possibility of small wood pieces flying off and hitting the user, causing an accident. There’s also the usual possibility of getting a nasty cut.
However, I’ve already said that being cautious and having a plan prevents accidents in case of band saws and that goes for table saws as well. You need to know how to stay safe and have lots of practice to operate both machines.
There you have it! How dangerous are band saws? Now you know enough to make your own verdict. Some people might take up the challenge to practice with a band saw and get so good at it they never have to worry about an accident.
On the other hand, some might swear off the machine all together! Which one are you? Don’t forget to let us know in the comments!
About This Writer
Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.