Shamus Blargostadt

breaking down stock with limited gear

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I hit on this topic in a totally unrelated thread and wanted to ask another question. Thought I'd start a new thread for a beginner like myself looking for the same answers.

The background is I acquired a leaf spring 1/4" to 1/2" thick from a scrap yard, and was trying to figure out how to break it down into workable chunks, being limited in tools and knowledge. I do have a makita chop saw but the general wisdom appears to be that it is designed for wood and using it for metal has a good chance of breaking the unit, at best.

One good recommendation I had was to find a hacksaw blade that was 12 - 14TPI to saw it with. I found a 14tpi but it was really slow going. Another person suggested getting a bandsaw blade made for cutting metal and cut/punch that to install into a hacksaw. I'm in the process of finding a blade to try that.

In the mean time, a local hardware store had a sale on Genesis 4.5" angle grinders for $20. They have terrible ratings on amazon for burning up and failing. I figured I'd give it a try and take it back if the motor burns.

so.. to my questions. The angle grinder worked pretty darn good. I cut the steel with just a few breaks to let the motor cool down and used the 14tpi hack to move it along. It was a little scary though. Having been blessed with a vibrant imagination, I could easily envision the grinder blade disintegrating into shards, embedding them into my forehead and taking off fingers. It got a little less scary with time but it was hard to keep the line straight cutting freehand like that. I'm thinking curved cut and straight high speed circular blade isn't such a good thing. I want to cut it lengthwise now, for blade sizes.

Has anyone used a sawzall/reciprocating saw for breaking down this size of steel?

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I bought one of the hand held grinders from Harbor freight that use the 4 and 1/2 inch wheels. I also bought some 10 packs of the thin metal cutting disks. I have cut both thick metal (it was either 1095 or D2 a half inch thick), truck springs, leaf springs, etc. using my hand held cutter. You can lock your piece into a vice and the metal scribed so you can follow the line you want to cut. It is real easy to cut the leaf spring either width ways or long ways if you wanted a longer piece for a knife. I have done both.  I always wear leather gloves , a thick cotton apron and one of the Harbor Freight cover your face face masks when I am cutting metal due to the pieces that fly around and the sparks. I also wear eye protection under the face shield as pieces can get under the shield.  I think I paid $9.99 for the hand held grinder, $5.99 for the cutting disks and $1.99 for the face shield. The gloves were probably 2 bucks. I have cut everything from spring steel to wrought iron with this set up and it works well for me.  You don't need a $500.00 cut off saw to cut metal pieces to forge.

Ohio Rusty ><>

The Ohio Frontier Forge

Edited by Ohio Rusty

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Porta-bandsaws are fantastic.

​bandsaw would be ideal for this. I'm limited on funds though.. was hoping to keep it under $60 if possible.

I bought one of the hand held grinders from Harbor freight that use the 4 and 1/2 inch wheels. I also bought some 10 packs of the thin metal cutting disks. I have cut both thick metal (it was either 1095 or D2 a half inch thick), truck springs, leaf springs, etc. using my hand held cutter. You can lock your piece into a vice and the metal scribed so you can follow the line you want to cut. It is real easy to cut the leaf spring either width ways or long ways if you wanted a longer piece for a knife. I have done both.  I always wear leather gloves , a thick cotton apron and one of the Harbor Freight cover your face face masks when I am cutting metal due to the pieces that fly around and the sparks. I also wear eye protection under the face shield as pieces can get under the shield.  I thionk I paid $9.99 for the hand held grinder, $5.99 for the cutting disks and $1.99 for the face shield. The gloves were probably 2 bucks. I have cut everything from spring steel to wrought iron with this set up and it works well for me.  You don't need a $500.00 cut off saw to cut metal pieces to forge.

Ohio Rusty ><>

The Ohio Frontier Forge

​ah thanks Rusty. That's really good to know.  I'll look at getting a face mask. You've had blades disintegrate then?

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​bandsaw would be ideal for this. I'm limited on funds though.. was hoping to keep it under $60 if possible.

​HF has a porta-bandsaw for under $85.

If you find one of those 20% off coupons, you'd be around $65.....  I'm not endorsing that HF porta-bandsaw as a quality unit, but it sure beats a hacksaw.

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When using the Angle grinder on leaf springs, I had the same issue with making " straightish " lines, but I found a " fix " to my process. 

Draw the cut line, Like say your going to cut the piece directly in half longways. 

Then take your angle grinder, and lightly follow the line ( cutting perhaps 1/10th of the way through ) so when you go back over it to fully cut it, you have a nice groove to help keep your cut straight. 

However like you noticed, It does not work so hot for anything other then semi straight cuts. I would think a Sawzall with a good blade would work great for the finer sides of shaping the cuts, or perhaps a heavy duty jig saw, Not sure how long it will last, but Harbor Freight sells a 9 inch Bandsaw for around 176.00, its small enough to fit on a small work bench, I plan to pick one up either at the end of the month, or after a few knives sell this month, whichever comes first. Ill take some leaf spring to it and let you know how well that little jobby job does on it. 

 

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The Harbor Freight 14" metal chops saws are on sale for $74 right now. In addition you can print off a 20% off coupon from their web site which will get you one for about $55. I'm not a big fan of Harbor Freight stuff but I think their metal cutoff saws are pretty good. I bought one when I was first starting out and it has lasted for many years under intermittent use. If you plan on using it hard they have a pretty cheap free replacement warranty.

