Frequently asked questions about the bandsaw

What tools do I need to build the bandsaw

Which tools you need depends heavily on your skill level. One guy built it with mostly hand tools. But I would recommend at least a table saw, drill press and jigsaw. I have an extensive series about building one of my bandsaw here, so you can judge for yourself. That said, given that you need to ask, I recommend you get more woodworking experience before tackling the bandsaw.

How much does it cost to build the bandsaw

Costs range from $50 to $600, depending on how much stuff you already have. Motor, shafts and bearings are the most expensive parts. But if you are asking this question, you probably don't have a lot of stuff kicking around, so your costs will be towards the upper end of the range. Your cheapest option is to buy a little 9" bandsaw or some other cheap one, though those are not that good.

How long does it take to build the bandsaw

I really have no idea how fast you work. Please see my series on building the 20" bandsaw. But if you are asking this question, you probably don't actually want to build a bandsaw, and I recommend you go and buy a small cheap one.

For my 20" bandsaw, if I wasn't debugging the design or shooting and video as I went, each video would have been about one day, except for making the frame. Preparing all that used wood took some extra time. Also, varnishing doesn't include drying time.
    Wheels: 1 day
    Frame: 2 days (less if I used new material)
    Wheel mounts: 1 day
    Blade guides: 1 day
    Table and trunnions: 1 day
    Enclosure: 1 day
    Painting and varnishing: 1 day
Total: 8 days.

What size motor should I use for the bandsaw

That greatly depends on what you want to do with it. For ordinary work, cutting through no more than 1.5" (4 cm) of wood, at speeds below 2000 fpm, 1/3 HP is adequate. If you want to do a lot of resawing, and run the saw at high speeds, you may want up to 1.5 hp. A sharp blade will use less than half the power of a dull blade.

What speed of motor should I use

Induction motors in north America (60 Hz mains) run at 1750 RPM or 3500 RPM (or very close to that). In other parts of the world (50 Hz mains), they run at 1450 or 2900 RPM. These speeds can be used, depending on your preferences. If your motor is not very close to one of those speeds, it's not an induction motor, and is not suitable for the bandsaw. If your motor has brsuhes and a commutator, then it's a universal motor and is not suitable.

Where can I get a motor for the bandsaw?

You need an induction motor. In USA, the best place to buy a new one is probably harbor freight. In Canada, probably Princess Auto. Induction motors, bought new can be expensive. I don't know of a good place to get one cheap. When I come across a motor at a yard sale, I buy one, and so I have a stash of motors ready to go. It might be less expensive to buy a cheap dust collector and use the motor from that.

Forced air furnace fan motors, sump pump motors, and top-loading washer motors and clothes dryer motors may be suitable. These are typically 1/4 to 1/2 horse power. Enough to get you by until you come across a better motor cheap.

The inner tube tires keep coming off my bandsaw

Most common causes for this are that the inner tube is too loose (buy a smaller one) or that you are running the bandsaw far too fast. I'd recommend running it no more than 2500 feet per minute (750 meters per minute). Also, it helps to have a smooth, varnished surface on the outside edges of the wheel so that the rubber will stick to it better.

Can I use hardwood, or other woods for the frame?

You can use any softwood for the frame. it's quite over-dimensioned, so will still be strong enough. You can also use hardwood, but the saw will be much heavier, which you may or may not want.

Can I use plywood for the frame to make it stronger?

I recommend against plywood. Half the grain in plywood is always facing in the wrong direction, so your bandsaw frame will only be half as stiff if you make the frame from plywood. Don't even think of using MDF or particle board.

Can I change it to use blades of different lengths?

The 16" saw is designed for 105" (2670 mm), the 20" for 132" (3360mm) blades. The 105" blades are stocked in many stores in Canada and the US. If there is a blade length that is close to that is easy for you to get, just change the height of the column on the left by half the difference. I don't recommend adding more than 5 cm to the height of the frame however.

Can I get the sawmill frame plans for the 16" bandsaw?

Only the 14" bandsaw is designed to go with the sawmill frame. The 16" model cannot be used as a sawmill.

Can I get the updated upper wheel mount for the 16" bandsaw?

The wheel mount in the plans for the 16" bandsaw is the most up to date for that saw. My 14" bandsaw uses a simpler 1-piece wheel mount for the upper wheel because there was not enough room. It's easier to make, but less foolproof to use, so I kept the 16" bandsaw design as it was.

Why does my bandsaw vibrate?

The most common source of bandsaw vibrations is wheels that are not entirely round or centered. This could be that you did not follow the procedure of doing the lathe-like trimming of the wheels, or that your inner tube is stretched unevenly or is of uneven thickness. Also, your saw may be running close to it's resonant frequency of vibration. Try running it slower or faster. Sometimes putting it on a different stand can also help.
Your wheels may also be out of balance, but the balancing procedure should have got them close enough that it should not be an issue.
Also see this article on bandsaw vibration

My bandsaw makes a loud high pitched noise when it cuts

This is mostly a function of the blade and wood. See here

Can I add 20 cm (8") to the height for extra resaw capacity?

The laminated beam frame of my bandsaw designs is certainly stiff enough to handle that. A bigger concern is the stiffness of the post to hold the upper blade guide. But keep in mind that resawing very wide boards is more than just a matter of having extra heght. See the physics of bandsaw resawing

Can you use UHMW for the guide blocks?

No. UHMW is too soft and wears too quickly, especially if it gets hot from friction. Wood works much better. You could also use make guide blocks out of metal.

Which bandsaw version should I build?

I have plans for my 20" bandsaw, my 16" bandsaw and for my 14" bandsaw that can also be used as a sawmill.
The 14" bandsaw is easier to move around and can also be used used as a sawmill. But the majority of people prefer to build the 16" bandsaw. If you don't plan on using it as a sawmill, or carrying it around very much, I recommend the 16" or 20" models. I use my 16" bandsaw more than the others.

Can you use bicycle wheels as bandsaw wheels?

The weight that a bike wheel needs to support would make it strong enough to use as a bandsaw wheel. However, the axle for a bicycle wheel is too thin, so you would have to make a new hub to accommodate a bigger axle. This means machining a new spoke hub and getting new spokes, or replacing the spokes with a plywood disk. The tire on the outside is also not an ideal shape, so you would also have to put some wooden rim around the outside that you could mill down to the right size. Life becomes much easier if, at this point, you cut a circle out of plywood and throw away the rim as well.

Can you make a 3-wheeled bandsaw?

Three wheeled bandsaws seem like a good idea at first glance. But the small wheels causes premature metal fatigue in the blade, causing it to break. More about 3-wheeled bandsaws

Reassembling the 20" bandsaw and answering questions

Buy the 14" bandsaw plans, 16" bandsaw plans or the 20" bandsaw plans

More about the 16" bandsaw, and 20" bandsaw

See also:

More about bandsaws