All Replies on Equipment SAFETY tips: The Bandsaw

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Equipment SAFETY tips: The Bandsaw

by MsDebbieP
posted 12-16-2010 12:32 PM

44 replies so far

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3574 days

#1 posted 12-16-2010 12:45 PM

NEVER lose your concentration! In the quick of an eye, that nice slow machine that lulls you into thinking it is your friend and will never hurt you can give you a nasty cut… I have the scars to prove it!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2998 days

#2 posted 12-16-2010 12:51 PM

Great Subject Debbie,
The safety instructions that come with the machines are generic not enough info.

Don’t ever force wood.
It can all of a sudden find a soft spot.
Never use a dull blade.
Like Ellen, I’ve the scars to prove it, lucky to still have 10 digits.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View MsDebbieP's profile


18616 posts in 4302 days

#3 posted 12-16-2010 01:22 PM

make sure to put that blade guard thingy down to the height of the wood .. (that’s a technical term, by the way)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View rance's profile


4263 posts in 3302 days

#4 posted 12-16-2010 02:06 PM

Slow down when you get to the end of the cut so as to prevent the wood from lurching forward when it exits. Another technical term “Lurching”. :)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3125 days

#5 posted 12-16-2010 02:46 PM

Lets not forget to unplug the band saw before changing the blade or belt speed.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View miserybob's profile


88 posts in 3186 days

#6 posted 12-16-2010 02:48 PM

Reach around and PULL the wood through the last few inches – that way there’s no chance your digits will contact the front of the blade.

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4234 days

#7 posted 12-16-2010 02:53 PM

If you’re using a fence to make a straight cut, use a feather board to keep the piece tight up against the fence for best results. One less thing to concentrate on so you can keep your mind on the things everyone else has mentioned.
And when you can, use a push stick to save those finger tips from the “lurch” already brought up.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3200 days

#8 posted 12-16-2010 03:17 PM

Be sure to use proper support for longer pieces as they come off of the saw. You need to focus on the cut, not supporting the weight of the workpiece. Also, use push sticks and feather boards to help in guiding the workpiece.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View mikethetermite's profile


597 posts in 3408 days

#9 posted 12-16-2010 05:57 PM

Inform visitors that when they inter your shop if you are running the bandsaw (or any other machine). Not to speak, yell, or come near till the bandsaw stops.

Safety Glasses are a must

-- Mike The Termite ~~~~~ Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18616 posts in 4302 days

#10 posted 12-16-2010 06:01 PM

and to stand at the side

if the blade breaks be VERY careful opening the door as the blade may become a spring ready to attack. (One of our LumberJocks told of this experience)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View poopiekat's profile


4379 posts in 3876 days

#11 posted 12-16-2010 08:29 PM

Learning how to properly ‘fold’ a blade, into threesies, is a skill that is very necessary to learn, especially with 93” or longer blades. For storage, it’s better than hanging them from a nail high on the wall. There are you-Tube videos for this, though nobody does it exactly the way I was taught… and ‘unfolding’ them too is equally dangerous because of the energy stored in them that makes them want to spring out and scratch you right on the face! Here’s a video, but he neglects to mention that the teeth should be pointing away from you:

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4408 days

#12 posted 12-16-2010 08:45 PM
This is a little safety video I made a year ago after watching the guy do the 3-D reindeer video. It upsets me to see people doing unsafe procedures with power tools, so I did my own video. People have responded that seeing my pore ol’ abused push stick was a good thing, and new to them.
I also have all 10 digits- and no scars from band saw use. I’ve gotten hurt from table saws, power sanders and drill presses- and scared a lot with routers and lathes. Never needing more than a band aid.
Safety is no accident-

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18616 posts in 4302 days

#13 posted 12-16-2010 10:03 PM

and that’s why your book is so good, Donna – you are a great teacher!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3257 days

#14 posted 12-16-2010 10:33 PM

make sure al in alignment and with propper tension
bee sure all is tighten and asambled correct before the first run

take care

Edit: use a zerocleance plate

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4408 days

#15 posted 12-17-2010 02:51 AM

Aw thanks, Ms Debbie- I try my best.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View Pimzedd's profile (online now)


611 posts in 4284 days

#16 posted 12-17-2010 05:39 AM

Debbie, I taught high school students to saw on the bandsaw for 34 years. I had three students hurt on the bandsaw.

