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4x6" bandsaw options

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Aaron_W

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#1
I'm looking at getting a 4x6" bandsaw. It looks like I have several options.

Cost is always a concern, but more important to me is size and power. I do not currently have 220v available, and while I could probably make a larger saw fit into my space, I don't really see the need for a larger saw and I need it portable so am limited to something on wheels in the 100-150lb weight range. This requirement pretty much limits me to the 4x6" class. I know the 4x6" Harbor Freight saw has many supporters.



The Harbor Freight / Central Machinery 4x6" seems to be the standard for comparison, $259, 115v and listed shipping weight is 131 lbs, they don't give actual weight anywhere I can find. Says it has a 6.4 amp, 1 hp motor. 90 day warranty.

Home Depot offers a Wen 4x6" which looks to me to be nearly identical to the Harbor Freight saw, $239, 115v, 109lbs, lists a 4.6 amp 3/4hp motor, same exact speed ratings 80/120/200. Parts breakdown in the manuals is very close to identical, just numbered differently. 2 year warranty.

Home Depot also lists a General International, marked down to $299 (was $417). No longer listed on the GI website so I suspect it has been discontinued. Also looks very similar to the Harbor Freight saw but possibly using castings for some parts in place of stamped metal. About 60 fewer parts listed than the HF saw. 115v, 5 amp 1/2 hp motor, 121lbs 3 speed 80/120/180. 2 year warranty

Grizzly also has a 4x6", again very similar to the others. $339, 115v, 117lbs lists a 5 amp 3/4hp motor, 3 speeds 78 / 108 / 180. 1 year warranty

All saws use the same 64-1/2 x 1/2" blade.



From there it looks like Jet's 5x6" bandsaw would be the next logical step, but at $640 it is more than twice the price of the others, with nearly identical specs to the HF saw except for the motor which is rated 5 amp, 1/2hp. It is upgradable to 220v, don't know what benefit that provides. Also uses a 64-1/2" blade. 2 year warranty.


I don't know how well I trust the motor ratings, I don't understand how a 4.6 amp motor can be rated 3/4 hp while a 5 amp is only rated 1/2 hp.


A major advantage to the saws sold at Home Depot is I have one 10 minutes away and they offer free shipping to the store, the nearest Harbor Freight is 70 miles away.



I've have been watching Craigslist and Ebay. Relatively small saws like this rarely come and they are almost always the HF saw when they do. Most are 7x12 or larger and 220v or unspecified power.


I'd be very interested to hear opinions on the other saws. It isn't hard to find info on the Harbor Freight. I'm particularly interested in the Wen as I suspect it may be the same saw as the HF / Central Machinery so the many DIY upgrades out there would also apply to it.
 

Karl_T

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#2
If you got time to search for a used saw, consider the Roll-in type saws:
http://www.rollinsaw.com/band_saws/EF1459_vertical_band_saw.htm

You get both a regular cut bandsaw and a vertical saw. WAY more versatile than a 4x6. And less floor space, very important in my too tight shop.

I found one for $400 a couple years ago. Not the roll-in brand, but this style.

Karl
 

markba633csi

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#3
I vote for the Wen/ Home Depot one! 239$ and 2 year warranty sounds good
 

NortonDommi

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#4
If space is a major concern I have a left wall suggestion. The 'portable' bandsaws come in corded and uncorded flavors. I have a 7" x 12" but about 1/2 of the time a portable one would be more suitable. I have seen on the You Tube frames made to accept the portable bandsaws for use on a bench, I've also seen commercial offerings.
This would give you a lot of usage options in a small package, for instance where I slot my saw means I have to move a couple of items , pull it out and then use. Long items take a bit of time repositioning. One day when I can afford one I'll get a portable not to replace what I have but just for the convenience.
 

mikey

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#5
I have a Jet 5x6, maybe 15+ years old. It has cut clean and straight since the day I first set it up. In all this time, I think I've gone through only 3 Lenox Bi-metal blades. The Jet saws are not kit saws like the HF variety, at least from the threads I've seen on it. Good saw. Paid a bit over $300 for it, new and local to me.
 

