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.