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Thread: Cutting metal on a bandsaw

  1. #1

    Post Cutting metal on a bandsaw

    Hello, all,

    I'm a Senior, but a neophite when it comes to metal working, so please bear with me.

    Occasionally, I want to cut metal with a saw, but up until now, it just hasn't been practical to buy a bandsaw for small work. Now, a new tool company just opened up in the area, and they have a standard bandsaw that's usually used for wood. However, this particular one has a variable speed on it, from zero up to 1750 rpm. I really can't think of a reason that this couldn't be used for the occasional piece of mild steel or aluminum, so long as I can find a metal cutting blade for it. Is this true? Or is there some other reason that I haven't considered as to why it wouldn't be any good for metal?

    They also are selling a true 'metal bandsaw' for not a lot more money, but the cotton picking thing is so big, I'd have a hard time moving it around and using it!

    So, what do you guys think? So long as I'm dealing with small parts of three or so inches thick.. max... would the 'regular' band saw work for me? Again, this assumes I can find metal cutting blades for it.

    Thanks very much for any advice.



    ------------------
    Bruce Johnston
    Bruce Johnston

  2. #2

    Post

    Bruce

    No reason you can't use that for metal. Buy a good Bi-metal blade for it. If you run it wet for metal, it will mean that you have a big mess to clean up before doing your wood working. So I would not use coolant when metal cutting (dry cutting) - just take your time!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
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    604

    Lightbulb

    If you could try out the saw before you buy it, make sure that it has enough torque at low speed to actually cut your material.

    Electronic variable speed usually gives low torque at low speed.

    Mechanical variable speed gives high torque at low speed because it changes the pulley ratio.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Post

    Just make sure you can get metal cutting blades, in the length your saw requires, before buying it, unless you are willing to have them made.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Chilliwack, B.C.
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    Post

    One problem I see on many bandsaws is the table is not very rigid. If you can flex the table by hand a visible ammount, it's not good enough for metal cutting. Also, you'll tire very quickly of changing the blade over, setting the guides, etc, when you change materials being cut. It sounds like the machine you're looking at is not a heavily built one, re your comment about the heft of the metal bandsaw. If you're looking at the smaller version of a wood-cutting bandsaw, eg something that is lighter than the small metal bandsaw, beware, it could well be barely adequate for wood or plastic. Another thing, is the table aluminum? My experience is that aluminum tables don't go well with cutting aluminum.

    [This message has been edited by darryl (edited 04-21-2003).]
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  6. #6

    Lightbulb

    Thanks for the ideas, guys. This may well be a losing proposition, but I'm going to stop at the store as soon as I can and see what the story is with the torque at lower speeds. That's a good point about low torque with lower voltage. I should know better, since I've been in the electronics/computer field for over 40 years! :-)

    Another hang up may well be the blade. It takes a 62" blade, and I checked a bunch of places on the web today but didn't find anything in the way of metal cutting blades in that size. Custom ones.. the few that I saw.. are way too expensive. I wouldn't mind having to take a longer one and chop it off, then silver solder it, but before I get into all of that, I'd like to be able to just get a decent metal blade to try it with.

    Yes, btw, the table is aluminum. It's just like the average tabletop 10" wood bandsaw, except it's 12", and as I say, variable speed. How solid it might be, hard to say. I have a 10" one out in the garage and even tho it's for wood, I sometimes chop up some aluminum pieces with it. It isn't solid, for sure, but I could live with its shortcomings in that area.

    One other thing that's a negative about the 'real' metal bandsaw is, I'd like to be able to cut portions out of a piece of metal; not just cut it off. This one doesn't look like it could do that. It's a basic 4 1/2", $200.00 metal bandsaw, that I may have to look at more closely.

    But I sure wish I could get a decent variable speed (mechanically) bandsaw on the idea of the smaller one that I could easily find blades for! Bummer.

    Thanks for the input, guys. As usual, you've brought up some thoughts that I wouldn't have considered. Wish me luck. :-)

    P.S. Next subject coming down the line from me will likely do with home brew anodizing small aluminum parts.



    ------------------
    Bruce Johnston
    Bruce Johnston

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Post

    Those small metal bandsaws tilt to the vertical, and have a very small table, maybe 2 in sq. or so, that stays attached. Mine came with a larger table, which allows it to be used like a wood bandsaw, but that table has to be removed for use as a cutoff saw. I contoured a new, larger, table that can stay attached, yet still allow for clearance when the blade is all the way down, and has turned off the power switch. Basically, I notched out the table where it meets the bed. The larger drawback is the small depth of throat, when cutting pieces from sheet, and the radius when cutting curves. The metal blade won't allow much scrolling action. By the way, a saw sharpening shop should be able to make you a blade using enough teeth per inch to cut metal. It likely won't be a very good blade, but maybe good enough for you to try out the machine with metals. Such a blade costs me about 15 bucks to have made.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Beaumont, TX
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    Post

    Mega,

    I don't know what the price is on the saw you are looking at but many of the suppliers for metal working equipment will have a 4 X 6 metal band saw for well under $200. With shipping you would likely pay a little over that amount. All of these saws are very similar and everyone seems to have good things to say about them (Except for the legs. I find absolutely nothing wrong with the legs on mine but many comments have been made on this board and others about wobbly legs. Draw your own conclusion here if you can but don't let these comments stop you from getting one.). For the price you can't go wrong.

    The 4 X 6 refers to the size of stock that can be held in the built in vise for "cross cutting" to use the woodworking term - 4" hi by 6 " wide. I have one from Grizzly and have found that it's one of the most used tools in my shop. I even cut an occasional piece of wood on it to save the trip to the wood shop. I do recommend Grizzly but I have used and seen other brands of this saw and am convinced that they all come from the same basic plans - perhaps even the same Chinese factory. And metal cutting blades are commonly available.

    The quality of the cut edge is also surprisingly good. Many times I only need to file the corners for my finished part. This is likely due to the fact that the stock is ridgedly held in a vise while being cut.

    You can try:

    Grizzly www.grizzlyindustrial.com
    Enco www.use-enco.com
    Harbor Freight: www.harborfreight.com
    McMaster-Carr www.mcmaster.com
    (they call it a 5 x 6 and charge more)

    There are many more sources. I even find them in local hardware/farm stores.
    Paul A.

    Make it fit.
    You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    7

    Post

    I have a grizzly g8692 portable band saw/stand combination that was real reasonable and has let me do many projects that would have taken weeks to cut by hand. also it dosen't take up much room. Mot

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    Post

    Now that they mention it, a cheap cutoff saw with a (bigger/better than supplied) table rigged up, is probably the ticket. This is how I solved the problem. But-I can't make anything near a tight turn with it! If you don't already have a cutoff saw, you WILL love having one!

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