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Thread: combination band saw- which blade?

  1. #1
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    Default combination band saw- which blade?

    I came to the conclusion today that one tool I could make good use of in my shop is a multi-purpose band saw. I have a 4 x 6, which does virtually all the metal cutting I need to do, and I cut virtually every material I use on it- from sheet goods in stainless, mild steel, plastics, wood, to regular shapes in steel, plus grade 8 bolts, cast iron- all of it.

    I've been thinking of upgrading to a 'better' saw, and in that vein I have purchased materials with which to make my own. These materials have been laying down my stairs for more than a year already, and the time is coming soon for me to start on that project. I plan to keep the 4 x 6, but just add this larger one. Wondering about the blade-

    I had been thinking to use a 3/4 inch deep blade, but perhaps a 1 inch blade would be better. Because I cut a lot of thin materials, I usually keep a 14/18 tooth on the 4 x 6. A coarser blade would do better on the meatier materials, but I also don't want to make a complete mess of any sheet goods I might be cutting on the new saw. What might be a good compromise here?

    Also wondering about blade speeds. I have three speeds now, but usually leave it in the middle speed. A second, much higher speed would likely be all I need for wood and other materials. What I'm thinking is to use two motors, one for the higher speed and one for the slow speed. The higher speed motor would be engaged all the time, and would turn automatically whenever the slow speed was engaged- creating some drag but nothing of real consequence. The slow speed drive would be engaged for metal cutting, and disengaged when you power the higher speed motor. The engagement lever would automatically prevent the wrong power switch from being used- when in slow speed mode the drive is engaged and the high speed switch cannot be operated. Similarly, when low speed is disengaged, the low speed switch cannot be operated. This way I have one lever for speed selection, with no belt changes required. The low speed motor and gearbox would be completely out of the circuit when high speed is being used. Anybody see flaws in this method?

    I do plan to make this a vertical only machine, with a sliding table to carry materials through the blade. The table would allow for vises to be mounted, or fences- or whatever fixturing is required for the job at hand.

    The blade would probably be something that I'd have to order made up to a specific length, probably quite long so the machine can have a large depth of throat and accommodate the larger wheels that a wider and thicker blade would require. Either I order it made to spec, or buy a length of blade and make it up myself.

    So I'm back to deciding on what blade to use, and what tooth spacing, etc. Ideas?
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  2. #2
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    In my experience, there is no single blade that is good for all materials and all thicknesses. The Three Teeth Rule ( https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...Ka3UF-0cXC6XKO) says that you should have at least 3 teeth in the cut and no more than 24teeth. Too few teeth and the teeth get ripped off. Too many teeth and the force is spread out too much so a lot of pressure is needed to get them to dig in and (in addition) the gullets fill up before the blade clears the work.

    So you should have high tooth count for thin stuff and fewer teeth for thicker stuff. And make sure you build it so that it's easy to change blades.
    At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

  3. #3
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    Darryl

    Take a look at a Roll-In band saw for some ideas. Their head moves and the table stays put. Also check out the blade guides as they fit several sizes of blades without changing the guides. It is not a cheap saw to buy but is full of great design ideas. I bought one for a specific project and 20 years later it is still running. The one project paid for the saw and the next 19 years were gratis.

  4. #4
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    Instead of making\having made special blades, check for a standard size for a 16-20 inch saw and design your saw around that blade size. Will probably need at least 3 different tooth sizes, one for wood, one for thin metals, and one for thick metals.

  5. #5
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    Some interesting ideas there-
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  6. #6
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    I use a 3/8" blade in my Vertical Saw 90% of the time,I have 3/4" and 1" for it but hardly ever use them.This is the 1950 Doall blade chart,maybe newer ones are different.Sorry only half the chart showed up.
    Last edited by Tundra Twin Track; 02-09-2019 at 12:49 AM.

  7. #7
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    We have an Ellis 1600 which uses a 1" wide blade. We've had the saw for some 30 years and after a lot
    of trial and error we settled on a 5-8 vari-tooth blade. Very rarely do we use any other blades on the saw.
    We cut everything from 1" steel flats to 6" rounds to 1 x1 alum. tubing. That one blade cuts in excess of
    99 per cent of everything we do...
    Keith
    __________________________
    Just one project too many--that's what finally got him...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LKeithR View Post
    We have an Ellis 1600 which uses a 1" wide blade. We've had the saw for some 30 years and after a lot
    of trial and error we settled on a 5-8 vari-tooth blade. Very rarely do we use any other blades on the saw.
    We cut everything from 1" steel flats to 6" rounds to 1 x1 alum. tubing. That one blade cuts in excess of
    99 per cent of everything we do...
    That is a real cool saw Keith,never seen a Ellis before.Just watched a YouTube on the 1600 like yours,my neighbor has a German Jaespa that is similar design.

  9. #9
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    I think you're over complicating things by using 2 motors. I have a Startrite H175 (7"x11") horizontal/ vertical bandsaw that uses a single motor for speeds between 60 fpm and 225 fpm. It uses step pulleys to change speeds, but the nice thing about it is the motor is spring loaded to facilitate quick speed changes. It takes about 10 seconds to push down on the motor, change the belt position and release the motor.

    Like you I cut everything from sheet metal to structural steel. My most common go to blade is a 10-14 variable pitch bimetal. I do have some 8-12 variable pitch blades, but they only get used on the bigger stuff. The saw has coolant capability, but in nearly 20 years I've had the saw I've never used it. As mentioned the 3-24 tooth rule is a good rule to follow. However I have cut up to 8" widths of 1/2" plate using the 10-14 tooth blade. To keep the gullets from filling I use a blade cleaning brush on both the entrance and exit sides of the cut. The exit brush does most of the work, but the one at the entrance gets what the other one missed.

    The blades for this machine are 3/4". Using it 10-15 hrs. a month the blades will last between 1 and 2 years depending on the volume and type material I cut. Keep in mind the larger the width of the blade the larger the band wheels. With 3/4" blades the wheels on my saw are 17" diameter.

    As for the Ellis saws, they are made locally and seem to be very popular. I know several shops that have had the 1600 model for many years. They are workhorses and need very little maintenance.

  10. #10
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    Straying a bit from the blade discussion:

    Another approach for getting a wide range of speeds is to use a DC motor paired with a controller that incorporates a feedback tachometer. This is not as complicated as it may sound as many of the controllers in common use have this capability that goes unused and a second very small DC motor can be used as a tech generator. I did this on an old Milwaukee bandsaw that I adapted for dual use. I can dial speed from about 70 FPM blade speed to a bit over 1300 FPM with no belt changes and no real loss of torque. The high end is not optimal for wood cutting but is plenty fast to be efficient for the amount of cutting I do on wood and other soft materials. Works great.

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