Shop Cheats: Band-saw Angles

Introduction: Shop Cheats: Band-saw Angles

About: I am a shop body. Give me a job, the tools to do it, and I will be happy as can be. I get along best with metal and machines. Back in the day my Dad was a welder by trade. I managed to learn a lot of that trad…

This happens to be the third (yes that's right, third) of what is shaping up to be a series of Instructables of my favorite ways to cheat in the shop. You can read the first, Magic Socket Trick, and second Quick Thread Arbors.

Work happens at all angles. And sadly my shop is not equipped with a mitering metal saw of any kind. I can use the plasma or oxy-fuel torch to cut metal at angles, or even use the vertical band-saw. But to make nice clean fitted parts it is best to use a horizontal band-saw. And as I said before I have no mitering saw. So I cheat. And it works with anything with square corners, like bar stock, and square or rectangle tubing.

By placing my metal stock in the saw at the desired angle, so I can have spiffy mitered cuts. There are some important things to know. Nothing round. The saw teeth on a horizontal band-saw pull the work in the direction of blade travel. A shocking concept. Round stock or pipe that is free to roll will run away. Even on square cuts. And since the blade is pulling on the stock, there needs to be something to counteract this force. The stationary jaw of the saw's built in clamp usually works. Make sure the stock is firmly against this jaw, or at least securely fixed to the bed of the saw. I use the moving jaw of the clamp to provide this pressure, but there also needs to be a fulcrum behind it on the stock. My saw has been used this way so often that it has been modified to accommodate this. There is an extension to the saw bed that allows for clamps to be easily secured to it. And if my piece of stock is long enough all I might do is apply a little pressure to it with my leg, no clamps required. Just need to be rock steady to keep things from moving.

If I want to do angles in extreme multiples I will use another short piece of stock to have a fence to push against the stock to be cut. Another thing to know when dialing in the angle is it helps to use the saw clamp to slowly push the stock. That way there is no need to see-saw across the cut angle because I tap too hard. Plus it is a little speedier. Other things to note. Clamping the stock down to the saw bed is not necessary, but it does need to be square to the saw bed. And secured enough to keep the cut from moving up the stock. If you do have a mitering saw you can use this trick to cut double the angles! I am so jealous of you people.

Step 1: Safety First

So this has the potential of going sideways in ways that are less than fun. I usually use common sense, but in recent years I have learned that what is common to me is not always common to others.

  • If your stock does not have sharp roll preventing corners, best find another way to go. As the saw blade bites into the stock it will pull on it. Rather more than I can hold on to. And even though a metal band-saw is a slower speed saw, there is more than enough movement to throw things around. Unintentional projectiles are something I avoid.
  • This one that should go without saying... Keep your fingers away from the blade! Also there is the potential for creating some nasty pinch points. So if you think your fingers and/or other tender parts are between two hard places, at least check to be sure there is nothing that would move them together.
  • My Dad modified my saw. Is it safe to use? Most of the time that answer is yes. Where I can clamp on the wrong side of the vise has great potential for binding saw blades. Also all modifications to my saw have not weakened the structure of the saw.
  • Use your best judgement. If you aren't comfortable with what is going on, STOP! I have been in those situations. I ignored my instincts. I regretted it. You can always work harder to do something the right way. What time you may save is usually not worth what you can loose.

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    6 years ago

    "Safety First"

    Excellent info here, I am
    currently doing some research and found exactly what I was looing for.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very nicely explained.

    Just gotta say, I'm pretty jealous of that saw. That looks incredibly handy!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    It is very handy. Near 20 years of service. And only a few breakdowns. But one always seems to want something better.