bandsaw speed

Bailey Knives

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Oct 18, 2004
I have a regular bandsaw that is old, old enough that I can change pulleys to reduce speed and modify it easily to be able to cut metal, what I need to know is the best speed in f/min that I need to have it running in order to cut metal easily. (5160, w1, o1 mostly, all annealed obviously) thanks for the help. also, do you use oil on the blade while cutting, or just cut slowly or both?
Matt,The speed depends on the metal and how thick it is.The word to know is -SLOW.Slow to feed the steel and slow to run the blade.I would suggest 80 FPS,especially if you are going to cut stainless steel.Also, get a Lenox blade.
You can't add an oiler on your conversion.It would mess up the tires and wheels.It may be easier and cheaper to use the one you've got for wood and get an HF metal saw.
I know a guy with a sweet home machine shop that has a big sweet bandsaw and he has one of the oilers rigged up to blow air to help cool the metal as he cuts. Swears by it. Those flexable hoses are for oil or air, just can't remember what they are called now. They don't cost much.
I am re-thinking my set up. I am not sure how fast it is running. I have the washing machine transmission and it is waaaaay slower than the high speed. But maybe not slow enough? I can lay into mild steel and annealed L6 and it cuts like butter, but the edges of the L6 that was cut with a cutting torch (or maybe plasma) is real hard and it won't touch it. Here is a clip of my saw running if I did it right. And yes, I am used to taking pictures and never thought about the position of the camera when I took this. It really is not a horizontal saw. :D
Bandsaw running clip
I agree with Bladsmth, SLOW, as slow as the saw will go. The steels you mention are easier to cut then say D2 or some of the other harder stainless and alloys. I spray WD40 on the area being cut while it is cutting. At a slow speed the metal won't heat up much.
200 FPM is too fast for hard steels and stainless.That is 3.33 feet per second,way too fast!

To figure out the speed of your system,you can use a surface speed gague.If one is not available,try this.Put a white stripe on the side of the blade,about one inch wide.With a stop watch and the machine running,time the mark for ten rotations.Here is the formula to use: blade length(in inches)X10 divided by 12 (inches) divided by time elapsed (in seconds) times 60 (seconds) = FPM
If the blade is 90" and the time for ten revolutions is 50 seconds then 90X10/12=75, 75/50X60=90FPM
bladsmth said:
200 FPM is too fast for hard steels and stainless.That is 3.33 feet per second,way too fast!

Strange, my bandsaw has been cutting 440C, ATS34, BG42, etc for over 20 years, at 200fpm.
Of the three speeds available with that horz/vert bandsaw(75, 150, 200), 200 proved to be the most efficient.

Your way is not the only way, it's just what works for you.

For a given problem, 20 makers may have 20 different ways of reaching the same solution. There is no one way!
The question was not for a production machine,though.In a conversion slow is a good rule.The machine is not made to take the stress and back thrust of metal cutting.Any relief of those stresses (by slower speed) will make for a more efficient cutting and blade life.I,too, rip through some steels at higher speeds,but for a beginner,slow is a good rule.