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Old 02-11-2016, 11:21 AM
David Eye David Eye is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: North Central WI, USA
Posts: 74
Band Saw Mods

I thought I would mention what method I decided to use to modify my 14" vertical wood cutting band saw and why. So far I have only purchased the parts but I will be posting a couple photos as I progress with installation.
I am not a rich man, therefore I needed to modify my existing band saw to slow it down for metal cutting. I realize this is not the optimum set up but it will have to suffice. Being a newbie to knife making (but not technical/electro-mech/design things and hands on stuff) and on a low budget I needed to modify or acquire certain equipment.

1) I purchased a Kalamazoo 2"x48" belt sander that I am modifying.
2) I now have most everything I need to make a very nice electric kiln.
3) Modify (slow down) my current wood cutting 14" vertical band saw.
4) I already have a nice large 12" disc sander, drill press, smaller 1"belt/small disc sander and other smaller tools, sanders, saws, files, etc., etc.

For me personally my best choices to modify and slow down my band saw were:

A) Install different size pulleys and additional pulleys with a jackshaft arrangement (already calculated for pulley sizes). Very doable but somewhat labor intensive and pricey at about $185 for all the parts.
B) Install a gear reducer to my existing motor or buy a used gear motor complete. This would involve only minor mods regarding mounting it up. Depending on price of used or new gear reducer along with a small variable pitch pulley this method would cost approx. $100 - $225.
C) Install a DC motor and controller. This method would be fairly easy to install and give me a nice wide range variable speed saw. Price can vary widely depending on motor size and new or used stuff. I would attempt used motor and controller because the new stuff is rather pricey. I am a little leery of finding good working nice quality used items and I also don't have a lot of time to look/wait. I also don't need my band saw to be high speed again to cut wood at a decent speed, so a wide range of speed is not needed for me.

I opted for choice "B" due to simplicity, price and ease of sourcing decent quality items.
The parts are on the way, I purchased a new 20:1 right angle coupled style (versus quill style) gear reducer, coupler and small variable pitch pulley on ebay. The 20:1 ratio unit works out the best for using my existing saw pulley size, but I could have changed out the pulley too and got a slightly different ratio gear reducer. Total was approx. $220.
My 14" band saw is in really good condition but not especially great HD quality. It is a China made Buffalo brand made in the late 80's.
I just don't have tons of money and could not find a good used metal cutting band saw in my price range. I also had this 14" band saw sitting around and not being used, so I decided to modify it for cutting metal versus selling it.....proceeds from sale would be pretty low.

I'm sure some of you won't agree with my choice or even my decision to modify my existing 14" wood cutting band saw, but to each his or her own for various reasons.
I feel this was my own personal best choice, but others may have their own personal situation dictate a different choice......such as money, time, current items on hand or access to, etc. I just thought I would list my choices and reasons along with some info as a reference to maybe help others make their decision.

Thanks for reading, DAVID
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Old 02-12-2016, 06:30 AM
Crex's Avatar
Crex Crex is offline
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Acworth, GA and/or Hanging Dog, NC
Posts: 3,490
I'd suggest just spending that money on a used port-a-band metal cutting bandsaw. If you watch you can find a good used one for under $200. Do a search on building a stand/mount for it here on KNF. Very simple, small foot print, and a much more durable long term solution. I have three that I use - one on a stand that mounts in my vise (for portability), one in original condition for general cut-off work, and one as spare. Most I paid was for the "Deep Cut" Milwalkee(sp) that I made stand for - $200 used. Very solid tool.
Converting a wood saw seldom works out very well and you won't really have the torque/power you need to cut steel very well. Guides and bearings weren't built for cutting metal especially in the thicknesses we use for knife blades. Will just add to the frustration issue.
Also, another plus, blades are easy to find and replace on a POB.
Save the wood saw for handle material.

Carl Rechsteiner, Bladesmith
Georgia Custom Knifemakers Guild, Charter Member
Knifemakers Guild, voting member
Registered Master Artist - GA Council for the Arts
C Rex Custom Knives

Blade Show Table 5-J
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Old 02-12-2016, 08:26 AM
David Eye David Eye is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: North Central WI, USA
Posts: 74
Crex, Thanks for the input, but.........too late.
I did look into a porta-band conversion and decided against it.
Much more work for me to build a stand and small work rest for it IMO.
I will still use my band saw to cut my wood knife scales.

Please keep in mind I will have tons of torque the way I am gearing it and the bearings and guides will hold up just fine at slow speeds, especially since I will only be cutting a very small quantity of knife blades per year......just a hobby.
If I already had a porta-band saw I would be converting it for sure, but I'm converting what I have with the least amount of work for me.
Some guys don't like the vertical 14" wood cutting band saw conversion, other guys say it works quite well for low quantity work.....depends on who you talk to and maybe which conversion method they chose. Actually the bearings are pretty much the same between the two units, but I do have cheap blade guides on my 14" which I could replace if need be....but I won't have a need for my occasional use of this saw.
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Old 02-25-2016, 06:26 PM
David Eye David Eye is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: North Central WI, USA
Posts: 74
I have completed the mods to my band saw and it works like a champ.
It will have plenty of longevity especially since I will not be profiling knife blades every day.
I will be lucky to make 6-12 knives per year.

