Metal band and circular saws in a comparison
In this article we will compare band and circular metal saws. Which cutting equipment you should buy depends very much on the industry you work in, your productivity requirements, and of course your finances.
The argument about which is better band saw or circular saw is very long and wrong. A better question. Which type of saw is best for a specific application. The two technologies provide advantages for different activities.
Each type of metal saw has its own strengths in different areas of industry. You must determine exactly what work the saw has to perform and make your choice based on a technical and commercial evaluation of the equipment offered.You should understand that modern, high quality circular saws and band saws offer outstanding performance and results and are easy to set up and operate.
The main criteria for comparing a circular saw and a band saw are:
- Industrial sector, materials and machining surfaces;
- Unit cost;
- Performance requirements (number of cuts per unit of time);
- Functional flexibility;
- Percentage of perpendicular and angular cuts;
- Financial capabilities;
- Personal preferences.
All eyes on the disc
A cut-off saw unit can be even the most expensive and advanced, but it will not make anything without a proper quality disc. The choice of wheel depends primarily on the metal to be machined.
The softness is the key factor in a circular saw blade. It is noteworthy that soft models are suitable for cutting hard steel and vice versa. This is due to the fact that diamond cutting on a “soft” wire occurs much slower than on a hard wire.
If you take a hard disc for hard metals, the diamond grit would fall out very quickly, making the wheel unsuitable for further work.
That’s why the cost of a pendulum saw is not a key factor in the choice. Even the basic model will give excellent results with the right saw blade.
Scope of application
Let’s examine this point with the example of sawing metal products.
In the first case profiles of aluminum are to be sawn. Quality of the cut surface, cutting accuracy (straight geometry) and cutting speed are important here, because the number of profiles to be processed is usually very high. Plus, there is no need for additional settings and features of the machine, because the performed operations are identical in terms of material. For this type of work the circular saw is ideal: a smooth cut that requires no subsequent processing, fast rotation speed of the equipment. quicker cutting, precise cut regardless of the workpiece length. All this also ensures that the cost per cut is very low.
But if you need to cut products from different metal alloys, different shapes and sizes, then you need a universal type saw with the ability to quickly adjust the working parameters. In this situation, a band saw is better suited, as it can handle any material.
Advantages and disadvantages of circular saws for metal.
The main area where the advantages of HSS circular saws can be seen is in automated line production. The value for money in a circular saw blade is very high with minimal operator intervention. This feature makes it indispensable for manufacturing pipes and profiles.
The life of a circular tool is much longer than that of a band saw and if used properly, it is a better choice in the long run. Virtually all such saws can be resharpened, restoring almost all of their original characteristics. For example, when using saws with simple shape tips, even if the latter are destroyed, the carbide plates can be replaced. Teeth in HSS and friction saws can be re-cut.
However, the scope of circular saws is narrow and limited not only by the cross section of the material, but also by its shape. This disadvantage is offset by the variety of metal circular saws available. For example, segment circular saws and other industrial counterparts that can cut workpieces with a larger cross section than band saws, friction saws and carbide saws operate at higher speeds. But, considering the cost of an industrial tool, buying several types of saws is not always economically feasible.
Our top choice
Now that you’ve learned about the differences in types of metal cutting tools and their features, it’s time to familiarize yourself with some of the best models on the market.
The DeWALT DW872 is a frequent favorite in independent reviews of the best metal saws. Powerful 15 amp-hour motor coupled with a 66-tooth carbide-tipped blade delivers fast, clean cuts in steel, aluminum, copper, and other metals, as well as plastics, composites, and wood.
DW872 has best-in-class cutting capacity: up to 5 3/16″ in diameter for solid bars or 6½” by 4½” for rectangular workpieces. Users can create bevels at angles up to 45 degrees with the adjustable guide, and there’s a quick-release lever on the clamp.
The 47-pound cut-off saw is fairly portable yet sturdy, although the stamped steel base isn’t as stiff as some cast versions. Plastic blade guard. No chip tray or spark arrestor, but since the DeWALT produces very few sparks, that’s not a problem.
