Harbor Freight Bandsaw / Central Machinery Horizontal Metal Cutting Bandsaw

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So the title may be long but I know a bunch of people refer to the Central Machinery Horizontal Metal Cutting Bandsaw as the “HF Bandsaw” (or Harbor Freight). The bandsaw is extremely popular for the “DIY” garage/weekend warriors and even in some small 4×4 shops due to it’s extremely low price.

Before I get started you may want to know what exactly we are talking about. Well, it’s this horizontal metal cutting bandsaw from harbor freight that is regularly on sale for $160 + ~$15 for shipping, a real good deal on a bandsaw for the garage.

After assembling the bandsaw and putting it on the provided stand I quickly realized the bandsaw stand was the very weakest link in this unit! I tore it apart and put the bandsaw on the floor of my garage.  The floor is a lot more stable 😉 and it would serve me well for cutting my 110lb pieces of tubing, something the stand would have most likely collapsed under.

Here’s a picture of how I had it setup for the longest time, the steel on the left is a counter weight for the heavy electric motor and the green bottle is my ultra-awesome coolant that kicks some serious butt!  *Note the big pile of metal shavings!*

horizontal bandsaw

Many people say that you can not cut very well with the stock/harbor freigth bandsaw blade.  I completely disagree, and have cut MANY pieces of 3″x3″x5/16″ as pictured here.

I also have cut probably 20ft of 1/4″ plate with it for the caster legs, and misc. other brackets I needed to cut-out.  The bandsaw was quickly becoming the MOST used tool in the garage! It is just so versatile on what it can cut, and how precise it is.

bandsaw cut

Here’s a picture of the harbor freight bandsaw blade after many many cuts on the saw.

bandsaw blade

As you can see still in great condition, and right above the teeth is a bunch of coolant, that stuff is tacky and stays on the teeth while it’s lubed up and moving and cutting.

I opted NOT to replace the blade right away like everyone seemed to suggest and it served me well until it randomly broke in half cutting a piece of 3″x3″x5/16″.  I replaced the blade with one the local welding supply had, I believe it was a MORSE brand. The darn blade cost about 1/5 as much as the bandsaw cost me from harbor freight, and to my surprise it didn’t cut much faster or any straighter.  I would suggest NOT replacing the blade until the harbor freight bandsaw blade busts on you or you strip the teeth.  A key item to blade survival is not pushing down on the bandsaw to make the cut you need to allow the tension spring to pull it down into the metal.

So, after using the blade and the bandsaw a while on the floor I got to constructing the portable stand on casters which I cut legs with from the bandsaw.

Here’s the new stand on casters.  The bandsaw is simply sitting on the stand right now, soon there will be tabs and it will be bolted in to place.  I also plan on adding a tray under the bandsaw to catch the shavings so that I can utilize the large storage area under the saw and not have my items stored become covereding shavings.  The front and rear of the saw are going to also receive sliders/supports to hold long pieces of steel that are being cut.

bandsaw stand on casters

Here’s a close-up of the bottom which will soon see another piece of steel connecting the legs and also a tray.

*Note* the casters are large and roll very easy even in the grit!

bandsaw casters

Here’s a close-up of the bandsaw sitting on the new heavy duty bandsaw stand!

bandsaw picture

The bandsaw out of the box did not cut straight at al and required adjusting the material holder as well as the blade holder.  After about 20 minutes and 10 or so test cuts it’s almost DEAD ON.  My spring tensioner is adjusted to pull down pretty hard so on 1″ .095″ tube I have to hold it from pulling down TOO FAST and cutting at an angle.  The saw can be setup to cut straight if someone takes their time and configures it properly.

Here are some cuts I made for my buggy build.

bandsaw cut

bandsaw cuts

I slowed the saw down (dropping down) in which case the cuts can get a ( in them from going to fast.

3 Comments »

  1. Hi there,

    how do I configure the bandsaw so that it cuts straight? I don’t have a proper manual for mine, but it looks very similar to the Harbour Freight model…

    Thanks,
    Jan

    Comment by Jan — August 28, 2008 @ 12:25 am

  2. Really great info here. I have been wokring with metal for quite some time, but have never purchased a band saw for my home garage. Was planning on buying name brand used, but with this positive review I think I might get one from HF.

    Comment by James Miley — March 3, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

  3. Please help me — I guess I’m dumb as dirt. I bought one of the Harbor freight metal band saws and , of course, when I got it all assembled, the pulleys and the blade are at about a 30 degree angle to the direction of cut. Is this the way it works? Do I have to adjust the blade guides until the blade is parallel to the plane of the cut? I don’t get it!!

    Jim Manly

    Comment by Jim Manly — July 31, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

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