No matter what material you’re cutting, getting the blade tension right is one of the keys to quality cuts on the bandsaw. Unfortunately, most bandsaws come with only a rudimentary tension gauge, and while there are plenty of tricks for measuring blade tension indirectly, nothing beats a digital blade tension gauge for repeatable results.
Despite being an aftermarket accessory for his beefy Hitachi CB-75F bandsaw, [Stephen B. Kirby]’s Pi-based tension guide looks like an OEM product. Housed in a sturdy case and sporting a sealed membrane keypad and four-line LCD display, the interface electronics are pretty straightforward. The tricky bit is sensing the amount of tension on the bandsaw blade. For that task, [Stephen] mounted a load cell in place of the original tensioning spring. A few adapters helped that job, and with a little calibration, the gauge is capable of displaying the tension by measuring the force over the cross-sectional area of the current blade.
We really like it when electronics can bring a new level of precision to old-school hardware, whether it’s a simple DRO for a manual lathe or a more accomplished build like [Stephen]’s. Sometimes adding new silicon can make old iron a little easier to use.
When a questionable tree threatened his house, [John Heisz] did the sensible thing and called in a professional to bring it down. But with a flair for homebrew tools, [John] followed up with a seemingly non-sensible act and built a quick and dirty DIY bandsaw mill to turn the resulting pile of maple logs into usable lumber.
A proper bandsaw mill is an expensive tool. Prices start in the mid-four figures for a stripped down version and can easily head into the multiple tens of thousands for the serious mills. [John] makes it clear that his mill is purpose-built to deal with his leftover logs, and so he made no attempt at essentials like a way to index the blade vertically. His intention was to shim the logs up an inch after each cut, or trim the legs to move the blade down. He also acknowledges that the 2-HP electric motor is too anemic for the hard maple logs – you can clearly see the blade bogging down in the video below. But the important point here is that [John] was able to hack a quick tool together to deal with an issue, and in the process he learned a lot about the limitations of his design and his choice of materials. That’s not to say that wood is never the right choice for tooling – get a load of all the shop-built tools and jigs in his build videos. A wooden vise? We’d like to see the build log on that.
We’ve featured a surprising number of wooden bandsaws before, from benchtop to full size. We’re pretty sure this is the first one purpose built to mill logs that we’ve featured, although there is this chainsaw mill that looks pretty handy too.
Continue reading “Field Expedient Bandsaw Mill Deals with Leftover Logs”
Need a band saw but only have a drill kicking around? That may not be a common problem but if you ever run into it, [Izzy] has got you covered. He’s on a mission to make a drill-powered workshop and in his YouTube video, he shows a small bench top band saw he made that is powered by a corded hand drill.
The main frame is made from doubled up 3/4″ plywood. The saw blade is strung between two wooden wheels. Those wheels have tape applied to their outer diameter to create a crowned roller. That crown keeps the saw blade tracking in the middle of the wheel. The bottom wheel is mounted to an axle that is supported by bearings in the main frame. That axle pokes out the back and is connected to the drill. The top wheel has integrated bearings and ride on a stud mounted to the frame. The blade seems to be pretty tight although there is no noticeable tensioning system.
The video shows that this DIY band saw can cut through 1.5 inch wood fairly easily. Even so, there are clearly some needed features, like guide bearings for the blade and an overall cover to prevent accidental lacerations. But we suppose, even professional saws can be dangerous if not treated with respect.
What is cooler than building a band saw out of wood? Building two, of course! And that is exactly what [Pekka] did. The first was a small bench top model while the second was a much larger version with the saw blade strung between big 13-3/4 inch wheels. For those who are unfamiliar with band saws, they are tools that have a long thin blade that is routed around rotating wheels. The wheels are spread apart to make the blade taut. Unlike the reciprocating action of a jigsaw, saws-all or scroll saw, the band saw blade continually rotates in one direction. These blades are typically thin making it easy to cut irregular and curved shapes.
The frame of [Pekka’s] larger machine is made from 35mm (~1-3/8″) plywood. This proved to be a sturdy frame material. The previously mentioned wheels were made by gluing pieces of oak together, mounting the assembly on a wood lathe and turning the outer diameter down to size. By using multiple piece of wood to construct the wheels allows the grain direction of each portion to be parallel with the blade. This method of construction ensures any expansion/contraction of the wood is uniform around the wheel. A strip of rubber around the blade’s outer diameter provides the friction required to prevent the blade from slipping.
[Pekka’s] friend was nice enough to turn the flanged axle shafts on his metal lathe. These shafts support the wooded wheels and are mounted in pillow block bearings. The upper pillow blocks are mounted to a sliding support that allows adjusting the tension of the saw blade. [Pekka] was not going to be satisfied with a one-speed band saw so he grabbed a motor he had kicking around that originally came from a wood lathe and already had 4 different sized pulleys mounted on the shaft.
This is a great project that shows what can be done with a little desire and ingenuity.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of owning a band-saw you’ll know exactly how much fun it is to try to replace the blade, or properly tension it even. [Richard T] got tired of it and decided to upgrade his band saw with a bit of pneumatic power.
To remove the band saw blade or tension it you have to turn an adjustment knob on the top of the band saw — it’s kind of awkward and really annoying. [Richard] has taken the lead screw out and replaced it with a pneumatic cylinder. He’s added a little control panel with a main valve, and pressure regulator. To remove the band saw blade, he bleeds the system with the valve, and to tension it, he turns up the regulator! It’s simple and super effective.
This is especially convenient for tensioning because you can watch the blade during the “Flutter Test” while gently turning up the regulator.
If you look in the right places you could probably build a system like this for less than $50. For a complete explanation stick around to hear it from [Richard] himself!
Continue reading “Air-Tensioned Bandsaw Simplifies Woodworking Life”
Still looking for that perfect gift? [Joel Witwer] shows us how to make a log coaster set and holder on the cheap. He figures he spent just $5 on the project and from what we can tell that all went to some polyurethane which he used to finish the wood pieces.
It started with an interesting-looking and appropriately sized log which he found on the side of the road. We’re not sure about the ins and outs of drying stock to ensure it won’t crack, but we hope he took that into account. With raw material in hand he headed over to the band saw. The cutting starts by squaring up both ends of the log while cutting it to the final length. He then cut the bottom off of the holder. What was left was set upright so that he could cut the core out of the log. This is the raw material from which each coaster is cut. A spindle sander was used to clean up all of the pieces. The last step before applying finish is to glue the bottom and sides of the holder back together.
[Joel] gave some tips in his Reddit thread. He says you should hold on tight while cutting out the slices for coasters because the round stock will want to spin. He also mentions that some of the slices aren’t as flat as they should have been, something to think about if you’re cutting these for yourself.
Thinking of buying a new bandsaw? Stop it. Make one instead. Not only could you save some money, you could customize it to be exactly what you need. There is a step by step breakdown of the entire construction with tons of great pictures. He even has some great info for general bandsaw use if you’ve already got one.