Bandsaw safety?

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Forum topic by JeffP posted 02-15-2015 02:01 PM 1561 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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573 posts in 1353 days

02-15-2015 02:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question bandsaw

In the past few days we’ve seen a couple of gut-wrenching posts about table saw injuries.

Lately I’ve been watching too many bandsaw videos, and plan on purchasing a bandsaw very soon.

One thing that strikes me is that I don’t see much in the way of injury reports (or concern) for bandsaws.

In most of the videos we see people free-handing workpieces with their hands just an inch or two from the blade, with no push-sticks or blade-guards in site, and no fence or other assembly in place to stabilize the workpiece.

Is there some inherent difference between a bandsaw and a table saw in terms of their injury potential?

I know there is much less likelihood of kickback-type injuries, but still…there is a blade right there that can rip right through a piece of ipe or even a piece of re-bar.

What’s the deal?

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

23 replies so far

View Bob Kassmeyer's profile

Bob Kassmeyer

221 posts in 2887 days

#1 posted 02-15-2015 03:12 PM

Things happen a lot faster on a table saw. Feed rates are usually faster and man is that blade moving. I fortunately have not been bitten by either machine yet. I have noticed that when cutting on the band saw especially when re-sawing that wood has soft and hard places. Sometimes the feed is slow and sometimes it will move an inch very quickly. Like any tool you must be careful. I have seen it written here on Lumberjocks that you have to remember that a bandsaw is what they cut meat with. It does not matter which tool you use there is potential for harm. My two greatest fumbles were with a drill press and a chisel.

-- Bob Kassmeyer, Nebraska

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1386 days

#2 posted 02-15-2015 03:12 PM

Maybe it is just a false sense of security?

You do get to use two hands to hold the work piece most of the time and most BS allow you to stand right in front of the blade. The table is usually at a height that is conducive to actually see what you are doing, head on and they usually come with decent lighting, as well. Binding is also far less likely to be catastrophic as it would be on a table saw. This is usually how accidents\injuries occur on a table saw.

One also has far more control over the work piece and tend to use far less force feeding your workpiece because there is no danger of kick back like on a table saw, as you pointed out.

-- Brad, Texas,

View greenacres2's profile


319 posts in 2130 days

#3 posted 02-15-2015 03:17 PM

There are a few things off the top of my head. One of the biggest is that the blade is only cutting down through the stock, as opposed to a circular blade which comes up on one side and down on the other. A second factor is that the blade guides are (or should be) adjusted down to just above the surface of the cut, so in most flat cuts there is minimal blade exposed for most of the cut. And, since the blade is thinner, it will normally track through the wood where it wants to track instead of being relatively fixed and fighting another fixed object (circular saw blade versus wood—when those two fixed forces conflict, trouble follows). That last point is the reason why proper band saw set-up is so important—while it’s a pretty simple process, there seems to be a fine art in getting the blade to want to track where i want it to track. With help from various sources, I’ve gotten better at it, but i’m nowhere near good!!

Just my observations, others may have different opinions.


View kajunkraft's profile


149 posts in 2172 days

#4 posted 02-15-2015 03:37 PM

I think the best advise I have heard is to never put any part of your hand/fingers, etc. directly where the blade is cutting. As mentioned above, sometimes the wood will rather suddenly advance a good bit; you don’t want that to happen when you are near the end! You can also pull the wood from the other side when approaching the end. A push block can be used against the side of the board to keep your hand out of the way of the blade.

View CharlesA's profile


3312 posts in 1759 days

#5 posted 02-15-2015 03:50 PM

Circular blades are inherently more dangerous—you have to be concerned about cutting your finger, but not about the board flipping faster than you can see and your hand getting pulled into the saw. Another way of saying it is that the dangers in a bandsaw are very apparent—a table saw can mess you up in ways you may not readily perceive.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Redoak49's profile


3188 posts in 1950 days

#6 posted 02-15-2015 10:17 PM

While the band saw injury rate is relatively low for woodworking it is a major concern in meat cutting.

