View Full Version : Band saw woes...

10-27-2004, 11:23 PM
Well, if you have ever seen the "Biker Build off" where Billy Land smashed his Horizontal/Vertical bansaw due to perfomance issues...Well I have that one. It cuts stock ok but forget about sheet stock, the blade just flys off. Anywho, could I buy a "woodworking" bandsaw and convert it to a good blade and cut steel? I see them for $200 to $400 at Sears and Wholesale tool. http://www.wttool.com/p/30200020p/3020-0025
I am getting tired of using a cutoff wheel to cut thin plate steel.


Fred White
10-27-2004, 11:26 PM
What teeth per inch are you using on your blade? The rule of thumb is three teeth engaged in the material at all time.....makes for a fine tooth blade for thin metal.

10-27-2004, 11:40 PM
Well, it has no table, so it is really a non factor for what I need to be able to do anyway. Like I say, it can cut thru a 3" piece of round bar and do a fairly square job. But that is where it's use ends.

Michael Az
10-28-2004, 12:12 AM
Amity, I watched that show also. Everytime the blade came off, I would tell him to adjust the tracking. About the fourth time it came off was when he picked up the hammer. But that is what the producers of the show wanted anyway, some drama. Anyway, wood saws are too fast for cutting metal. Like Fred said, if you don't have three teeth in the material, there will be problems. If the blade is otherwise comming off, then you need to do a tracking adjustment on the wheel.

10-28-2004, 12:32 AM
You can buy a verticle bandsaw that cuts metal but they start around $600. I asked the same question a while back and was told the wood saws run too fast for metal.

10-28-2004, 03:25 AM
I have a 4x6 and I often cut thin material on it. Since most of my cutting is thinner stuff, like tubing and 1/8 to 3/16 plate, I bought a blade with the most teeth I could find, could be 18 tpi, used it a lot for normal cutting, then discovered by accident that it seems better now for sheet stock than when it was sharp. It won't cut material more than 1/8 thick anymore, but for sheet, it does a pretty good job without grabbing or making me force the work. It seems to stay on the wheels, and while it's a bit noisier cutting sheet, it doesn't seem to mind the job. The cut line doesn't get bent out of shape either. I am most definitely defying the rule of more than two teeth in the work at one time, in fact if I try to cut something that's thicker than what two teeth could touch at the same time, it just won't cut it anymore. Since the blade hasn't warped or broken, this blade goes on the machine when I need a way to cut through sheet that the shear can't handle. Standard problem remains, of course, depth of throat severely limits the distance from cut line to edge of work.
I also have replaced the little guard with more of a table, for vertical use. I did have to carefully shim that table so the cuts were square, and the kerf for the blade to run through was made with the blade itself, which means best support for the edges of thin stock being cut. It also means more jamming from tiny shards of material. A straight cut doesn't give this problem, but as Murphy would have it, I often enough have to cut out corners, etc, where the small triangle piece being removed wants to go through the slit with the blade. Only one of them can at a time, and that has made for some pretty good jams.

10-28-2004, 05:14 AM
If you don't mind hassling with it a bit, you could modify a wood band saw to cut metal. The main problem is the blade has to move much slower than for wood, so even replacing pulleys probably isn't an option.
I wanted a small metal-cutting vertical band saw and couldn't find one for the money I had to spare, so I modified a little 10" wood band saw and it works better than I thought it would. I got lucky - I had a gear reduction in the junk pile... um... parts storage area. It just happened to work perfect for what I needed it for. The only money I spent was for one of the pulleys.
Here's a pic:
Sure, it's kind of a rig job, but it works perfect for my purposes.

I don't think it would be worth it to spend $200-$400 on a saw and do this. I think you could find one designed for metal for that money if you're patient and/or lucky.

You still have to follow the blade pitch rule no matter which way you go (3 teeth per the thickness of material).

[This message has been edited by vinito (edited 10-28-2004).]

