Saws » Band Saws

Vertical band saw in operation
Vertical band saw in operation


Band saws use thin, flexible, continuous steel strips with cutting teeth on one edge. They are used primarily for cutting curves in stock or in food processing plants to cut and trim meat, poultry, and fish. The blade runs on two pulleys, driver and idler, and through a work table where material is manually fed. Automatic feeds can be used for production cutting. However, this machine is usually considered a manual-feed tool. The two types of band saws, horizontal and vertical, are named for their respective cutting blade positions.

Operator Involvement

The operator is required to hand-feed and manipulate the stock against the blade to saw along a predetermined line. The user must also keep the stock flat on the work table and exert the proper cutting force.

Potential Hazard

  • Contact with the blade is the most common cause of injury. Extreme caution is necessary because the operator's hands may come close to the saw blade, and a band saw cannot be completely guarded.


  • Vertical Band Saw

    Guard the entire blade except at the point of operation (the working portion of the blade between the bottom of the guide rolls and the table). [29 CFR 1910.213(i)(1)]

  • Use a self-adjusting guard for the portion of the blade between the sliding guide and the upper saw so that it raises and lowers with the guide. [29 CFR 1910.213(i)(1)]

  • Fully enclose the pulley mechanism. [29 CFR 1910.219(d)]

  • Guard feed rolls. [29 CFR 1910.213(i)(3)]

  • Make sure the saw includes a tension control device to indicate proper blade tension. [29 CFR 1910.213(i)(2)]

Additional Safety Measures

  • Front and rear view of horizontal band saw

    Maintain appropriately sharpened blades.

  • Use a blade of an appropriate size and type. For example do not force a wide saw to cut a small radius.

  • Properly adjust the blade guide post to fit the thickness of the stock and provide additional guarding.

  • Set the guard as close as possible to the stock when it is near the blade.

  • Use a push stick or manual feed arm to control the stock when it is near the blade.

  • Install a brake on one or both wheels to minimize the potential for coasting after the saw has been shut off and do not retrieve material until the blade has stopped.

  • Use a special jig or fixture when cutting small pieces of stock.