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neodem

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#1
I am building a home hobby machine shop and I've got two lovely PM machines (a lathe and mill). I need to add a saw of some kind. At this point all I have is a sawsall and that's not going to work long term. I'm looking for advice.

Here are my needs:
1) something to cut stock with, round and square up to about 3" in diameter. I'm considering a cheap Harbor Freight horizontal/vertical band saw.
2) something to be able to cut shapes with like a traditional stand up band saw. And by shapes I mean, say I have a 4"/4" piece of aluminum and I need to shave off an inch, or maybe I need to cut a rough circular shape out of it, etc.
3) something where I can cut the inside of a shape. Perhaps a scroll saw of some kind?

I'd prefer to just buy one saw or at most two and I kind of am running out of space. What do you all think would work best for me?
 

682bear

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#2
I have cut tons of material on an Enco horizontal/vertical saw that is identical to the HF saw... even though I now have a much larger horizontal saw, I still use the little Enco frequently. They are actually very good saws...

-Bear
 

Bob Korves

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#3
The little HF saws (and others like them) won't give you much bragging rights, but will cut metal when you need to, won't get much in the way when you are not using it, and just fills the job that is needed in many to most hobby shops. Sometimes they need some TLC to get them cutting correctly when new, but other than that I find mine an inexpensive and excellent tool in my shop. There is a Yahoo group named 4x6bandsaw that is full of information about setup, use, modifications, repairs, problems, really all things about 4x6 import bandsaws. Much of the advice is archived on the site so it is easily found, and there is usually quick personal help for the asking. I recommend it highly when you need it, but of course, try Hobby-Machinist first. I do... :)
 

Aaron_W

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#4
I'm generally wary of HF stuff but I bought one of the 4x6 saws early this year and been quite happy with it. I bought it specifically to cut 20 sections of 4x4 steel tubing for a fence project. It took a little time, but no problems doing that job and that was with the cheap blade that it comes with.

Other than replacing a broken pulley mine actually worked right out of the box. It is basically the same saw Grizzly, Jet and about 1/2 a dozen other vendors sell, it is just a lot cheaper because it is HF.

It comes with a cheap tin table to make it into a cheesy vertical bandsaw. I've seen some modifications to make it into a better vertical saw.


Don't really know on #3. My wife has used a Roto-zip tool on tile and I've seen bits for for cutting metal siding. Don't know if they make anything that would work on thicker metals though. I've got a little scroll saw for wood, but can't imagine it would hold up to cutting even thin sheet metal.
 

hman

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#5
+1 on the HF style 4x6 bandsaw. Search here for any one of several threads that suggest modifications/improvements.

As for your #3, I'd suggest two options. If what you want to remove is more-or-less circular, a good set of hole saws is your friend. For more complicated shapes, I'd suggest a jig saw (with a good blade). I have a Bosch, and it's served me very well for several years. Mine's an earlier version of the current JS470E, available from Home Depot and Amazon. I'm sure there are other jig saws out there that are just as good.
 

KMoffett

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#6
You also might want to look at a dedicated vertical band saw. MY JET horizontal band saw wi convert to a vertical. But I still like to have a vertical too. They appear frequently in Craig's List for not too bad prices. The higher speed ones ~3000 feet/minute are good for Aluminum, wood, and plastics. For steel you're looking at ~100 feet/minute. I would avoid the 3-wheel ones.

Ken
 

RJSakowski

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#7

jariou

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#8
Neodem,

I would suggest looking at a Milwaukee or DeWalt portable bandsaw. Those start around $300. HF has a Milwaukee copy that you can get for $100. I have both, the Milwaukee and the fake Milwaukee. The real one works better, but the HF is not bad.

There are tons of example online of people who made stationary tables for those in various ways. You could also make it into a miter bandsaw if you want.

Ideally, you would want a horizontal bandsaw and a vertical one. If you can have only one and space is at a premium, you would do well to consider one of these. They just work.

Good luck,

Jacques
 

DAT510

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#9
Harbor Freight has often sold two versions of their 4x6 band saw. Sometimes the saws sold under their "specials" Lack one of the adjustments for aligning the blade.

I have one of both. The one with extra degree of adjustment is MUCH easier to setup for straight cuts.

Below are pictures of the two designs. I would personally only purchase the one with extra degree of adjustment.





Hope this helps.
 

neodem

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#10
You guys are amazing.. Thank you so much for all your help on this. I think I'm going to go with the HF deal and see how I fare with that.. My idea for the scrollsaw comes from Clickspring. If you don't know, they are a series of videos on Youtube where they guy makes a clock. He uses the scroll saw to cut out the insides of gears and such.. mostly very thin brass.
 

C-Bag

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#11
If you made up a table for a reciprocating saw and used a metal cutting blade, that may be your best option for closed interior cuts. https://www.mcmaster.com/saw-blades
I have a HF 4x6 that I've had for 30yrs. It's great in horizontal mode and can get by in vertical mode if you have it nailed down to something. If not and you really need to push on it, it's not stable. First thing I did was got one of the HF furniture dollys and mounted the saw to that. The legs are sheet metal. When I got tired of wrestling the 4x6 in vert mode I found a used 14" HF vert bandsaw and modded it to cut metal. When I need a metal cutting scroll saw I made a mount for my jig saw. It's actually easier for me to see what's going on because the blade sticks up through the work and I can see right where it's cutting. I also use a intermittent HF foot-switch for safety so I can have both hands on the work.
 

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neodem

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#12
I love this idea.. I'm totally going to do this instead of spending $1000 on a scroll saw!
 

C-Bag

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#13
I guess there is a commercial version of this idea but it's a lot bigger table and for me that's not a good thing. I can't get my mits around the work and it's at least 4-5x's larger so takes up a lot of space I don't have. I don't use it as often as the vert bandsaw which has become my main saw now. So just take the clamps loose and it stores almost as small the the jig saw. After doing this I also decided to mount my big electric die grinder and this has proved to be totally handy for die grinding. I don't freehand anymore.
 

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acourtjester

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#14
Here is a set of portable band saws I converted for both horizontal and vertical use. I gave my daughter one and I have the other. These go on sale for about $100. a few bolts and the saw comes off for normal use too.:grin big: Image shows spring assist for horizontal cutting action:encourage:.
DSCN2816.JPG DSCN2825.JPG DSCN2822.JPG
 

ThinWoodsman

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#15
SWAG makes tables for hand-held bandsaws. They're a bit pricey: when you add in the cost of a good hand bandsaw, you're hitting the cost of those HF horizontal/vertical units.

I picked one up for the basement shop a few years back, put a DeWalt in there and mounted it to some MDF with a panic button kill-switch. A spring clamp holds the bandsaw trigger down permanently. Bought a Kreg bandsaw fence (again, far too pricey), and mounted it via the ol' drill-n-tap. I keep a couple jars of unjacketed bullets underneath so I don't need to clamp it down.

Sounds dodgy as all get-out, I know, but it's a nice setup. I keep putting off upgrading to a proper bandsaw because it works quite well - though you do have to tram the blade with a square whenever you remove the bandsaw (e.g. to change blades).
 
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