I purchased my bandsaw from the local Harbor Freight store after reading up about them online for a while. The real impetus behind doing this, of course, is that cutting a 1" bar of stainless steel with a hacksaw is a pain in the rear. It came in a strapped box, and can be lifted by a healthy man. It fits in the back seat of a car, so don't worry about transporting it. This particular model (Harbor Freight 37151) is made in Taiwan.
Unpacking and setup
Opening the top starts you on a fun, one to two hour journey. The saw is of course disassembled into various parts inside the box. Make sure you have enough room to lay all of the parts out and get to them without tripping over the saw.
Initial parts encountered include a semi-helpful manual, and the legs for the stand.
After completing the assembly, the first thing you'll want to do is replace them with something stable. Trust me. Under these sits the pulley cover, with other parts inside it, the vertical plate attachment, and the work stop and tension adjustment handle. (Pic) Remove these and set them aside. The parts inside the pulley cover include the nuts and bolts, wheels for the stand, axle for the wheels, blade guide, and some other things I can't remember off of the top of my head.
Removing the upper stytofoam piece reveals the saw itself. I'd recommend keeping that styrofoam handy. If you are doing this alone, it's cumbersome and clumsy to move the saw around and maneuver it easily. The first thing the manual tells you to do is to turn it over and attach the stand legs. What I did instead was to put the styrofoam back in, turn the box over, take the bottom styrofoam out, and then attach the legs. Each leg gets three bolts (left right and center), a nut and a washer to attach with. Hand tighten them for the moment. (Pic of bottom, Pic with legs attached) Now is also a good time to attach the handle and the wheels. The wheels go under the motor end, and are retained by cotter pins. The handle goes to the opposite end and also uses the pins.
Once the legs are bolted on, pick up the saw and set it right side up. Tighten the bolts on the legs the rest of the way. Lay the saw down onto the table if it isn't already. Get the two eye bolts, the spring, one long bolt, the tension adjustment handle, and its hook bolt. The long bolt goes into the lowest hole (see on the left side of the following picture) of the saw. The small eye bolt goes into the middle hole on the table, and the large eyebolt goes on the end of the table fursthest from the saw. My manual incorrectly showed the wrong side of the table to attach to in its drawings, but look at the picture below and you'll see how it goes. If you are looking at the side with the power switch, the tension handle goes on the other side.
Screw the eyebolts in most of the way and leave them aligned vertical. Take the hook bolt and screw it into the tension adjustment handle a couple of screws. Attach the closed end of the spring to the long bolt on the saw. Take the tension handle, and feed it through the large eye bolt on the right until the hook is through the smaller eye bolt. You should have enough play on the spring to attach it to the bolt on the adjustment handle. Once you have it attached, you can screw the handle tighter for less feed, and looser for more feed when cutting horizontally.
Next, the manual says to attach the belt to the pulleys. In the above picture, there is a bolt in the middle of the pulleys. This is used to adjust the motor's position and tension the belt. Loosen it a bit and put the belt on. Tighten it back up so the belt is taught but not strained.
You can now attach the pulley cover. This was something of a problem, since the blade cover door interfered with the pulley cover. I'm not sure if this happens on all or just mine, but something to be aware of. The door is somewhat difficult to open and has a thumb screw to keep it closed, so I bent the offending portion of it out of the way of the pulley cover. The last bit of setup is to put the work stop bar and its flange on. This may be optional to you depending on your needs. Neglected to get a picture of that, sorry.
Using the saw
The manual goes through some more setup on how to adjust blade tension, the blade guides, bearings, etc. Once you've gone through and made sure that it's all good, run the saw for 30 seconds. Try out each speed for a 30 seconds without cutting anything. As long as nothing is rattling too badly, you should be good to go cut. Without cutting and with the blade off, you can adjust the tension handle to a suitable down rate. Since I mostly cut aluminum, I have it pretty loose so as to have a little more down pressure. The included vise is pretty crummy but it works. You adjust it via a handle at the end opposite the motor. Clamp your work, check the cuting path, make sure you wear safety equipment, and cut away. It takes about one and a half minutes to cut through a 1" square bar of Aluminum. Brass took a bit longer, and was cut at a slower speed as well. Haven't gotten around to the stainless, I'm waiting until next weekend to play with that. The cuts are fairly smooth. I suppose a better blade would make better cuts and probably work better. The included blade is a cheapy 18 tooth one. Harbor freight also had 10 tooth blades, so I snagged one of them while I was there ($4.99).
Changing blades can be a bit of fun. Since this is a small saw, there isn't a whole lot of clearance between the bottom of the saw casting and the table. Also, if you have the tension loose when you open the door, the blade may swing out--watch yourself. Leave it tensioned a bit so as to avoid any springing blades. Having said that, the manual recommends letting the tension loose a bit when you aren't going to be using for a while.
(updated 2/27/2002) I just got a Starrett BiMetal PowerMatrix2 bandsaw blade last night. The hunk of 6061-t6 alumunum I have been cutting up was just begging for a test run. I used to cut it with the stock blade and cutting fluid (wd-40). The new blade I ran without any fluid. It cut faster without fluid than the old blade did with. Did I mention quieter as well? The amount of vibration that was occuring was a bit less.
Here's a tip i've found. sometimes the adjustment rod can't be loose enough. It seems that when I'm cutting smaller chunks of aluminum that the blade doesn't fall fast enough on its own, making it skip and bounce off of the work. to combat this I've taken to hanging a 16 oz. hammer off the top handle as I'm laying the saw down onto the work. this seems to be enough weight to help keep the blade on the work.
Frank Hoose's excellent site also has some info on this particular bandsaw. He made a new stand, a better vertical table (i agree that the included one is pretty small and near useless) as well as a couple of other things. Search on google with "4x6 bandsaw" and you will come up with some other pages about this particular type of saw.
Bandsaw table with coolant tank and pump.
4x6 Bandsaw FAQ...this was working last week but isn't right now.
A page on tips for using your saw: Tips
Last modified: January 24 2007. Copyright © 2001-2009 Acme Arms. All rights reserved.