Convert wood bandsaw to metal?

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Feb 4, 1999
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A couple of years ago I dumpster dove what appears to be a nice bandsaw from a garbage pile down the street. I know, if it's in good shape, why was it in the trash? Who knows. I can't recall the brand, even, but maybe something that starts with an "I" and I think I recall someone telling me it is a quality machine. Anyway, the real problem is that it has no motor. So...

1) Can this be used for cutting metal?

2) What does one need to do, in step-by-step language, to make it work? I know ZIP about motors, pulleys, etc.

3) Where would one find motors locally?

Any help is much appreciated. I could save myself TONS of time if I could rough out the profiles on a bandsaw, and the time savings for handle materials would be pretty darn nice, too.
 
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Jan 24, 2003
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As with all things metal the key is slow and steady. Take a look at a drill press, and you will see what I mean.

I believe, and I am sure I will be corrected, that a 1725rpm motor of about 1/2 horse or biger should do the trick. Do you have the sheaves (pulleys)that were on it? if not you may have to find a set of stacked sheaves to fit the shaft on your motor and the drive on the machine.

Do you have any pictures?

Doc
 
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I can take pics. Duh. I'll post 'em tomorrow. Thanks for the info so far.
 
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Nov 11, 2004
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Well, this should be an easy conversion...........unfortunately, it's not.

To cut steel, you need to run this thin very slow, about 150 FPM. In theory, you can do it with multiple pulleys, but the guys I've talked to about it, say the torque is too much for the sheaves. (pulleys), in the final reduction.

HP doesn't mean much. A 1/2 HP will do fine, if you get a 1750 RPM unit..A good source is clothes dryers.......I've heard of guys using a washing machine transmission to get the final drive slow enough......

To determine the operating speed of the *machine* take the motor rpm X the ratio of machine pulley to motor pulley(i.e. a 2" motor pulley connected to a 4" machine pulley would be .5 or 1/2). You then translate that to FPM by multiplying the machine drive wheel (not pulley) CIRCUMFERENCE in inches X it's RPM, divided by 12.

It's a little confusing, but not that hard when you put it on paper.

An example would be..........You can use 3 jack shafts with each reduction of 3:1 The first would be a v belt and pulleys. a 2" pulley on the motor and a 6" pulley on the first jack shaft. With a 1750 motor, that would slow you down to 575 RPM. Then a 12 tooth #35 pitch chain sprocket on the first jack shaft and a 48 tooth #35 pitch chain on then second, connected to a 24 tooth sprocket on the bandsaw drive wheel shaft, will give 72 RPM, a final rationof 24 to 1 and slow enough to cut chrome moly steel......

Any questions? :rolleyes:
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
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Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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A large pulley on the machine,something around 12" and a small 1.5" pulley on the 1/2 HP motor would work fine.Order the blade from a good supplier.My recommendation would be a lenox blade.Expensive,but worth it.
SA
 
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:) I converted a Delta wood band saw and used it for several years until I run across a Powermatic metal saw. On the Delta I found a used gear reduction motor at an electric surplus dealer for around $25.00 bucks. Mounted it on the Delta in place of the orginal motor. Worked great. Surplus Supply sells gear reduction motors. I don't have the phone number right now, but if interested I will find it.
 
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H.L. Holbrook said:
:) I converted a Delta wood band saw and used it for several years until I run across a Powermatic metal saw. On the Delta I found a used gear reduction motor at an electric surplus dealer for around $25.00 bucks. Mounted it on the Delta in place of the orginal motor. Worked great. Surplus Supply sells gear reduction motors. I don't have the phone number right now, but if interested I will find it.

Interesting........what was the reduction ratio? Are new ones expensive?

I remember years ago, I had a job setting up feed bins for mixing for hogs. We used a litle 5 HP Clinton engine connected to this massive gear reduction unit. That little engine screamed, while the lift bed moved barely at all. It weighed about 3000 lbs......What I recall is that reduction unit, while input was smallish stock, the output side gears and chain was huge!

In any case, my reference calls for:

Bronze 80 fpm
Steel 1020 330 fpm
Ti 45 fpm
Al 1600 fpm
wood 2700 fpm.

and lube blade with wax stick for all metal cutting.
 
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Feb 4, 1999
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Here are some pics. The wheel on the Inca bandsaw is 5" diameter, which is what the belt would contact to make the thing run. It probably has a technical name, but you know...

inca5.jpg

inca4.jpg

inca3.jpg

inca2.jpg

inca1.jpg


last pic shows some cracking in the rubber on the wheels that run the blade. Is that a problem?
 
