I have one like the Lenox 4012, and I have to say it's been one of the
best tool investments I've ever made. Generally, anything 1/2" or less
gets cut by hand because it's quicker than geting out the 4x6
horizontal bandsaw. The difference between the high-tension frame and
the crappy old-style low-tension frames is huge. I hope never to go
I bought mine at Lowes or Home Depot.
You probably see by now that getting involved in metalworking is not much
like getting into woodworking. The range of processes and products in
metalworking is just too broad to chart any specific path on the way to
There is a suggestion in your post that you may be more interested in the
doing than in what you make. If that's so, there are some very satisfying
and inexpensive options. If you want to get right into making *things*, then
it depends entirely upon what you want to make. If you want to start
yourself on a specific path, the way you would in workworking, by learning
the basic handtools, joints, and finishing methods, etc., the trouble you'll
face with metalworking is that there are dozens of such "paths," which
depend on where you want the path to lead.
Most of us here like to make useful mechanical things, or to entertain
ourselves by learning to make them, and we gravitate toward machine tools.
As others have suggested, a lathe is the basic tool, for reasons unrelated
to the use of lathes in woodworking. Lathes are big investments.
At other extremes are things like making jewelry; making structures (welding
and other fabricating); making sculpture; making complete machines
(mechanical things, writ large); even repairing and restoring things, from
decorative objects to car engines.
So you really have to think about what you want out of this. There is no
single path from beginner-to-general-metalworking-expert. I suspect that
most of flailed away with many processes in the beginning, getting our hands
on whatever tools we could and just having at it. A few were more
systematic, knowing they wanted to pursue it as a career or a specific
If you have an idea of where you want to go, we can help you a lot more if
you talk about it. There is a wide range of metalworking expertise on this
Personally, I think everyone should start with chisels, hammers, files, and
a drillpress. <g> But that's only half joking.
Be patient and keep asking.
I gotta bite on Ed's words...
He's pretty right on....
In the old days "technical high schools" (any one remember those?) only let
you at hand tools for several years... Way to many people now days think a
file is a "hogger tool".. in the hands of some one who knows, a file is one
of the most precise tools around.... I've seen people do wonders with a
hacksaw and a file...
Metal working has many areas that you can gain expertise in... machine work
and welding are at two extreams as skills go but both very valuable .... One
of the keys is to figure out what you want to build and then slowly aquire
the skills and tools necessary...
So jeez you have a good project to start on.. figure out how to slow the
speed of your wood bandsaw down to cut metal and what tools you'll need to
do it... There are lots of ways to accomplish this, from the electrical side
a variable speed motor (think DC), to the mechanical by adding another cone
pully and belt... open your mind, use your imagination and build
something... and remember as you learn and move along you gain the tools to
make the tools.
Yer proly going to get all kinds of great advice here, but in the more
mundane aspect, you can't live, metal-wise, w/o the $199 HF/MSC/etc import
no-name horizontal cutoff/band saw. Proly the best supportive bang fer yer
buck in the whole shop.
Also a cheapie chop saw. I think sears has'em on sale for about $59. Get
two, one w/ an abrasive wheel, one w/ carbide blade--good for wood AND lite
alum. You can fixture them up perty nice, as well, for decent accurate
Sears power stuff is, however, absolute shit, altho you can get away w/
basic stuff like chop saws, but not even then if the work is important,
unless you stand on yer ear. Some good-looking stuff, but everygoddammthing
wobbles, shakes, bends, breaks, has non-standard parts (by effing design!),
And I've bought a lot of Sears--welders, radial arm saw, vert belt sanders,
etc. They all suck. Use the RAS quite a bit, but thank god for nothing
critical. If doing RAS, find an old ball-bearing DeWalt. Altho the Sears
head does let you cut everygoddamm angle in the world--just not
formerly Droll Troll
Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.