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Wood band saw for metal?

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  • Wood band saw for metal?

    I have seen a couple of (vertical) wood band saws sell real cheap lately.

    I know the speed is a BIG issue; I am wondering if it would be possible to accomplish the speed reduction with a VFD? Most of the time you are looking at pulleys to accomplish that.

    It seems like it would be more complicated than that, so thought I would try to get others' thoughts/ experiences. Thanks.

  • #2
    I made one work for metal by attaching a flea-market-find gear reduction. Can't remember the ratio, but whatever it is worked out pretty good for cutting steel.

    Mine was a pretty wimpy hobby size thing to begin with so it's OK but not that great, but a better wood-cutting band saw would make for a better metal-cutting conversion.

    A Doall or Roll-In etc. are both better of course, but for under 60 bucks I was able to have a vertical band saw for cutting metal in my shop. Saved my bacon and a lot of time on several occasions over the years.


    • #3
      I would plan on replacing the guide blocks with roller-bearing guides -- I think I've seen conversion kits at Rockler, or some other woodworking store.


      • #4
        I have a relatively inexpensive (€400) Metabo wood bandsaw that I thought about converting to sit on my horizontal mill and connect with a pulley on a arbor on the mill and run a belt to a pulley on the saw. Then I could run the saw at any speed my mill is capable of. Not a perfect solution but maybe interesting. It would be a non-destructive conversion. I don't do any wood cutting with it. I bought it for a special project and now it just sits. It has the bearing guides and such. For some projects it would be good to have a vertical metal bandsaw.
        Location: The Black Forest in Germany

        How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!


        • #5
          I just converted a vintage 10" Wards Powrkraft woodcutter to metal. I reworked the bottom for larger shaft and bearings (20mm because that's what I had), reinforced the lower structure with steel, and drive with a 1/4 hp DC motor and 20:1 gear ratio. Final drive vee belt for overall ratio about 30:1. It works great.

          I ran it with the original 1/2 inch drive shaft first and the blade wanted to chatter. That's no longer the case with the larger shaft and reinforced structure.

          Further plans include a vacuum port under the table to keep swarf off the tire and roller guides.


          • #6
            I converted a cheap wood band saw to metal but it is not very satisfactory. All the time I spent trying to make this work would have been better spent working a job then use to money to buy a good metal band saw.

            Now the saw is broken and I am not wasting any more time @#$% with it. I am in search of a good metal saw with a blade welder so I can make my own blades.


            • #7
              I have one of Grizzlies Wood/Metal Bandsaws.
              It uses a VFD and I highly recommend it.
              I cut a lot of thin material so, I use the finest tooth blade that I can find.
              It also has a large table, that's a necessity.

              Tom M.


              • #8
                I have a vintage US made 14" Rockwell vertical bandsaw equipped with a factory backgear so it can cut both wood and metal. I plan to make ball bearing blades guides, but other than that feature it does quite well. Before I found the Rockwell I had a Illinois Tools (Taiwanese) wood bandsaw that I planned to convert. When I found the Rockwell I sold the Illinois Tool as I decided it would take too much time and cost almost as much to convert as I paid for the Rockwell.


                • #9
                  I converted a 14" wood saw to metal by using a gear reducer. Worked fine
                  Good luck.
                  John R


                  • #10
                    If you elect to convert a wood bandsaw, then the easiest way is to mount a pulley in your 3-jaw and drive the saw through the gear reduction of your lathe. Requires only a pulley and stub mandrel, some surgery on the saw to gain access to the motor-driven pulley, a looong v-belt and a spacer between the saw and lathe to maintain belt tension. If you are THEN happy with the results, go for a complete conversion later.
                    Duffy, Gatineau, Quebec


                    • #11
                      If it were me, I would start with Duffy's suggestion to see if I'm happy with the way it works. Remember that a woodworking bandsaw is not twisted like a horizontal metal bandsaw. Mine has a 14" throat so I can't cut more than 14" off the end of a piece of metal.

                      If you're happy with the settup, and you already have a motor and VFD, then I would find the biggest driven pulley that will fit under there with a small driving pulley. You need to reduce from about 3000 ft/min to about 300 ft/min or less, at least a 10:1 reduction altogether. The more reduction you do with pulleys, the less your motor will strain at the lower speed.


                      • #12
                        I have cut Aluminum with my 14" delta wood band saw.

                        The blade goes too fast.

                        I push the Aluminum into the blade hard, and then back off a second later.
                        I wait for the r.p.m. s to go back up.
                        I push in again.

                        I have to clean the Aluminum chips off the rubber wheels.

                        Clearly not optimum.
                        Clearly better than a hack saw.
                        There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. -Ernest Hemingway
                        The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.-- Edward John Phelps


                        • #13
                          Gorgeous Walker Turner 14 here.It has factory gear reduction unit,with all the bells N whistles.There are 4 speeds in both wood and metal.We have other B/S's;Horz. metal cutting to big resaws for wood.The W/T 14 lives in M/Shop and is used for metal only......Lennox Diemaster 2 blade 1/2" wide.Its VERY handy with a small footprint.BW

                          PS can list speed chart if needed...its basically 10-1(wood vs metal)


                          • #14
                            I have a 14" Delta Metal/wood bandsaw that works pretty well. I also have a Beaver three wheel bandsaw that will cut metal when you run the belt directly off the motor shaft. Might want to look for one of those, as no one really wants them. I think they were also sold under the Rockwell name. For wood, I have a General 15". Now that is a nice bandsaw.


                            • #15
                              I converted a import 14" to cut metal with a gear reducer and chain drive.
                              Speed was perfect but the results were terrible!

                              Cutting metal thicker than 1/16" the saw shuddered, shaked... cut 1/8".... shuddered, shaked.....cut 1/8".......

                              I believe the problem is the frame, wheels etc...a Delta knockoff wasn't ridged enough.

                              In my opinion, not worth the trouble for very poor results.