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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.
Click any image to view a larger version.
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
still need to
steer, but the
Keep the feed
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
Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.
McFeeleys, 800-443-7937, Threaded inserts
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.
Woodcarvers use this technique
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
Like magic your part appears from the
center of the blank when you remove the tape.
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
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.
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
With pins and sockets complete, trace them onto the
tail board. Be sure
your pencil is sharp because
these lines are
Carefully cut on the lines, producing
the tails. I try to take away
half the pencil line to get a
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