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Posted by steve on December 31, 1997 at 22:31:32:

In Reply to: Re: Cutting: posted by Peter Ferro on October 19, 1997 at 22:54:59:

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: : : I'm new to this site and to metal working. Whats the best way to cut a large number of pieces of steel plate .133" thick x 1/2" wide.

: : : Jimbo

: : : rambler@golden.net

: :

: : Whats the best way to cut a large number of pieces of steel plate .133" thick x 1/2" wide.

: : Jimbo: From the sound of it, you seem to be cutting up 1/2" strips of 1/4"+ off cuts to size or lengths. If this is the case then you could use your torch to do the cutting but it would be preferable to use either a bandsaw or a cut-off saw.

: : The cost difference between a Milwaukee portable bandsaw and a cut-off or chop saw is close enough for me to recommend getting a portable bandsaw. Porter Cable also makes a very good unit.

: : Some folks like using the cut off saws because they are very fast but the drawback to that kind of unit is that it is a bit noisey, messy and creates a lot of sparks in the work place. I find bandsawing to be more practical although it is much slower. With a portable bandsaw you can cut angles, straight cuts and partial cuts in metal like notching etc. so there is a little more versatility there. Another option is a stand alone horizontal bandsaw but these units may cost a bit more.

: : It is possible to buy or make a stand for a portable bandsaw so it can act as a stationary saw as well as having the portability of the unit. By the way, I would suggest getting a variable speed bandsaw and when you use it try cutting at the slowest practical speed. The reason so many folks wear out their blades is because they are running the saws too fast. It also helps to use either a special wax or beeswax on your sawblades to prolong the life of the blade. Another suggestion is to use bi-metal blades which seem to last forever.

: : Since you are just starting out in metal working, acquiring each piece of equipment in the beginning is a critical decision so you may want to consider purchasing each tool that will give you the most benefit over the long run. A chop saw is a one operation kind of tool, it just cuts to size and that's it. A portable bandsaw allows you a little more versatility in your cuts. You could even make a stand to use the unit as a vertical bandsaw, although it's a little limited with maybe a seven inch throat, but it can do some useful work used that way.

: : Just a word on the difference in design between the Milwaukee and the Porter-Cable bandsaws. Both units are comparable in quality so you can't go wrong with either unit, just select the one with the deepest throat available. However there is a distinct difference in the ergonomics between the two and it is in the handles. With the Milwaukee, you can grip the machine from the top and then it's quite a simple matter to saw downward sighting down a scribed line. The Porter-Cable has a "D" handle so it is gripped in the horizontal position from your body. I find this to be a bit awkward for cutting since the balance and weight of the machine makes it a bit unwieldy in this position. There is also a big difference in the balance of the machines when using the handles in one position or the other. From the top position, one hand simply guides the saw while the other holds onto the front knob. It feels more like carrying a suitcase rather than a front heavy machine.

: : Another suggestion if you should acquire a Milwaukee bandsaw. I have a small drill vise mounted on the side of a worktable leg and it is positioned at about knee height, although it could be a little higher. This vise is small enough to be out of my way and is dedicated only for sawing. I would look for a used vise for this purpose, any old thing will do since it is only used for one thing, don't spend good money on this.

: : I put my metal in the vise and without stooping too much I can stand over the scribed line and easily let the saw do the cutting without much effort to guide the unit. If you use a bench height mounted vise to hold the metal then maybe the "D" handle would be okay although with the Milwaukee you may grip the handle in both the top or side position. Whenever I have to use the bench mounted vise for sawing then I bring over one of my short stools and stand on that for proper positioning.

: : Sounds like I have a stake in the company doesn't it? Well, I don't but whenever a tool manufacturer takes the time to design the ergonomics of a tool so it may be used efficiently, then I'll be supportive of that company. In all fairness, there are other Porter-Cable tools that I have and use. They are a fine company too.

: : Chris Ray

: ;You could try bashing it with a well ground cold chisel and hammer on a piece of railway iron, or you could dust off the old hacksaw and using the correct correct blade tpi (teeth per inch)This will take care of most of the small stuff. You americans seem to like buying alot of gear straight off. But my Grand Da used to say to me" Learn the use of hand tools first, and learn to use them well"


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