10-28-2004, 07:11 AM
Use the rule of 3 teeth as stated above. Check your alignment and bearing block also.
On the cheaper band saws, which I have one also, use a wavy tooth blade (14 tpi) because they can cut heavier stock without clogging and also do relatively thin stock too.
I made a larger base for my saw so it works as a small table.
I cut a lot of sheet stock so I built a saw from scratch using a 1-1/2 hp variable speed surplus treadmill motor. It has about a 25" throat (designed to cut 1/2 a 48" wide sheet.) I use a 32 tooth wavy blade on it and the two weeks it took to build it was worth every minute in the time it has saved over the years.
I can post pics if anyone is interested.

10-28-2004, 10:08 AM
I wanted to cut out a boat name in 16ga. SS to fit on a 3' x 5' transome. The only tools I had available beside hand tools was hand held jig saw, which didn't cut for beans, and a 14" Delta wood band saw. After reading about DoAll's friction cuting band saws, I decided to give it a try. Using a very dull metal cutting blade at wood speeds it worked like a charm except for the noise and a large burr on the underside which was easy to grind off with a disk grinder. I tried thicker steel and CRS but it didn't have the speed for it.


10-28-2004, 10:13 AM
THanks for the replies, my band saw is prety much 100% but with no table there is little point in trying to cut without using the vise. It cuts great when it does what it is desinged for. And with it's narrow throat I cant see the point in building a table for it. So I need to find a SLOW band saw...Hmmm.


Paul Alciatore
10-28-2004, 11:35 AM
I have been using a Grizzly 4x6 for several years now. Yes, YES on the three teeth thing.

Another thing that I am surprised was not mentioned above is the quality of the blades. I used the cheaper blades for the first year or so and they broke frequently. I went through about 7 or 8 blades in that time. Then I bought a better blade and have been using it ever since. One thing that I have heard about the cheaper ones is that they may not be brazed exactly straight. This can cause them to jump off. Also, when the joint starts to crack, it can cause it to jump off. Get a good bi-metal blade.

I have two blades, a fine pitch (32 TPI) and a coarser. The fine pitch helps a lot for thin work and the coarse one makes general work faster. I also use the fine blade for situations where I want the saw cut to be the final finish.

Paul A.

10-28-2004, 01:32 PM
I have the same saw, with the same problems.

Mine used to be worse, but I found that all the oil I was putting on the cut made the blade slipping off the pulleys much worse.

Since then I rarely oil the cut and have had far fewer problems.

Agree on the good quality bi-metal blade too.

J Tiers
10-28-2004, 05:02 PM
What sort of feed does it have?

If it has spring downfeed its junk until you put a hydraulic one on it.

With hydraulic feed, you can cut thin stuff with care by slowing the feed to zilch. Its all a matter of the feed per tooth.

Large teeth and gravity spring feed equals a huge bite, too much.

My old Atlas has hydraulic, and I can set it at nearly zero feed. Works on thin stuff OK, but I wouldn't make a habit of it.

10-29-2004, 03:47 PM
Delta makes their "industry standard" 14" woodworking band saw (which I have and love) in a wood/metal cutting model for something like $1000. Wood cutting blade speed is usually around 3000 feet/minute. Metal cutting is around 200 (?). HSM did an article on converting a cheap woodworking bandsaw to run slower for metalcutting, but I don't remember the blade speeds.

Alistair Hosie
10-29-2004, 04:05 PM
I have a small and large bandsaw in my woodshop when using the smaller because it is three phase I use an invertor and can adjust the speed to any speed that suits the work I am doing I suppose this would be a good idea for adjusting it for metal cutting. Alistair

10-29-2004, 04:16 PM
Here is the link to the same question I asked awhile back there are some good replies and conversions on wood saws.


10-29-2004, 05:22 PM
I made a stand for my milwaukee port-a-band saw. It sits in the vise on the welding table. Push the 1/4 rod I bent to hook the variable speed trigger and it runs speed you desire.

I cut small stock, sheet and bar with it.

Problems? you bet.. the motor exhaust blowes the metal particles right in your face. NO guard if the blade breaks and jumps into your face. WEAR eye protection, a face shield would be better..

I posted a picture about two years ago.. two big bandsaws ago.. for small items this setup still works great.. and pull one bolt and use it as a port-a-bandsaw.. No changes or modifications.

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia