How To Cut Metal With A Band Saw

Learn how to cut metals safely and effectively using a band saw.

How to cut metal with a band saw? In this article, we will take a look at what you need to know about different types of metals and how to cut them, the equipment you will need to do it, and the accessories that are required to do it safely.

When most of us think of metal we think of the big steel coils we see on tucks going down the free way or the big beams used to erect a building. I doubt this is the type of steel that you will be cutting. I'm guessing that you will be dealing with tubing, pipe, rounds, squares, angles, channels, flats and maybe even some light beams. These items also come in a wide variety of material types, such as carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum, bronze, and a whole bunch of alloys and specialty metals too. Knowing the type of metal that you plan to work with will make all the difference in how easy it is to work with and cut on your band saw. For instance, if the blade you are using is supposed to be used for cutting aluminum, do you think it will work well on stainless steel? Not at all! Stainless steel is very hard and requires a special blade to cut it effectively. Using the wrong blade could cost you time and money. Make sure you have the right blade for the right material type your working with. Metal blades generally have smaller teeth and much more of them over the length of the blade. This is so that the blade removes smaller pieces of metal and doesn't bind up while cutting. Wood blades have much bigger teeth that are spread out a little more. Talk to someone who knows blades when you're looking to buy one for your next project. They should also be able to help you with the proper cutting speeds and feed speeds for your saw.

Another consideration is dealing with how the material is cut. Take wood for instance, you can take a piece of wood and run it through a band saw without having to clamp it in a vice. Just set it on the table and push it through, no problem. Try this with a piece of metal and you're sure to be on your way to the emergency room. When cutting metals of any kind, you must use some sort of vice or clamping device to keep the piece from moving on you. Even though the blades are smaller, the teeth will still grab the metal and bind up. In this battle between man and machine, the machine will normally win. Most band saws used for cutting metal are strictly for cutting metal. Whether vertical of horizontal, they will have some sort blade speed control and also have a way to control the feed speed of the blade. This means that the blade travels either up or down on a horizontal saw or back and forth on a vertical saw and travels on it's own. Another device that a metal saw has that a wood saw does not is a way to supply cutting fluid. As you would guess, cutting metal with metal will create a lot of friction. A metal saw will have a way to deliver cooling fluid to your blade where it comes into contact with the metal, thus keeping it cool. Without it, your blade would simply heat up and break.

I do not recommend trying to cut metal on a wood saw that you have converted over to a metal saw by simply applying a metal blade to it unless you have been in the industry for a long time and know what your doing. If you are reading this article, I'm going to say you don't, so don't do it.

Finally, take note of a few safety accessories you will need and make sure you use them. Safety glasses are a must! Metal fragments fly off these saws like crazy, you don't want one going in your eye and it does happen. Use good leather gloves when handling the material, but never have them near the blade while the saw is running. Trust me on this one, I had a friend that learned this the hard way and lost his thumb! Make sure your blade has a guard on any areas of the blade that are not used for cutting. A lot of the older saws weren't required to have guards, so you may have to make them yourself.

If you follow these principles, you will be on your way to cutting metal safely with your band saw. I would also recommend that you take a course on band saw safety from a local distributor of saws or from a local technical school. The limb you save may be your own!

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