I've got to cut up a bunch of 1/2" 316-stainless round bar this
weekend, and am looking for a good bandsaw blade that won't leave me
cursing halfway through the job. I've hear Starret and Lennox
bi-metal are the way to go. Any recommendations?
My saw uses 1/2" X 64-1/2" blades.
Thanks for any help.
I just machined a 1-7/8 inch piece of round stock on the lathe. Just a
hint of standard sulferized black cutting oil and it cut with a glass
smooth surface. I was expecting this to be horrible, but if it is "non
free machining" then something went wrong with how easy I found it to
result in a surface finish that only the pro's can produce.
OH forgot the OP reference to bandsaw cutting, and using a cheepo
carbon steel band saw blade in my quasimoto 6x4 bandsaw, cut super
easy. Just a few drop of cutting oil. This was 316L (low carbon)
razzle frazzle ignator
" Andy H. "
fired this volley in
Andy, use any-ol', but use as coarse a pitch as the work will stand
(looks 'bout 8-10 teeth, based on 1/2" work), make sure it's brand,
spankin' new-sharp, use as much down-pressure as you dare from the
very instant it kisses the metal, and low surface speed with coolant
The big problem with 316 is work-hardening. Never, ever, ever, EVER
let the blade dwell in the work with too little down-pressure, or
you'll throw both the blade AND the cutoff away.
As you surmized, the bi-metal blades are longer-lasting, but still
will be polished into pretty metal (toothless) ribbons by any non-
Hmm, that sounds like the ubiquitous 4x6" Chinese
bandsaw - right?
If you have hydraulic feed, the welded bimetal
blades are supposed to be great. Starrett sent me
an unsolicited bimetal blade, of the $50 sort. I
had doubts, but put it on the saw to see what
would happen. Well, with the spring feed, it
stripped teeth off within the first minute, and
quickly lost inches of teeth. Glad I didn't pay
for that mistake! So, unless you have a hydraulic
feed (which some people have retrofitted to these
saws) or are cutting some very large diameter work
where you will hand-feed at the beginning and end
of each cut, I don't think you want to mess with them.
But, that leaves you with a problem. A
carbon-steel blade, run at the low speed, WITH
coolant, won't last real long on 316 stainless.
Without coolant, on the high speed, you'll only
get a couple minutes per blade.
I weld my own blades from 100' roll stock, so a
burned-up blade is not a great hassle to me, and I
use cheap carbon steel blades. I also cut mostly
aluminum and mild steel, where they work fine. I
have cut some 1/8" SS rod and such with them, and
it is not an immediate problem, but I suspect that
it does wear the blade a LOT faster than softer stuff.
Except for cracking I've had good luck with Lenox bimetal blades,
cutting mainly mild steel with a little stainless. I set the spring
light and add hand pressure to get large chips, then adjust the
Currently it has a $12 tool steel blade from Grizzly, at the lowest
speed, to see how well they hold up. I've seen mixed results from
blades, some wear dull, others break while still sharp enough.
I've had good luck with IIRC Lenox blades bought off J&L in the UK
cutting 2" to 3" stainless with a normal 4" x6" bandsaw, no coolant. The
only issue I have occasionally is cutting larger Al such as 4" or
greater where it may bind without occasional lubrication. My saw lives
on the highest speed always as it works well that way for all I cut. I
have buggered a blade or 2 by cutting thin material with an
inappropriate blade, ie too few teeth, but that is my fault.
A minor glitch recently was cutting 6" round steel and the material
pinched the blade part way through due to residual stresses I suspect.
A point of interest about the 4x6 bandsaw assembly in China is that I
guy I know in the UK bought an ex demo (apparently) 4x6 and it had the V
bely pulleys assembled the same way round, ie max diameter to max
diameter, must have been a Monday or Friday machine. He was happy though
as with a bit of sorting he got a working HV bandsaw for about £100
instead of maybe £170. I suspect the company didn't want to correct the
problem and sold cheap but having had a 4" x 6" for many years I can't
fault the small input in time for the usefulness of the tool.