Why do people need a large BS to cut lathe stock?

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Forum topic by Tedstor posted 12-09-2012 12:28 AM 1301 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1678 posts in 2835 days

12-09-2012 12:28 AM

I know jack about turning, so I ask out of ignorance; but why is a large bandsaw necessary to prep bowl stock and other larger pieces?
Wouldn’t a chainsaw be cheaper and easier? I always assumed the stock didn’t need to be cut with too much accuracy and didn’t need to be particularly smooth. The lathe would take care of that. I would think a 16-18” chainsaw would get the job done and would be cheaper than an industrial bandsaw and easier than trying to manipulate a large log across a BS table.
Again, I’m clueless when it comes to turning, so I’m sure this is a dumb question. Endulge me anyway??

10 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3850 days

#1 posted 12-09-2012 12:30 AM

Used a 20” band saw can be found for $500 or so. A chainsaw
requires move maintenance, is less pleasant to use, scarier, requires
more effort due to a thick kerf, is less predictable,
and generally louder.

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1678 posts in 2835 days

#2 posted 12-09-2012 12:33 AM

But otherwise, there is no reason it couldn’t be a suitable alternative to a large BS? Say, if I already owned a large chainsaw, but only had a 14” BS?

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3850 days

#3 posted 12-09-2012 12:37 AM

No, not really. I’ll use a chain saw when it is the right
tool for the job. A helmet, face guard and kevlar
chaps are a good investment too. Sharpening chain
is no big deal once you get the hang of it.

A chain saw is a very flexible tool and useful for all
manner of creative woodworking. On the manliness
meter I feel like a total stud when I’m using my chainsaw
so the intangible rewards are pretty cool too.

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3939 days

#4 posted 12-09-2012 01:24 AM

A bandsaw is used to cut large diameter and heavy bowl blanks because they are fast and efficient. You make a circle cutting table and just put the blank on and cut it. Goes very fast and safe. It is also quite round and ready to turn. A chainsaw will not give you that kind of safety, accuracy, and speed. a large bandsaw is also needed to handle the weight and thickness of the blanks. Small ones just don’t cut it.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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2202 posts in 3360 days

#5 posted 12-09-2012 02:27 AM

I agree, Ted. Chainsaw is really all you need. But that’s not a very elegant shop tool.

-- jay,

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2099 posts in 2390 days

#6 posted 12-09-2012 03:15 AM

A chainsaw and a big bandsaw are complementary tools. Pretty hard to do fine work with a chainsaw, but they’re #1 for knocking a long heavy log down to into blocks of a manageable size. On the other hand, a big bandsaw will take a decent blade for resawing and tension it adequately (not so for most small bandsaws), has enough power to resaw at more than a snail’s pace, and can be used for other woodworking, not just turning blank preparation.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

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333 posts in 2435 days

#7 posted 12-09-2012 03:24 AM

The bigger the blank the worse the wobble when it is out of round. A roughly chain sawn blank would increase the chances of a tool catching and tearing out a chunk. You could rig up a router to shave the blank on the lathe before you started turning if you don’t have a big enough band saw.

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

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David Craig

2137 posts in 3311 days

#8 posted 12-09-2012 04:16 AM

When mounting stock on a lathe, the more balanced the better. I used to just lathe with the whole log, pith intact. Sometimes I still do if I want a wider vessel and the wood is stable. When I do that, I use a grinder with a carving disk and shave off portions that put the turn out of whack. The bandsaw provides a small kerf, is easier to control the cut, and makes a more accurately measured blank. This ultimately helps the lathe motor as well.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Austons_Garage's profile


41 posts in 2232 days

#9 posted 12-09-2012 06:01 AM

When All you have is a hammer ever problem starts to look like a nail.

Band saws aren’t really required to cut blanks but if you have one, why not?
And if you don’t and a chainsaw is handy (and in your wheelhouse) it works fine too.
My answer would probably be more related to cutting more than one blank our of a piece of rough timber. And that’s where the bandsaw would shine over a chainsaw. Thinner cuts, less waste, more wood to enjoy.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3173 days

#10 posted 12-09-2012 08:09 AM

I’ve tried doing this work with a chainsaw. I even got me an electric one so iI could use it in the garage. Biggest problem I had was figuring out a way to hold the chunk while cutting it. After cutting a big rough blank you then need a band saw to true it up so the lathe won’t dance across the floor.

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