Aaron_W

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If space is a major concern I have a left wall suggestion. The 'portable' bandsaws come in corded and uncorded flavors. I have a 7" x 12" but about 1/2 of the time a portable one would be more suitable. I have seen on the You Tube frames made to accept the portable bandsaws for use on a bench, I've also seen commercial offerings.
This would give you a lot of usage options in a small package, for instance where I slot my saw means I have to move a couple of items , pull it out and then use. Long items take a bit of time repositioning. One day when I can afford one I'll get a portable not to replace what I have but just for the convenience.
I've considered those, and there is a lot to like with them for my situation. Unlike the 4x6" saws those do show up used quite frequently. Other than having to build some kind of framework for them, the downside seems to be that they lack the auto shut off so you can just set it cutting and do something else while it does the work. I'd never leave a running tool unattended, but it would be nice not to stand right over the saw as it does its thing. Be nice to get in a game of Angry Birds or something. :D
 

Aaron_W

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#7
Of course after saying I never see 4x6 saws except HF ones used, there are two Rong Fu saws that appear to be 4x6" band saws for sale near my dads house for about the price of a new HF. I don't know the brand but what I've read it sounds like they make industrial grade tools, so probably a step or two above most of those I listed.
 

dlane

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#8
My Rong Fu has cut miles of steel, set them up right, get good blades , and your set ! .
 

mikey

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Of course after saying I never see 4x6 saws except HF ones used, there are two Rong Fu saws that appear to be 4x6" band saws for sale near my dads house for about the price of a new HF. I don't know the brand but what I've read it sounds like they make industrial grade tools, so probably a step or two above most of those I listed.
Rong Fu is a Taiwanese company. Their saws should be pretty good compared to the Chinese HF-type saws, I would think. Jet saws are also made in Taiwan.
 

Aaron_W

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#10
Thanks, one looks damaged, but the other looks pretty good. If I can figure out how to get down there by the weekend I may try and snag it. I like the name too, it doesn't sound like it should be a good tool.

I know Jet is a good brand, if I ran across a used one under $400 I'd try to snag it. I just don't see nearly $700 for a new one happening any time soon.

Baby still needs a set of boring bars. :)
 

NortonDommi

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#11
the downside seems to be that they lack the auto shut off so you can just set it cutting and do something else while it does the work.
An auto shut off is nothing more than a bit of bent tin and a on-off switch, the only time I've needed to adjust is when the rubber cover wore through and after a move when the arm that works the switch got bent. Many ways to rig up.
Those Rong Fu sound like could be a bargain and if it two for one the parts could be useful.
One thing it's worth mentioning is gearbox oil. Whatever you get check it, change it and run the correct oil. I put in Amsoil synthetic after about 20 hours use because it was all I had in 1986 and it is still going strong.
 

Redbird

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#12
I have a wen drill press that I love, but parts are a problem. Be Nice to no where to go for them.
 

Downwindtracker2

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#13
The Home Depot's General International is one step up from the Harbor Freight, but then again almost everything is. General International is no more, the new buyer ran it to the ground. They were a little more picky about QC, buying from better Chinese factories.

I have Rong Fu 128, badged BusyBee (Grizzly in Canada). Rong Fu started making them in 1979, I think it's their design, mine is a very early import, early '80s. I bought it recently for $100 when my $50 TWS got to be too far gone for any more repairs. When new the TWS was the better machine.
 

Dabbler

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#14
General is gone??? An mainstay of tooling here in Canada,,, (sigh)
 

Doubleeboy

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#15
That HF 4 x 6 is not 1 hp, its more like a half, but that should be good enough. I ran a half horse Jet for years with out motor problems.
 

coherent

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#16
I had the HF for a while. Bought it new and made a new stand and a couple of other minor upgrades and it served it's purpose well. The only issues I had was I didn't care for the vice setup, and while you could find a way to cut smaller stock, it wasn't really set up to do so. I recently sold it on craigslist and moved up to a Grizzly 7x12. 3 times the price of their 4x6 but I'd say more than 3 times the machine. So far I'm very pleased with it but it is no where near as easy to move around the shop as the smaller saw was. I think if you are willing to tinker a bit and make a few upgrades to the HF, it's a very capable saw for the money. With a 20 or 25% off coupon it's a good buy.
 

Aaron_W

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#17
Had some life issues come up which postponed the hunt... still looking. I'm liking the portable bandsaw idea more and more at least as a short term solution. I've run across a few older Milwaukee corded band saws at a nice price. It seems like they would remain useful even if I later buy a larger saw.


I didn't see a response to my question about the amp rating relation to the motors power? I've noticed you will find machines with lower amps being rated with higher HP. Electrical is not one of my stronger skills, but assuming the same voltage shouldn't more amps = more power?
 

Bob Korves

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#18
Had some life issues come up which postponed the hunt... still looking. I'm liking the portable bandsaw idea more and more at least as a short term solution. I've run across a few older Milwaukee corded band saws at a nice price. It seems like they would remain useful even if I later buy a larger saw.


I didn't see a response to my question about the amp rating relation to the motors power? I've noticed you will find machines with lower amps being rated with higher HP. Electrical is not one of my stronger skills, but assuming the same voltage shouldn't more amps = more power?
Amps is multiplied by voltage to get watts, which is the definition of power in the metric system. Horsepower is the equivalent in the imperial system. 746 watts = 1 horsepower. Motors do not put out the same power that is used from the electrical grid. There are inefficiencies involved. There are different ways of measuring motor power. There are conservative ratings and flat out lies listed on motor data plates. The safest thing to go by is the input power rating in watts, if you can find that to compare your candidates.

