Hey guys. I've been researching all the mods done to the HF metal cutting
bandsaw, and also how to slow down a regular wood type bandsaw for metal. IF
you had to choose one over the other (and do the mods for cuttinjg metal),
which one and why would you choose?
That depends on what types of cuts you'll need to make. A vertical bandsaw
is superior for scrolling cuts. But the frame of the saw imposes a limit
on one dimension. You can't, for example, cut a 10' bar into two 5'
sections like you can with a horizontal saw (assuming "square" cuts).
To convert a typical wood working bandsaw into a metal cutting saw you
need something on the order of a 20:1 speed reduction. This really needs
to be done with a gear reduction unit coupled directly to the driving
wheel's shaft. It might be possible to cobble up something using chain
drives for the last couple of stages, but a belt drive won't be able to
take the torque. Been there, done that, and it didn't work very well.
I find that I use the vertical bandsaw more often than not, due to the
ability to make and control complex cuts in plate and metal chunks. I make a
lot of brackets, mounts, and such. You can make cuts longer than the throat
of the saw, if you don't mind wasting a small piece that will be out of
square. You can also cut wood with it, although more slowly.
Now, for larger frame fabrications and such, the horizontal saw is heads
above the vertical bandsaw. It really depends on what you're making.
Vertical bandsaw = detail cuts on smaller items.
Horizontal saw = volume cuts on larger items.
I bought a 4" x 6" miter bandsaw from Grizzly for about $400, and it has
been in almost constant use for the past 13 months. No problems at all other
than replacing the saw blades now and again. Excellent piece.
I like the HF type bandsaw. It works fine out of the box. The normal
improvements of hydraulics, a stand, and coolant are pretty simple to
implement. A vertical wood bandsaw, if geared down appropiately,
would be useful for freehand cuts, but a pain for cutoff work because
it's not self feeding and doesn't have a vise. Thats 90% of what I do
with my HF type. One thing I wouldn't try is using one saw for both
wood and metal, at least not without extensive cleaning in between
There's a Do-all 20" vertical bandsaw at work that is open house to anyone
trained to use it from a personal safety standpoint. It has been in use for
37 years. Unit runs at 125 FPM most all the time. Anything that does not
destroy a blade has been cut on it, including reams of paper, and there is
NO cleanup of the internals between materials, save for clearing waste dusts
and material off the table surface, and around the floor area of the saw.
The internals are blown out about every 3 months. The waste runs down
through the lower wheel housing and drops into a small catcher tray during
use. An 18 tooth pitch blade, along with a 6 tooth pitch blade, are all that
have ever been purchased to use on the saw. It has never started smoking,
caught fire, nor exploded. Now mind you, we're not doing cabinet work on
this saw. It's use on wood is limited to roughing out a piece for utility
use, cutting wood bucks for hammer forming, or cutting dunnage for moving or
blocking machinery. This is apparently one instance where wood and metal
will mix and survive in the shop. A belt sander, however, is a dangerous SOB
if you mix materials and don't clean it up afterwards. Particle size
apparently has a lot to do with this, along with the sparking that occurs
with the sanding of metal. YMMV.
"Let no one say it, and say it to your shame, that all was well here, until
I converted an old Sears tabletop bandsaw (for wood) to slow speed,
and it has worked out just fine. I got an old Zero-Max transmission
off ebay (~$15), allowing infinite speed changes (80fpm to 300fpm). I
used a V belt to drive it and it rarely slips (YMMV). But, as the
other posts indicate, it is not really suitable as a cutoff saw, and I
plan on getting a 4x6 as well. So if I were to buy only one saw, it
would be the horiz/vert 4x6. David
Difficult? Hell no. You simply get both. Tools!
That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's
cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays
- George Orwell
I made this set of guides for my saw to allow cutting long
stock. Works great on a sturdy saw; these are installed on
a 16" DoAll. After I made the guides I discoevered that
DoAll made a similar attachment, though with a smaller
angle of twist.