What is a Horizontal Band Saw?

An industrial grade horizontal band saw is a powerful tool that uses a very sharp flexible blade to cut different types of materials, most often, wood, metal, and plastics too. These machines can cut one part at a time or be equipped with bundle cutting capabilities to cut a stack of parts in one pass. The blade is mounted on a series of rollers powered by a motor and gearbox combination.

The horizontal band saw is a very safe machine as the workpiece is held by clamps when cutting, although when discussing cutting capabilities, the horizontal band saw is not as flexible as the vertical when it comes to precision or odd shapes. It does more than make up for this with its productivity. Horizontal band saws are machines designed for making repetitive, accurate cuts and with the help of built-in backstop systems, repetitive cutting is not only fairly accurate but very quick.

Accuracy of a band saw more so depends on the operators set up of the machine and their knowledge of its characteristics. Horizontal band saws are commonly used for both metal, wood and plastic with material thickness and hardness generally not being an issue when cutting .

Working Principle of Horizontal Band Saw

A horizontal band saw works by swinging the blade through a stationary object to perform exact cuts. This tool is extremely useful for quickly cutting items to the proper size. They have excellent precision for straight cuts and (depending on the blade) are usable on wood and metal. The most significant downsides for horizontal bandsaws are their limited to nonexistent ability to cut intricate details and the amount of space required to store one.

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Applications Of Horizontal Wood Band Saw

In the woodworking world, the vertical band saw dominates, with the horizontal more regularly used for cutting large timber. Vertical band saws are used by woodworkers to cut medium to small material down to size and into specific shapes for furniture making, joinery work and more. The horizontal is great for processing large sections of timber down to more manageable pieces, which could later be processed further and more accurately by a vertical band saw.

Timber mills use large Horizontal bandsaws for ripping lumber; they are preferred over circular saws for ripping because they can accommodate large-diameter timber and because of their smaller kerf (cut size), resulting in less waste.

There are also small portable sawmills consisting of a shop-size bandsaw mounted on a guiding table, which are called bandsaw mills (band saw mills, band sawmills). Like chain saw mills , they can be used inexpensively by one or two people out in the field.

In a full-size sawmill, the blades are mounted on wheels with a diameter large enough not to cause metal fatigue due to flexing when the blade repeatedly changes from a circular to a straight profile. It is stretched very tight (with fatigue strength of the saw metal being the limiting factor). Bandsaws of this size need to have a deformation worked into them that counteracts the forces and heating of operation. This is called “benching”. They also need to be removed and serviced at regular intervals.

The shape of the tooth gullet is highly optimized and designed by the sawyer and sawfiler. It varies according to the mill, as well as the type and condition of the wood. Frozen logs often require a “frost notch” ground into the gullet to break the chips. The shape of the tooth gullet is created when the blade is manufactured and its shape is automatically maintained with each sharpening. The sawfiler will need to maintain the grinding wheel’s profile with periodic dressing of the wheel.

5 Factors to Consider When Buying a Bandsaw

1.Type of Bandsaw

There are two main types of horizontal industrial bandsaws; pivot style and dual column. Pivot style saws are less expensive but offer a smaller cutting capacity and lower HP drives. Dual Column systems allow for a much larger cutting capacity and a more rigid and durable frame controlling the cutting speed and feed at a much better rate. Although Dual Column systems are more expensive they are meant to last generations through production use. They also tend to come with more features.  Deciding between a pivot style and a dual column machine will have most to do with your budget and the overall application you intend to use the saw for.

2.Blade Size

Bandsaws have different sized blade capabilities and the larger saws have wider blades. The wider the blade your machine is capable of handling the stronger the saw, straighter the cut and better blade life you will achieve. When choosing an industrial saw blade size should be an important gage in determining the rigidity and strength of the saw.

3.Auto Feed

Having an auto-feed system (or shuttle table) on your saw takes it from a manual or semi-automatic saw to a full production machine.  The costs of adding these automated feed systems are minimal and over the life of your saw can save tens of thousands of dollars in lost productivity, incorrectly measured parts and broken blades as the saw controller takes care of these for you. If your needs include cutting multiple parts (and most do) an automated feeding/shuttle system is a wise investment.


The capacity of your machine isn’t just regulated to the parts you are currently cutting. Capacity should be considered if you are bundle cutting or cutting miters where the capacity is greatly reduced the larger the angle. Choose a saw with a capacity greater than your minimal need for future growth and to ensure you cover the capability to miter cut without going below your cutting capacity needs.

5.Mitering Capability

Every industrial saw manufacturer will offer saws with the capability to miter cut. Either by pivoting the saw head at an angle to the workpiece, or by rotating the saw base as well. Without this important feature cutting a 45° on the saw becomes a trick of clamping, material hanging into aisles and likely frustration on the saw operators part. Choose a saw with mitering capability, but be cautious as the capacity reduces quickly the larger the angle achieved.