Winter always seems to be the time of year where new equipment gets welcomed into the garage family. For years now the carbide blade DW872 Dewalt chop saw has been earning its shop keep and has been relied on heavily to do the vast majority of the metal cutting. It has done its time and has accomplished tasks that were clearly a challenge for it. It has never once complained or given up, it truly has a “never say die” mentality. Only once and awhile it started feeling the heat and had requested more then 15 amps to accomplish the task at hand. Unfortunately my breaker panel denied his request for a few more electrons and had to shut the show down for a minute. However once the breaker and the saw had a moment to catch their breath they continued to trek through to completion.

Last year I introduced a Hypertherm PowerMax 45 into the family. I was a bit unsure how the chop saw would react to having to share his space and his tasks. It turns out that the 2 are getting along just fine. It took awhile for each of them to settle into their new roles but I think the 2 of them have gained a healthy working respect for one another. The plasma came into the shop with a fairly large head on his shoulders, which I can understand, it had a lot to prove (room and board in the garage ain’t free!). Although the plasma gave the chop saw a run for his money it wasn’t long before the plasma put his ego aside and started to share the tasks. Initially I think the chop saw was really impressed to see what Mr. PowerMax could tear up; however, quick and dirty was never high on the carbides priority list.

Well just as everyone was getting along I brought in a new member, a Craftex CX103 1 HP 7” x 12” coolant fed bandsaw. I think I made a mistake; I didn’t talk to the chop saw or the plasma about this. I had been contemplating the addition for quite some time. A deal came up and I jumped on it. Needless to say the other 2 guys were upset. I don’t think the 2 of them understand just what the band saw is capable of. Chop and plasma thought they had everything handled between the two of them, they each knew their place and they performed with excellence. They were in for a hard lesson. For about a month now the two of them have had to sit in their designated shop area silently. Both of their egos were too big for there cutting capacity. A little down time will hopefully do them some good. I had recently outfitted the chop saw with a new 80 tooth blade however he’s not going to get a chance to grind his teeth quit yet. I tried to explain to them that neither one of them can slice up 4” solid round stock cleanly; they just seemed to pout. I had a cylinder head that needed some cutting; I gave them both an opportunity. When they got a look at the task at hand the talk was no longer so big, ha! Just what I figured. That’s right, why don’t the 2 of you just sit there and observe for awhile.

The real need for the band saw came about as a result of the metal lathe. I have had the lathe for some time now and the metal cutting requirements for lathe stock is different then for welding. Lath and milling have “girth” needs which is where the band saw shines. The main feature I wanted in a saw was coolant feed. I am tired of overheating tooling and material. The cutting capacity of most lower end coolant fed saws start at 7” x 12” which would suit me needs just fine. The rest of the features are fairly standard, it has a hydraulically controlled down feed and the typical 4 speed adjustment range. Some band saws come with gear boxes, which are nice, however mine has the belt and pulley set up. It is a vertical and horizontal saw meaning it can be used in either position. The table it came with, for use in the vertical position, does not scream quality so modifications will be in order down the road.

I picked up, uncrated, and adjusted the saw all in one day. I was happy to have some time to go through all the adjustment. I was careful to set the blade both parallel to the vise and parallel to the table. And with a test cut it showed that the accuracy of the squareness far exceeded my needs and expectations. 

The coolant tank and pump sit in the base of the machine. I filled it with a 20:1 mixture of water to water soluble coolant. And then some plumbing in of the drain was all that was required.

The saw comes with a cheap carbon blade on it; I really didn’t expect anything else. Once the teeth have done their time I will step it up to a bi-metal blade. Tension adjustment is easy from the outside of the machine.

Over the last month the saw has been doing the majority if the cutting in the shop. So far I have no complaints.

A future project of mine includes some foundry work so I have been collecting quality scrap aluminum so when the time comes I’ll have something to melt. I thought I would put the saws capacity to the test. I have a couple of BMW M62 engine V8 heads that I stripped down. I punched out all the steel plugs, removed all the valves and beat out the guides. The size of the head only gave the saw approximately a sixteenth of an inch of clearance. I took three test cuts. The first 2 consisted of a 1.250” cross section and the 3rd cut I shaved off an even 1.003” straight through. The cuts took about 3 and half minutes and came out clean. Overall I have no complaints. I would say that as long as the chop saw and plasma can work out their attitude issues we should all make a great team.

  1. Chris Muncy says:

    I’ve the same trio of tools:
    Milwaukee cut off saw
    Miller 375 Extreme Plasma cutter
    and the Wilton equivalent of your band saw. Unfortunately the previous owner removed the coolant system on the bandsaw so I still need to replace that.

    All 3 are MUCH needed in the Man Cave(tm)

    • gordsgarage says:

      Hi Chris, how do you like your Miller 375 Extreme? I wanted to stick with Miller when I was in the market for a plasma but I ended up with Hypertherm for 2 reasons. 1. The Hypertherm interfaces nicely on CNC systems and 2. Hypertherm has a great reputation. The 375 Extreme was on my list, just wondering what I missed out on.

      The coolant feed systems on the saws are fairly basic, as I suspect you know, if your Wilton had a system it shouldn’t be to difficult to reinstall.


  2. Chris Muncy says:

    Morning Gord,

    I got the 375 for $500 in excellent condition. A welder was selling it to upgrade and I happen to be the first caller to his add.

    I love it! Hopefully by the end of 2011 I’ll have my 4×4 table designed and hopefully started the build phase and at that time I’ll see how easily I can interface with it. I’m pretty strong on the electronics side so there might be an interface circuit to build for it. But for the price I couldn’t beat it.

    • gordsgarage says:

      Hi Chris,

      Sounds like a great deal on the plasma, I would have done the same thing had I been given the same luck you got.

      I suspect you will not have an issue interfacing your plasma for CNC. I believe Tom over at CandCNC is one, of many, who address the issue.

      I’d be interested in hearing what you have planned for your table build. I’ve got the same plans going as well. It’s been about 1 1/2 years of research so far. I spent last year learning AutoCAD and reading through the MACH3 manual. I’m still getting my way through Sheet CAM. I’m seriously considering going with Tom’s Bladerunner AIO set up over at CandCNC. There’s a part of me tempted to build my own power supply and then piece together the Gecko boards and driver’s myself, I’ll see yet. I try and spend time on the MACH3, CandCNC, and SheetCAM web groups, there’s a lot of good (and bad) information to be had. Hopefully I can begin the build late 2011, maybe early 2012.


      • Chris Muncy says:

        Hi Gord,

        I’ve got the Hobby CNC 3 channel BOB and the cnc4pc C11 multifunction board. I’ve got all of the parts for a 36vdc supply so I’m almost there.

        I also have an EMCO Compact 5 CNC lathe that I picked up CHEAP that I am converting over to newer tech and already have the steppers for it. That is what I originally bought the BOB and multifunction cards for. Just too many projects…..

      • gordsgarage says:

        Hi Chris,

        I took a quick look at the and websites. Looks like they have some interesting boards. I’ve added their sites to my reading list.

        I can relate to your “too many projects” statement. It’s a challenge to stay focused and organized so that at least something gets accomplished.

        Keep me posted on your CNC build, I’d be interested in seeing your progress and hearing about the challenges.

        Thanks! Gord

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