Choosing metal cutting band saw
Sawing is a science – a multitude of influencing variables and their interaction determine which result is achieved in sawing applications. You may need different types of saws.
The advantage of these saws lies in their accuracy and durability, as well as in the certain degree of automation. Angles, square tubes, or round tubes as well as any other metal profiles can be precisely cut with a metal cutting band – even mitered. The latter in particular is a key advantage of the metal cutting band.
We would like to help you find the best metal cutting band for you.
What is a band saw?
Band saws are special saws and roughly speaking a mixture of chain saw and jigsaw. The central functional element of a band saw is an endless saw band, which is driven like a V-belt. At one point, the saw is open – at the saw table. This is where sawing can take place. Due to the lack of vibration, band saws can be used to make very precise cuts, especially short straight or curved cuts.
Before buying, it’s important to consider how much and how often you’ll actually use the machine. For the occasional or even only use, of course, it does not have to be a professional, powerful metal band saw.
So, first and foremost, you should compare the technical details of the saws before you buy them. Factors like belt speed, weight, and performance are basic things you should keep an eye on.
How does a metal cutting band work?
A metal band saw works in principle like its woodworking relatives. A ring-shaped metal band saw blade is driven by a motor, rotates and is guided over two rollers. This ensures an uninterrupted cut because the saw blade runs continuously in a straight line. The sawing process is not only very precise but also very easy to handle.
You can create straight as well as curved or circular cuts. You can also cut a wide variety of metal workpieces. It makes no difference what type of metal is to be cut, be it iron, copper, steel, or aluminum.
Can cut vertically and horizontally with a metal band saw?
This depends on the model. Most metal bandsaws for home use are designed exclusively for horizontal cuts. However, the metal band saw blade can be used at different angles of inclination.
A vertical cut is only possible with very few models and this then applies anyway to professional band saws, which are primarily used commercially. These are then also usually supplied with a corresponding table to provide the necessary support.
Types of metal cutting band
Metal band saws are offered in different equipment and in different power ratings. Basically, the models can be divided into the following categories.
- Metal cutting band saws without substructure
- Metal cutting band saws with substructure
Metal cutting band without a substructure
For normal use in the DIY sector, the smaller models without a substructure, so-called manual bandsaws, are the first choice.
These are often smaller versions that have a lower weight than the professional models and are also somewhat weaker in terms of power.
|Light weight||Not 100% accurate|
|Easy to transport||No inside cuts possible|
|Suitable for small workpieces|
The weight is about 20 kg and the power level ranges from 600 to 800 watts. The advantage of these devices is that they are easy to carry and transport, and therefore can be used in any place.
Metal cutting band with a substructure
If you use metal band saws professionally or are already a professional in metalworking, metal band saws with substructure are interesting for you.
|Clean and precise cuts||Semi-professional machine quite expensive|
|Different angles adjustable||No inside cuts possible|
|Also, suitable for larger workpieces||Difficult to transport|
|Filigree cuts possible due to fine saw blade|
|Cutting of solid material possible|
This type of saw is partially equipped with a separate cooling system and is even suitable for cutting solid material. However, you need a mains voltage of 400V for these models, which is why they are also used more in the commercial sector.
Criteria of choice metal cutting band
With portable, smaller models, so-called hand band saws, horizontal cuts are always possible. If you also need to cut vertically, you should look for professional machines.
In the following, we will show you what to look for in the individual features and how you can compare and evaluate different band saws. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular device is suitable for you or not.
Essentially, band saws can be divided into two categories. For the do-it-yourselfer, the smaller models, which are also often referred to as manual band saws, are the first choice. Nevertheless, the larger metal band saws with a substructure are also interesting for advanced hobby DIY or for the professionals among DIY.
Models without a substructure are so-called manual band saws. These are usually smaller versions that do not necessarily have to be used stationary. These bandsaws have a weight of around 20 kg and can be set up in any location.
However, it is important that the location is stable and straight. The power of each machine varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. On average, the wattage is around 800 watts. The saw bandwidth is 13 millimeters on average. Here, too, different angles can be set, and you can choose from various designs.
Models with a substructure are sometimes equipped with a separate cooling system and are suitable for cutting solid material.
A mains’ voltage of 400 volts is required for operation, so these large editions of metal band saws are more likely to be used in the commercial sector. Regulation of the speed is also possible, as well as the setting of the desired angle.
Especially in the DIY sector, it can be important that the device is not so heavy.
Even among DIY machines, a model can weigh as much as 132 pounds. This is, of course, unfavorable if you want to be mobile. A machine for mobile use should not weigh much more than twenty kilograms so that you can get it from A to B well. Perhaps your chosen model can also score with carrying handles.
If you use the band saw stationary, or it is important to be able to cut solid material, the device may of course be heavier. Machines with cooling systems, in particular, can weigh around 660 pounds.
The machine requires sufficient power for a good cutting result. The power of the motor is expressed in watts. The higher the wattage, the stronger the motor power. Entry-level machines start at 400 watts. Professional machines can put a good 2,000 watts on the plate.
Only with enough power can you be sure that your metal band saw will cut large or thick pieces.
To find the right power, consider whether you plan to saw a lot of solid pieces.
Belt and cutting speed
The band and cutting speed go hand in hand. You can only saw slowly if the band is slower.
Often the speed is regulated by setting the speed.
This option is good if you want to process different materials. So good results are easier to achieve. There is a suitable saw blade for every material.
Saw blade length
The length of the saw blade is specified by the manufacturer. This must be because the saw band must be clamped exactly. If the saw band is too short or too long, it will not clamp.
