Getting started and tool reccomendations

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 back...
I bought mine at Lowes or Home Depot.
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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 "metalworking."
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 craft.
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 newsgroup.
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.
-- Ed Huntress
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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.
Dave August

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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 cuts.
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!), etc.
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 super-accurately ---------------------------- Mr. P.V.'d formerly Droll Troll

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