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Thread: 4x6 Bandsaw accuracy?

  1. #1
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    Default 4x6 Bandsaw accuracy?

    My wife bought me a Harbor Freight 4x6 band saw for Christmas. Had to send the first one back because it showed up broken, but the replacement arrived this week and I got it assembled last night.

    The first test cut shows it to be out of square vertically by about .030 in 4", put a square on the table and checking this against the blade verifies that it is the swing of the blade that is out of square.

    Problem is I don't see any good way to adjust it. Googled and found a couple ideas to correct it, but nothing really straightforward or easy - (I really don't want to fab new mounts for the pivot pin or try to mill the table surface).

    This is my first bandsaw so I don't really know what to expect for accuracy - but I guess I was hoping for better than this.

    Questions:
    1. Is this kind of error typical for a band saw?

    2. Any good ideas on ways to improve it?
    Last edited by torchroadster; 01-18-2008 at 10:53 AM.

  2. #2
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    This very popular saw is one of those, quite inexpensive but highly useful, chinese tools that often needs "tinkering" on purchase. And the problem you describe is probably the most common.

    If you dont mind this tinkering, and certainly a large portion of us HSM'ers dont, then you will definitely want to go over to the "4x6bandsaw" site on yahoo ----

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/4x6bandsaw/

    IIRC, in the files section are descriptions of fixes.

    HF made changes in their saws over the last couple years and it seems with the current version -- the "red" one?? -- the adjustable blade guides have gone away .... this was discussed a lot at the 4x6 site, you might wanna read through the back posts or do a search, or ask your question there.

    This saw is one of the most used tools in my shop and I'd sure hate to do with out it, --- I think its definitely worth some time getting it set up.
    If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........

  3. #3
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    How did you determine that the swing of the band saw is not perpendicular to the table the metal lays on?
    It's only ink and paper

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carld
    How did you determine that the swing of the band saw is not perpendicular to the table the metal lays on?
    I put a machinist's square on the table and pushed it up against the blade, with the saw full down. I then raised the saw to the top of the square and measured the gap between the square and the blade with feeler guages.

    Bill;
    Yes, I have a red one. Thanks for the tip on the Yahoo group - I'll check it out.

  5. #5
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    If the trunions where the band saw pivots at can't be adjusted then the best thing to do is to mathmatically determine the table needs to be machined to get the bore parallel to the table and machine it.

    Or you could correctly bore the holes oversize and sleeve them and bore to size.
    It's only ink and paper

  6. #6
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    I may have misread your problem... if it is indeed the trunnions misaligned, this is a much more serious problem. And since the saw is this new, and HF does have a good return policy, then it may be prudent to exchange it..........

    I was thinking it was just blade alignment, which , I think, there are some relatively easy fixes.

    Here is the method I use to determine my blades alignment, -- of course the little strip of metal can be longer to get different readings. (And, yes, that isnt a HF saw, I got one of the 'swivels' ---- after I wore the HF one out)

    If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........

  7. #7
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    cant you shim the vice to make it square? It seems a bit drastic I know ,but it may be the only long term solution.I don't have one of these saws as my metal bandsaw is vertical,but I have heard it said here and elsewhere time and time again that immediately on purchase the saw blade should be changed,good luck.Alistair
    Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

  8. #8
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    First, not all of these saws are the same- and the HF one is certainly at the bottom of the barrel. The Jet models are more money, and better made. My two Jet 4x6's both have the word "Jet" cast in 1" tall letters in relief on the bow, so I know that in that way at least, they are different.
    They have bearings, not bushings, adjustable blade guides, UL motors, and are generally pretty usable right out of the box.

    But none of em, not even the $800 (and that was in 1980 dollars) american made saws these are all based on, will cut very straight over a full vertical 4", and the culprit is the blade.
    One of the best things about these saws, from my point of view, is the small, narrow blade. 1/2" by .035, which means that in the upright position, you can freehand cut curves, and the kerf is so narrow that it is quick to cut thru even thick material.
    However, the 1/2" x.035 blade is just not stiff enough to cut a clean straight line for 4" vertically. They all wander a bit.
    I always cut flat bar in the flat, not vertical position, and find that while the saw is pretty accurate in material up to 1" or so in diameter, its really really rare for one of these to get dead accurate square cuts in 2" square tubing, much less anything bigger.
    It will help to buy a good Lennox Diemaster bi-metal blade, at $18 to $22 a shot. They will outlast the cheapo carbon steel blades by months, and cut straighter as well. I run a 10-14 tpi variable tooth for anything under 1" solid, and it works very well, and lasts months in a 3 man shop doing mostly stainless. Order from MSC, or Enco, or Mcmaster.

    In other words, you are expecting more accuracy than you are going to get for $150.
    You can buy a bandsaw that will cut 4" square dead nuts on every time. American made models start at about $5000. A japanese made Amada will run you $10,000 to $30,000, for full auto.
    The blades cost what your saw cost.

    You can only gild a turd so much.
    Dont get me wrong- I love these little saws, we have two of em in my shop. But they arent miracle workers- they already perform well above their pay grade.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ries
    You can only gild a turd so much.
    Dont get me wrong- I love these little saws, we have two of em in my shop. But they arent miracle workers- they already perform well above their pay grade.

    Yep - i love my HF 4X6 but it doesn't cut perfectly square. I use it like a quieter and, believe it or not, quicker chop saw. Good for rough sawing of large stock or cutting off bits of round bar to stick in the lathe. If i need something to be square i either do it in the vertical mode or i use my lathe/mill to square up the cut end.

    I restored a very old wilton model last summer for a relative and i believe the specs on that saw was .008" deviation on 1" or .032" on a 4" span and this was a fairly expensive model with hydraulic down feed and coolant etc.

    Of course, that one i adjusted to cut within .001 per 1" but .03 over four inches is acceptable.


    You could try returning it for another and see what happens but odds are none of them are going to be perfect. When your actually cutting you will want a new good blade (like Lenox) and lots of tension. You'll notice that the cheap chineese blades will not cut very square at all.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the replies -

    I understand very well about needing to get a quality blade, and plan to do so, but my concern right now is just the squareness of the blade to the table.

    The base of the vise is cast as part of the base so it really can't be shimmed. I could shim the work though and that may be an easy band aid.

    I could take it back, but that was why I was asking about how good I should expect or in other words what would be my odds of getting anything better? From the experience of others it sounds like my saw is typical - so I'll probably keep it.

    I could fab up new or modify the existing mounts for the pivot pin (trunnion) and that may be a good project for the future. Guess I'll look at it some more tonight and see if I get any other ideas.

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