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Metal versus wood bandsaw

Discussion in 'TOOL JUNKIES - TOOLS & TOOLING (Love Tools? This Is Your Forum)' started by MikeWhy, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. MikeWhy

    MikeWhy United States Iron Registered Member

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    What differentiates a metal cutting bandsaw from its wood cutting cousin?

    My Delta 14"wood bandsaw looks rather serviceable for aluminum and maybe even light gauge mild steel. The bi-metal blades I already have are the same ones sold for metal working. Guides and bearings, check. Maybe a bit light on horsepower, and not set up for coolant.

    What else is different for metal cutting?
     
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  2. Rbeckett

    Rbeckett Platinum Rest In Peace

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    The biggest difference between the two is the SFM or speed of the blade past the material. Wood cutting tooling is moving way too fast and needs to be slowed way down to safely and effectively cut metals. Most folks who convert a verticle bandsaw add a reduction gearbox to lower the speed of the blade while turning the motor at or near peak RPM to salvage the torque that it produces. Many many folks have converted their wood working tools in just this manner. However you should not switch back and forth due to the possibility of fire from hot chips in contact with wood that has been exposed to oils and lubricant. I cannot quote an accurate SFM speed at the moment but consider how slowly a HF horixontal moves the blade across the material when it is vutting mild steel or harder materials. Aluminum pposes a challenge due to gumming in the teeth due to low tooth clearance of the expended chip from the area of the tooth. Also keep in mind that the rule of thumb is three teeth in contact with the material at all times, so thinner material requires more teeth per inch than thicker stuff, especially on aluminum. If you can find a reduction box that would eliminate trying to locate different size pulleys and allow you to return it to a wood working configuration if you decide you need to do that or decide to sell the machine.

    Bob
     
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  3. Gary Max

    Gary Max Active User Active Member

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    Where most folks go wrong is trying to use the same bandsaw for both wood and metal. Metal saws like coolant and chip pans where wood saws like dust collectors.
    Just a couple of things to think about, I am sure there are more like running the right RPM's.
     
  4. francist

    francist Canada Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I used a wood cutting bandsaw for years cutting aluminum and brass up to 1/2" thick for commercial sign lettering. Reduced the speed a bit just by changing the pulley sizes, upgraded the guide assy to a good quality Rockwell, and that was it. Used anything from skip tooth 6 on the thicker aluminum and 18 to 24 tip for the thinner brasses and coppers. No lubricant. Smallest letters I ever free handed were 1" tall Times Roman out of 1/8" T-6 using an eighth in wide blade. Kinda scary for the fingers, but after the hundredth letter or so you get used to it.

    After a while the rubber tires get kinda thrashed on the saw, but little scrubbers made from toothbrushes help to keep them clean. Saw is finally getting scrapped cuz I'm tied of rebuilding the upper wheel pivot for the umpteenth time. Don't use it much more anyways, and still have my Delta for wood only. The one I used for the metal was a TWS, and nothing special about it.

    -frank
     
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  5. iron man

    iron man United States Active User Active Member

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    I read all the pro's and cons of cutting metal on a wood bandsaw and made the conversion anyway I can cut both wood or metal and have never had a problem after the conversion.

    http://www.hobby-machinist.com/show...ndsaw-coversion-made-easy?p=100184#post100184
     
  6. MikeWhy

    MikeWhy United States Iron Registered Member

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    Oh. Ballpark is 2000 sfm. That's not gonna work. Thanks for the guidance.
     
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  7. Buffalo Bob

    Buffalo Bob Active User Active Member

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    I've used my Craftsman wood saw on other materials. Aluminum is easily cut as it doesn't need coolant, only lubrication. The cheapest stuff is WD40 spray. Use compressed air to keep blade clean. I use a 6-tpi bi-metal blade for 1/2" and thicker alum. Thinner alum can be sandwiched between wood to keep the teeth from tearing.

    I tried a finer metal blade on steel but the speed is just too fast. Killed the blade on the first cut. Now I use my Sawz_all for steel.