Two of them violated a rule that no one has mentioned. They FEED THEIR FINGER INTO THE SAW BLADE! One of them went all the way to the bone. Don’t saw with you finger in line with the blade. I started putting a red marks-a-lot line on the table top from the blade to the front of the table as a reminder. It worked, no student did that again.

The other student was cutting a slice about 1/8 in. off the edge of a 1 in. piece of plexiglas. The guide post ”blade guard thingy” was set about 2 in. above the stock. The slice broke off, his hand jumped into the blade. 12 stitches in his thumb and index finger. The rule is set the guide post about 1/4 in. above the stock.

A sharp blade on a saw that is correctly adjusted is the best policy to follow.

Debbie, you mentioned standing on the side; when a blade breaks, occasionally they come out the side. Had one break in class, come out the dust shoot and go across the floor like a snake, about 50 ft. Hit a student’s foot, no damage but he sure jumped! Had one break on me and the end hit me in the back of my hand. Just band-aid damage but I jumped as well. If you run a bandsaw long enough, you will have a blade break.

Like you said, don’t open the door if a blade jumps off the wheels or breaks. Turn off the power and wait until the upper wheel stops turning. On a large bandsaw such as a 20 in. saw, that can take as much as 5 min.

Hope my and my student’s experineces helps.

-- 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 Lumber2Sawdust's profile


139 posts in 3007 days

#17 posted 12-17-2010 06:02 AM

The one thing I keep in my mind when using the band saw is that this is essentially the same machine that butchers use to cut meat.

That is the only reminder I need to think about ways to safely keep fingers out of the way.

View Manitario's profile


2631 posts in 3024 days

#18 posted 12-17-2010 06:20 AM

Don’t touch the blade whilst it is moving.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View MsDebbieP's profile


18616 posts in 4302 days

#19 posted 12-17-2010 11:22 AM

really good tips… when I wrote about standing at the side I wondered about writing it .. I think someone had told some story before, here at LumberJocks, but I just couldn’t remember it..
thanks for correcting that

DON”T have people stand at the side or the back of the machine if they are watching.
”Danger, danger Will Robinson”

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4408 days

#20 posted 12-17-2010 06:15 PM

I have been lucky- I’ve had dozens of blades break but they all just stopped moving once they were no longer contacting the moving wheel. I’d never heard of them being propelled in a dangerous manner. I use a 1/8” blade most of the time and after a while they get dull and eventually they break. Just the price one pays for using small blades.
I also mention in the video as well as the book and when I give classes that you should do nothing on the band saw table until you can count the teeth of your blade. If you can see the teeth that well then the machine is truly off and you can safely make adjustments or remove scrap and your piece from the table.
I remind myself of this every time I make a cut. Brushing scraps off the table while the blade is still moving- even very slowly- can be disastrous.
I think the band saw is the least dangerous power tool in the shop.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View Grumpy's profile


24374 posts in 3992 days

#21 posted 12-20-2010 01:11 AM

I prefer a protective face shield rather than safety glasses. A broken blade is not a nice thought.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View stefang's profile


15940 posts in 3476 days

#22 posted 12-29-2010 01:19 AM

The ONLY power tool I’ve ever been hurt with in my 15 years of woodworking IS my ‘safe’ bandsaw, and not just once, but twice! The first time right after I got it due to a serious case of stupidity and the second time due to lack of concentration (no, I didn’t fall asleep!). I really felt like an ass when I was taken to the evening watch doctors (both times) and I’m still ashamed to admit this happened, but if it prevents someone else from injury then my embarrassment is more than worth it. TAKE THE ABOVE ADVICE TO HEART!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4408 days

#23 posted 12-29-2010 02:05 AM

Mike- howzabout some details about how your accidents occurred- and what the resulting damage was. We will all benefit from hearing more.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View TJ65's profile


1381 posts in 3191 days

#24 posted 12-29-2010 05:06 AM

All of the above AND keep your thumbs in!!!!!
I am paranoid using the bandsaw, no accidents -yet, thankfully, but still paraniod!!
To Blasé with the scrollsaw, but they dont have a tendency to bite as much as a bandsaw!! :-0

