Introduction: Hacksaw and Cordless Drill Lathe (Sort Of...)

Picture of Hacksaw and Cordless Drill Lathe (Sort Of...)

I had a milled carbon steel tube that I wanted to modify by cutting a "cone" off the end, but wasn't sure how to make an accurate, square cut as I could not use a tubing cutter. I also did not want to pay someone to cut the cone. My "on-the-fly" method using a hacksaw and cordless drill worked surprisingly well and quickly, with very little flash and few burs.

Step 1: Chuck It Up!

Picture of Chuck It Up!

Find "something" to use to chuck your tube/pipe/etc. in your drill.
In my case, a 7/16-inch socket with a hex base made for hand drills had the perfect exterior diameter for a really tight friction fit with the interior diameter of the tube.
Sorry for the mixed-up photo timeline. I really came up with this quickly and was surprised it worked as well as it did and I didn't think to take pics until well into the project.

Step 2: Start Lathe-ing!

Picture of Start Lathe-ing!

Hold the hacksaw blade on the point you wish to cut.
The hacksaw blade's teeth will need to be facing into the feed or rotation direction. The vertical - not angled - face of the teeth should face into the tube material as it is rotating in order to cut.
Start the drill slowly to get a line or indentation that will help "hold" the blade in place on the tube before getting all Western and pulling the trigger fully.

Step 3: Cut.

Picture of Cut.

Run the drill at a moderate speed. The hacksaw is not considered a "high-speed" cutting tool. Keeping it slow will also allow you better control. Once a line is established you should only need to control the drill speed and keep the hacksaw blade straight and level. There should be little need to bear down and put pressure on the blade, it should dig in itself. Move the blade back and forth slowly so the cutting is done along the blade, not in one area. Allow the tools to do the work!

Step 4: End Result

Picture of End Result

After the cone was cut off , I sanded the cut end in the sink with fine-grain wet/dry paper, laying the paper on the bottom of the sink and running the tubing across the surface with water dripping on the paper.
400-grit wet/dry paper is a project staple at my house, it comes in handy for cleaning and polishing all kinds of stuff.
After buffing the whole thing with steel wool, I used Birchwood-Casey Super Blue Liquid Gun Blue cold-bluing solution to refinish the piece. Looks almost like I know what I'm doing!

The cutting could be done on any type of material too thick or not otherwise meant for a tubing cutter when you need a cut that DOESN'T look like it was done with a hacksaw.

The bluing came out nicely and can be done on ANY nickel and chrome alloy steels, even hardened. So, refurbish your Grandad's (or Grandma's) pocket knife, tools, watch case, etc., etc.


russ_hensel (author)2015-02-06

Just a note to let you know I have added this to the collection: Cordless Drills Hacking for Other Uses !


Take a look at a bunch of project involving odd uses of drills.

and for even more drill info


glorybe (author)2011-01-22

You will really want one of the grit edged saw blades. If the metal is hardened you also will need to keep it very cool or it will not be hardened after the cut. Also if failure of the part might result in injury the part should not be altered. For example making a drill collar that spins at speed can lead to serious problems if the strength or brittle qualities of the material are altered in any way.
It is great that you are trying new things and sharing them with others. It is simply this world is more complex than it sometimes appears. I am reminded of the chrome plating shop that was sued for a fatal accident after some hobbyist sent in some bolts for chrome plating that were taken from a washing machine. They were somehow used in an area of a car that looked good with those chrome bolts but when the bolts failed due to the plating a fatal wreck was the consequence. When we handle a piece of metal it is hard to know how that metal may be used down the road.

justmakeme! (author)glorybe2013-12-04

The metal was not hardened and I had a high-quality saw blade with small teeth. I also knew exactly the where, what, and why of the project. I had a grit-edged saw blade but decided not to use it because it would've made a much bigger cut, the cone would've forced it back into the face, and did not have the rigidity of the other blade.

Dream Dragon (author)2013-04-02

I've used a drill in exactly this way, clamped into a "Workmate". Chucking the work is the key, your solution works mainly by luck and a light hand. It would be better to grip the work properly.

That said, hacksaw, files and polishing media would allow you to make all kinds of interesting pieces of metal.

justmakeme! (author)Dream Dragon2013-12-04

The interior diameter was slightly less than the outer diameter of the 7/16-inch driver socket and it fit in REALLY tight. I had to tap it in with a hammer. Luckily, everything was concentric and parallel so there was no wobble at all when I was cutting. Getting the socket back out of the tube was the hardest part. I had to beat it out with a hammer and brass punch. There was no tapping.

Tool Using Animal (author)2009-12-26

Mini 14 Flash Suppressor???

10/22 actually, but the Mini 14 isn't much different. Different size barrel and sight slot.

John Smith (author)2007-12-07

Ha, I do this all the time, but using my Dremel. It works wonders. Nice instructable!

dunnos (author)John Smith2008-05-17

seriously? then i have some questions 1. wont it go to fast? 2. could you make an instructable im to tired to think of something 3. how

John Smith (author)dunnos2008-05-17

haha, i meant that instead of the hacksaw i use the dremel. Everything else is the same

dunnos (author)John Smith2008-05-18

oh darn i hoped on a dremel lathe :P

John Smith (author)dunnos2008-05-18

haha if you want a cheap wood lathe, look at Grizzly industrial's drill lathe. dont have a link now, but look through them. They're not too overpriced.

WesDoesStuff (author)2007-12-07

I've been doing this for years. What where you cutting? looks cool.

you can also use metal bars in the drill against a grinder or file to make sharp points or curved edges.

T3h_Muffinator (author)2007-12-07

Just did this today, but with plastic gears and some brass tubing.

A skill everyone should know =)

GorillazMiko (author)2007-12-07

cool instructable!

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