If you’ve worked in forestry or agriculture, you’ll be familiar with bandsaws and swing-blade sawmills. But what’s the difference, and what produces the best result? Although bandsaws and swing-blade sawmills are both types of saws, they have different capabilities and uses.
Let’s look at the differences between these two popular saw types.
What is a bandsaw?
A bandsaw is a high-powered saw with a circular metal band tensioned between two rotating wheels. Bandsaws can cut through tough materials such as wood, metal, and plastic. However, they’re most commonly used in woodworking for sawing, ripping and crosscutting.
The evenly distributed tooth load provides uniform cutting. However, it is also able to make irregular and intricate cuts.
How does a bandsaw work?
The bandsaw has a thin, flexible blade powered by an electric motor and continuously circulates at high speed. The blade runs through the center of a flat table, which helps to keep the band stable and allows for smooth, precise cuts. The material is clamped to the bandsaw table and moved towards the blade.
Users can adjust the bandsaw blades to accommodate the material and determine the depth of each cut.
How fast can a bandsaw cut?
A bandsaw’s speed depends on various factors, such as the thickness and density of the material. Most bandsaws have adjustable blade speed, allowing the user to choose the appropriate speed for the material and intricacy of the cut.
Harder materials may require a slower speed to allow more control of the bandsaw. It’s important to choose the correct speed for the material to avoid damaging the band.
What is a swing-blade sawmill?
A swing-blade sawmill is a type of portable sawmill with a circular saw blade that can swing from a vertical to a horizontal position. This allows the saw to make precise horizontal and vertical cuts and high-quality lumber. Given their smaller size, swing-blade sawmills may require only one operator.
Swing-blade sawmills have the power to handle a variety of different log sizes and rough-cut lumber. With the ability to handle various cutting tasks, such as producing lumber and beams, swing-blade sawmills are popular for woodworking.
How does a swing-blade sawmill work?
A swing-blade sawmill uses a circular blade mounted on a pivot to cut logs and rough-cut lumber. The logs are positioned on the sawmill bed and moved past the blade by a carriage. The carriage can be powered manually or automatically.
Logs are first cut horizontally before the blade rotates to make vertical cuts. The process repeats until the user reaches desired lumber production.
Swing-blade sawmills are portable, allowing operators to transport the saw to remote locations. With the ability to handle a variety of log shapes and sizes, swing-blade sawmills are a highly versatile type of saw.
How fast can a swing-blade sawmill cut?
Much like the bandsaw, the speed of a swing-blade sawmill depends on log thickness, type of wood and the presence of knots and other wood defects. The cutting speed may also be determined by the operator’s skill level.
Despite their smaller size and portability, swing-blade sawmills may be more efficient and powerful than stationary saws, especially when cutting large logs. Their versatility, accuracy and portability make them a favorable saw type.
- Blade design: Bandsaw blades are a circulating steel band. Swing-blade sawmills have a single, pivoting blade.
- Cutting capability: Bandsaws are designed for resawing lumber and making decorative cuts. Swing-blade sawmills are designed to cut large logs and rough-cut wood into lumber.
- Log size: Bandsaws are limited in the size of logs they can cut. Swing-blade sawmills can handle logs of all shapes and sizes.
- Portability: Bandsaws are only portable at a smaller size, limiting cutting capabilities even further. Most swing-blade sawmills are portable and can be transported in the bed of a pickup truck.
- Production: Swing-blade sawmills can produce more lumber with a single operator than a bandsaw.
- By-product: Bandsaws produce fine dust, requiring operators to wear safety glasses and a mask. Swing-blade sawmills produce wood shavings that can be used in farms and gardens.
Bandsaw vs Swing-blade Sawmill
The main differences between a bandsaw and a swing-blade sawmill are their blades and the types of cuts they produce.
While bandsaws are a tried-and-true saw type, swing-blade sawmills are becoming a more popular choice as they can produce a large amount of lumber faster than a bandsaw. They’re also versatile in their cutting capability and durable enough to withstand regular use with minimal maintenance.
Choosing between a bandsaw and a swing-blade sawmill will depend on the intended use and the size of the logs to be cut. Those cutting lumber from logs of all sizes find swing-blade sawmills the best option. Those working with smaller logs and creating intricate cuts prefer the bandsaw.