Get a DeWALT metal saw at Amazon or Acme Tools.
Second place winner
Another popular high-performance choice, this Makita model has a slightly smaller blade than the DeWALT, with a maximum cut of 4½ inches. Nevertheless, the 60 carbide-tipped teeth provide fast cutting and smooth work on a wide variety of metals. The base is made of one-piece aluminum casting, and the blade guard. made of steel, although it produces very few sparks.
While some crosscut saws have a quick-release clamp for quick repetitive cutting, the Makita also boasts a quick-release stop for quickly setting various angles. A socket wrench is needed for quick and easy blade changes, but it’s included. Safety glasses included with the saw. Although a chip tray is provided, it catches very little. The Makita cut-off saw is a useful tool for light to medium loads, but for do-it-yourself users, it’s a significant investment.
Buy a Makita metal saw at Amazon. Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
Best bang for the buck
At first glance, it’s hard to see why the Porter-Cable cut-off saw is so affordable. Its overall construction is sturdy, and it has a powerful 15 amp-hour motor. It is equipped with an adjustable guide for a cutting angle of up to 45 degrees and a quick-release clamp. Spark deflector protects the user and provides a clear view of the cutting line.
The big difference with this saw is the abrasive wheel. Although it runs at 3,800 rpm (revolutions per minute), the actual cutting speed is much slower than the toothed disc. In addition, although replacement wheels cost several times less than a tungsten carbide blade, they wear out much faster. So while the maximum width is 5 inches, it quickly decreases with regular use. Abrasive wheels also produce lots of sparks. Nevertheless, the price of the Porter-Cable makes it a worthy choice for home welders and engineers who do not require high precision.
Get a Porter-Cable metal saw at Amazon. Home Depot. Or Acme Tools.
Home DIYers looking for a multi-purpose saw can try the Evolution Rage4. This is a well-made, sturdy tool with an adjustable guide and a quick-release clamp. The 10-amp motor isn’t as powerful as some, but it pairs well with the 7¼-inch tungsten-tipped blade.
With its amazing versatility, the blade is the star here. It can make precise cuts in ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastics, PVC, composites and wood. Maximum thickness of steel plate is only ¼ inch, but it cuts through a box section up to 5 inches across.
Saw produces very little heat and few sparks. At only 19 pounds, it is very portable and easy to store, making it a good choice for a small workshop with limited space.
Get the Evolution Rage4 metal saw at Amazon. Home Depot. Or Tractor Supply Company
Best portable computer
WEN has a reputation for making durable tools at competitive prices, and the company’s portable band saw is a good example. It has a reliable 10 amp-hour motor that drives a 10/14 TPI variable pitch blade suitable for a variety of materials. Users can adjust the speed, so the feed rate can be optimized for metals from aluminum to cast iron. It can make a maximum cut of 5 inches.
The ball-bearing guides provide a smooth cut, and the external lever makes it easy to tension the blade. A rubberized handle provides room for a gloved hand, and an additional handle on the front provides a secure grip.
At less than 15 pounds, it’s lightweight, but that’s because it contains quite a bit of plastic. Although the saw is not fragile, it can be damaged in harsh jobsite conditions. There are also reports of occasional breakdowns, although they seem to be isolated incidents rather than a general problem.
Cutting wisely: selection of the best models of cut-off saws and assembly saws
Cutting metal is needed in many production processes, at home and on construction sites. Cutting blanks is at the heart of assembling projected models from blanks. One of the most convenient tools for crosscutting material is the cut-off machine.
Cutting machines are widespread, both in small workshops and in large factories. They can have different configurations, but the physical principle remains the same: a special disk rotates and cuts the metal profile or bar with either special fine teeth or an abrasive edge.
Since most other materials (e.g. plastic or wood) are softer than metal, the construction makes it easy to use the machine for cutting any shape by simply replacing the cutting wheel.
