Saws & Sawing Systems

6 Features to Consider Before Purchasing a Horizontal Bandsaw

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If you do any type of woodworking or metal fabrication, you likely have a bandsaw. Many people have a bandsaw in their garage or tool shed however if you are looking to purchase a bandsaw for professional use, they become a bit more detailed. There are plenty of choices when it comes to bandsaws but it’s first important to determine what type of saw you need for an industrial metal cutting application. They come in light duty or industrial grade metal cutting systems (which this article focuses on). There are also various types of blades that will cut different materials powered by different sized motors and gearboxes to give you the right blade speed for your application.

What is a Horizontal Bandsaw?

An industrial grade horizontal bandsaw is a powerful tool that uses a very sharp flexible blade to cut different types of materials, most often, wood, metal, and plastics too. These machines can cut one part at a time or be equipped with bundle cutting capabilities to cut a stack of parts in one pass. The blade is mounted on a series of rollers powered by a motor and gearbox combination (light duty/ home hobbyist machines will be direct drive systems).   If you are considering buying one, here are a few features to look for.

6 Features to Consider When Buying a Bandsaw

When shopping for a bandsaw, it is still important to factor in your budget, your capacity needs, and what type of material the saw will be mostly used for.

1. Type of Bandsaw

There are two main types of horizontal industrial bandsaws; pivot style and dual column. Pivot style saws are less expensive but offer a smaller cutting capacity and lower HP drives. Dual Column systems allow for a much larger cutting capacity and a more rigid and durable frame controlling the cutting speed and feed at a much better rate. Although Dual Column systems are more expensive they are meant to last generations through production use. They also tend to come with more features.  Deciding between a pivot style and a dual column machine will have most to do with your budget and the overall application you intend to use the saw for.

2. Blade Size

Bandsaws have different sized blade capabilities and the larger saws have wider blades. The wider the blade your machine is capable of handling the stronger the saw, straighter the cut and better blade life you will achieve. When choosing an industrial saw blade size should be an important gage in determining the rigidity and strength of the saw.

3. Auto Feed

Having an auto-feed system (or shuttle table) on your saw takes it from a manual or semi-automatic saw to a full production machine.  The costs of adding these automated feed systems are minimal and over the life of your saw can save tens of thousands of dollars in lost productivity, incorrectly measured parts and broken blades as the saw controller takes care of these for you. If your needs include cutting multiple parts (and most do) an automated feeding/shuttle system is a wise investment.

4. Capacity

The capacity of your machine isn’t just regulated to the parts you are currently cutting. Capacity should be considered if you are bundle cutting or cutting miters where the capacity is greatly reduced the larger the angle. Choose a saw with a capacity greater than your minimal need for future growth and to ensure you cover the capability to miter cut without going below your cutting capacity needs.

5. Mitering Capability

Every industrial saw manufacturer will offer saws with the capability to miter cut. Either by pivoting the saw head at an angle to the workpiece, or by rotating the saw base as well. Without this important feature cutting a 45° on the saw becomes a trick of clamping, material hanging into aisles and likely frustration on the saw operators part. Choose a saw with mitering capability, but be cautious as the capacity reduces quickly the larger the angle achieved.  

6. Bundle Cutting

If you cut any kind of production in your shop you should definitely consider adding the option of bundle cutting. This feature adds clamping in an overhead fashion on the saw to not only secure the parts for cutting singularly but to also clamp a stack or bundle of material.  This option can make very quick work of sawing needs for production runs saving operator time, material and blade life.

New and Used Bandsaws

If you are concerned about the price of a new bandsaw, consider buying something used as often there are years left in the machines. Because almost all of the parts are replaceable, these machines can continue to last for many years saving you 50% or more from the cost of new. However if your application is a demanding one you may want to purchase a new machine knowing it is provided with a solid design and warranty that ensures your machine will be running right from day one.

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