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Making perfect pipe Saddle cuts with a bandsaw or chopsaw

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True "experts" of a trade know those little "simple tricks" that make a job much easier. This is one of those tricks that makes working with pipe MUCH easier. I learned this wonderful way of making saddle cuts years ago, but only recently learned very few people know about this. So, I thought I would share. I know the first time it was shown to me, I said "That's amazing!" I can only hope your feel the same!
All you need to make wonderful looking and fitting saddle cuts is a bandsaw or chop saw.

I've made a video for this, and it's the last step. I think it's a bit easier to understand than photos. 
 
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Step 1: Setting up for the cut

I'm gonna show all this being done on a bandsaw, only because it is much easier to photograph.  A chop saw or  cold cut saw  works just as well.
First, set the saw to 35 degrees.  This does not have to be exact.  33 to 37 degrees should work, it will just change how much is cut off.
Get some scrap pipe, and set the pipe in the saw.  Then adjust the length to be cut off.  The cut will NOT be made in the center of the pipe, in this example, the blade is about 3/16 of an inch from center.   One could use math to figure out the offset, but it doesn't take too many cuts to begin understanding how cutting off more or less of the pipe affects the saddle.    But for now, don't worry about where you make the cut. 
Once the pipe is tight in the vise, I use a C-clamp as a stop.  When the pipe is turned half a rotation, the clamp will ensure the same length of cut is being made.   On every chop saw I've used, it's impossible to use a C-clamp, so I use a sliding square, and measure in from the end of the vise.  However, when the pipe is turned,  the square will be in the cut.  If precision is not needed, just eyeball across the end of the pipe to the end of the straight edge.  Or, lay a strap iron across the end of the pipe.  A bit more complicated and time consuming...


Poppy_Ann1 year ago
i was an engineer all my life and when i went to build a new set of davits and hand rails on my boar i had been using the hole saw to cut some holes in some aluminium plate and then i needed to join some pieces and just reached for the hole saw straight away as it seamed the easiest way of making them, i never even thought of any other way of making them. most people who know me saw if there is an easy way of doing something then i will know it as i do not like to wast energy working.
Poppy_Ann4 years ago
i make many saddle cuts in aluminium tube up to 3 inch and i  just usa a hole cutter/saw.
the easy way is to set the drill in the center of the hole saw just before the end of the tube then cut through the hole saw neads to be the same size as the tube you want to conect to not the size of the tube you are cutting ie if you are wanting to join a 1 inch tube to a 2 inch tube then use a 2 inch hole sawthat way you get perfect jointsif you want to have the joint at an angle then just drill through at the required angle. very easy to do.
A hole saw would work good on Aluminium since it is soft and easy to cut, you wouldn't want to use a chop saw on aluminium.
richardde1 year ago
Can't believe how simple this is, did you discover this by trial and error or did someone show you how to do it.
Made my first saddle cut on 2 3/8 production tubing using a chop saw. set it on another piece of pipe and tapped it with a 4 lb shop hammer. 3 hours later it was still standing. I couldn't believe it after all these years of trying to cut them with a torch and having to grind them down to fit and giving up.
I tinkered with an end stop on my chop saw, ended up using a piece of 1inch angle 1/8 inch thick and screwed it down to the deck two self drilling hex head screws, works great. I am building a hay feeder and will be making a lot of saddle cuts. Previously I had been taking a sledge hammer and flattening the ends of the pipe so they would be easier to weld. Now I can make the fittings to look like I know what I am doing.
It is too bad the government can't come up with a simple solution as this is.
I thank you very much for taking the time to show such a great idea.
I just created an account to thank you for this, you just saved our shop a TON of time! I am our cad designer, thank God I don't need to make cope templates anymore!
samson3000 (author) 2 years ago
I've added a video. I just put a link to YouTube in the last step.
lhj4142 years ago
im not sure i understand what you mean when you say use the c clamp as a stop
samson3000 (author)  lhj4142 years ago
In the first step, I have a close up photo of the clamp and the pipe against it. The clamp is used so the same amount is cut from each side of the end of the pipe. Maybe another way of wording it is, The clamp is set so the pipe can only slide so far into the machine.
I hope I helped a little.
Cant tell you how many hours I've spent trying to drill a hole in the mating pipe and cutting it in half.

or taking a grinder and making a perfect (ha ha) half-round to articulate with the other pipe.

One question . . . do you personally use the saw to back bevel the pipes when you cut the angles, therefore making the cuts sharper on the exterior, narrower on the inside to them fit even better?

Really GREAT IDEA. Thanks,

Robb
Grand Rapids, Michigan
samson3000 (author)  ForgetMyProfile4 years ago
I'm not completely sure I understand your question.  Just 2 cuts are made, and if the angles are correct, the fit will be correct as well.     Does that help answer your question?
No,  you didn't answer my question. Probably poorly framed on my part.

It looks like you have made your cuts at   90 degree angle to the pipe. I would think that if you set the saw angle so that the the angles were "undercut" meaning that there ends up being a bevel on the pipe cuts, you would have an even tighter joint at the connection.

If I could, I'd send you a sketch to show you what I mean. Maybe this  crazy drawing will help  ;

                              
                                        outside of pipe
PIPE  cut  on an angle  _ /                                  rather than  |_
                                        Inside of pipe

Why am I asking this? Cause I'm a lousy welder with a cheap as heck rig. I need all the advantages I can get.

