Here in the UK there are not that many artists using band saws. I recently had to replace a bearing in mine and had to do without it for
a month. It brought home to me what a useful tool it is. So here is my list of advantages and disadvantages in using a band saw.
At the bottom of the page, a description of the three types of glass saw available in the UK.
Much less waste. This is particularly the case with hand made
and brittle glasses. Where with a complicated cut or sharp curve,
you might expect to bin a third of your attempts, with the saw, the
first one will work. You also throw away less waste than you might have done had you achieved a first cut success.
Much more accurate. With very little practise you will find your results more accurate than you can ever achieve by hand.
No grinding required to finish.
Allows tighter curves and slimmer pieces of glass. Don't get too carried away - think about the practicalities of construction and robustness of the finished article.
Quicker for complex shapes. Although the saw cuts glass more slowly by hand, there is no finishing required, so the job is faster in the end.
It is claimed that you can cut three or four pieces at once. This is true but it is difficult to keep the pieces lined up, and the cut is slower (thicker cut required). I find it just as quick, and a lot easier to cut one piece at a time. A myth.
Band Saws tend to be expensive although they have come down a lot in the last two years. Shop around for a good deal.
Guarantee back up is good, so the capital cost is spread over years.
Apparent high running cost. Blades are dear in the UK, but their cost is partly offset by the saving in waste, particularly with the expensive glass. The reduction in frustration, and saving of time on complex cuts is a bonus.
Use only light pressure to saw. You will follow the pattern more accurately and not twist the blade. Twisting the blade scrapes the back on the glass opening the hole.
When you want to pull the blade back out, SWITCH OFF THE MOTOR first. Hold a thumb against the back of the blade while backing out. This keeps the blade in the lower blade guide preventing blade wear and glass damage.
The tighter the curve you cut the harder the blade back scrapes on the glass, narrowing the blade and shortening its life. When cutting tight curves, reduce push pressure and rotate the glass into the blade. The cut will widen but the saw blade will lost much longer.
The more water you use, the faster the cut AND the longer the blade will last. The trouble is the line you draw on the glass washes off easily. I find the W.H. Smith Permanent OHP Pen does extremely well. If you cover it with Vaseline, no amount of water on the cut will wash the line away.
Use Vaseline to stop that line washing off.
Use Tippex pens to draw a waterproof line on dark glass.
Bandsaws have a steel ribbon blade with a diamond coated front edge. Bandsaws are capable of cutting some fancy shapes and a practised operator can achieve wonders. They are also faster than the wire saws.
Click here for review of the Diamond Laser Speedster Bandsaw for stained glass (with pictures) and for Band Saw PRICES!
Available from DECORATIVE GLASS SUPPLIES
DIAMOND LASER SPEEDSTER BAND SAW
DIAMOND LASER 3000 BANDSAW
The ringsaw has a cutting blade that is a rigid steel wire ring (about 10cm diameter) spinning at high speed. Excellent for notching and scroll
work. You cut without having to turn the glass.
Early versions required continuous setting up and blade failures could be spectacular. Nevertheless, we have heard artists rave about them.
We are advised that the newer model Mark 3 has very limited maintenance and is much quieter. It has a larger worksurface. The main body of the saw detaches away from the water basin to make the saw much more versatile.
TAURUS RING SAW available from TEMPSFORD STAINED GLASS
These saws use a straight wire blade that travels up and down very quickly. The glass can be cut without having to be turned. They are very popular as they tend to be a little cheaper than the other types and blades are cheap to replace.
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