-- Theresa,

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4408 days

#25 posted 12-29-2010 04:07 PM

Thanks for reminding me Deke about handling small pieces of wood. With my tiny boxes especially, but also when taking the sliver of wood for a lid off of a curved box block- use turner’s quality double-sided sticky tape to stick the block to a scrap piece of wood that is easier and safer to grasp. I keep on hand a variety of these small blocks of perfectly square hard wood, maple, to make these delicate jobs easier. Maybe that is why I have never been hurt by my band saws. Safety first.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 4133 days

#26 posted 12-29-2010 04:48 PM

Beware the dull blade! While rounding a large number of bowl blanks I had not noticed how much extra effort it was taking to get each piece through the blade. It eventually hit a soft spot in one piece and caused the piece to lung forward bandsawing the end of one finger as a result.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2918 days

#27 posted 12-29-2010 05:14 PM

Something that no one has mentioned. I wear a face shield and anti-cut gloves when handling the blades – off the saw. When they uncoil, the blades have a real spring to them. They all cut, when in the saw or out, even the dull ones. Be safe.

When using the saw, I wear hearing protection for two reasons. One, the noise; and two, so I am not distracted.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3727 days

#28 posted 12-29-2010 05:19 PM

Don’t get into the habit of trailing your fingers behind the wood when pushing it through.You would be surprised how many people get this simple mistake wrong .When the blade appears as if by magic through the end of the wood wood make sure your pushing that wood with a stick. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Durnik150's profile


647 posts in 3463 days

#29 posted 12-30-2010 01:44 AM

My tip would piggyback onto Scotsman’s. Imagine a triangle coming twoard you from the front of the blade. This triangle usually encounters your hands as you push the wood gently through the blade. Try to keep your hands out of the triangle during common everyday use. If your hands do travel into the triangle, be on high alert as to what tensions are on the blade! If your hand/fingers are in the triangle when the blade comes free, you could be in for a trip to the doctor.

I have been told over and over again that the band saw is perhaps the safest power tool in the shop. I agree but it has sent my brother in law to the ER twice due to innattention on his part as to where his hands were when the blade came free. I always remind myself of his experiences every time I turn on the machine.

Great discussion topic!

-- Behind the Bark is a lot of Heartwood----Charles, Centennial, CO

View RiverWood's profile


115 posts in 2901 days

#30 posted 12-30-2010 03:41 AM

I think the many band saw accidents would be prevented by the simple rule of “If it sounds wrong Stop” Turn it off and see whats wrong

-- My favorite projects were firewood bound

View ChuckV's profile


3171 posts in 3669 days

#31 posted 12-30-2010 03:57 AM

This is a great discussion – LJs at its best.

I recently took a workshop at the North Bennet Street School. We were able to use some of the monster bandsaws there. One of the points that was stressed was that when resawing you should not assume that the blade remains straight inside the cut. As a result, you should always be prepared for the blade to exit earlier than you would think and not exactly where you would think. This is another reason that using push sticks is important.

As you are resawing, you might stop every few inches and gently back up a short distance. This does two things. First, it allows any excess sawdust to be ejected. Second, if you feel a lot of resistance when backing up, it is likely that the blade is not remaining straight inside the wood and you really need to be on your guard.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4408 days

#32 posted 12-30-2010 04:00 AM

Just thought of another tip I use all the time- keep some part of your hands in contact with the table at all times. that way I can control the feed better and my hands are not in mid-air and looking for a run-in with the blade.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2918 days

#33 posted 12-30-2010 02:10 PM

ChuckV—- I have had that when the blade was cutting through the wood in an arc. Can be a real surprise when it comes through the wood.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4408 days

#34 posted 12-30-2010 05:02 PM

Oh yeah- some of my boxes required an arced cut through 6” thick of hard wood. . . 3/8” away from the edge! You will develop a serious appreciation for safety at that point.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View woodcrafter47's profile


352 posts in 3247 days

#35 posted 01-04-2011 02:16 AM

Don’t do round stock free hand. Big mistake. It flys and ruins a good blade ,scares the crap out of ya.