Robb, Michigan
You don't want a perfectly angled fit up on the pipes. You should cut it at 90 degrees and the bevel that is left allows penetration for the weld. It creates a natural bevel; otherwise there would be less penetration.
Tim
samson3000 (author)  ForgetMyProfile4 years ago
I spent some time messing with this over the weekend, and couldn't come up with a way to create a beveled cut.  All the ways I tried only made for dreadful fitting saddles.  If you figure out how to set up the saw to do such, let me know, as there are times when it would be useful. 
I don't think you can do it with a bandsaw. The other side of the pipe would
get in the way.
Tim Temple2 years ago
You're cutting an ellipse, but the welding rod can make up for the difference. This is faster than laser-marking a circle on the side of the pipe and cutting it with a torch. Cheaper than a cast iron fillet.

With equal diameter bamboo, the joint has to be a cross section of a circle or the joining piece of bamboo will tend to split.
stitch 2 u3 years ago
looks like a pretty tight saddle will it work for a 14" trunk and 8" branch
NorthFire3 years ago
Excellent, excellent, excellent! Thank you, we have a pipe notcher at work but it is only for 1.25" handrail. This is a neat trick.
erik_mccray3 years ago
 This is an old fabrication shop trick. But it is better to do this on a fiber chop saw because doing that cut on a horizontal band saw shortens the life of the blade & bearings. I don't know if you covered it but if you are doing an angle less then 90deg. all you need to do add the difference from 90 your trying to get on one cut & subtract the same amount from the other. Like if you are trying to get 80deg  your cut angles would be 25 & 45. Awesome job!! 
samson3000 (author)  erik_mccray3 years ago
 I definitely agree it shortens the life of bandsaw blades.  They have a tendency to "follow the curve" and stretch  out.     Thanks for the compliment!
timgray4 years ago
Instead of "about 35 degrees", try 31.6!
chakra4 years ago
just in time for my project. thanks for the help!! its the most useful tip for a guy with a hand saw wondering about fits!!
hjartland4 years ago
Can't wait to try this! I have pipe, a chop saw, and welder ... hum ... now all I need is too much time on my hands. :)
Too cool!
yopauly4 years ago
Samson3000, thanks for the great instructable! I've been researching tubing notching without buying any more stuff for my already crowded garage. Here's a calculator for different angles that can be used with this cool technique. snip.awardspace.com/
samson3000 (author)  yopauly4 years ago
Thanks for the link to the calculator!  It's now bookmarked and it will get used!
I have one more. I don't think it is as practical but someone might think so:
www.metalgeek.com/static/cope.pcgi

Greg Pless4 years ago
Thanks for the quick and dirty tip. Great for field work. Probably not good for bicycle frames, but good for fencing, and railings for sure. Although a $50 Harbor Freight tube notcher and some cheap holes works surprisingly well and you can get all the angles so perfect and so sexy. Can you tell I love fabricating? Keep the tips coming.
rejectcarp4 years ago
Ugh.  Who wants to trade a good drill press for their extra band saw? 
Thank you!  I am starting a project making a gate of salvaged thin wall tubing.
You just made me look good and finish sooner.
 Thank-you! I am a new shops teacher, and for the first time I had to help a couple students make just such a joint just yesterday. Wish I knew then what I know now.
billytwix4 years ago
you have just changed my universe. always wondered how to cut that way. loads easier than trying to use a special drill. this method seems safer/more safe as well
fslade4 years ago
Nice tip. I have messed with this for years trying to get a decent saddle cut. This looks to work nice. Thanks for the post.
Fred
bill20094 years ago
That's great - thank you very much.
djr67894 years ago
awesome
jimmybawa4 years ago
 nice ,  simple and elegant solution.  thanks for the post.
paganwonder4 years ago
Thanks for a great method for making my amateur hacking up look more professional!
tkjtkj4 years ago
Your method would save lots of time, yes, but its especially time-saving for those who need to weld such a T-joint .. Working the cut end of the metal pipe with a half-round file, etc, would form the joint to be in full contact.  Also, the 'points' of the cut piece wojuld need to be 'rounded out' cuz of how the heat of welding would otherwise have great potential for destroying that part: the 'fish-lips' ...  Heat could not be conducted away, the the points would melt off without care.

Thanks for your idea!


kelseymh4 years ago
Very nice!  Well present, good clear photos (at least for someone who's familiar with band saws :-), and what a great, practical trick.  Thank you!
samson3000 (author)  kelseymh4 years ago
LOL!  Yes, bandsaws and cameras function a bit differently!!  I'm glad people are finding this instructable useful.

Excellent
ironsmiter4 years ago
As long as the tubing isn't too large(or, if you have better equipment than I) you can use a v-grooved board, and a hole saw. When prepping Bicycle Frame pieces, I slap the v-groove board onto my drill press. Chuck up a carbide hole saw, the same dia as the mating tube, clamp, and drill. slowly.
When it's done, it'll fit PERFECTLY. For jewelry scale saddle joints...1/8" and under, small round files work wonders. couple quick strokes, and you're ready to solder.

For industrial scale(aka Bigger than 1" pipe?) this is an EXCELLENT trick that's going into my makers book.
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