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AW Extra 2/13/14 - Bandsaw Jigs


Bandsaw Jigs

By George Vandriska

Your bandsaw is one of the most versatile tools in your shop. These five jigs and techniques will help you handle some unusual situations.

Cutting Multiples

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If you need to make a lot of identical parts using a template, a pattern cutter is very handy. It won’t completely eliminate steering the material, but it’s a lot easier than simply following a line. The pattern cutter will help you consistently cut within 1⁄16 in. to 1⁄8 in. of the template; you can then trim off the waste with a flush-trim or pattern-cutting router bit. Every part you make will look exactly like the template.

Clamp your jig to the bandsaw. The notch in the follower surrounds the blade.The amount the tip of the follower projects past the blade is the amount of waste you’ll leave outside the template. At first you may want to keep this around 1⁄8 in. Now that I’m comfortable using a pattern cutter, I set mine to leave 1⁄16 in. I use hot-melt glue or double-stick tape to hold my template to the work. Just be sure it’s a FOLLOWER good bond so it won’t slip.

Allow the template to run along the tip of the follower.You still need to steer, but the follower will guide you. Keep the feed rate slow.

Perfect Circles

Whether you need circles that are 4 in. or 4 ft. in diameter, a jig like this makes it a snap. Fit the jig to your saw, modifying the cleats as necessary. Make your blanks about 1-in. bigger than the circle you want to cut. With a 1⁄4-in., 4-tpi blade on the saw, make a notch in the blank. The notch creates a pocket for the blade to start in, and should be centered on the width of the blank (Photo 2b).

Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.

, 800-443-7937, Threaded inserts for jigs.
Woodworker’s Supply, 800-645-9292, Knobs for jigs.

Mount this adjustable circle jig to your saw table. It has an adjustable dovetailed slider, and a screw for a pivot point.The pivot point must be lined up with the front of the saw blade.With the jig clamped to the saw table,measure from the blade to the jig’s pivot point, set it to the desired radius, and lock the dovetailed slider in place. Put the blade in the pre-cut 1⁄4-in. by 1⁄4-in. notch, center the blank on the jig, and press the blank down onto the pivot point.

Spin the blank to cut a perfect circle. It’s a good idea to cut a piece of scrap first to make sure the set up is right. Don’t feed too fast, or the blade will wander. If the blade wanders even with a slow feed rate, check the position of the pivot point. It probably needs front to back adjustment.

Compound Cuts

Woodcarvers use this technique to rough out carving blanks and furniture builders use it to cut cabriole legs. Blade selection will depend on the tightness of the curves you’re cutting. I did the legs in these photos with a 1⁄4-in., 4-tpi blade.

Trace your pattern on two adjacent faces. Cut all the lines on one face, keeping the offcut pieces.Then use masking tape to reassemble the block.

Tape the offcuts back together, and cut the adjacent face.

Like magic your part appears from the center of the blank when you remove the tape.

Easy Resawing

If you have lots of resawing to do, it’s best to use a resaw fence that compensates for the drift of the blade. See AW #61, p. 50 for this set up. If you only need to resaw a board or two, a single-point fence is the way to go. The round face of a dowel is the only surface the material bears against, so you don’t need to compensate for blade drift.

First, get a good resaw blade for your saw. I use the biggest blade the saw will take. In this case, that’s a 3⁄4 in., 3 to 4 tpi.

Set the fence on your bandsaw table and be sure the dowel and blade are parallel vertically.The crown of the dowel must be slightly in front of the teeth of the blade. Set the distance from the dowel to the blade to the amount you want to resaw. Securely clamp the fence. Use a marking gauge to mark a line on the edge of the board you’re going to cut.

Steer the board through the resaw fence, cutting on your marked line.The board should only contact the dowel.The fence acts as a guide, but you’ll need to steer the piece to keep it on the line. Keep your eye on the face of the board too. It should stay tight against the dowel.To keep my hands away from the blade, I pull the last 6 in. through the cut instead of pushing.

Good Set Up = Good Performance

Adjust the tracking. With your saw unplugged, back off the guide blocks and thrust bearings as far as possible. Put the blade on, and set the tension according to the settings on the saw. Then, use the tracking adjustment knob to correctly set the upper wheel. What you’re adjusting is the front to back position of the blade. Turning the upper wheel by hand, adjust for proper tracking. On most saws, blades up to 1⁄2-in. wide should track so the teeth are in the center of the tire. For larger blades, center the blade on the tire. Never run the saw with a blade that’s overhanging the tire’s edge.

Locate the upper and lower thrust bearings so they’re about .003 in. (the thickness of a piece of typing paper) behind the blade. The valleys between the teeth on any blade are called the gullets. Bring the guide blocks forward until the fronts of the blocks are even with the bottoms of the bandsaw blade gullets. Then move the blocks in until they’re .003 in. from the sides of the blade. Again, typing paper will work as a feeler gauge. Turn the blade a few rotations by hand to make sure nothing is rubbing. Now you’re ready to power up!

Make sure the tension is right. I check it by doing a test resaw in a 5-in.- or 6-in.-tall hardwood scrap. Just go in a few inches, taking it easy on the feed rate. Turn out of the cut. Place a straightedge across the saw cut, and check if it’s flat. If not, apply a little more tension and test again. Once you find the right setting for a given blade on your saw, you can always go straight to that setting. Be sure you’re doing this test with a sharp blade, or the “barrel cut” that results might only be the result of a bad blade.

Band-Sawn Dovetails

Here's a great way to produce through dovetails. It’s similar to the way you hand cut them, but a little easier, and like hand-cut dovetails, practice helps.

This technique is well suited to cutting large numbers of dovetails for small boxes or drawers. The material you’re dovetailing has to be short enough to fit in the throat of the saw. Use layout techniques similar to hand-cut dovetails. (see AW #54, p. 52). If you don’t mind tilting your table left and right to make the angle cuts, you don’t even need to make the jig. I prefer to keep my table square once it’s set, so the jig gives me the left and right tilt I need.

Lay out the depth and width of the pins and sockets and mark the waste wood. You only need lines on the face of the material. For cutting dovetails, I like a 3⁄16-in., 10-tpi blade. The high tooth count gives a good surface finish, and the narrow blade easily turns to cut the base of the sockets.

With the jig angling up to the right, cut the lines on the right side of the sockets.

Turn the jig in the other direction to cut the left side of the sockets.

Take out the waste. Remove the jig. Cut into the waste wood and follow along the baseline of the socket. When you get near the end, you’ll need to lift the board to match the angle of the cut to the angle of the pin.Turn the board and cut in the other direction, nibbling out all the waste down to the baseline.

With pins and sockets complete, trace them onto the tail board. Be sure your pencil is sharp because these lines are very important.

Carefully cut on the lines, producing the tails. I try to take away half the pencil line to get a good fit.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker August 1999, issue #74.

August 1999, issue #74

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