-- In His service ,Richard

View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 2968 days

#36 posted 01-04-2011 09:36 PM

Another thing to remember: There is a reason that your local butcher uses one of these for slicing your Fillet minon…. they work very well for slicing meat… aka what your fingers are made of…

We had a blade break today in school.. a sorta quiet snap… but boy do they hop out… it only bent/bound up, and was caught by the guard…but I could see where it wanted to go…

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View BobG's profile


172 posts in 3103 days

#37 posted 01-07-2011 06:07 AM

I have worked in Machine shops and tool and die shops for nearly 40 years. Not once did I get cut or mutilated by a power “Tool”. The only time I got hurt by any type of machine was once in high school shop on a metal lathe. It had the old cast iron lids for guards over the drive belts. I was changing speed with the cover up and one of the student smart as5es walked by and pushed the lid shut. Cut the end of my index finger nearly off! Told the teacher it was an accident, but the kid and I had a toe-to-toe after school! One handed was a little tough but he never did it again!

1. keep fingers at least 4 inches or more away from spinning articles.
2. Don’t wear jewelry or long hair.
3. Think before you move.
4. Read 1-2-3 over and over till they are second nature!

Bob G.

-- BobG, Lowell, Arkansas--------My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am! Make more saw dust!!

View whit's profile


246 posts in 4118 days

#38 posted 01-07-2011 07:14 AM

Verify the tracking of the blade before you apply power. Make a rev or two manually to make sure the tracking is close. If the blade is going to fall off the wheels, it’ll do it at a much slower rate – and with a LOT less spring – than at full speed.


-- Even if to be nothing more than a bad example, everything serves a purpose. cippotus

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2918 days

#39 posted 01-07-2011 02:36 PM

When you do a revolution by hand, be mindful of the belt and motor behind the wheel. Don’t just stick your finger in there and give it a twirl.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View whit's profile


246 posts in 4118 days

#40 posted 01-08-2011 12:41 AM

Good point, David. It didn’t occur to me to mention that because it isn’t an issue with my saw. ‘course this could be brought to the level of the innane. You know, sort of like “If you’re cutting wood and see blood, STOP!! Most wood doesn’t bleed!!” ;)


-- Even if to be nothing more than a bad example, everything serves a purpose. cippotus

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10265 posts in 4194 days

#41 posted 04-22-2011 08:27 PM

Very good Tips!

I think it’s the FIRST time I have seen how to UNcoil a bandsaw blade!
I have always gone out to the front lawn and threw them into the air (up and away from me)... POW… they unfold… with a twang.

The most important Rule that I follow is:

Never have fingers in line with the blade… NO MATTER WHAT… Always keep fingers to the left or right… NOT in line with the blade EVER.

I have seen the wood go from a hardened are to a much softer area which results in an instantaneous increase in SPEED, where if a finger were in line with the blade, it would have been surely cut. When you are cutting wood, the wood has to be pushed a certain amount into the blade for it to be cut… even though one is not really PUSHING the wood, it can STILL jump in speed causing a dangerous situation.

Simply… Never put your fingers in line with the blade… EVER.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2817 days

#42 posted 04-23-2011 03:07 AM

When I was taking Industrial Arts classes they told us that there are more accidents on the band saw than any other tool in the shop. they also said it was not ususally as bad as the accidents on other tools when it did happen. On a table saw you cut a finger and you are more likely to lose the finger. On the band saw the accident is usually just a little nip on the end of the finger and the finger is saved. That said I don’t like little nips. Our shop instructor at the local Technical school was sawing a log for a man that walked in off the street and managed to cut into his little finger and cut teh tendon. I don’t know any more details than that on his accident. When my wife walked into his shop just by chance, it happened. He went to the sink with the bleeding finger and was saying, “I knew better than to do that!” I tell my grandchildren to not put thier fingers inside the circle of the throat plate. that keeps their fingers safer.

View Roger's profile


20948 posts in 2945 days

#43 posted 04-23-2011 11:32 PM

Don’t forget to De-Tension that blade when you’re finished

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View mainwoodworks's profile


112 posts in 2790 days

#44 posted 07-13-2011 12:06 AM

What makes the Band-Saw so dangers is that it is not so intimidating as most saws, not a lot of noise or wind being stirred up. If you think it won’t cut fast take a 1/2” or even a 3/4” dowel and with the saw running just flip it into the blade and see how fast you could loose a finger.

-- Measure twice, cut once, and hope for the best.

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