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jdlange 11-11-2002 05:20 PM

Converting a bandsaw
Howdy all,

I have arranged to have an old craftsman bandsaw setup in my shop and am going to convert it over to cut metal, I know it can be done with this model (older one, belt driven) with a pulley system as my grandafther used a setup like this with a variable speed pully system for years to cut all sorts of metal, what I am wondering is this. How slow should I take this down to for cutting anealled steel? Any input is appreciated, I will also be getting an old pulley driven drill press and putting new pulleys on it to bring the speed down on it as well (although that is secondary right now as the one have works just fine), I am also looking for the cheapest place to buy quality 2 x 72 " belts for a belt sander, if anyone has a recommendation it would be appreciated.


Mike Hull 11-11-2002 07:28 PM

My metal cutting bandaw has speeds of, 75, 150, and 200 FPM. I use the 200 FPM speed almost exclusively.

Rob Frink 11-12-2002 05:49 AM


I did this to my 12" crafstman saw about 10 years ago. I've since sold it on Ebay but is certainly worked very well untill I got something better. It requires a huge speed reduction.... I wanted it to run about 100ft/min and I think it originally ran about 4000 ft/min so I needed a 40:1 reduction. Or a 40" pulley on the saw and a 1" pulley on the motor......yikes! The final solution was to use a couple of jack shafts to ruduce the speed in more manageable amounts. See the photos:

I think I ended up using 3 -12" pulleys....1 on the saw, and 1 on each of the 2 shafts.

The performance was great! I was able to cut bars and ingots up to about 4" thick:

see photo:

By reducing the speed some 40X, you effectively increased the torque by the same amount and I soon found that the saw frame wasn't sturdy enough so I added several braces which helped out. I always had visions of the saw folding up under a heavy load.

One more pic:

The saw seemed to always need adjusting and tinkering with for some reason or another but served its purpose for many years. I eventually bought a big Powermatic 20" machine on auction that can be seen in the background of the first photo and got rid og the craftsman 12".

Just some food for thought...I hope it is helpful.


jdlange 11-12-2002 10:30 AM

Thanks Rob,

This is in fact just what I was looking for, the model I have is almost identical to the one you converted here, thanks for all the help, this will make the process much easier as I can just go buy the same parts you used.

Thanks again.

Geno 11-12-2002 11:55 AM

Thanks Rob, It doesn't get much clearer than that.:D

Raymond Richard 11-14-2002 08:29 AM

Hey Rob,
I've still got a bandsaw just like that one, I had gone with two belts but had given up on it. Guess I needed one more 12" wheel to make it work. Glad to see you had it figured out before you got rid of it. Mine is still in the same corner I stuck it in collecting dust and cob webs.......

allan lanigan 11-14-2002 10:38 AM

I just finished converting a band saw for cutting metal i used a 37 to 1 gear reduction. i have it mounted on a hinge plate togeather with its own motor,so i can switchbelts to the original motor for wood cutting.right now i have a blade speed of 64fpm which seems to slow. Ipicked up the reduction unit at a scrap yard for $30 it seemed to be better than arranging all the pulleys.So far it seems to be working fine,but i will have to use it some more for further evalation,anyone else tried this approach?

jdlange 11-14-2002 10:47 AM

I think that is the way my grandfather had his set up, I clearly remember the motor assembly being mounted on a hinge plate that he had welded onto the frame. I think though for ease of converting it back and not having to weld to much I will go with the pulley system above. I just think that method will be easier for me as I don't have a welder right now and dont really want to make too many serious changes to the way the saw is set up so that if I need to convert it back to wood I can. I am thinking of setting up some sort of quick release on the pulley that drives the saw and have another motor with the original pulley mounted up on it so I can just pop one belt off and put the other one on and swith plugs to convert it right back to the originla configuration.

jdlange 11-14-2002 10:48 AM

Man, my typing is getting really bad. Sorry for all the mis-spellings guys.

Frank Niro 11-15-2002 09:02 PM

I believe I may have given this before. However, I wish to help if I can. You can turn your band saw ito a friction cutting one. It will do a great job of cutting hardened 440-C, Ats-34, D-2, with proper knife Rockwells as well as hardend damascus and other stailess materials. Most unhardened metals are cut with ease except damascus. The maximum cutting thickness where it does a good job without to much effort is 5/32. At least with my saw with only a 3/4 H.P. motor. I understand a larger motor is preffered but that works for me and some of my friends. This saw cuts with heat so a sharp blade doesn't mean better results, and bimetal bl;ades don't work any better than stanard ones. In order to get results you want a blade speed of approx. 5000 feet per minute. (Yes 5000) My saw has a motor pulley of 5" and a band saw pulley of 6" . If you want to use this system, and for folder makers it is something special, You mwill probably need to do a good job of gluing the tires to the wheels with a good quality contact cement. A drawback of this system is that a heat burr is formed when cutting , and you must maintain a constant pressure on your material . If not it may take an extra push to get it going -the area will be work hardened. This was written up in a Sept. Oct. 1988 Blade mag.Frank

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