In the meat cutting area a technology called “Bladestop” has been invented that uses a special glove and brake which can stop a blade in 15 ms.

The most important thing for me is to have a push stick or block to end a cut. There is no doubt that the band saw can cause bad injuries and one should be aware of it.

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 1353 days

#7 posted 02-15-2015 11:02 PM

:) I thought this was humor until I googled it.

How did they get that past SS patents?

In the meat cutting area a technology called “Bladestop” has been invented that uses a special glove and brake which can stop a blade in 15 ms.
- Redoak49

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 1353 days

#8 posted 02-15-2015 11:11 PM

So what I think I’m hearing here is that the blade is no less dangerous…

It is mostly a matter of the topology of the operation tending to have a much lower incidence of “surprise” (like kickbacks and other unexpected movement of the workpiece.)

I wonder if part of it is also mental focus? Bandsaw user is purposefully guiding the work along a template line most of the time (resawing is an obvious exception). With a table saw a much more common operation is to spend time setting things up and then just “shove it through there”. From the point of view of the operator, perhaps more of the burden of control is placed on the mechanism rather than the user?

This might suggest that an important table saw safety tip would be to always expect the saw/fence/etc to misbehave and apply a seeming over-supply of control. Kind of like you are wrestling with the saw like you would a 2-year-old who is expected to misbehave at every opportunity.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 1353 days

#9 posted 02-15-2015 11:19 PM

I just spent a few minutes pondering what a good pair of ultimate bandsaw-specific “push blocks” might look like.

I guess this will perhaps be “too much information” about how my mind works, but it wasn’t more than a couple of minutes before my mind latched onto this idea…

Just put some good handles on the stump end of a couple of these and Bob’s your uncle!

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


4041 posts in 2271 days

#10 posted 02-15-2015 11:22 PM

View Clarkie's profile


453 posts in 1803 days

#11 posted 02-15-2015 11:40 PM

Like every tool that you use as a carpenter, cabinetmaker, beginner, etc. Always treat the tool with the respect it deserves, don’t be a fool and think you can just push the wood through or along and that makes you a top notch woodworker. It is never the tool which you are using that makes the mistake, it is the operator behind the tool. Keep your hands a safe distance from the blade on the bandsaw and don’t attempt foolish procedures. The band on most home shop 14” saws when it snaps will break to the outside and could catch your hand if it were in the danger area. Of course the larger production saws 48” and above could definitely do greater harm, but if you have a lack of experience you wouldn’t be operating one of those. In essence learn to respect what you do with the machine and work responsible at all times.

View MrUnix's profile


6574 posts in 2161 days

#12 posted 02-15-2015 11:52 PM

In 30+ years, I’ve never had an accident with a table saw, but I have cut myself on the band saw a couple of times. Nothing major though.. just small cuts and nicks, but the blood made them look much worse than they were :)


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View mahdee's profile


3868 posts in 1729 days

#13 posted 02-16-2015 12:47 AM

The issue with the band saw is the last few inches of cut. Typically, you don’t realize how much force/pressure you are putting on the piece and as you get to the end, you can end up running the wood through and then some… i.e., your knuckles and fingers. So, to be safe, decrease the amount of pressure as you get closer to the end. ” in my 450 years of ‘experince’, bla, bla, bla”


View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1298 days

#14 posted 02-16-2015 01:50 AM

Pushsticks when resawing. Two hands with hands clear of the blade when contour cutting where one hand pushes while the other guides the wood. Blade guard always lowered to leave as little blade exposed as possible when cutting. No kickback with a band saw although small pieces can fly out if they get trapped in the throat plate.

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2652 days

#15 posted 02-16-2015 02:12 AM

My bandsaw injury (scary, but not serious) happened when I shut the saw off and went to flick a piece of scrap off the table. That blade continues to turn a long time after you shut the motor off (and it is silent). My rule now is leave offcuts on the table until I can count the teeth on the blade.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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