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My small import bandsaw

One day I began thinking about how much hacksawing I actually do when working on my projects. I think the realization occurred when I saw about 6 worn out hacksaw blades in the garbage can from only 2 weeks worth of work. I determined that I could easily justify the purchase of a bandsaw! At least one of those "cheap" imported units. This was was very much worth the purchase. This is my favorite and most used power tool next to my drill press. However, being of such "minimal" size and construction I know that I eventually plan to get a bigger heavy duty saw. -- Oct./17/2006

Here is my bandsaw. These are often referred to as 4x6 bandsaws because that is the largest size (in inches) piece of material they can cut in the horizontal cutting position. These saws are available from a variety of retailers such as Harbor freight, Northern tools, Cummins Industrial, etc. and usually only differ in color and price. It's usually around $179 to $209.00. I got this one on an online auction for $112.50 and drove to pick it up from the seller.

The saws are imported from somewhere in Asia. This model is sold under the name "Rand" and was made in China. I've seen others that say Taiwan. It's clear that the imported "mini-machines" (lathes, mills, saws..) is a booming market and Asia is loving it. The tennis racquet is for size comparison.

This saw is definitely not heavy duty even though some advertisements say it is. The lightness of it is seriously evident with the flimsy base. The wheels are so poorly positioned that the saw has to be tilted unreasonably far backward for the wheels to roll without the sheet metal base screeching loudly on the ground.

This cheapness is what the manufacturer considers to be a useful handle. It has slipped out of the base once while I was moving the saw. In fact it nearly takes less effort to pull the handle out than it takes to just think about pulling it out.

The bandsaw work table

The work table is pretty flimsy as well. It is the same sheet metal (maybe 16 gauge) as the base. It almost feels like setting your work on a pizza box. But none-the-less I've so far only used the saw in the vertical position.

I've cut many rods, bolts, angle steel, straps and other steel pieces.

The electric motor

The motor says 1/2 horsepower on it. That seems about right. The pulley above the motor pulley is connected to a shaft with a worm gear on it. Inside the square section of the saw with the sticker on it is the speed reducing gear assembly. I keep the saw on it's highest blade speed of 200 fpm (feet per minute). The saw's design is neat and compact.

I have to admit that while these saws may be considered low quality, they are fairly well engineered as far as being a machine that can be manufactured quickly and cheaply. And while it does the job it does have a somewhat "cheap" feel and the blade guides allow the blade to "wander" sometimes..

The bandsaw blade wheels

The blade wheels are cast iron and about 7-1/4" diameter. They are not crowned but instead have a flange on the rear which the blade rides against. The saw has a twisted blade design which keeps the blade at a slight diagonal angle so you can cut off longer sections (such as when cutting a pipe to length) than you would be able to if the blade were straight. This is also what allows it to work as a horizontal bandsaw.

When I first got this saw the blade came off during almost every cut. I was worried that this would be a repeat of my big bandsaw experience. But I found that by tightening the blade until it sounds like a guitar string when I pluck it (pretty darn tight) and keeping the saw at the top speed, the blade stays on with no problems.

The bandsaw's top wheel

Here's a look at the top wheel. The wheels have no crown, just a rear flange that the back of the blade rests on and there is no "tire" on the wheel either. If you don't know what those two terms mean, it doesn't really matter. Let's just say that these wheels are about as basic as they can get.

Page contents copyright © 2006 by Lionel Oliver II - www.BackyardMetalcasting.com
The upper bladeguide

Here is the upper blade guide. Both of the blade guides look the same and are basically just iron castings with inline skate wheel type ball bearings. The design is very basic and alignment can shift easily causing the blade to twist in ways it's not intended to.

And speaking of blades. The factory supplied blades should be used only as backups. They don't last long at all (only about a month with all the cutting I do). Instead I buy bi-metal blades with 10 TPI (teeth per inch).

The saw in the horizontal position

This photo illustrates how the saw can be used horizontally. So far I've never used it this way but it seems to me that the majority of owners of these saws actually use it horizontally almost exclusively.

Automatic shutoff feature

When making a cut in the horizontal position the saw turns itself off after the cut. Once the saw reaches the bottom of it's travel the black flange contacts and presses down on the power switch flipping it to the off position.

Now that you've received an overview of the saw, I'll next detail some improvements I made.

Go to part 2; A new base.

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Copyright © 2006 by Lionel Oliver II All Rights Reserved.
This website was created Sept. 28, 2000