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Ahh the suggestion was mounting a piece of metal cutting bandsaw blade in a bow saw handle thus getting a 30" hacksaw.

 

Forge and hot cut if you have help, you can trace the line cold with an angle grinder to have a groove to follow with the hot cut when hot.

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I have that same HF portable band saw referred to, got it around $60 with coupon, I use the living heck out of it, my go-to tool for such jobs.  It's one of the few tools in my shop that if it ever broke down I would have to stop everything I was doing and go get another one.  I don't love buying HF stuff, I consider it a coin toss on whether or not something there will turn out to be of good (enough) quality, but so far I have to say I've had zero problems out of my portable saw.  Worth the $60, easily, one of those tools that takes a very difficult job and makes it a breeze.   

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@SpankySmith... 

I just looked that Portable one up ( ive had my eye on the 9 inch bench one for a while ) 

HOW exactly do you use that thing? To me that looks entirely too bulky to work with small materials, did you rig up a table or something, or just use the included handles?

 

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Put your stock in a vise or clamped down to the bench, hold the porta-band by the handles and zip off your stock.  Easy-peasy.

I'm not a fan of the massive shower of sparks I'd have in my garage with the abrasive cutoff wheel saw.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiAkWNJoUuQ

Edited by Black Frog

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I second the porta-band option. I drilled a couple holes in angle iron so I can replaced the handle on mine with it. For small pieces, esp, it's nice to put the saw in the vice (i.e. clamp the angle iron) and use it like a bench-top unit. Note that all of Harbor Freights cheap bench top units are for wood *not* metal. They run way too fast.

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I used a porta-band saw for a long time to cut metal. I added an aluminum table to my portable band saw and a foot switch. Clamped it in the post vise for a stand.

P1000981.jpg

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Malice, I mounted mine to a support post in my shop, I don't have a photo but I basically ran a support around the handle and around the waist of it, kind of hard to describe but not dissimilar to the photo above in terms of orientation, just used a couple pieces of scrap I had to form the supports.   I don't have a larger plate on it like above, I have just used the smaller plate that comes with it.   If you're going to mount it make it easy on/off, for when you go to change the blades on it (unless as pictured above you leave the protective cover off of it, but I'm a fan of protective covers!)

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hmmmm.....

That is about half as expensive as the 9 inch bench model HF sells.  I may have to look into doing a table / mount for that instead, might be cheaper in the long run. 

 

Thanks for the pictures and explanations, makes a lot more sense now as to how I might use one of those. Now to go scrounge around dads scraps to see if there is anything fitting to make a table / mount for it. 

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I'm not a fan of the sparks from an abrasive chop saw either but for some things they are the best option. I've ruined a few blades in my power hacksaw when I hit a hard spot in sucker rod or leaf spring. I think cutting anything medium to high carbon and you run the risk of ruining a blade. I have even seen it happen cutting A36 that was quenched in water. Really anything you are unsure of the content and heat treatment is better on the chop saw, hot cut, or torch. One thing I really like about a power hacksaw is you are only going to ruin the fist few teeth and then you can block the stock over and use the rest of the good ones. When you do ruin a whole blade they are not nearly as expensive as a blade for a large band saw.

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White bi-metal bandsaw and hack saw blades are a lot longer lasting in high carbon and dirty steel. It's always helpful for blade longevity to take a wire brush to salvage stock first, even a little dirt is hard on blade teeth.

Porta band has factory stands to use them for cutoff and vertical cutting. You sometimes see them in second hand stores and yard/garage/etc. sales.

Frosty The Lucky.

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​bandsaw would be ideal for this. I'm limited on funds though.. was hoping to keep it under $60 if possible.

​ah thanks Rusty. That's really good to know.  I'll look at getting a face mask. You've had blades disintegrate then?

​I've posted this before. but it's worth repeating...If you're going to grind metal or use a cutting disc, get goggles that seal around your eyes.  About a month ago I was using an angle grinder and cutting disc as mentioned because it works really well, and I had safety specs AND a faceshield on and still got a shard in my eye.  $300 later and 2 optometry appts later the eye is fine.  After getting the shard drilled out of my eye (man those docs have steady hands...) I went to the tool store and spent another $20 on goggles....

DON'T SKIMP WHEN IT COMES TO EYE PROTECTION!!!!

just my 2 pesos.....

Edited by billyO
emphasis

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Get it hot, and use a hot cut.

Cutting torch, look for used ones. I have seen complete Victor/Harris/Smith set ups with the cutting head, welding tips, rosebud , regulators, and hoses for $75.

Chop saws have their place-I hate them, but they do come in handy. Use it outside if you can.

I have picked up used Milwaukee PortaBands, and sawzalls in your price range.

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Country Blacksmithing  (McRaven) shows a solution on p. 35 - a shear for hot cutting made with cutting edge steel.

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I've not had one of the cutting wheels disintegrate. As you cut, they get smaller and the sand sized pieces from the cutting disk fly along with the sparks from the metal. I seem to always have grit in my hair ..... I don't wear a hat as that gets in the way of the band that goes arounf my head from the face shield. I concur with BillyO on the goggles. I have the plain, clear wrap around eye protection glasses I wear under the face shield.

Ohio Rusty ><>

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