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Bandsaw injuries or safety concerns

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Blog entry by SteveKorz posted 05-31-2008 09:16 PM 6095 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

OK… I’m a little accident proned. I’m going to get a bandsaw in the next week or so, and before I acquire a hospital bill from doing something dumb, I thought I would try a preemptive strike and ask if anyone had any advice or direction for me to take on how NOT to get hurt with it. I realize that most of it is common sense, such as “don’t have the blade guard up all the way when you cut ¼ inch material… etc.” But, are there any special circumstances or jobs that you’ve put yourself in that didn’t turn out as safe as you’d hoped, resulting in an injury or near injury? I have “zero” experience with this type of machine.

Thanks to some advice I got on my past blog, I have most of what they told me to buy (books, etc). I just thought it might be good to hear from some first hand experiences. Thanks in advance!

—Steve

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †



20 comments so far

View tenontim's profile

tenontim

2131 posts in 2488 days


#1 posted 05-31-2008 09:30 PM

Band saws are probably the safest of the power saws, it’s hard to get hurt using one. Since the blade runs down through the table, it pulls the wood against the table. The main concern, I would say, is to use a push stick to finish a cut, especially on small pieces or when resawing. All of the injuries that I’ve seen with this tool was from people sawing their thumb when the wood suddenly “jumped” through the cut at the end. Your manual will give you an idea of the safety precautions you should take.

View USCJeff's profile

USCJeff

1044 posts in 2812 days


#2 posted 05-31-2008 09:50 PM

What Tim stated was good and bad. I agree that it is one of the safest machines, but that line of thought is what makes it dangerous, I think. On a known dangerous machine, precautions are always taken as there are a lot of horror stories out there about table saws and jointers, etc. . . I would guess that bandsaw injuries occur most often when the user gets complacent and disregards safety measures.

That said, If the guard is down, the tension is on, and and the guides are set, It’s tough to get to the blade with the wood engaged. Hooking a finger is a problem with any tool. The force is into the table so kickback isn’t an issue. The most dangerous function I can think of is working with tiny pieces better suited for a scroll saw or some type of holding jig.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

7928 posts in 2796 days


#3 posted 05-31-2008 10:47 PM

As mentioned before, while sawing, it’s not unusual for the wood to speed-up a little now and then… going from a grain “ring” to a “no ring” area can cause a change in cutting/feeding speed… so,

Never place your thumb or fingers or hand directly in front of the blade as you are pushing the wood through…

NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU ARE FROM THE BLADE!

When you get really close to the end of cut, place a hand behind the blade and start Pulling the wood through the final distance.

If you are cutting small pieces, get a nice piece of cardboard, from the back of a notepad… say 8.5” x 11”... start cutting it in the middle of one edge… and stop when in middle of the sheet… Tape it down to the table top… Now, you have a Zero-Clearance device so pieces CANNOT slide into the blade slot and possibly get caught in the blade! Saves bending over to pick them off the floor too.

If your bandsaw has a lever to pull/push for tension control, think about putting a flag that sticks up in the air when the tension is ON… Make sure the flag is “raised” before TURNING IT ON! Will save you from getting scared to death!

Always be sure to adjust the tracking so the blade is in the middle of the tire… Not closer to front or back!
This will help your “drift” control.

OK, those are few of things off the top of my head that I think are the most importane items… I’m sure there are more that others will mention.

Be carefull… ALWAYS think about what you’re doing… don’t start daydreaming about something else during a cut.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: http://www.ncwoodworker.net/pp/showgallery.php?ppuser=1389&cat=500"

View Pimzedd's profile

Pimzedd

467 posts in 2548 days


#4 posted 05-31-2008 10:53 PM

I taught “shop” classes for 34 years. I had two students get injured on a bandsaw.

The first had the guide post about 2 in. above the stock while cutting a thin slice off the edge of a piece of 1 in. acrylic. The slice broke off, the hand jumped forward. Result, 12 stitches in thumb and index finger. Don’t have a recommendation for that other than ALWAYS take time to set the guide post.

The second student feed his index finger into the blade while making a straight cut. He went far enough to hit the bone. After the second, I always put a red Marks-A-Lot line on the table in line with the blade and told students to never have a finger in top of the red line. Never had a student do that again.

I agree with Tim that the bandsaw is one of the safest machines in a shop. Need to go out and work with my 1948 Craftsman bandsaw. Have fun.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

View trifern's profile

trifern

8132 posts in 2511 days


#5 posted 05-31-2008 11:28 PM

The safest possible thing you can do is send me the band saw. It will save you lots of potential injuries. Okay, can you tell I’m jealous?