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Oct 29, 2003
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I have a wood cutting band saw that I now only use for wood and aluminum but many years ago I did cut steel with it. I picked up a used gear motor that ran at 6 RPM so I put a large pully on the gear motor and ran the saw that way. With the large pullies the belt got a good grip and never slipped.
Thinking back I only cut 1/8" 1020 and that went well but with the steel used in making knives I would make sure it was annealled as soft as possable before trying to cut it. Some of the knife steel -- 1080 / 1084 -- checked out as high as 40 RC when I got it and that would "kill" a blade.
 
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Dec 3, 2002
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Chiro, I thought you gave that thing away?

Inca bandsaws are swiss made I think the wood workers really like em.

The easiest way to convert would be to clean it up and sell it, buy metal cutting bandsaw. :D :D :D
 
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Sweany hit the nail on the head. I tried converting my old craftsman to cut steel. I went to 2 belts and 4 pulleys and it still didn't slow it down enough to cut steel. One of these days I plan on taking it out of the old shop and changing it back over. Right now its covered with about 100 old grinding belts.
 
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bu the time you get done....you will have spent more time and energy than its worth. Get a HF metal bandsaw for under 200 bucks. Save the wood one for wood....trust me ;)
 
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Chiro, I thought you gave that thing away?
I tried, but no one wanted it. One person emailed me but was located states away and I'm not interested in shipping this sucker anywhere.

Soooo... what does "HF metal bandsaw" mean? Oh, wait, probably Harbor Freight, right? They have one of those in Iowa where some family still lives but I didn't see anything that affordable there. Maybe I'll look a little closer next time I'm there.
 
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I wasn't going to say anything but since Ray and Sweany Did I'll throw in my $0.02. The Inca's are wonderful woodworking tools but I have never had much success converting woodworking tools to metal. They just aren't designed for it. Rather than ruin a fine woodworking saw to get a very mediocre metal saw, I'd suggest selling the Inca and buying a nice HF metal saw. Last time I checked they had a pretty good one for $180.00.
 
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I just checked the web and the Harbor Freight is selling at $169. Of course, it is 137 pounds to ship! There is a HF store in Grand Radids, though, which is a decent hour round trip, so I'll be heading up on Friday to see what I can spend money on. Do the stores tend to have the same stuff/prices on things? I know I can always call, but it's worth the drive anyway.


Sooooo.... What should I do, as CHEAP AS POSSIBLE, to make the Inca work for handle materials? I actually don't use much wood, but would the same speed and blades work for Micarta (linen, usually), Carbon Fiber and G-10? If so, how many teeth should I get? If I try to get a CHEAP motor, what size, what should I look for and where do I buy it? Also, keeping in mind my 5in drive wheel on the Inca, what size wheel would I need on the spindle of the motor itself?

These are the kinds of questions that happen when you take classes like AP English and AP Chemistry in high school instead of shop. :(
 
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A long time ago, I purchased a speed reducer for my delta woodcutting bandsaw. My plan was to make it usable to cut knife steel. It worked. Then years passed, and I wore out at least four sets of belts (the speed reducer had toothed belts) and several sets of bearings.
I didn't want to purchase another tool, so I figured what I needed was a TRANSMISSION. So I mounted a honda trail 90 bike (c.1969) transmission on the frame of the saw and made an incredible "Honda Trail Saw." :cool:
The thing runs at below 100 fps for cutting steel, and over ten times that for cutting wood, micarta, leather, whatever. And I can change speeds by shifting the foot pedal!
It answered all my sawing needs. Everyone who's seen it is envious. I've cut out hundreds and hundreds of knives, handles, guards, bolsters, sheaths, stand components, etc. with this beast.
Yes, I have other saws, but I prefer my trail saw best. It deserves a place of honor with my first grinder (Wilton), and my 16 speed Sears drill press, and my first inert gas vacuum furnace made from a burn out oven...
I do miss that little trail bike, though...
 

fitzo

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EDITED

I thought at first that saw was the same model I have. My Inca is a bit over 20 years old and is a direct drive. While it appears identical, on closer inspection the well for the pulley or motor, in my case, is much deeper.

Sorry for any confusion............. nevermind.
 
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I was going to say that those old Honda 90's are hard to find and darn good bikes Jay. Why didn't you use something disposable instead....like an Indian :D :D :D
 
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