Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Band Saws

I have been making one part of the ScopeRoller product by cutting acetal at a 30 degree angle.  I would prefer to make this part from aluminum, but while my chop saw does a great job on 2" by 2" acetal, aluminum that big is a problem.  Even 1" x 1" is a problem.  The obvious answer is a band saw, but ones that cut wood are reasonably priced, but the power to cut aluminum is not so cheap.

The mill is trying to cut a piece of acetal to a 30 degree angle, by holding the workpiece on a tilting table at 60 degrees, but it is very slow.  Aluminum would be slower.  A saw has the advantage that it produces two 30 degree pieces with one cut.  Suggestions?

This Harbor Freight bandsaw is in the right price range and sounds like it might be the right choice.  I don't need to cut anything larger than 4" x 6".  Very useful video review here.


  1. Some of the DIY forums I frequent have an ongoing thread about which products from Harbor Freight are actually surprisingly good. So my first stop would be look at honest user reviews at sites external to the tool vendors for things like the $300 chopping bandsaw that seems to be the same design between all the vendors including HF. At HF, it is reported to go for as little as $162 if the timing of the sale and the 25% off coupon from their mailer is right:

  2. The HF saw is considered to be usable, and easy to upgrade. Many of the weak spots can be improved upon, there are lots of articles on the subject. IIRC, there's even a Yahoo! discussion group on the machine. There are a number of threads on the HSM forum, and they universally recommend replacing the blade First Thing, don't even attempt to saw with the factory band.

    As far as that goes, you can use a wood-cutting vertical bandsaw with aluminum as-is. Use a fine-toothed blade, not a wood ripping tooth style, and lube the thing with beeswax or even a bit of paraffin.

  3. Jim: Tried that a .787" thick piece of aluminum rod, using oil. It was not cutting very quickly. The HF looks worth getting at the next sale.

  4. Is this near you? In Caldwell:

    I'm not familiar with the model.

    Also, oil isn't correct for cutting aluminum, IIRC.

    I'm wondering if there is any sort of local business that rents time on industrial type equipment? That, or maybe find a local machine shop or someone with a home hobby/business shop that you could arrange to have certain processes done for you. Especially if not time critical.

    There is a multi-state business that has set up shops in various cities to do this, but it can get complicated to use them. (Tech Shop, or something like that)

  5. There are power miter saws that use blades (not abrasive wheels) that are very good for cutting metal. No coolant either.
    These good blades are not available from the big box stores and only from a few industrial supply shops.