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2914 posts in 2640 days


#6 posted 06-01-2008 02:11 AM

Follow your common sense and what the others have said. One of the biggest things I think people do with a band saw is cut parts that are simply too small for the band saw. Another mistake is trying to do a cut with the wrong size blade.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3971 posts in 2807 days


#7 posted 06-01-2008 02:30 AM

After the first time I fired mine up without tensioning the blade I wrote on the column nest to the on switch: Check blade tension before turning on.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View lew's profile

lew

10151 posts in 2499 days


#8 posted 06-01-2008 02:33 AM

For what it’s worth-

Here are several links to Internet sites that provide safety information on band saws. The last one has several videos on the subject

www.vsu.edu/docs/bryant/bandsawsafetybryant.ppt

www.afd.calpoly.edu/risk/ehs/bandsaw.html

http://www.mae.ufl.edu/designlab/Safety_doc/EML%202322L%20Bandsaw%20Safety.doc

http://woodworking.about.com/od/safetyfirst/p/BandSawSafety.htm":http://woodworking.about.com/od/safetyfirst/p/BandSawSafety.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwGKwNOdKzI

Lew

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View DeputyDawg's profile

DeputyDawg

188 posts in 2709 days


#9 posted 06-01-2008 02:47 AM

Tim;
One of the dumbest things I did in my life was drive a big truck for over 3 million accident free miles. I was asked one time about my thoughts of being a safe driver. My answer was THINK TWICE. It only takes a micro-millionth of a second to have a thought wave so why not have two of them before doing anything. And also think about the situation around you. If you get hurt is anyone around you that might either get hurt along with you or be able to help you get help. I apply that thought process every time I go into my woodshop. My wife is handicapped so I always make sure she knows where I am at and what I will be doing. And I always remember that if I do get hurt or get killed what about her. I have been thinking of getting a security type camera in the shop so she can look in on me and call if she needs help. Hope this might make sense and best wishes for a safe and happy experiance as a woodworker.
Dennis Mitchell
“DeputyDawg”

-- DeputyDawg

View David Freed's profile

David Freed

97 posts in 2411 days


#10 posted 06-01-2008 03:31 AM

I can’t remember where I read this (it may have been here at LJ). A guy was about halfway through cutting a big piece of wood, and hit a large hidden void. The wood jumped forward so fast, and he was pushing so hard, his hand hit the blade even though he wasn’t through the cut yet. I don’t remember the extent of his injuries, but I don’t think it was too bad.

-- David, Southern Indiana

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2732 days


#11 posted 06-01-2008 03:39 AM

Some good advice here Steve.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2566 days


#12 posted 06-01-2008 03:50 AM

One other thing is that has not been mentioned is to make sure your blade is sharp. With a new blade that is no problem but as the blade gets more age on it the tendency is to increase the push on the wood to get it through. If you hit a soft area then the surge can pull your hand into the blade.

One other thought on the bandsaw is to toss the blade that comes with the machine. It is a poor one at best. There have been several bandsaw blade reviews posted here but the two most mentioned ones are Timberwolf and Wood Slicer.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View tpastore's profile

tpastore

105 posts in 2560 days


#13 posted 06-01-2008 03:50 AM

Ok my turn. I have had a close accident on the bandsaw. Here is my advice. ALWAYS make sure that the part being cut is contacting the table when it is being cut. I broke this rule twice and almost paid for it. First time – I bought some round bowl blanks fron Rockler and was resawing the blanks for the top and bottom pieces (see my nautilus shell project) well if you try to hold a round 6” diameter ROUND part against the fence and resaw off a 1/2” slice, guess what happens? The round part starts to roll, and since the blade is moving down, that round part is now rolling your hands into the blade. In my case I was lucky and let go of the part. It twisted, bound up the blade, and bent a 5/8” resaw blade, almsot snapping it. Moral of the story? Avoid cutting round parts, and if you do have to, use some carpet tape to stick it to a square board and then pass it through.

The second close call was a stupid one. I was using a push stick at the end of the cut and again I was not resting it on the table as I was pushing. So I had a small push stick at the back of the part about 1.5” off the table. When the blade broke through the back of the part it hit my push stick and pulled it down to the table. No injury but a scary jerk of the hand.

So my $.02 Make sure all parts are supported directly under the cutting face.

Tim

View Kipster's profile

Kipster

1076 posts in 2497 days


#14 posted 06-01-2008 04:38 AM

My advice is simple,,,, Don’t power up any power tool including the bandsaw late at night or any time your not alert or wide awake. This takes a bit of self disciplin but well worth consideration. Good safe times ahead with the bandsaw.. If you pay attention and follow all the great advice from above and make sure you can concentrate with a clear head.

Kip

-- Kip Northern Illinois ( If you don't know where your goin any road will take you there) George Harrison

View Shopsmithtom's profile

Shopsmithtom

780 posts in 2938 days


#15 posted 06-01-2008 05:13 AM

Never lose focus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With that said, and all the other jocks saying how safe a bandsaw is, I had a high school woodworking teacher of 30 years tell me that he considered the bandsaw one of the most dangerous tools in his shop, for the very reason stated many times above…it’s not dangerous…don’t worry…etc. Now I’m not suggesting that anyone here is saying “don’t worry about safety”, but he said he saw more accidents with a bandsaw than with any other power tool except the table saw. He felt is was because the bandsaw didn’t appear to be very dangerous, and therefore it was easier to lose focus and slip up which led to the injuries.
There are a lot of great tips in the comments above. Listen up…pay attention…and don’t forget to enjoy. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

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