I was trying to find something on YouTube that would show how to cut sheet metal on an upright band saw (usually used to cut wood). The only video I could find is one where someone was claiming that a band saw must run slower to cut sheet metal. In the video, he slowed down the band saw by adding an extra wheel and v-belt. It seems to be a lot of work and engineering for my purposes. I just want to try to cut some small odd shaped parts out of 18 to 20 gage sheet metal.
Is it possible to put a sheet metal blade on my band saw and cut sheet metal? Has anyone done this? Or is there a reason why I should not attempt to do this? And Iím sorry if this is a dumb question. I really havenít reached the point where I know everything yet.
Sheet metal blades are available.
Yes It is possible. Set the guide as low as possible. And get a good bi-metal blade or any type with as fine of teeth as you can find rated for cutting metal. If you want to cut aluminum get a coarser tooth blade. A fine blade will "clog" up with the aluminum shavings. I have cut sheet metal many times. Just let it cut, do not force it. Remember to keep everything as clean as possible. I use a vacuum while Im cutting. Probably would not hurt it in the short term, but I do not like to leave the metal shavings around the guides and bearings, even though most bearings are sealed ...
If it's small odd shapes you want to cut aviation snips would work fine.
There are a few tricks to using them without distorting the metal. There are plenty of videos on youtube on how to use them.
They come in both right and left cutting versions. It is worth having both.
The Wiss brand are one of the better ones:
This doesn't answer your question but it is what a lot of panelbeaters use to cut sheet metal.
In a school shop where I taught, they had an upright vertical band saw that could be used to cut wood or metal, just by changing to the proper blade and selecting the right speed for the material to be cut. As I remember, it had step pulleys and you just changed the belt from one position for slow speeds and another position for higher speeds.
You definitely need a metal cutting blade. Your wood band saw may run to fast which means you either have to cut the speed down,or feed the work slowly.It may have a tendency to grab the metal,so be careful of your hands and fingers. I use my metal cutting band saw and even it is a little fast.
There are hand and power nibblers available to cut sheet metal, most auto body shops use these as well as good tin snips they both have their place. They not only cut quickly but do not distort the metal. You often see a drill driven version on the shopping channels.
Google metal Nibbler
The problem with A Bandsaw is the throat width limits how big a cut into the sheet you can go, with nibblers you can cut a small section from a very large sheet.
(Message edited by P_Kable on September 30, 2014)
Unless your going to cut metal every day as a business you can get air powered shears and nibbler at Harbor Freight. I have them and they work just fine. If I were in the business then I would invest in better equipment but Harbor Freight is good enough for a hobby guy. I cut curves, circles, and fine lines with no problems.
If it is a small project you can place the sheet metal on a piece of thin wood and cut them together using a fine tooth blade.
Spray wd-40 on the blade and metal when cutting aluminum.
You can use a table saw to cut aluminum if you turn the blade around and use wd-40. Works great and cuts faster. Scott
Rick, it is possible. I have done it with a band saw and also a hand held jig saw. The jig saw works well for very odd shaped pieces being cut out of a large piece of sheet metal since you can move the tool instead of the sheet. To cut it well without distorting the cut edges, put the sheet metal on a piece of plywood as a backer. You will cut both the sheet metal and the plywood at the same time. The plywood will also add rigidity so that if you are using a hand held jig saw you can hang the work piece over the edge of a bench to give the reciprocating blade freedom to cut. Obviously, the plywood has a certain life before it is cut to oblivion. This will result in some pretty nice cuts though and will avoid fighting tin snips, etc.
Please be very careful. The edges of sheet metal are very sharp and if it gets caught and thrown around, it can be lethal!
Several people have referred to "fine tooth" blades. To be specific, the rule-of-thumb for blade tooth count is that there should be three teeth on the metal at all times. Less teeth than that will lead to blade jamming and tooth breakage.
Reference has also been made to blade speed. Wood cutting can be done at a very high blade speed. Cutting metal is a different story. The heat generated quickly ruins the blade. By the time you buy several new band saw blades you might as well go buy a Harbor Freight nibbler or some other tool that's meant for the job.
Remember, its easier to get a new piece of metal than to re-attach a finger. Keep your fingers far enough away that if the blade grabs the metal it won't grab you. On a wood cutting band saw you will need to change the pulleys and belt so it will run at a much slower speed.
How does wood ruin a blade?
If you use a fine tooth blade running at low speed the wood will prevent the sheet metal from being pulled down.