Metal Cutting Bandsaw

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Introduction: Metal Cutting Bandsaw

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

This is my metal cutting stationary bandsaw made from a handheld Milwaukee bandsaw.* Some others at Instructables have made stands for portable metal bandsaws.

Materials

  • 1/8" plate
  • 1" square tubing
  • 1/2" square tubing
  • 1/4" round rod
  • 3/4" angle iron
  • 10-24 flat head screws
  • Plastic electrical tape

Tools

  • Angle grinder with a cutting wheel
  • MIG welder
  • Magnetic welding corner holder
  • Vise
  • Clamps
  • Angle measuring tools, T-bevel
  • Fine spring loaded center punch
  • Drills
  • Countersink bit

*Harbor Freight Tools has a very similar metal cutting bandsaw that looks like a copy of the Milwaukee saw. It gets good reviews, especially those that compare it with a Milwaukee or a DeWalt. One video at YouTube is by a man who has used his in a similar setup for more than a year, and it still performs very well, even though he uses it far more than he expected. The Harbor Freight Saw makes more noise than the Milwaukee saw. I have a Milwaukee saw because my son-in-law was not using this saw and gave it to me, but I will regard it as "on-loan." I had thought I would one day buy the Harbor Freight version.

Step 1: Make the Saw Table

I had some scrap 1/8" plate. Some use 3/16" plate for the saw table, but I have found 1/8" very adequate.

Cut the plate about 9 1/2" on a side to make a square. Mark the center of the plate. Saw in from one side to make a kerf that passes the bandsaw blade.

See the second photo. It is the saw stop that comes on the saw for portable use. This saw uses three screws to hold it. I applied masking tape and carefully marked the centers of the screws with a square and a fine pencil line. Move the stop to the 1/8" plate. Align with the saw kerf so the kerf opens to the back. (This keeps the front of the table smooth for easier use.) Carefully make center marks with a fine punch. Drill holes for mounting screws. The Milwaukee saw uses 10-24 screws. Carefully check as you go to be certain the holes in the plate align with the threaded holes in the saw frame.

Use a countersink bit to make the screw heads flush with the top of the 1/8" plate. Mount the plate to the saw. (It may be necessary to trim the plate so it fits around the saw frame.)

See the third photo. The blades on these saws cut at a slight angle. I can do more accurate work and keep the blade from wandering if there is a line in the table to define the cut line. (Compare the first photo.)

Step 2: The Saw Stand Base

I cut two pieces of square tubing about 18" long each and one piece about 7 1/2" long. I mitered the ends to make a 108 degree corner. The trick is to weld these into a "U" shape in which the angles are equal to one another and the finished product rests on a flat surface in a stable way. (I did grind the weld on the right side of the photo to eliminate rocking.)

Step 3: The Frame Upright

I could have/ should have measured, but eyeballed the angle for the upright so it will clear the handle on the saw when the saw is hung in place. I checked and the angle is 9 degrees off of the vertical, or 81 degrees off of the horizontal. The upright is 18" long.

I expected I might want to add gussets or bracing, but a single fillet weld around the joint is very adequate.

Step 4: Hanging the Saw

I bent 1/4" rod to make a holder for the saw's forward handle. I used a Vise-Grip pliers to hold the rod in place until I could tack weld it. Then finished the weld both above and below the rod.

Notice that I used some flat steel to close the open ends of the square tubing.

Step 5: The Second in a Three-point Mount for the Saw

I used 3/4" angle iron to secure the distance of the saw's handle from the base upright. Make the length of the angle iron equal to the width of the handle frame on the saw. I slid the angle iron between the saw and the upright until the blade was as close to plumb as possible. Then I tack welded the angle iron in place. I removed the saw and welded two short pieces of rod to the ends of the angle iron to hold the saw handle from slipping to the left or the right.

Step 6: The Third of the Three-point Mount

I cut and welded a piece of 1/2" square tubing across the two legs on the base. I welded short pieces of the same tubing as shown to keep the saw solid and in place. Wrapping where needed with some plastic electrical tape makes a nice snug nest for the saw, but still allows it to be removed for portable use or for changing the blade.

