Bandsaws and Beds

I’ve worked with wood all  my working life so far now and I can’t imagine not doing it. Today I begin making a king-size Craftsman-style bed from oak. I suppose it’s really more craftsman-inspired in that visually it could be said to be like another, but I am designing this one from scratch. I have never copied a design in my life and so I don’t intend to start now. DSC_0313_1 Often woodworkers are inspired by the work of another and design something that has a feel of a design from someone else or a definite copy of a period piece.

No, the tenons are not routed on a router or shaped on a shaper, just a Stanley #4 achieved this and in under two minutes at that.

DSC_0056 This weekend my friend, Duncan, came by to learn some saw sharpening. He came with a lovely Ash chair he had designed and made by hand. It was a simple, uncomplicated design that lent itself to hand tool work and we talked about how it could be made using mostly hand tools as this one had been made. I thought the bandsaw was the ideal machine to rough down wood to size and that he could easily eliminate the need for planer and jointer all together because chair parts are always small and lend themselves to hand work like planing and shaping. I started the ing about this coming year as we will be focussing a percentage of our work to power machines and addressing the issues that so confuse woodworkers as to what they really need to prep their wood for subsequent hand work. I have four bandsaws now and may well bring in a fifth one. I have one at my house and three at the castle. Why? Well, they take up very little room compared to other freestanding machines, I can load different blades in each machine and I can tune them to the different work I use them for. But we will be going into that much more deeply over the next few months. Also, me y needs are different than yours will be I think and we will indeed be looking at different machine operational options for you to better understand as we go. You definitely do not need to go out and buy four or five bandsaw machines; one good one will work just fine. I suggest you wait for a more definitive review when we start this next phase in our teaching. Well be looking at old and new options. Powerhouses and bench top models too. I have every kind of bandsaw on a daily basis many times a day since January 1965. That’s 14,400 days when I switched on a bandsaw several times a day. My first bandsaw stood 8′ tall, today I use a 14″ – 18″ bandsaws. DSC_0021 I used the same Grizzly 18″ bandsaw I bought in 1988 until 2007. I replaced one bearing only in all of those years and the work I did was often done for several hours a day throughout that period. The machine never let me down once. I sold it on to another woodworker and as far as I know he’s still using it. New ones are very nice now and have several safety features I think are important. Perhaps one day SawStop will put their technology into bandsaws. Now that would be well worth the investment. At an auction a few short years ago I bought a small but very old US Powermatic 14″ with a cast iron body, cast iron back and doors for $25. It’s a great little machine.

Back to the Bed

I am using oak for the bed I am making. Today I pulled the wood and started to cut the rough dimensions on the bandsaw. DSC_0798_1 Rails, side rails, head board and a zillion square uprights will keep me busy tomorrow. I will post most days if there’s something interesting about the work. Today was all sweat, grunt and shove. We will run the cameras too most likely, so you can maybe see some of what I do as I work.

Beds are simple projects and this one would be simple but for the size and the number of parts. I tuned up the bandsaw with a new blade installed so tomorrow I start cutting and planing which will take me all day. DSC_0012 I could use my mortise machine for the mortises but I want this to be mostly hand work, so I can keep in shape over the holiday period.

I know a lot of my peers cannot fathom why, if I have mortiser, would I consider doing it by hand. Mostly it’s because they see it as purely hard and inaccurate work. I used to think the same way they do. You see, I think it’s that they just don’t know.


  1. Thanks, Paul, very timely. As you know, I’m getting things together to buy a bandsaw. Looking forward to further instruction and reviews on the subject.

  2. Paul, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you mention using a table saw in your work. Are you using the band saw (fence set) for most larger ripping applications primarily?

    1. Yes, that’s right. The bandsaw takes only a small footprint in the shop and the footprint is not just its physical presence; even though it does have its own inherent dangers, it is much safer than the table saw. It’s less invasive in so many ways but it takes more to tune it up so that it does exactly what you want it to do. I do have a table saw and use it for the mass of parts I have to machine for my classes. I like this machine too, but I use it only every few weeks. That’s the same with my planer, jointer and mortise machine as well.