Old American horsepower:
1521764776552.png

Chinese horsepower:
1521764859464.png
 

Bob Korves

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#19
I'm looking at getting a 4x6" bandsaw. It looks like I have several options.

Cost is always a concern, but more important to me is size and power. I do not currently have 220v available, and while I could probably make a larger saw fit into my space, I don't really see the need for a larger saw and I need it portable so am limited to something on wheels in the 100-150lb weight range. This requirement pretty much limits me to the 4x6" class. I know the 4x6" Harbor Freight saw has many supporters.



The Harbor Freight / Central Machinery 4x6" seems to be the standard for comparison, $259, 115v and listed shipping weight is 131 lbs, they don't give actual weight anywhere I can find. Says it has a 6.4 amp, 1 hp motor. 90 day warranty.

Home Depot offers a Wen 4x6" which looks to me to be nearly identical to the Harbor Freight saw, $239, 115v, 109lbs, lists a 4.6 amp 3/4hp motor, same exact speed ratings 80/120/200. Parts breakdown in the manuals is very close to identical, just numbered differently. 2 year warranty.

Home Depot also lists a General International, marked down to $299 (was $417). No longer listed on the GI website so I suspect it has been discontinued. Also looks very similar to the Harbor Freight saw but possibly using castings for some parts in place of stamped metal. About 60 fewer parts listed than the HF saw. 115v, 5 amp 1/2 hp motor, 121lbs 3 speed 80/120/180. 2 year warranty

Grizzly also has a 4x6", again very similar to the others. $339, 115v, 117lbs lists a 5 amp 3/4hp motor, 3 speeds 78 / 108 / 180. 1 year warranty

All saws use the same 64-1/2 x 1/2" blade.



From there it looks like Jet's 5x6" bandsaw would be the next logical step, but at $640 it is more than twice the price of the others, with nearly identical specs to the HF saw except for the motor which is rated 5 amp, 1/2hp. It is upgradable to 220v, don't know what benefit that provides. Also uses a 64-1/2" blade. 2 year warranty.


I don't know how well I trust the motor ratings, I don't understand how a 4.6 amp motor can be rated 3/4 hp while a 5 amp is only rated 1/2 hp.


A major advantage to the saws sold at Home Depot is I have one 10 minutes away and they offer free shipping to the store, the nearest Harbor Freight is 70 miles away.



I've have been watching Craigslist and Ebay. Relatively small saws like this rarely come and they are almost always the HF saw when they do. Most are 7x12 or larger and 220v or unspecified power.


I'd be very interested to hear opinions on the other saws. It isn't hard to find info on the Harbor Freight. I'm particularly interested in the Wen as I suspect it may be the same saw as the HF / Central Machinery so the many DIY upgrades out there would also apply to it.
The H-F 4x6 saw is a good machine at a low price. You will have to adjust it out of the box to get it to do the things it is supposed to do, and to make the cut square. You can find 20-25% off coupons to save money on the deal, and H-F also has fliers everywhere with the 20% deal and for freebies to pick from "with any purchase." There is lots of support in the machining community for that genre of saw if you have problems. I am totally happy with mine.
 

Bob Korves

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#20
The H-F 4x6 saws have enough HP to do the job. They also have three speeds.
 

Downwindtracker2

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#21
When I retired my TWS 4x6, it was on it's third motor. Chinese motor HPs are what ever they feel like printing on the tag. Not to be believed. Like Craftsman did. A caution though, cooling isn't the best on them, they have smoked.
 
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Robert LaLonde

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#22
I used a 4x6 Harbor Freight bandsaw for several years for light commercial work. It finally started having failures, and I also started running into more and more jobs it was not big enough for. I finally decided I need a bigger saw. After much shopping around and atleast one false start I started looking at Harbor Freight again. Not because I wanted cheap, but because I needed it now, and Precision Mathews was out of stock. The HF 7x12 is still shown on the website. but I had not seen one in the local store in a couple years. I was about to buy one off their website with a 20% off coupon code when I decided to call the local store. It turns out they do stock them. They just don't display them. I had to pay city sales tax, but I saved freight. Saved me about 50 bucks right there. With the 20% off coupon the saw was a lot cheaper than any other option in that size class. I expected a clunky upscale version of the 4x6, but when I started unboxing and setting it up I was very pleasantly surprised. It may not be built as well as some of the other imports, but this saw is very much a better than average quality saw for harbor freight. I've already used it for cutting 4140HT flat bar, angles in A36 steel tube, round 4140QT, and aluminum flat bar. Absolutely no issues, and the pneumatic feed perfectly. Before I ever rolled it inside the shop I plugged it and did a test cut in apiece of 2" EMT. With the pneumatic feed set I barely even noticed a change in pitch when it transitioned from the wide entrance cut to the thin cuts on the sidewalls of the tube. I've had it for a little while now (couple weeks maybe) and its not at all new tool glow. I still like it very much. Its definitely a better quality tool than the 4x6. I wish I had bought this one to begin with.

