Benchtop Bandsaw

Do any of you use a bench top bandsaw for roughing out shapes in non-ferrous metals? I went looking for 1/8" metal cutting blades and haven’t been able to locate any yet. All the blades so far are wood cutting with 14 tpi and often of raker tooth design and not suitable for metal. TIA,

micro mart has some options. I like the variable speed saw.

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Do you own one?

I have owned one but not currently. I used mine alot for rough cutting my carving waxes and soft metals. But it was a nice piece of equipment and did what I needed it to do.

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Way back in the 1970’s and I was just starting out, I bought a 14" full size low cost imported wood bandsaw thinking what you just described. Why couldn’t I cut non-ferrous metals with a metal cutting blade on a wood band saw? You can, but it’s not very safe. I’m not sure where I found it because it was decades ago, but I found an 1/8" metal cutting blade for my discount tool wood bandsaw. Like I said it worked but it wasn’t a good idea.

A big issue is that a wood cutting band saw cuts fast. It’s not just about cutting the metal, but the blade heats up and heats up the rubber inserts on the wheels that turn the blade. That can make the blade fall off mid cut. Also, inside the saw gets filled with metal cuttings, which the saw isn’t designed to accommodate. That also messes everything up.

Metal cutting band saws have a speed reducer. With a metal cutting band saw you determine the speed based on the metal thickness and type. Brass and aluminum have different speeds for instance. Metal cutting band saws turn comparatively slowly.

Now at the school that I teach at we have a metal cutting band saw and I see the value of them. In fact, I love our metal cutting band saw! But it’s a tank, cost a zillion dollars and uses 3 phase power. Not very practical for most folks.

Probably a better alternative for a power saw that cuts non ferrous sheet is a variable speed floor or table mounted scroll saw. Those are challenging to operate accurately as well but with the proper blade are designed to cut sheet metal.


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Look at the saw that Dar Shelton uses to cut pancake dies with the same blades that are used to pierce softer metals. It is home built as far as I know. It does seem like there would be a market for a powered saw to pierce softer metals. Modifying a scroll saw makes sense but, according to Dar it has its drawbacks, at least for pancake dies. There is also the challenge of how to cut an inside shape with a power saw, especially a band saw like the one on the MicroMark website. My choice has been to just get really good at hand sawing. So far I have a long way to go…Rob


The most economical metal cutting band saw is getting one of the portable ones that are wired and putting it onto a DIY stand and clamping it to a workbench. This is what a lot of bladesmiths and early metalworkers do from other forums. As for application, they are meant to be used with 1/2" blades so making fine detailed cuts is not really the purpose.

Most metal bandsaws to my knowledge are designed to clamp the piece in place and cut with no hands. For obvious reasons - the metal heats up very quickly (too hot to touch) and the forces exerted are many times higher than wood/plastic (dangerous to manipulate)


Thanks Jeff, I found your comments to be accurate and my experiences as well with what I’ve had and have. Having worked with metal all my life I’ve had many machines that are specific to it. Like you, I at one time tried using my 14" Jet bandsaw as a double duty saw by changing blades…not so great :woozy_face: I’ve had a traditional metal bandsaw for years now and keep it in the upright position and even made a platen for it and a seat, lol. It works great for the heavy stuff like cutting off the overfill on cast billets, but sucks when trying to do ant contouring with that 1/2" blade. I think there would be a good market for a hobbiest metal cutting band/jig saw for us smiths working in non-ferrous metals.

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Thanks Rob, I’ll check out Dar’s site!

I have no idea how one might work on metal, the diamond coated blades might clog up, but perhaps you can look into the band saws / ring saws stained glass workers use. There’s quite a variety.

Neil A

Thanks Neil…didn’t even know that there was such a thing.

Neil & Bruce,
I have one of the Diamond Coated Band Saws for Stained Glass and though they will also cut some Gemstones, I doubt that it would cut Non-Ferrous Metals very well - I imagine that it might for a little while, but then would be stripped of it’s Diamond Coating pretty quickly… Ring Saws would most likely be the same, as Glass is so much easier to cut than most of other materials, the Band Saw Blades and Ring Saw Rings aren’t as durable as a Metal Saw’s would need to be either, especially when both saws cut with water continuously flowing over them.