    2. I replied to this earlier but for some reason it disappeared into cyberspace. I do use a tablesaw but not as much as the bandsaw. The bandsaw takes the smallest footprint in may ways and can be wheeled around the shop easily for access. One of the main issues I have with machines is they demand their own room even when you use them so little. A well tuned bandsaw with a good quality, sharp blade will perform well many ripping and crosscutting tasks without invading my workspace too much.

      1. Hi Paul,
        When you get round to it, sources of good cheap sharp lasting bandsaw blades. My machine is a Metabo.

        1. Axcaliber, Lenox, Starrett, Hakansson are all reputable maker/provider sources I can recommend at the moderate price end of the market

  3. In creating our own creative workspaces, I think a bandsaw makes good sense for me for those tasks for which it was designed, however I have had the tabletop variety years ago and found they were not worth the money, but it’s a big step up to a proper full size. Perhaps the new generation tabletop machines are better than they were. Always used online as well for a full size.

    1. I have used a couple of bench top models that I find good and especially so for small work, but generally they do seem to leave some of the oomph out.

  4. Nice timing again. By virtue of a deal gone wrong I’ve got an older Craftsman tablesaw in the trunk of my car and no place to put it in my shop plans. Based on some other comments you’ve made here and there I was wondering about trading it for a bandsaw but was still hemming and hawing.

    I’ve never owned one so I think I’ll start reading up on how to use one while keeping all my fingers. Then I’ll dig into common features and who makes what quality of machine.

    1. In the new year we will be covering the bandsaw very thoroughly. These will be free videos and we are preparing for this now so that we have all the parts together.

      1. I’m looking forward to the journey. No rush. I’m still struggling with the mysteries of the chisel hammer so it might be a while before I’m ready to tackle bandsaws! 😉

  5. As you may know I am trying very hard to use Hand Tools only since I have discovered you and again thank you for the inspiration. I bought one of the last “American Made” Delta 14″ Band Saws and would never get rid of it. I had a nice Jet 3 hp Cabinet Saw I did sell and do not miss it as I find if I need anything with power ( my bandsaw has 1 1/2hp ) with a 6′ riser I can handle most anything I need to do. With a good fence system and good blades there isn’t much that can’t be done with it if needed. I use the 1/2″ Wood Slicer blade from Highland Woodworking in Atlanta and think those blades are great for ripping and making veneer.


    1. I used one of these machines alongside my Grizzly. It was a really good machine and I also had the 6″ riser in it. The 1/2″ Woodslicer from Highland Woodworking is indeed an excellent blade and well worth the money

  6. i have been looking to buy a band saw for the last year or so… I am not quite ready to pull the trigger as I am worried I will get the wrong saw. I have been looking at the 17″ Grizzly with cast iron trunnion, basically the same as the one in your picture.
    Would you recommend that brand and model or should I wait a few more months to see your new blogs and videos on the subject.
    Thanks for all your knowledge that you so generously share with us!

    1. I think that Grizzly has been a key player for woodworking machinery for a long time and they have proved themselves when it comes to customer service. I am sure others may not feel the same way but I owned four major machines made by them and they each worked full time 6 days a week for almost 20 years after which I sold them on and as far as I know they are still in use today.
      Remember this. Almost all of the machines being used by woodworkers today are indeed made in Asia. As far as I know there is not one British supplied bandsaw machine that does not come in as an Asian import. The same is true of the USA I think. Anyone?

      1. The only bandsaw manufacturer I know of in US is Northfield. Awesome old school industrial saws, but start at over $9k for a 20″ bandsaw.

        For US hobby woodworkers, the most affordable bandsaws are all Asian made. Expensive bandsaws such as the Powermatic PM1500 and PM1800, are also made in Asia.

        For those with more cash, Laguna does offer some expensive bandsaws that are made in Italy or Bulgaria. Hammer/Felder bandsaws are also available here, and they are made in Austria. Agazanni bandsaws are likewise available in the states; they use to be made in Italy, but now I think they are in Germany under new ownership. SCM/Minimax bandsaws are available here as well, and I believe they are made in Italy. General in Canada used to manufacture bandsaws and other tools in Canada (at a premium), but that has been discontinued.