Other notes.

1. It can be setup for 110 or 220. Mine came setup for 110V. I may switch it over to 220 down the road, but I have not decided where its permanent home will be yet.

2. If you want to run coolant it comes with a coolant pump and reservoir. I have not used that yet. My shop is messy enough, but after it finds its permanent home I might.

3. The 1HP motor on the 7x12 is physically larger than the "1HP" motor on the 4x6. I suspect that means it either has larger windings and/or that it really is 1HP. Those are both good things.

4. It is larger than the 4x6, but not all that much. Takes about the same amount of space as a decent roll around air compressor.
 

Aaron_W

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#23
I found a Jet 5x6 on CL for $150 but it got away before I could snag it.

HF had their 20% off coupon good today through Sunday and I had to go to Santa Rosa anyway so one of their 4x6 models followed me home this afternoon. Hard to say no to a $205 bandsaw.

It just barely fit in the trunk of the car, another inch and I don't think the lid would have closed.
 
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Robert LaLonde

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#24
One of the most popular mods for these among guys who use them all the time is to add an air cylinder to control down feed. If you are cutting tube it can really reduce jambing and binding and increase blade life. I found the SuperCut blades from Harbor Freight gave me the best performance over all on that saw. (The more expensive ones they sell.) I tried some Starret blades and they didn't perform as well for me personally. I am sure there must be other blades that would perform better, but I found it was easiest to just pop over to HF when I busted a blade and pick up a new one. I never was impressed with blade life, but my one foray into another blade was disappointing. HF is nearby for me. Maybe 6-7 miles at the most, so it as easiest to just pop over there and buy blades. To my knowledge nobody else in town stocks metal cutting bandsaw blades.
 

markba633csi

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#25
I like the MK Morse blades, also the inexpensive Starrett Brazil-made blades seem OK so far (both available at Zoro)
Mark
 
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Robert LaLonde

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#26
I like the MK Morse blades, also the inexpensive Starrett Brazil-made blades seem OK so far (both available at Zoro)
Mark
I'll have to check those out. I have a 7x10 saw now (Still have the 4x6-8) and I didn't see spare blades for it hanging on the wall at HF for it. I need to get a spare hanging on my wall before I break or wear out the blade it came with. So far I do really like the wider blade a lot better.
 

Silverbullet

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#27
HP on the saw isn't really a problem , remember it's driving a worm gear to turn the blade . Really a 1/4=HP rated will still turn the worm at the same speed even under the cutting load it would be hard to stop. The output rating would be much higher then the motor itself.
 

Aaron_W

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#28
I did grab one of the HF bi-metal blades (the $30 one) since I've read they don't include a very good quality blade with the saw. I just got it to get me started with and didn't want to sit around waiting to order one online somewhere. Good to hear that these sound like decent blades, maybe I won't have to replace it right away.

HF isn't nearby, but it is on the way for about 80% of my out of town travels. There are a couple of potential sources in town, but most likely I';; just order a few at a time online.

I see there are a ton HF 4x6 modifications threads so I'll be nosing around in there as well as I get this one set up.
 

LEM

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#29
Good Grief. If you want to buy blades and the ones that come with most saws are garbage, go buy some good blades that are reasonably priced buy Ellis Bandsaw Blades. They also make really high end band saws. When you call them to order just tell them the size of blade and what you are cutting. They will advise you on the best blades for your situation. No bull just great service and a quality product. I don't have any connection to the company other then a very satisfied customer. I buy both metal and wood cutting blades from them.
 

ACHiPo

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#30
One of the most popular mods for these among guys who use them all the time is to add an air cylinder to control down feed. If you are cutting tube it can really reduce jambing and binding and increase blade life. I found the SuperCut blades from Harbor Freight gave me the best performance over all on that saw. (The more expensive ones they sell.) I tried some Starret blades and they didn't perform as well for me personally. I am sure there must be other blades that would perform better, but I found it was easiest to just pop over to HF when I busted a blade and pick up a new one. I never was impressed with blade life, but my one foray into another blade was disappointing. HF is nearby for me. Maybe 6-7 miles at the most, so it as easiest to just pop over there and buy blades. To my knowledge nobody else in town stocks metal cutting bandsaw blades.
I've been pleasantly surprised with the SuperCut blade, too. I had really low expectations, but so far the one that replaced my kinked Starret is cutting like a champ. And yes, I didn't even bother running the blade that came with the saw.
 
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