Thanks Jonathan, saved me a bunch of research! :+1:

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Hi Bruce,
I wish I could count all of the things that I’ve tried and the jewelry industry has tried over the past decades to essentially create a power jeweler’s saw. As far as I can tell no one has been truly successful.

Part of the dilemma is that the human shoulder, arm and hand are a magical combination with precision jeweler’s sawing.

First, with a hand powered jeweler’s saw you can change the speed on the fly. Speed up, slow down, stop & start at will. Most floor or table mounted power saws may have variable speeds from slow to fast, but they’re just one constant speed.

The other thing which is maybe more important is that the human arm when moving up and down in the sawing motion, naturally moves in an arc. You have to force yourself to make your arm go straight up and down. That arc motion helps to propel the saw blade forward as it cuts into the metal.

With a power saw like a bandsaw or a scroll saw, the blade moves parallel with the cutting table. (straight down with a band saw and straight up and down with a scroll saw) With those type of power saws in order to engage the metal with the saw blade you have to push the metal into the saw blade.

It’s a totally different way of cutting. Pushing the metal into a thin jeweler’s saw blade tends to make the brittle tool steel blade break from overheating and twisting.

Again lots of folks have tried to invent a power jeweler’s saw. Bonny Doon made one for a while. I’m not sure what happened to that saw?

Here’s an example of a power jeweler’s saw Kickstarter campaign that ended up being produced by Knewconcepts.

Those band saws from Micro-Mark that were just mentioned are interesting.

Also, I checked to see what 1/8" metal cutting band saw blades were available from McMaster Carr. They have a number of them, but they’re all for thicker metal than what is ordinarily used in jewelry making.

I wish I could show you a picture of that giant metal cutting bandsaw that we have at school. Unfortunately, our building closed for two years in December for renovations and we had to move to a temporary smaller space on campus. That meant that much of our stuff had to go into storage, including this bandsaw. This metal cutting band saw is really cool! It’s upright like a wood bandsaw, but is designed for metal. It essentially has a transmission with high and low range gears. There’s a chart where you pick the speed for the type and thickness of metal. I don’t get my fingers anywhere near the blade, but with two wooden pushers, I can maneuver the metal accurately. It does use wide blades, but with relief cuts every 1/2" or so I can cut fairly tight curves.

As I read this over, none of this is very much help with your original question. But like I said, people have been trying to solve this riddle for my entire multi-decade career.



Hi Jeff,
wow, that KnewConcepts power saw looks like the ticket!


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Thanks Jeff! I did see the Knewconcepts saw when I was researching but as a hobbyist, even if it worked well, I don’t think that I could ever justify spending over $2,000 for something that my God given hand powered saw can do. And you are absolutely right about the accuracy and flexibility the hand sawing provides over any machine for this kind of work. I just got finished last night pressing these two pieces after casting and rolling to 11ga. It took three cuts each; the rough out cut for the pressing, the outline cut after the first series of pressing, then the final cut when I was satisfied with the detail of the pressing. Each of these are 3" in length…that’s a lot of sawing, especially with 11ga! I think it was this particular die that got me thinking, again, about a powered jewelers saw…lol!



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This is only true if you freeze your wrist. Sawing is in this respect is like playing a violin: if your wrist joint is flexible, the hand moves in a straight line, not in an arc. The angle of the teeth are designed to cut most efficiently with a straight up-and-down motion perpendicular to the sheet of metal.

Janet in Jerusalem


Thanks Janet, my sawing isn’t bad buy way better than it used to be! Probably bc I’ve paid more attention to how the wrist works, like you said, in concert with the saw.

I’ve used a scroll saw (Delta 6spd, band drive) for cutting out all sorts of materials, mostly 1" thick UHMW for my dies (used spiral tooth blades). I found it to be hard to control; bordering on dangerous for thin sheet. Works well, though slowly for metals 1/16" to 1/4". I also found that the blade path is not a straight line and not truly vertical. This really shows up in thick material and tight curves.

Mine did not work for pancake dies - but I use the table angle adjustment to support work with a manual saw; bench pin clamped to the saw table.

The one saw type which has potential are the truly old school scrolls saws where the top clamp is held in tension with a coil spring. Basically a die filer machine. A friend has one; but I’ve not used it much.