If it is a horizontal machine, the width is already specified and is usually 13 millimeters. With vertical machines, different widths are possible for the saw band. Here, the wider the saw band is, the more stable the saw band will be.
If you want to cut contours, the smallest radius to be cut limits the width of the saw band.
Saw band thickness
There is a rule here. If it is a resharpenable band, the thickness of the band should not exceed 1/1000 of the roll diameter. This means, for example, if the roll is 50 cm in diameter, the saw band should not be thicker than 0.5 mm.
If you were to choose a thicker band in the example calculation, it could break quickly because hairline cracks would occur in the tooth base. If you use a disposable band, it may be thicker than 0.5 mm, as these bands are constructed differently. Disposable bands cannot be resharpened. The thicker the band saw blade, the thicker the workpiece can be.
Horizontal and vertical sawing
In horizontal sawing, there is additional pressure, for example, from a hydraulic damper. This type of saw is mainly used for bars. Vertical saws perform the surface cut, similar to what you might know from woodworking.
Many metal band saws combine both types of sawing. This is especially practical for do-it-yourselfer who use both because they only need one device and not two.
Choosing the right teeth parameters for the band saw
First, you need to pay attention to the number of teeth, and here it is worth remembering the following:
- The more teeth, the better the quality of cutting of metal with thick walls will be;
- If there are fewer teeth, the load on the entire area of the saw blade is reduced;
- When cutting metal, the stress is distributed evenly over the entire surface of the saw with many cutting edges.
You should also consider not only the number of teeth, but also their size.
Recommendations for selection will be as follows:
- The teeth of a larger size will be able to make deep cuts, for example, it is better to take them for cutting tree trunks;
- For cutting thin-walled metal sheets, it is best if the cutting edge has a low height.
- Also, the pitch of the teeth must match the size of the counterpart on the machine.
In a more rational application, the pitch requirements are as follows:
- When shaping a thin metal sheet of small size, choose a constant coarse pitch;
- for cutting large sheets, choose models with private and evenly spaced teeth;
- For processing soft materials of different nature choose a variable tooth, this will not clog the saw, and the speed of work will be higher.
Another important parameter is the set of teeth. It affects the quality of the work itself and the level of vibration.
The choice should be made according to the following recommendations:
- The corrugated profile is suitable for thin metal or small workpieces;
- Standard profile, where all cutting-edge elements are equally spaced on both sides with one extra tooth in the center, is used for cutting volumetric metals, for contour cutting, or for the installation of a vertical machine;
- The variable profile has a pairwise arrangement of teeth on the right and left sides.
Cutting efficiency in these models is higher and the load on the cutting element is lower. Accordingly, the cost of these models is much higher than conventional models.
Rules for using band saws for metal
The bandsaw is one of the main types of components for machines used in metal processing. To work with it and its results, in general, were effective, you need to choose the right band saw for metal and learn how to use it competently. The fact is that even a basic understanding of the peculiarities of its work and making minimum calculations will help to improve the quality and speed of work, to minimize energy costs.
A saw for work on metal is a band blade made of steel, on which the sharpened teeth are welded. If the parameters of the saw and the characteristics of the teeth with the technology of processing a particular type of material, the cut are really high quality. If you work carefully and thoughtfully there is almost no waste in the form of metal chips, crumbs, etc.! But even with these conditions, if you do not know how to handle the saw and do not know at least the basic rules, you should not wait for a quality cut. That’s why you should study the instruction manual first!
It is important to be properly prepared for your work: even before the saw blade is mounted on the machine, make sure that the direction of the teeth corresponds to the movement of the blade. If it is in the opposite direction, the blade can simply break.
The right kind of blade always fits the specifics of the task and the material being worked on. It is important to know that for any blade, the greatest level of rigidity in the machining area is important. Therefore, the guides are usually as close as possible to the surface of the workpiece. All static parts must be secured as much as possible before starting the machine!
FAQ - Metal Cutting Band Saw
In principle, it is a small band saw for metal. The saw band is made of extra hard steel so that it can cut other steels at all.
Since it is mainly intended for cutting narrow metal bars or pipes, it is firmly mounted on a saw drawer and is operated in a similar way to a crosscut saw: the user lowers the blade into the material from the top down.
Manufacturers usually write on the packaging or the operating instructions which saw blade size is compatible with the respective tool. Occasionally, only saw blades of the respective brand can be used.
Machines from manufacturers for the professional sector are usually compatible with brands of other saw bands.
Here, you should definitely follow the recommended sizes, because saw blades that are too small will not fit in your metal band saw.
Saw blades that are too wide can possibly get jammed in the tool, destroying it. Besides, this will only make it dangerous for you to work on the band saw.
Likewise, the height and thickness of the saw blade is important: If the saw blade is too tall, it won’t fit in the holder or will slip out while you’re working. Saw blades that are too thick would also jam in the tool.
The harder the material, the finer you should choose the toothing of the saw blade.
Real iron is present in the rarest of cases. As a rule, it will be an alloy in which certain proportions of pig iron and carbon vary. This is what gives rise to the various types of steel. In this sense, a metal band saw is also an iron band saw.
If very hard steel is present, you should saw it at a low cutting speed and use a coolant if necessary.
Similarly, it is advisable to pay attention to whether you are sawing non-stainless steel first and then stainless steel. Between such steels, it is imperative that the saw blade, work table, and tool be cleaned of all remnants of the stainless metal, otherwise, it will contaminate the stainless steel and cause it to rust as well.
Stainless steel is not always rustproof – Distinguish here between stainless and non-stainless steel.
Do not forget protective clothing! When working with the power saws, protection for eyes, mouth, and ears is recommended. Especially fine dust is often underestimated and is unhealthy.