View Full Version : Bandsaw question

06-17-2004, 12:38 PM
I have a Jet woodworking bandsaw with rubber tires pictured below. I originally bought it for some woodworking projects. It is a nice saw and I don’t want to mess it up for wood can this saw be used on metal or aluminum without damaging it? Can I buy or make metal wheels for it?
Thanks for any help you can give me.


06-17-2004, 01:00 PM
The issue, for metal cutting, isn't the wheels, but rather the speed. For optimum wood cutting that blade is traveling about 3000 ft/min. For cutting steel you need something on the order of 200 fpm, or less. You can do some aluminum cutting (tho it's faster than optimum), but cutting harder metals like steel at that speed will quickly strip the teeth off the blade.

It is possible to design a reduction system (either pulleys or a gearbox, or gearmotor) to convert it for metal cutting. I have an older Jet 14" saw that I had thoughts about attempting the conversion with gearing. But then I bought one of 5 X 6 Horiz/Vert. metal saw, which rendered the plan unneccesary.

There was an article in HSM magazine back around the first of the year which described a successful conversion. I'm pretty sure that conversion permitted the option of wood or metal cutting configurations.

Another option that's described in one volume of either the 'Projects' or 'Metalworking' series, made use of a lathe chuck rather than the saw's motor to drive the bandsaw's belt. That gave all the speed options that the lathe itself had. I thought that was real clever. But it did require the saw be positioned just so, in relation to the lathe.

[This message has been edited by lynnl (edited 06-17-2004).]

Ted Coffey
06-17-2004, 03:42 PM
Like lynnl said it is not the rubber tires.
I have a variable speed 20" Rockwell Bandsaw with rubber tires which will cover most metals and woods mainly because of the adjustable speed. I always use bi-metal blades which I prefer for metals as well as wood because blade life is greatly extended and cutting speed can be increased.
If you try to cut steel too fast you will burn the blade and destroy it. Make sure you are under the recommended cutting speed in feet per minute for the material and the blade. When cutting metals be sure to use tooth pitch fine enough so that you have 3+ teeth in contact while cutting. For example, 1/8 thickness needs 24 or more teeth per inch.
For your Jet you will need to slowdown the drive by using pulleys, gearbox, or other adjustable speed reducer. 10 to 1 reduction is what you you need. It is probably a lot easier to but a small metal cutting bandsaw for less than $200.00 and save you Jet for woodwork.

06-17-2004, 03:54 PM
They did a rebuild of a saw for steel cutting on HSM magazine..

The first ($200) small saw I bought was from Harbor frieght. It was crap-ola. I replaced I bet ten blades, one of the wheels were cast wrong. When I bought it I was working long hours and I didn't know how bad it was till I got laid off and needed it. A buddy has one that is great, over ten years old. Mine wasn't

I bought a Milwaukee port-a-band saw. It is now over 12 years old and works great. I even build a stand to turn it up vertical. If your hobbies are small, you probably won't need anything any larger. At $268 for a deep cut saw they are reasonable.

I had a antique reciprocating hacksaw gave to me, I fooled with it for months then gave it away to someone else.

Then I bought a ($199) bandsaw from tractor supply, it kinda looked like the harbor freight but said "made in America" on it. I got it home and sure enough "it was" from chinese parts.

It works slow, cuts square, works great. Still on the first blade. Economical to work.

If I had to settle on only one saw, I'd purchase the port-a-band saw. A wise investment that you can always get most your money back out of.

(did I just write my lifes story?) sorry.. I type real fast without effort.. SOmetimes too much..


06-17-2004, 04:08 PM
I have the same saw as Ibew from Tractor Supply, INFACT, I also have your same Jet woodcutting bandsaw. I've also been thinking about using it for metal cutting, for say Locomotive frames, where I need a nice table for the vertical mode. I wish I had that water jet cutter on American Chopper!

06-17-2004, 04:11 PM
Jet makes a set of speed reduction pulleys for their 14" band saws. Vaguely recall they were cheap (under $80) and also that they only slowed things down to slightly below aluminum speeds. Might be worth checking into -- this is just a recollection of price and speed.

Useful if most of your metal work is non-ferrous with only the odd steel bit.

06-17-2004, 04:12 PM
IMHO, unless your application requires hand feeding the material, I think you'd be happier using a metal bandsaw rather than trying to convert a wood one.

06-17-2004, 04:44 PM

My Tractor supply saw came with a flat table to be used as a vertical saw also. I remember it, just don't know where it is. It has a bag tie wrapped to it with all the warranty and operating instructions in it.