Ease of use
The use of the cutting wheel in a machine format considerably simplifies the work, makes cutting easier and shortens the time required for the actual cutting operation. Even for domestic use, a stationary cutting machine is often much more ergonomic and safe than a hand-held tool.
As an experiment, you might suggest cutting a piece of ordinary iron profile pipe. It is much easier to feed it under the disk mounted on a special pendulum lifting mechanism than to cut the same with an angle grinder. In fact, the use of the latter is justified only when the construction is stationary and needs to be cut in parts on site.
The range of cutting devices is extremely wide, so under one and the same general name may appear very different devices. In order to somehow organize this variegated variety, we can introduce different classification bases.
Depending on where and for what purpose the machines will be used, there are two large groups of machines:
These devices can be of very different quality. They are used by both amateurs and professionals. The difference is rather in the amount of work and dimensions. These devices are small in size. Though they have special fasteners for fixation in a certain place, they can be easily moved from one place to another by one person. These devices are often called assembly saws or trimmers, alluding to the transverse nature of the cuts they make.
These machines are not just designed to work under load for a long time. They have motors of a different capacity, sometimes an order of magnitude greater than the household variety. The dimensions of these devices are much larger, as well as their weight. this is because industrial cutting machines have massive bases, feeders and cutting platforms, where the support leg with the blade is just a small moving part of the large-sized machine. Machines of this class work for 8 or, if necessary, 12-14 hours without interruption.
By the nature of the movement of the disc
The cutting disc, which is the most important element of the construction, can move in a special mechanism in different ways.
Depending on this, such mechanisms are distinguished:
- Pendulum. All portable trimmers and many industrial automatic machines have such a device. The disc is raised and lowered in a special support. At one end it is connected to the cutting base by a pin or a hinge, and in the free arm there is a disk with a handle, by holding which the disk is moved up or down. The mechanism received its name because of the oscillating system.
- Frontal. If the pendulum mechanisms can be manual and automatic, the machine with the front infeed operates exclusively according to the program set by the operator. The cutting blade does not move in a rotational arc, but progressively as the workpiece of the required length is fed to the place of cut.
- Bottom. Nowadays these machines are represented by numerically controlled machines. The disc feed from below makes cutting safe and allows you to set the desired angle.
By the number of working discs
This class includes all household units and most industrial units without exception. Although the productivity of such machines is less, but they have a wide range of versatility. They can cut almost anything. from metal fixtures to PVC window profiles.
One of the discs is fixed, the other can be moved relative to it. That gives twice the productivity, but results in a very specialized tool.
How to choose
Choosing a tool in the garage at the cottage or even for a small business, you should pay attention to compact household models, albeit of adequate quality. Large factory tooling is not usually bought by the companies of the respective profile according to personal preferences, but in accordance with the state standards and technical requirements for the processing of the respective materials.
Such equipment may be financially feasible to buy, but it is meaningless without an equipped shop and large volume of work. That’s why we’ll go on to talk about domestic and semi-professional pendulum cutting machines.
The choice of the model of assembly or trimming saw should be carried out, paying attention to the characteristics of the device:
- Power. Characteristics of an electric motor that can overcome the resistance of the material, as well as work with discs of large diameter. Its value is in direct relation to the thickness of the products to be cut, as well as their hardness and toughness.
- Spindle speed. There is an unspoken rule: the harder the material, the higher the rotational speed of the blade. But this is only a general formulation. In practice, cutting timber with a chopper even at low RPM will lead to charring of the cellulose fibers. That is why special toothed discs are used for wood and plastics. It is best when the machine has adjustable speed, but this option can be found only on expensive professional equipment.
- Diameter of cutting disc. The bigger it is, the thicker the workpieces can be put under the pendulum. Of course, a solid diameter entails proportional weighting of the entire construction. Most domestic and semi-professional models are designed for a wheel diameter of 400 mm. Industrial models can be larger, too.
