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Bandsaw - wood and metal ?

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gerry madden11/04/2021 11:29:00
168 forum posts
70 photos

Finally after years of ridiculous hand sawing I've decided to get myself a bandsaw. I'm erring towards the tall standing type that are usually described as being for woodworking. However half the time I need to cut bits of metal, which in the worst case would be a 5 inch diameter bar of aluminium or steel plate up 1 inch thick.

Even with the right kind of blade fitted I can see an issue with this type of saw is that the table doesn't move so one would have to constantly push the workpiece towards the blade. With heavy lumps of metal this could be challenging and depending on how one chooses to do it, possibly dangerous too.

My question is therefore: Am I 'barking up the wrong tree' in thinking that a woodworking saw would do for lumps of metal ? If so, what would you recommend ?

Gerry

Clive Brown 111/04/2021 11:48:19
633 forum posts
26 photos

Woodworking bandsaws run too fast for metal cutting, particularly ferrous. The blades will be quickly ruined. My small bandsaw is geared down to a speed of about 200ft/min and that seems fairly good.

Also you would find that attempting to cut large diameter round bar held by hand on the saw table is NOT advisable. The bar will rotate and you will not be able to grip it.

Can't help with a suggestion of a bandsaw for taking work of the size that you mention, but it will be big. I use an old Rapidor hacksaw which will take bar up to 6".

Edited By Clive Brown 1 on 11/04/2021 11:53:20

David George 111/04/2021 11:49:38
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1547 forum posts
478 photos

Hi Gerry I think you would be much better of with a horizontal type band saw than a vertical saw. You can get a horizontal saw which can be configured to be used as a vertical saw and that gives you options. If you were to try and cut a 5 inch diamiter bar on a vertical saw it would be challenging but thin plate is better on a vertical saw. I have a small horizontal saw from Chester machine tools and a vertical saw from Machine Mart and I use the horizontal saw most of the time but the vertical saw is used to cut wood, plastics, and non-ferrous metals and eavan with the correct blade is useless for steel etc.

David

Georgineer11/04/2021 12:40:18
507 forum posts
30 photos

Gerry,

At the last school where I worked we had a floor-standing bandsaw which could take either wood- or metal-cutting blades. In the pedestal was a series of v-belts and pulleys to select the appropriate cutting speed, which was much slower for metal and required a different blade. Unfortunately I can't remember the make or model.

I did once witness a colleague cutting metal with the woodworking blade. The sparks were quite impressive, and the technician had to replace the blade afterwards...

George B.

Jeff Dayman11/04/2021 12:44:44
2131 forum posts
45 photos

For many years now I have been using a steel framed woodworking bandsaw modified for blade speed of 150 fpm an using an HSS bimetal blade. This saw cuts steel or other metals as well as wood with excellent results.

Typically woodwork machines run many times faster than 150 fpm and have lighter blades and lighter frames, not suitable for metal cutting. However If you can find a woodworking saw that can be modified to run at 150 fpm and having a steel frame, it may work fine. Otherwise look for a metalworking saw.

You may also be able to find an inexpensive Chinese import handheld portable metalworking bandsaw, which you could use handheld of course but it could be mounted to a bench frame and a table fitted to it if need be.

Edited By Jeff Dayman on 11/04/2021 12:45:54

HOWARDT11/04/2021 12:46:36
723 forum posts
25 photos

As all said the speed is one factor, but 1 inch steel and 5 inch diameter aluminium you would need some serious holding fixture that slides easily supporting the work both sides of the blade. If you don’t there could be some snatch as the part gets close to cut off. Also the time taken to stand there feeding the material through. Better to get the steel plate flame cut.

Douglas Johnston11/04/2021 12:51:11
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746 forum posts
34 photos

In the past I wondered if I could get away with one bandsaw for wood and metal but it is not really a good option. The speeds are different and so are the blades. You would be forever changing the blades and that can be a real pain. I ended up with one of the 6 by 4" horizontal bandsaws for the metal and a vertical one for wood. A wood one will cut aluminium at a pinch but not large chunks of the stuff.

Doug

JasonB11/04/2021 13:02:15
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Moderator
20442 forum posts
2267 photos
1 articles

With those requirements a vertical saw designed for metal will have a decent throat width for the plate and if you make up a sled then round and section can be cut safely.

I use my old woodworking bandsaw for nonferrous sheet/plate and before getting the Femi it wa salso used for bar, with a bimetal HHS blade at woodworking speeds it cut OK, this is 3" square 6082 but it would be too fast for steel.

John Haine11/04/2021 13:30:13
3826 forum posts
222 photos

I have a Femi 782 which is designed for metal and will cut up to 65 mm bar iirc. Jason has one too I think? I also have a table for it to use it in vertical mode for sheet. It will cut wood though not designed for it. Highly recommended. Stakesys is a good supplier.

Ian Parkin11/04/2021 15:16:17
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931 forum posts
221 photos

Many of the older startrite machines say s14,18,24 have 10 speeds with 5 belt positions and a 2 speed gearbox they will happily cut anything.

but I wouldn’t want to stand there cutting 5” of steel with it

i have a s14 5 and cut alloy plate regularly on it up to 3 inch thick

but mainly i use it for woodwork and a 4x6 bandsaw for metal stock

Martin Kyte11/04/2021 15:29:12
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2346 forum posts
39 photos

Hi Gerry

If you are exclusively wanting a cut off saw for metal then vertical bandsaws are not really suitable for large diameter round bar. Plate and rectangular section yes.

