Following good safety practices when using band saws is a must.

Some of these safety practices seem like common sense, but we still have skilled craftsmen getting seriously injured.

Make a habit of including safety in all your activities.

  • Always read and understand the tool’s operator’s manual, tool markings, and the instructions packaged with the accessory before starting any work.
  • Always wear safety goggles or safety glasses with side shields and a full-face shield when needed.
  • Wear proper hearing protection, as needed.
  • Dress right. Do not wear gloves, loose clothes or jewelry. Contain long hair. Loose clothes, gloves, jewelry, or long hair can be caught in moving parts.
  • Crowded, cluttered work areas that can cause tripping or loss of balance are particularly dangerous.
  • Never alter a guard or use the tool with a guard missing. Be sure all guards are in place and working properly before each use. Do not defeat guards.

Choose the Right Tool and Blade

Choosing the correct tool and the proper accessory for your application can help to reduce the risk of serious injury.

When used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, the proper tool and accessory will do the job safer and faster.

  • Use sharp blades. Damaged or dull blades could throw teeth, posing a serious injury risk. A sharp blade will tend to cut its way out of a pinching condition.
  • When installing or changing a blade, be sure the blade is aligned properly, and the teeth are running in the right direction. Check blade tension regularly and carefully. This helps prevent blade breakage.
  • Be sure the blade is properly seated on the pulleys of the band saw before starting.
  • Use clean blades. Buildup on the surface of the blade increases blade thickness and increases blade friction.

Know your Workpiece

Take time to review your work and make sure that all necessary precautions have been taken before making a cut.

  • Support long workpieces at the same height as the saw. Always place the workpiece securely in a vise or clamp when making cuts. Never make freehand cuts. Holding the workpiece by hand is unstable and may lead to loss of control.
  • Never try to remove or clamp the workpiece while the blade is rotating.

Before Cutting…

Before working with a bandsaw, make sure the machine and its accessories are in proper working order. Failure to do so can increase your risk of injury and result in blade or wheel pinching, binding or stalling, and loss of control.

  • Make sure the blade has adequate blade set. Blade set provides clearance between the sides of the blade and the workpiece, thus minimizing the probability of binding. Some saw blades have hollow ground sides instead of blade set to provide clearance.
  • Be sure all guards are in place and working properly before each use. Do not defeat guards.
  • Never attempt to cut materials larger than the rated capacity listed in the band saw operator’s manual, as this may result in personal injury. Always check maximum operating speeds established for blades against band saw speed.

While Cutting …

Concentrate on what you are doing and be aware of kickback (a sudden reaction to a pinched, bound or misaligned blade). Kickback can cause an uncontrolled tool to lift up and out of the workpiece toward the operator and is the result of tool misuse and/or incorrect operating procedures or conditions. Take these specific precautions to help prevent kickback when using any type of band saw:

  • NEVER overreach! Always, hold the saw firmly with both hands after securing the workpiece.
  • When you start the saw, allow the blade to reach full speed before the workpiece is contacted. Be alert to the possibility of the blade binding and kickback occurring.
  • Keep your hands away from all cutting edges and moving parts.  Never reach under the saw or workpiece. The blade is exposed under the workpiece and the saw guard cannot protect your body here.
  • Keep hands and body away from and to the side of the blade. Contact with blade will result in serious injury.
  • Never remove the saw from a cut while the blade is rotating. When making a partial cut, or if power is interrupted, release the switch immediately and don’t remove the saw from the workpiece until the blade has come to a complete stop. A saw tooth could grab the workpiece, causing loss of control.
  • Release the switch immediately if the blade binds or the saw stalls.
  • Switch the tool off after a cut is completed and keep the saw away from your body until the blade stops. The blade may coast for a time, posing the risk of serious cuts.
  • Overheating a saw blade can cause it to warp and result in kickback. Buildup of sap on the blade, insufficient blade set, dullness, and unguided cuts, can all cause an overheated blade and kickback.

Portable Band Saw:

  • Do not bear down on the blade while cutting. The weight of the band saw will supply adequate pressure for the fastest cutting. Too much pressure will slow down the speed of the blade and reduce cutting efficiency.

Always Remember…

  • Be alert always, especially during repetitive operations.
  • Don’t be tempted into carelessness due to a false sense of security. Blades are extremely unforgiving.
  • Be aware that workpieces and other work fragments are hot and could cause fires or burns. Never touch a workpiece until it cools. Let the blade cool properly before changing.
  • To reduce the risk of injury, always unplug the saw when moving from a workstation.
  • Never use liquid coolants to lubricate your band saw. Liquid coolants can increase the risk of electric shock and may cause damage to the saw.

Let’s be safe out there!

Download a PDF of this ToolBox Talks