        Hmm… I am not sure if I left anyone out…

  7. Paul- Concerning designing from scratch, where can one find rules of thumb for critical dimensions? For example, I would like to design a visually lightweight chair with thin/narrow legs, but I do not know what constraints to use for how narrow the back posts and front legs can be before the mortises become weak. Hand in hand with this would be minimum wall thickness for mortises.

    I’m very excited to learn about the bandsaw this year, especially for dimensioning wood. I think you are saying one could use the bandsaw instead of a planer and jointer and start from rough sawn wood?

    1. I don’t know if such a thing exists because the wood type itself determines so many aspects surrounding the joint and joinery. For example beech has idiosyncrasies that pine doesn’t and vice versa. wall thicknesses and tenon size therefore is mostly a matter of working knowledge when you begin to reduce stock sizes to parameters surrounding design. The end result is that we hedge in a buffer zone that reduces risk. In my view it should be more an element of educating people to be sensitive in an increasingly insensitive or desensitised world. If you sit carefully, don’t lean back on the chair or scoot the chair on carpets whilst sitting on the chair that then is gripped rather than stand up and move it, there will be no real reason to make a heavy chair.
      Re the bandsaw. Yes you can live very well without an arsenal of machines. A bandsaw will indeed slice it and that’s what I want to lay the foundation for.

      1. Hi Paul,

        Thanks so much for the great work you do and helping all of us. How is the band saw video, blog, etc… going. That will be my first power tool purchase so I will wait to see your recommendations.

        Many Thanks,

  8. Hi Mr. Sellers,

    Do you believe it’s possible to make a very basic Queen-sized frame (4-post, no foot/headboards, 4”-8” wide rails) using ¾” thick stock for the rails? I priced 1.5” thick oak locally and it doesn’t look good (my internet research shows this is the most commonly used size). I’m pretty much stuck using Home Depot hardwoods, and all their stuff is ¾” exactly. Maybe I can splurge on 3×3 oak just for the posts. I’m aiming for a 24”-26” mattress height, and a post-height no taller than the top of the mattress. And wood slats (no box spring).

    One idea I’m tossing around is laminating ¾” pine to the inside of the oak rails to strengthen them. The pine could also function as the single shoulder to the oak tenon, as well as creating the rabbet for the slats. As you can see, lack of funds forces me to think way outside the box lol!

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, as I’m struggling with this planning part. And thank you for the bed blog posts. They were fun to read.

    1. There is no problem beefing up thinner bedrails with added laminations like this, Juan. I have done it myself a couple of times. Actually, when you add the undercarriage for the slats and they rest on a support rail this can almost be enough in and of itself.

  9. Hi Paul,
    Any word on more band saw information or have I missed it? Also, what power machines in addition to a band saw would you recommend for a hand tool woodworker? I’m thinking just a planer/thicknessner combo machine perhaps?

    Many Thanks,
    Steve Wiseman

    1. Not yet Byron, Hope I can get to it soon enough. For ninety-eight percent of my machine work I just use the bandsaw. I rough-cut my door stock (two doors) for the tool cabinet this weekend and planed it all up in about 1/2 an hour. I like the 16″ bandsaws but a good 14″ will do well too. Actually I have a Laguna 16″, which is a very nice machine.

      1. Thanks so much Paul,

        I am picking up a Laguna 14/12 band saw this week which I was lucky to find here on the “Rock”! I do indeed want to work by hand as much as possible but do not have the stamina or time yet to thickness boards say from 3/4″ to 1/2″ or rough sawn 5/4 to 7/8″, etc…I am wondering if a combo thickness planer/jointer is the way to go or perhaps a DeWalt portable planer plus a jointer. Or…is there a way to skip either or both the planer or jointer with a band saw? I’m assuming and hoping there is no need for a table saw, power router, morticer, etc… I have my hand planes tuned up very well thanks to your DVD’s and Book:)

        Many Thanks!
        Byron (steve)

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