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Metal Cutting Bandsaw- - any recommendations?


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So I am in the market for a relatively small metal cutting bandsaw for the shop. I've about had it with my abrasive chop saw. I have a circular steel saw but the chips.  The el cheap-o harbor freight one for about 300 bucks seems ok, but not large enough for certain things and it does dry cuts only. 

What do you guys think about this> I dont really want to spend over 700.

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I have one of the HF band saws and it works quite well.  There are a number of Youtube videos on how to modify them.  My only gripe is that it is more set up as a power hack saw which cuts roughly horizontally than the vertical band saw function, which is how I mainly use it, (which is secondary in the design).  I have had no problem cutting 1/2" stock on the diagonal lengthwise which is about like cutting 5/8 or 3/4" square.

In case you don't know, avoid band saws designed for wood, unless it has a speed adjustment function.  A metal cutting band saw moves the blade at a much slower speed.

Be careful about using a cutting fluid like oil or water which can get on the blade and reduce the friction between the blade and the driving wheel which will cause slippage between them. (Don't ask how I know). 

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand." 

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Thanks, 

there seems to be two schools of thought on using coolant on saws not originally equipped as such. Everyone can agree that a cooler blade lasts longer. Does it cut faster, yes probably. The problem seems to lie in the chips and metal shaving which tend to 'stick' to the blade which results in the problem you describe. For my uses I believe I am looking for a saw that runs dry. The key is to go slow and use quality blades. I am not in a production shop so that is ok.

 

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About 20 years ago when I had room I bought a Jet Horizontal Vertical band saw for about $1,000 and it's been worth every penny. I could (DO) wish it had better access in the vertical position but it works with a little planning.

While it's called coolant, that isn't what the liquid actually does. I use water soluble oil when I put something in the tank. What the squirting liquid really does is flush the cuttings out of the kerf so they don't get caught in the teeth and gall. 

There is a good reason for the 3tpi on the metal, rule of thumb. Too: fine a blade, fine a pitch, too many tpi, etc. can't clear chips from the kerf fast enough so ends up riding on a layer instead of cutting, until it'd dragged enough out the teeth can cut some more. Unfortunately the chips get wadded and jammed between the teeth and just rub, get hot and jam the blade. 

Too few and it takes too hard a bite and causes the band to slip.

3tpi on the metal at all times is optimum. A flow of liquid prevents the occasional curl from jamming between teeth and galling by flushing it out. Water is 80x as dense as air IIRC and so applies more force and lift to cuttings.

I rarely use "coolant" in my saw though there are some metals that really benefit from water soluble oil mixed a BIT thick. Stainless, some alloys especially are chewy and tend to gall more readily so SS gets the flushant. 

Ooh, flushant just came to me thank you voices! :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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Well Frosty, that makes quite a bit of sense to me. It never made sense to me that it was called coolant, because when you think about it, the blade should have plenty of time to cool off by the time the teeth go around the two wheels and back into the kerf to cut again. - - heck this should be true even if one is pushing the upper limits of rate of cut. Also therefore, that is why we don't use actual cutting oil in these types of saws, yes? (cutting oil is too gummy/less viscous) and would allow chips to 'stick' onto the blade fouling drive wheels and other mechanisms)

Another thing so what you are saying that per the 3 teeth in contact rule one should lay down flat a bar to cut it as opposed to a vertical downward cut even if it is a relatively thick piece say 1/2 in thick by 4 width, right?

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Coolant is usually flooded on the blade, washing the the chips away in the process.  High blade speed/feeds do require it.  I have never seen oils used on a saw, but I have not saw it all.   I have a small old Enco and with a little ingenuity and makeshift it will do amazing things.

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I have two bandsaws: an old Craftsman horizontal with a 4" x 6" nominal capacity and an old Craftsman 12" vertical wood-cutting bandsaw that I've adapted for both wood and metal. If I had my druthers, something like Frosty's vertical/horizontal would be ideal. Check out what's available used in your area; those can be some good deals.

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I always cut metal the thinnest way possible and slow the feed. All I've been able to find for my saw in the last few years is a variable pitch 10-14 IIRC so the 3 tpi rule of thumb doesn't fit. The variable tpi/pitch does really well clearing the cuttings so I'm gradually just adjusting blade speed and feed rate.

Cutting the thin direction reduces stress on everything, mostly o the blade, the longer the kerf the more likely it is to gall. The more steel i contact with the teeth at once the more force necessary to keep it moving so there's more force against the bearings and drive wheels. It's just easier on everything and I can't afford to buy another cut off saw. Just mind the feed rate. I've cut some mighty thin tubing but you'd swear the blade isn't feeding at all. Unless you listen to it, you can hear a saw cutting.

Never use "oil" on a saw it sticks cuttings to it and makes contact with the wheels slippery so the blade jams in the kerf almost automatically. That's not to be confused with water soluble "oil" they're much different things. The oil contains an emulsifier so it mixes easily with water and as far as I've been able to find out the oil's main purpose is to help keep cuttings from sticking to things. Not lubricate them, the stuff sure doesn't make a good lube even straight from the can but helps prevent chips from getting caught in the teeth, maybe in the kerf, etc. I've run mine with soluble oil and with straight water, either works.

Mostly I run my band saw dry and the only time I've had a problem is when something shifts in the vise or the blade loses a tooth or something. It's pretty darned rare and I buy blades online for darned reasonable so I don't sweat the odd failure loss enough to trouble shoot a maybe problem. If it happens to t he next blade I'm all over it. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I have an old Duracraft horizontal/vertical band saw that my mother and wife went together for my birthday present, way back in the mid '70s. It has been an excellent saw since then only needing blades replaced and the gear box greased in all these years. I think Northern Tool sells one comperable to it for around $300 U.S. Another band saw I have is from Harbor Freight a Porta band. So far it's been good and very versatile. There is a thread about making a mount for one on the forum.

 

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