jump to example.com

Sometimes the answer seems so obvious once the question is asked.  The 4″x6″-capacity metal-cutting bandsaw is a ubiquitous import — you can get it from Harbor Freight, Grizzly, Northern Tool, and most other machine tool suppliers. The prices have risen over the years, but list prices hover around the $250 mark, and they’re often on sale.

While they do have some shortcomings, you can find a ton of information about modifications on the web — one of the best sites is Mini-Lathe.com.  The 4×6 saws also benefit from a quality blade, such as the Olson blades I use on mine.

In the Hot category I can only say that every project I work on begins on the bandsaw, and the ability of such a cheap tool to slog through a large piece of steel still amazes me.  In the Not category?  I can’t even come up with a good reason not to get one.

But what do you all think?  Hot or Not?  Let us know in comments.


18 Responses to Hot or Not? 4×6 Metal-Cutting Bandsaw

  1. dlone says:

    I bought the Grizzly version a couple of years ago and use it quite a bit. Pro: Inexpensive, does the job adequately. Cons: Blade drifts, so it rarely cuts straight, resulting in the need for some grinding to square up the cut. (That may be because I haven’t set it up correctly, but there’s precious little useful information in the documentation.) Second, the clamp is crap. I almost always have to add a C-clamp or two to hold anything but square tube. Thanks for the link to Mini-Lathe. I’m going to try out some clamp mods. I’m also thinking about getting a used power hacksaw.

  2. bajajoaquin says:

    Hot. I bought mine used for $60 locally, and it’s the same thing that’s for sale new. It’s way better than doing it by hand, and it’s accurate enough for my rudimentary skills.

  3. kg2v says:

    If you’re a serious metalworker, and you don’t have one (or a better one) you’re not a serious metalworker

  4. fred says:

    For home use – how bad could it be at this price.
    I suspect it’s not up to either our Doall or Armstrong-Blum Marvel shop saws – but costs about 1% of what we invested in the 2 of them.

    We also use Milwaukee portable band saws in the field – which cost about the same – without the stand – and with lesser capacity

  5. Dave says:

    You have to be careful moving these around- they are exceedingly top-heavy, and when rolling them around they tend to sway.

    I haven’t used mine in years, I tipped it over during a move and broke the switch, I will fix it as soon as I have to cut a boatload of stock.

    Almost lost a finger taking it out of a pickup truck…


  6. Trevor says:

    Every good small-scale metal shop I’ve seen has at least one of these — and more often than not, it’s getting frequent use even if there’s a bigger saw back in the corner. All of the experienced home/hobby metalworkers I’ve talked to about equipping my shop have been very clear that this is a must-have, and that it’s generally not worth spending more for a big-boy metal bandsaw unless you’re some kind of welder-sculptor making stuff out of heavy stock.

    It’s worth mentioning that these also have a vertical mode with a small (but useful) bolt-on table to support hand-fed cutting. When you need to make a couple of quick linear cuts to remove some material, these little bandsaws are frequently quicker and easier to use than setting up the same operations in a vertical mill.

  7. Cameron Watt says:

    Hot! It’s very easy to train a helper to use one, compared to other cutting methods, and with the fire-and-forget operation it only needs intermittent attention; do other work nearby while it’s running.

    This can be the cheapest way to cut metal in your shop so long you don’t get impatient, give it too much feed, and start killing blades. You can even get reasonable blade life cutting stainless if you keep the feed really low and keep that coolant running.

    As for clamping, I found you don’t need too much clamping force if you go slow and be sure to have a blade with a tooth count appropriate for your stock thickness.

    The big deal is having a good fence that won’t move around on you; rechecking angles before every cut wastes time. I only worried about extra clamping when doing stack cutting; a great way to reduce the labour cost of each cut.

  8. fritzgorbach says:

    Hot. Don’t have one but I’ve been dying to get one. We Have a very old, larger version of this at work and I use it all the time. I do often have to square up cuts a bit, and I suspect that all these saws have a certain amount of blade drift. Also the fifty year old guides, and table with fifty years of dings and gouges don’t help. I can tell you that we run high quality Starrett blades in it and they really don’t cost much more than the cheap ones.

  9. I’ve had my Sonicrafter for a couple of months and already I feel like I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth out of it.

  10. Brad Justinen says:

    @ Rockwell Sonicrafter

    Nice One (but not really)

  11. Brad Justinen says:


    This band saw is on SALE FOR $189.99 at Harbor Freight until May 11, 2009.


    Here’s a link to the product:

  12. Brad Justinen says:

    And here is the link to the Grizzly bandsaw:


    I think this one has a more handsome paint job.

  13. diluded000 says:

    I got one of these from HF and upgraded the blade, the motor to a Baldor 220v motor, milled out a removable table to replace the thin stamped piece, configed coolant, and adjusted endlessly. It was still a POS. After the blade jumped off half way though yet another crooked cut, I yanked the bearings, motor, and shafting and chucked this POS in the trash. The cast iron base makes a nice stable mount for my belt sander now.

    My Bosh jigsaw cuts better curves, my DeWalt abrasive cutoff cuts ferrous metal straighter and faster, and if I need a chunk of aluminum I can either cut it in the table saw or the chopsaw with a carbide tipped blade. Worst case I can fire up the OA cutting torch and clean it up with an angle grinder. Managed to build, among other things, a tandem axle trailer and a sawmill without one.

  14. bob B says:

    It would be nice if they finally updated these things as I don’t think they’ve changed a thing since the 80’s. The stand still looks flimsy, & the casting still looks shoddy. A lot of people own it because it is so cheap, not because it is a good tool. I doubt that this tool would last in an production environment. But as a too that gets hauled out every once in a while to save your arm from cutting with a hack saw, I think it’s a good purchase. A nice feature is that the saw turns itself off after you saw through your stock.

    If you get one, you will want to replace the blade. Reinforce the legs, & generally tune up the equipment before you use it. Make sure everything is tight & aligned as good as possible. Don’t forget to lubricate the bearings & keep the feed rate down so you don’t overheat your blade & kill it’s lifespan.

  15. well i do support bob in this…this tool is does the job adequately and would definitely last in an production environment.

  16. Joey N says:

    Just upgraded my Mig welder to commercial status, now this saw needs to go to the trash pile. I have the Harbor Frieght version, a few years old, $159.99 new. Same as Grizzly, Jet, Sears, ect. Tried in vain to set it up, still won’t cut straight. Been fighting the blade for 4 years now (yes, I put a new bi-metal blade on it 10-14t), keeps popping off. Tried every different adjustmet, Still throws the blade.,Legs broke, had to reinforce. Some hardware is cheap had to fabricate and replace……I give up….time for something bigger and better…. BUT….
    I got what I paid for…this was a great beginner saw. I like how it cuts vertical and horizontal. So I am searching for the same but bigger/better….kinda don’t want to get into the wet sump version, looking to stay dry.

  17. I’ve had my Sonicrafter for a couple of months and already I feel like I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth out of it.

Leave a Reply to fred Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.