|Review by PurpLev||posted 08-27-2012 03:33 PM||2902 views||0 times favorited||24 comments|
- Harbor Freight Metal Cutting Band Saw Item # 93762
- Brand: Harbor Freight | Category: Bandsaws
Other than wood, I’ve been cutting other materials with a hacksaw for quite some time. Never minded the labor, but it just takes a long time to cut a 2” round steel bar :/ so I’ve always kept my eye open for a small bandsaw deal. After missing out on a few on CL, and noticing HF opened a store not far, with a grand opening, and tax free weekend I figured It’s probably as good as it gets for a new saw so I went and got one.
It seems several mfg are selling what seems to be the same saw (HF,grizzly,grainger, jet, and probably a few more in different colors) and most are in the 400-500 range while HF is in the 200 range (and can be had sub 200 as well). I checked all the specs, and manuals, and made sure these are all the same saw, and decided to go with HF because it is literally less than half price of the alternatives.
The saw is a horizontal/vertical saw with a 4×6 capacity. not quite a resaw type, but for cross cutting long stock to size it is THE right-tool. it has a stop block that can set a preset length of cross cut for short/medium lengths and you can then run your stock through it for a batch cut of parts. the saw will lower itself over the part and will automatically cut through the material (wood/plastics/metal) in the horizontal mode so you can do other things in the mean time.
In the Vertical mode it has a smallish table that can be mounted and used similar to any other woodworking bandsaw minus the fences, mostly for free (curve) cuts.
Why pay more for other mfg you ask? because HF Quality Control seems non existent, so you are gambling whether you will get a good unit or not. To be fair, you might get a lemon from other mfg as well, but the probability seems lower.
I got my (first) saw and brought it home. its quite heavy, and requires 2 people to assemble as you need to build the base for it, and have a 2nd person help you lift the actual saw and mount it on the base. you can probably figure out how to do it solo (which I did) but a helper really simplifies the process.
I assembled and cleaned up the saw, and then attempted to make a test cut when I discovered that the saw guide system was seriously damaged in what seems to be poor mfg. and an attempt to “make it fit” in the factory:
looks like something wasn’t cast/made right as the guide is very offset from center in the casting:
I was a bit bummed for a new product to looks like this, and contacted HF support. to this I must say support was very helpful and communication was GOOD. I got replies to both my email, and phone call saying that the part is no longer stocked, and that I’d have to replace the entire saw. good communication, but not a very good outcome (for me).
ended up having to repack the almost 200lbs saw and take it back to the store where it was replaced with minimal effort (good customer service as I stated before). I then went ahead and opened the saw in the parking lot before loading it in the car and made sure all the parts seemed OK as far as I could. then got the 2nd saw home (again) and with a dolly (you can see the straps holding the box closed) brought it to the basement (again):
build the base (again), mounted the saw on the base (again), cleaned it up (again), and this time all seemed a bit better albeit , this saw seems a bit less stable for some reason – I guess each with it’s own issues.
One thing that I’ve read online and made sure I do, is open the gear box, empty the existing gear oil, and clean the gear box as much as possible, as it seems to have some of the casting sand in the oil which can wreak havoc on the gears long term. After cleaning (with wd-40, rags and brushes) I reapplied new oil and closed it up:
This time, setting up was smooth, and a test cut on a 2×4 6061 aluminum yielded a really nice smooth and true cut even with the stock blade (more so than I expected):
the cut above took about 2 minutes as far as I can remember, something that would otherwise could take me 15-20 min with a hacksaw, so definitely an improvement.
I did get a few bimetal blades (not from HF) for it, but will wait until the stock blade fails before swapping anything.
There are other known issues with this saw, but will address them as they appear (if they do), for now this one seems to work well.
I see some people refer to this saw as a “kit” and I guess that’s a good way to look at it. you are basically buying a project kit and plan to “make the saw yourself” with the parts in the box. I did buy it knowing that I would have to sacrifice time and effort to make it work or I would have been very disappointed otherwise. I would not recommend this saw for any business that relies on this for income, if you need a saw to generate day-in-day-out work, get a better quality machine, but if you are a hobbyist and need a saw for minimal expenses – this is a good alternative. just understand that you may need to put more effort into making this work as other options out there.
All in all, I’m happy with the cutting capabilities I now have, but this is for hobby use so I do not expect much of it, and I am also capable of fixing it if anything goes wrong. may not be everyones flavor.
-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.