I have the speed down to approx. 180 SFPM and can adjust by about 50 SFPM with the variable pitch pulley I installed on the gear reducer.
The 180 SFPM speed is perfect for the 1095 I am cutting. I also installed a very nice bi-metal metal cutting blade of 18 TPI. I also installed a modified vacuum attachment under the work table to hopefully help collect the metal chips.
I am using the original existing "open" design 3/4 HP motor, so I covered the motor openings with some special material that will breathe nicely but keep the metal chips out of the motor which would ruin it.

The mods to the saw regarding installation of the gear box went pretty well, but.....
1) I had to stiffen up the original heavy sheet metal motor mount to keep it from flexing too much.
2) I also had to add a torque reducing arm to reduce flexing.
3) I happened to use a piece of stiff melamine board I had around to mount the motor to instead of a nice piece of steel plate that I did NOT have on hand. It works fine and is plenty rigid, but could always be replaced if need be down the road.
4) I opted to use my existing motor so I purchased a shaft style (coupled) input gear reducer versus a c-face flange (quill) style gear reducer.
5) The gear reducer is a 20:1 ratio and enabled me to use my existing 6" pulley on the machine to get the 180 SFPM speed I wanted. The motor/gear reducer coupling must be aligned very well to avoid lateral strain on the motor and gear reducer bearings, to avoid over heating and vibration and also prolong the life of both units and the coupling rubber spider insert (minor concern). I used washers and shims to align everything.

All and all the project went well and was pretty straight forward and the saw works very, very well. In fact it works better than I expected.

If anyone would like sources for new gear reducers just let me know. Used ones can be found on ebay but are hard to find in the exact right size and ratio, so I bought a new one instead.
I personally think retrofitting a gear reducer was a much better and easier option than installing much larger pulleys and a jack shaft. Price wise I spent maybe $25 bucks more than the pulley/jack shaft method.
I am now making excellent use of my wood cutting band saw without spending too much time or money on the mods. I can still use this band saw to cut my knife scales if I wish.

I will attempt to attach some photos here. If you don't see any photos, I was obviously unable to do it and may try again with another posting.
Thanks for reading,
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Old 02-25-2016, 06:29 PM
David Eye David Eye is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: North Central WI, USA
Posts: 74
I will attempt to attach photos again.
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File Type: jpg DSCN0028.JPG (132.8 KB, 31 views)
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Old 02-25-2016, 08:31 PM
Cat skinner Cat skinner is offline
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Eastern Kansas
Posts: 45
Sounds like it should work fine. I thought about trying to do something like that but I would have to buy a saw to since I still use my wood bandsaw. Besides my brother has a metal bandsaw that I can use and he only lives a couple of miles away.
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Old 02-25-2016, 09:38 PM
David Eye David Eye is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: North Central WI, USA
Posts: 74
Sam, sounds like you have what you need nearby to cut your're lucky.
That's great and will save you money, time and effort.

I knew this mod to my saw would work. I actually have tons of experience with mechanical equipment designed for very high speed and many other various production machines in my 60 years of life! I actually traveled all over the USA repairing and installing high speed labelling machines among other jobs I had in my life. This band saw mod was a piece of cake and not terribly expensive.
I have already cut quite a bit of low carbon steel with my modified band saw and it cuts beautifully besides having tons of torque after the speed reduction. The blade doesn't even get warm and I'm just using "cool blocks" for side blade guides instead of bearings. There is, of course, the standard bearings for the back of the blade to contact (thrust bearings).
For the amount of usage this band saw will get, I know it will last a long, long time.

With this thread I wanted to attempt to help others in their decision process regarding whether or not to modify their existing wood cutting band saw and also what method to maybe use for the modification.
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Old 02-26-2016, 01:57 AM
damon damon is offline
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: NE Tennessee
Posts: 410
portaband modification.....

1: drill and countersink 2 holes in a 6"6" piece of micarta to use as table , bolted on top of the guard

2: (optional if your model has a trigger lock) pull trigger back and run 1/16" drill bit through to lock it in ON position

3: clamp handle into vise to hold it upright while using.

this is the only saw I have in my shop... cuts everything I push in front of it.
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Old 02-26-2016, 10:06 AM
David Eye David Eye is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: North Central WI, USA
Posts: 74
damon, thanks for the info, but as I said earlier I do not have a porta band saw so I opted to modify my existing wood cutting band saw. I did this rather than have it sit around and hardly ever get used.
I will now be able to utilize my band saw for profiling my knives and still use it for cutting the wood scales just as you use your porta band unit for everything in your shop.

If I had already had a porta band unit, I wouldn't have had a need to modify my band saw.
If I had spent money on a new decent porta ban unit, my wood cutting band saw would still be sitting around and hardly ever used. I did not want to sell it because I knew I couldn't get much for it, even though it is in excellent shape.

I had a band I utilized it and it works very well. The mods were pretty easy for me to do and did not cost a fortune.
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Old 03-04-2016, 08:33 AM
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ATalley ATalley is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Greenwood IN
Posts: 325
Cool modifications, thanks for posting!


"We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends." Shel Silverstein
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