- Dimensions and weight. If mobile use is planned (for example, on construction sites or interior decoration), it is better to choose a lighter and smaller machine. Stationary use places practically no restrictions on size, because the tool is bolted to a solid, fixed base.
- Safety. Industrial models have a fixed metal cover and plexiglass screen. Quality domestic machines contain a special sliding shield, which is released by a special lever and moves up when you tilt the slider. Expensive machines have built in automatic shutdown when the disc locks.
- Adjustments. Two basic adjustments are sufficient for a good trimmer: tilting the blade up to 45 degrees and swiveling the work platform with a stop or vice. The combination of these angular corrections allows you to obtain any geometry of evenly sawn face.
- Additional conveniences. In professional devices, everything is made for the convenience of the operator and clean work. For example, an opening for the connection of an assembly bag or a construction vacuum cleaner.
Which assembly saw is the best choice
When choosing a power tool for metal cutting, you need to assess the quality of the assembly of the most important components, the materials used in the manufacture of parts and the convenience of the entire design for continuous operation
Consider what the main elements of the machine and its functionality you need to pay attention to
What you need to know about motor types
Metal assembly saws are equipped with two basic types of electric power units.
Induction motors are the most widely used in modern machines. It is reliable, relatively simple to build and has a long service life. They have a low starting torque and a considerable current at acceleration. It should be started up at idle speed, after which it can be subjected to operating loads. Absence of carbon brushes in the construction guarantees the long-term maintenance-free operation of the motor.
Collector motors have graphite brushes that transmit current to the rotating rotor windings. Such models are usually smaller in size, easy to produce and repair, inexpensive. They have limited power, low efficiency and require more frequent maintenance. They are not designed for continuous high-speed operation. When choosing a machine with an electric motor of this type, it is desirable to make sure that the possibility of independent replacement of brushes, so as not to resort to the services of the service.
What types of drives can be used?
There are two ways of transmitting torque from the electric motor to the cutter heads of assembly saws.
Belt drive is more typical for professional, high-performance machines. It can produce a small power loss, but it protects the motor from overloading. The presence of several pulleys allows you to change the cutting speed and use discs of different diameters.
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Metal assembly saw with belt drive.
Gear drive is more common in domestic and semi-professional tools. Loss-free transmission of power by the gearbox, but increases the load on the motor in the event of excessive material resistance. This has a negative effect on the service life of the entire machine.
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Gear-driven metal assembly saw.
What you need to know about power
Motor power is directly related to the technical capabilities of the metal assembly saw. The vast majority of the models are equipped with motors that require 700 to 2600 W. This is selected according to the intensity of use and the nature of the application. Leading manufacturers equip their products with overload protection and electronic speed stabilization systems to improve high load operation.
Type of disc used
When cutting and processing metal blades, a variety of blade designs and material qualities are available. Two basic types of consumables are used in assembly saws.
Abrasive blades are made from hard materials and have internal reinforcement. They wear out little by little during use, which does not greatly influence cutting performance, but decreases the ability to cut large parts. Their life cycle is counted in several tens of cuts.
They tend to shift and change shape slightly, which is a significant disadvantage in demanding cutting precision. These wheels are better suited for machining materials with high hardness, while wood, plastic or non-ferrous metals are difficult to cut.
Advantages and disadvantages
Many businessmen think that it is more profitable to use a circular saw or a regular jigsaw to cut metal, in fact the band saw is faster to do the job and pays for itself in a short time. In addition, it has many advantages:
- Saves electricity.
- Runs quickly and quietly.
- Easily handles hard metal workpieces.
- Makes precise cuts in many shapes.
- Reduces the amount of waste.
- Safe operation.
The disadvantages are high cost of the machine, the need to prepare the saw every time for work and the low durability of the tooth.
Top 10 best models
In this rating we have gathered for you the best models in terms of price, quality and reliability.
Bosch GCD 12 JL
The assembly saw for quick sawing of metal parts. High performance. Easy and comfortable to operate.
Equipped with 2 kW electric motor.