Instructions? who needs em..


06-17-2004, 04:48 PM
Yes, Ibew, its a stamped piece of potmetal. No good for precision work.

George Hodge
06-17-2004, 08:42 PM
Have you ever read about metal cutting with a bandsaw, not by slowing it down,but by increasing the speed dramatically. I've read that it's amazing the feed rate obtainable.You use a dull blade and run the machine maybe 3or4 times faster than for wood.Do it outdoors and watch out for flying sparks.The blades melt the metal and remain cool enough that they don't disintegrate. Haven't tried it,but have read that it works fine on lots of metals.

06-17-2004, 10:13 PM
Yes friction sawing,works best on small or thin crossection materials that can heat up and melt away quickly.

Yes you can crank the speed down in a number of ways some expensive,some really cheap,but the other issue is rigidity,the frames need to be about 10x's stronger to do an effecient job of steel cutting.

You can however slow the speed down to 2000-1800 sfp and cut wood,aluminum and brass most effeciently,a shot of WD-40 on the blade now and then keeps the gumier alloys from loading the teeth,and additon of some spring loaded metal tooth brushes keep the wheels clean from chips.

One tip,before cutting metal take a fine oil stone and "joint" the set of the blade by spining the blade wheel by hand and lightly touching the sides of the teeth with the oil stone holding the stone parallel to the blade body,do this on both sides just a couple of turns.It will make a much smoother cut and be more controlable,also improves the cut on wood.

06-18-2004, 02:47 AM
Thanks for all the info. I have a small import band saw and a cutoff saw. I was just looking at the Jet wondering if I could use it free hand to cut odd shapes without breaking it. The small metal bandsaw I have I bought used for $25 it was dropped and the cast pivot was broken so I made a new one and got it working. I do not have the table for it though. It has had a lot of misuse before I bought it I have been thinking of upgrading to a better saw. It seems like they go from $169 and the next step is $600 I wonder if anyone makes a middle of the road saw for around $300.

After all this info I think I will leave the jet to woodwork.

[This message has been edited by gundog (edited 06-18-2004).]

06-18-2004, 03:14 AM
Not an answer but another question...What about using grit edge blades at wood speeds for metal?

06-18-2004, 11:38 AM
Here's a simples, effective, and low cost speed reducer I built for my Craftsman saw.


06-18-2004, 11:55 AM
What blade speed do you get with that arrangement Roger?

06-18-2004, 12:42 PM
Roger that is very impressive my saw is mounted on a metal stand and I really don't want to take it off. I might consider changing the pulleys as long as it would still work ok for wood. I will have to get out my calculator and with the info above figure what size pulley it would take to get the desired speed.

I have been wanting a better bandsaw than my cheap import, the blade comes off a lot and I have broken many blades with it. It is pretty worn out. Can anyone recommend something a little better than the HF type maybe in the $300-$400 range?

I have a Makita chop saw that I bought @ COSTCO many years ago but it is under powered and very loud (I live in a neighborhood). The chop saw works good on material thinner than 1/4". It takes forever to cut anything larger and will heat up the blade and quit cutting altogether.

[This message has been edited by gundog (edited 06-18-2004).]

06-18-2004, 12:56 PM
Gundog, I got the Jet 5X6" H/V bandsaw from my local dealer for about $279 I think it was. I know it was less than 300. I've been very pleased with it. I know the legs on it are MUCH sturdier than the HF model. And some of the other features on the HF appear to reflect some cut corners as well. My use is far less than once a day, but I've cut some pretty big stuff, and it's worked great.

06-18-2004, 03:39 PM
The pulley on the saw is 5", the motor pulley has either 2.75" or 1.5", and the reducer pulley has 2" and 11".

By my calculations, the blade speed selections are 2980 (Yikes!), 1625, 542, and 295 fpm.

Looong ago, I had a multi-speed motor on the saw for even more low end options.


06-18-2004, 10:46 PM
Has anyone considered buying a Harbor Freight hoist at around $75, removing the gearmotor, and using it to drive a bandsaw? I'd try that route except that I picked up an older used HF 4X6 recently and have just got it "tuned up" and working fine.

06-19-2004, 01:11 PM
"I bought a Milwaukee port-a-band saw. It is now over 12 years old and works great. I even build a stand to turn it up vertical."

Would you mind posting a picture or two of this homemade stand? I too have a portable bandsaw and a stand for it is a future project.



Forrest Addy
06-19-2004, 02:15 PM
Very sensible and economical arramgement there Winchman.