This is the second saw I have adapted like this. The other was an older Milwaukee with two 10-24 screw holes for the table plate. With use the screws loosen from vibration. Some Loctite would be helpful.

My son-in-law asked me for a switch on the first saw I adapted. I welded a handy box to one leg of the base and used a combination switch/outlet with a piece of grounding electrical cord. The saw shown in this Instructable plugs into a switched outlet just below the table on which it sits.

In general, I tried to keep welding to a minimum because extra welding leads to distortion, and I was trying for some precision in the placement of the various parts.

Experience shows me that small parts can become quite hot when sawing. The speed of cutting is not much greater than using a hand hacksaw, but the cutting is continuous without time out to rest. I am glad I made a cut line marker on the table. I get much more accurate results than I would otherwise.

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    11 Discussions

    Thank you. When I try to open your video file I get an error message. Could you post a still photo or two?

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    4krow

    2 months ago

    I may not follow this idea exactly when I build one, but the idea is useful for me since I am not able to cut so well with a hack saw. I may round the edges quite a bit on the corners of the table, so I don't have to keep a constant supply of band aids at hand.

    3 replies

    Thank you for your comment. At first I had some trouble with accuracy when cutting with the very similar one of these I made for my son-in-law. I began to feel I could do as well with a hacksaw by hand. But, after extending the cut line and marking in on the table, i am much more accurate now. Still, good lighting and watching from a reasonably close distance also help a lot.

    People make these with all sorts of variations, according to what they have for tools and methods. I have found one of these works quite well, even if something is not quite as solid or accurate as you hoped. And, the blade travels so slowly that many anticipated problems just do not happen. One guy hung his on a wooden fixture attached to a stud in his workshop wall. The two man variations appear to be whether the saw table attaches to the saw or to supports from the base of the stand.

    I tried to view your link, but got an error message.

    One more comment. My Milwaukee saw has 2 speeds (I choose the slowest one), and a button on the trigger for continuous cutting. Both of these would be beneficial with your idea. I also see that the machine pretty much hangs there on the stand. I may add some sort of clamp to hold it more steadily to the stand, and even a way to clamp the entire stand itself to a bench. It all adds up to having an easier and more accurate cut through the metal.

    There are dozens of videos on saw stands people have made. No one clamps them in. They are very solid and stable without clamping. This Milwaukee has a very similar speed adjustment. Top speed is very slow.

    This is my metal cutting stationary bandsaw made from a handheld Milwaukee bandsaw.*

    Kind of says it all. You didn't make a bandsaw. You made a table for your portable bandsaw. Not the same thing at all.

    1 reply

    i do not believe I implied I made a bandsaw, although I did do that once about 40 years ago. It was for cutting wood and worked reasonably well.

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    gm280

    2 months ago

    Nice project. I have been looking at something like this. How capable is this saw? I mean what size metals can it cut and how long does it take? I have a very nice 17" 2 hp wood band-saw, but since it runs so fast, I would have to built some sort of reduction to slow the metal blades down enough to use it as a metal cutting band-saw. Not sure I want to do that.

    2 replies

    Matthias Wandel has a video on slowing down his homemade wood cutting bandsaw into a metal-cutting bandsaw.

    There are some videos at YouTube that show these saws cutting some heavy steel, like a rail iron. I have cut up to 3/8" steel with the identical setup I made for my son-in-law with another saw. It was faster than by hand. I am using a 24 teeth per inch blade on this one because I like the smoother cut, but I think a finer blade cuts more slowly. My son-in-law's blade was probably about 15 teeth per inch.

    Too much blade speed does destroy a good steel cutting bandsaw blade quickly. Working up a set of speed reduction pulleys for your wood bandsaw would be a lot of expense and bother. For about $20 US you can buy an electronic motor speed reducer that handles up to 15 Amperes of load current. Just plug it in and you are ready to go. It uses a solid state Triac to switch the motor on and off many times a second, just like the control on a variable speed drill.

    Thank for looking and for commenting.