    I don't recommend cutting oil for alum as it really makes a mess inside the saw. Rule of thumb for me is minimum three teeth contact for what ever your cutting. I've been making aluminum flyreels plus fixtures and jigs for my sherline machines with few problems. Steel and aircraft aluminum are totally different materials though.
    BB
     
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  8. LJP

    LJP United States Active User Active Member

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    Doing a conversion now myself. Last week I bought an old 14" Delta Rockwell on CL for $200. Jumped right in and started building new ball bearing blade guides. The biggest deal is there is not a lot of room below the table for Carter style guides, but I have things all worked out now.

    I will change out the motor with a variable speed DC motor (which I have) or will look around for a 40:1 speed reducer. Would actually rather use the speed reducer, because I can make the pulleys the size I need for the 3 speeds I want.

    I now own 4 bandsaws, there is no difference between a wood cutting and metal cutting saw, other than the speed you run it at, and the blade you put on it.

    Larry
     
  9. francist

    francist Canada Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    A VFD sounds interesting.

    Even though I was doing most of the cutting for the shop on my converted wood bandsaw, my boss had a real Rockwell metal cutting 14" upright with a two-speed gear drive off the motor. Noisy as heck, but it was the factory setup for the saw.

    -frank
     
  10. Taborclock

    Taborclock United States Iron Registered Member

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    I swapped out pulleys to slow it down and had blades made to cut mild steel. As has been noted. You have to keep the chips out of the works with air or vacuum. These are made for wood, but will do thin steel and aluminum rather well.

    http://sawblade.com/ These guys will make the size and type you need rather inexpensively.
     
  11. bfd

    bfd United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I posses a delta 14" bandsaw that is a metal wood bandsaw. this is from delta/ Rockwell. there is a reduction gearbox built in on the back. one lever pull switches it from 3000 fpm to 180 fpm there is no other difference I find on the saw. I don't know if they still sell it I have had mine for 20 plus years. I have cut 2" dia 4140 on this saw as well as many types of wood works well bill
     
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  12. scoopydo

    scoopydo United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I have a Jet woos/metal bandsaw and it works the same way. Just open the door pull the knob to switch from wood to metal. I've cut some aluminum with it but haven't tried steel yet.

    George
     
  13. DaveInMi

    DaveInMi United States Active Member Active Member

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    I have a 14" Delta with factory gearbox for metal. Works great for me but just a hobby shop.
     
  14. cjtoombs

    cjtoombs United States Active User Active Member

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    Cutting speeds for metals range from ~100-500 FPM. Cutting speeds for wood should be something more like 4000 FPM. Of course, wood and plastic can be cut at the lower speed, but obviously speed will be compromised. Less obviously, it is likely that surface finish will suffer, as well. I use an old craftsman 3 wheel bandsaw originally intended for woodworking that has been slowed down, and it works quite well. Bi-Metal blades work well for cutting mild steel, carbon steel blades can be used for aluminum.
     
  15. f350ca

    f350ca Canada Active User Active Member

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    I have an old Delta wood/metal 14 inch bandsaw as well. Think its something like 20:1 gear reduction and a set of 4 step pulleys when cutting metal. Gets down to 100 sfpm for steel.

    Greg
     
  16. chips&more

    chips&more United States Active User Active Member

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    I also have the Delta wood/metal bandsaw. Had it for about 50 years. Still has the same steel guide blocks (no guide bearings). And has the same tires from about a change 30 years ago! I do not release the band tension when not in use. I know I should, but I’m not seeing/hearing/feeling a problem because of it. I do run it with the tension on the loose side. Runs great and hassle free….Dave.
     
  17. Beone

    Beone Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    This is my wood band saw, works very well indeed!
    Dave
    May & June 2012 322.JPG
     
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  18. sanddan

    sanddan Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    My Wilton 14" does 2600 SFM for wood and is VS from 116 to 330 SFM for metals. I also have a Rigid 14" wood saw that I converted to cut metal by a pulley system that mounts under the saw. It cuts thinner material ok but stalls if pushed too hard on thicker material. I haven't been able to stall the Wilton no matter how hard I push it. Other than that it's very similar to the Rigid in design but the has the typical differences between Chinese and Taiwan made machines.
     

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