I bought one of these from Axminster Tool a few years ago and it has saved me a lot of effort. It is arranged for a slow speed step on the drive pully with the addition of a variable speed drive. Slow speeds are a must if you are cutting metal and of course you need fast speeds for wood.

Axminster Tools Metal Bandsaw

I find it excellent for cutting blanks for clockwheels and frames in Brass. Steel plate up to 1" thick and large billets of aluminium. I'm not saying thats all it will do just what I have done to date. Most usefull for removing the waste from odd shaped lumps before machining. And obviously it's in it's element for wood.

I hope that helps.

regards Martin

larry phelan 111/04/2021 16:22:48
992 forum posts
14 photos

I have a Startright upright bandsaw for wood cutting [was never happy with it, even for that ], tried cutting light sheet steel with it, learned very quickly that it did not like it and it was rather scary. Speed is much too fast and material too difficult to control, and this was even with a suitable blade.

Horses for courses, I think. As regards cutting 5" round anything, you are a brave man !

ega11/04/2021 16:35:42
2105 forum posts
175 photos

larry phelan:

Sorry too hear that your Startrite bandsaw - they used to be made just down the road from me - is not performing well.

I have had some success cutting sheet steel with a Rage/Evolution blade on the radial arm saw.

not done it yet11/04/2021 19:35:30
5853 forum posts
20 photos

I have a horizontal, metal-cutting bandsaw. The frame can be positioned in the vertical position, so I have made up a frame, with horizontal table, which is held in place by the vise. It needs extra vertical support, for the table, in this mode.

I doubt it would cope with timber cuts as well as a vertical startrite, but that is not required as I have access to a wood sawing bandsaw. The vertical startrite (for timber) that I used a long time ago was often used for cutting curves (with narrow blades). This may be an issue.

As JH says, Stakesys is a good website to check out. They actually show a lightweight table kit for the 782XL saw @ £85. The 782XL will cut 100 x 85mm ‘rectangular section’ (they quote 95mm square).

Speedy Builder511/04/2021 20:13:46
2270 forum posts
173 photos

Buy a second hand vertical bandsaw designed for wood. replace the motor with a small 3 phase motor controlled by a VFD. Buy some HSS toothed bandsaw blades - Happy days.

Just be careful that blades don't "snatch" when cutting larger round bar / tube etc.

Bob

Neil Wyatt11/04/2021 20:34:10
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Moderator
18585 forum posts
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78 articles

The ideal world is one of each - possibly cheaper than buying a VFD and less hassle blade changing

Otherwise, as suggested above a metal cutting one you can put in 'upright' mode. Plus if you get stuck, it's easier to handsaw through a sleeper than through a 2" metal bar! (Voice of experience).

Neil

Brian G11/04/2021 20:35:23
757 forum posts
34 photos

Axminster sell a vertical bandsaw with a VFD offering speeds between 42 and 1000 m/min. I would love one if I had the cash and the space even though they say it can only cut 10mm mild steel plate and it costs £1,500. Realistically that would pay for an awful lot of laser cutting, and Bob's suggestion applied to a smaller machine would probably suit me more as I already have a hacksaw for thicker bar.

Brian G

Edit: Whoops, bandsaw speeds are not RPM

Edited By Brian G on 11/04/2021 20:39:41

Martin Kyte11/04/2021 22:21:50
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2346 forum posts
39 photos
Posted by Brian G on 11/04/2021 20:35:23:

Axminster sell a vertical bandsaw with a VFD offering speeds between 42 and 1000 m/min. I would love one if I had the cash and the space even though they say it can only cut 10mm mild steel plate and it costs £1,500. Realistically that would pay for an awful lot of laser cutting, and Bob's suggestion applied to a smaller machine would probably suit me more as I already have a hacksaw for thicker bar.

Brian G

Edit: Whoops, bandsaw speeds are not RPM

Edited By Brian G on 11/04/2021 20:39:41

as I said above

I bought one of these from Axminster Tool a few years ago and it has saved me a lot of effort. It is arranged for a slow speed step on the drive pully with the addition of a variable speed drive. Slow speeds are a must if you are cutting metal and of course you need fast speeds for wood.

Axminster Tools Metal Bandsaw

I find it excellent for cutting blanks for clockwheels and frames in Brass. Steel plate up to 1" thick and large billets of aluminium. I'm not saying thats all it will do just what I have done to date. Most usefull for removing the waste from odd shaped lumps before machining. And obviously it's in it's element for wood.

regards Martin

Brian G11/04/2021 23:35:00
757 forum posts
34 photos

Sorry Martin, I completely misunderstood and thought you meant a metal cut-off bandsaw. I'm reminded by your comment about odd shaped lumps of the reason I would like one of the Axminster machines, as 40 years ago part of my job as a foundry technician was cutting up alloy wheels using a bandsaw to extract large enough pieces to machine test samples. There probably isn't another tool that could do this as well as a bandsaw.

Brian G

gerry madden12/04/2021 00:07:26
168 forum posts
70 photos

Thanks all for your very useful and thought provoking comments. I certainly hadn't thought much about the speed aspect !

Due to space constraints I do tend to favour one machine capable of multiple tasks, provided of course it does all of those tasks reasonably well.

Martins Axminster seems to have this covered well. Strangely its just not available right now and I cant find another machine that has a similar wide range of speed. I wonder why that is ?

There seem to be plenty of robust-looking machines out there for about £500 (for example the Makita) which one could feed through a £50 RS controller, which might then make it suitable for slow but steady metal cutting, albeit with appropriate work-piece holding ? Or am I missing something ?

Gerry

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