Cutting blade rotates at 1,500 rpm. The device makes cuts with a height of 85 mm and a width of 158 mm. Equipped with a laser for maximum precision marksmanship.
No sparks while working. Quick change tooling is available thanks to quick-change jaws.
- power. 2000 W
- Cutting height. 85 mm;
- disc diameter. 305 mm;
- planting hole. 25 mm;
- Speed is 1500 rpm;
- angle of inclination. 45 degrees.;
- weight of 20 kg.
Metabo CS 23-355
Suitable for professional applications thanks to its powerful motor. Can be used to cut aluminum, steel and other metals.
Quickly cuts even dense materials.
Saw is equipped with a 35.5 cm blade. It spins at up to 4,100 rpm.
The right depth of cut can be selected according to the density of the material.
Handle for easy carrying and transportation.
- power. 2300 W;
- Cutting height. 125 mm;
- disk diameter. 305 mm;
- seating hole. 25.4 mm;
- revolutions. 4100 rpm;
- 45° tilt angle.;
- weight. 16.9 kg.
Professional equipment with direct drive, 1,75 kW power and a cutting disk diameter of 305 mm. These parameters are enough to saw the metal workpiece to a depth of 11.5 cm and a width of 15 cm.
Device is connected to 220 V mains with 2.5 m cable.
The clever design makes it possible to quickly change work tools.
unit weighs 19 kg. Set includes saw blade and mitre wrench and safety glasses.
- power. 1750 W;
- cutting height. 115 mm;
- disc diameter. 305 mm
- the bore is 25 mm;
- Speed. 1300 rpm;
- 45° tilt angle.;
- weight 19 kg.
ELITECH PM 1218
Powerful and efficient equipment for processing metal workpieces. Suitable for personal and professional use.
Equipped with a powerful electric motor and 30.5 cm disc.
Connects to 380 V mains. Up to 5000 rotations per minute.
Belt drive ensures soft start without motor damage due to overload.
Cutting depth adjustment is possible. Only takes a few seconds to change tooling thanks to the quick-action vice.
- Power. 1200 W;
- Cutting height. 50 mm
- disc diameter. 180 mm;
- Seating hole 22.2 mm;
- Speed 5000 rpm
- angle of inclination. 45°.;
- weight. 5.5 kg.
Indispensable equipment for steel, copper and other metals. Perfectly copes with cutting workpieces up to a depth of 70 mm and a width of 233 mm.
Excellent performance, making it suitable for personal and professional use. Sophisticated handle makes the device ergonomic.
No sparks while working. saw is equipped with 2,2kW motor and 25,5 cm disc.
In one minute the disc makes up to 3800 rpm, so quickly saws thick workpieces.
- power. 2200 W;
- Cutting height. 70 mm;
- disc diameter. 355 mm;
- arbor hole. 25.4 mm;
- Speed. 3800 rpm;
- 45 degree incline.;
- weight. 16.6 kg.
ELITECH PM 2535
Indispensable equipment for working metal. It can be used to quickly and accurately saw black and base metal workpieces.
Designed for home and professional use.
Equipped with 2.5 kW electric motor and 35.5 cm disc, which makes up to 388 rpm. These parameters are enough to saw a workpiece to a depth of 110 mm.
Well-built and easy to use saw. Changing wheels in less than a minute.
- power. 2500 watts;
- cutting height. 110 mm;
- disc diameter. 355 mm
- 25″ planting hole.4 mm;
- Speed. 3800 rpm;
- 45° tilt angle.;
- weight. 18.5 kg.
ELITECH PM 3040T
Sawing tool for any kind of metal. Connects to 380 V mains. Quickly makes cuts up to 140 mm deep and 120 mm wide. The disc makes up to 2800 revolutions per minute.
Well thought out design makes it easy to operate the equipment without special skills. Cutting depth limiter for precise cutting.
Minimal time needed to change accessories thanks to quick-change vice. Safety ensured by safety guard and locking system against mistaken operation.