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Saws..A Cutting Question.

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Richard. W.31/01/2019 19:51:04
71 forum posts

Hi, all....

I'm looking to improve things in the workshop and would like to introduce a power saw for cutting ply formers and similar.......The thickest I can imagine ever cutting would be 1/2" balsa.

I know that different saws are designed to do different jobs but I can't justify the cost or space for every tool, so is there one type you'd recommend as a good all rounder?...I was thinking of a scroll saw with a guide to handle straight and curved cuts but was hoping to get some advice first.

Danny Fenton31/01/2019 20:01:36
9625 forum posts
4449 photos
Well i will throw my hat in the ring, i find a bandsaw the most useful all rounder for 60" plus models. I gave my powered fretsaw away to a friend, just wasnt as useful.....
Just my thoughts. You will need a fine blade

Edited By Danny Fenton on 31/01/2019 20:02:35

Malcolm Fisher31/01/2019 20:08:50
643 forum posts
7 photos

For me a bandsaw is a much better proposition than a scroll saw. The small amplitude of the stroke on a scroll saw makes it safer if fingers make contact with the blade, but if you try to cut plastic materials the generated heat can make the plastic stick to the blade and break the blade or workpiece - occasionally both as we found out years ago when trying to introduce one to a school workshop so the pupils could use it.

My bandsaw gets used for cutting many different materials and I have a number of blades of differing widths and sizes of teeth including a fine toothed blade capable of cutting thin sheet metal. Narrow blades are best to cope with curves.


Chris Bott - Moderator31/01/2019 21:03:40
6832 forum posts
1429 photos
1 articles

I can never stop the cut wandering off line with a scroll saw and only 10mm of the blade ever gets used (and worn out).

I find a bandsaw far more useful, except you can never poke the blade through a hole in the workpiece like a scroll saw and the throat is unlikely to be as deep. So it's horses for courses - with the bandsaw winning by miles for most jobs.

Peter Miller31/01/2019 21:08:10
11084 forum posts
1308 photos
10 articles

I prefer the hole saw.Mainly because A) you can't cut holes in the middle of things with a band saw. B) you can do tighter raidii witha scroll saw C) the blades are a lot cheaper D) it is safer and takes up less room.

I have used both.The band saw was great for 1" to 2" hardwoods. You don't need that sort of cutting power for 1/2" balsa or even 1/2" ply or hardwood.

Rob Ashley31/01/2019 21:09:28
256 forum posts
86 photos
100% a bandsaw. It will do most things: curves, cross cut, mitre cut and rip to name a few. As the other chaps have said use a narrowish blade for tight curves. It doesn't need to be a big saw either, but think about the throat depth as this will generally determine your max width of cut. For inside cuts a hand held fretsaw is hard to beat. Best of luck.

Edited By Rob Ashley on 31/01/2019 21:10:09

Stuphedd31/01/2019 21:18:43
705 forum posts
374 photos

I use a bandsaw for everything ! and for cutting the centres out of formers , I just cut one slot into the centre cut it out and then glue the slot back up ,and cover it up with a stringer !

Get a good selection of of bandsaw widths and teeth , biggest pain is changing the blade , and you can prolong their life by brazing them together when they break .


Former Member31/01/2019 21:20:04
724 forum posts

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Former Member31/01/2019 21:24:27

[This posting has been removed]

Scott Edwards 231/01/2019 21:31:34
216 forum posts
97 photos
Another vote for a bandsaw ! I never use my fretsaw. Most bandsaws are huuuge but I've got the Proxxon one. It ain't cheap, but is small enough to lift easily onto the workbench when you need it. It cuts balsa beautifuly using the 176 blade, and up to 1/4 ply. Thicker stuff too if you're gentle. I build some big models, and couldn't live without it.

Edited By Scott Edwards 2 on 31/01/2019 21:32:03

Former Member31/01/2019 21:57:30

[This posting has been removed]

Richard. W.31/01/2019 22:34:25
71 forum posts

Thanks for the great input, folks.. I have to agree about Proxxon, having a few of their tools already and the cost is offset by knowing it works and will last.. I shall probably invest in their band saw first then see if I can justify the table saw later....Even if it's mainly used for stripping sheet wood as Percy mentioned, it will soon pay for itself. thumbs up

Martin Harris31/01/2019 22:54:09
9333 forum posts
249 photos

One of these will pay for itself several decades sooner though!

PatMc31/01/2019 23:18:12
4406 forum posts
527 photos

I have an old Burgess BK3 bandsaw that's done sterling service for over 30 years now. It has a deaper throat than similar size 2 wheel models although I have considered a getting a 2 wheeler as a replacement if it has better blade guides & is 2 speed.

If there's an Axminster tool store near you it might be worth having a look at what they have to offer before parting with any cash, that's what I intend doing.

Rob Ashley31/01/2019 23:41:26
256 forum posts
86 photos
Agreed Pat. Axminster do great tools. My bandsaw is an Axminster - very sturdy and accurate and cuts everything but they do cost.
Richard. W.01/02/2019 00:03:02
71 forum posts
Posted by Martin Harris on 31/01/2019 22:54:09:

One of these will pay for itself several decades sooner though!

Hehe......Very true! wink 2 ..... I have a couple of those kicking around and they do work but I find I struggle with them stripping 1/8 sheet and wouldn't attempt thicker sizes.

Another consideration for me with power tools is size. My build area is an upstairs bedroom so any equipment has to be carried up there. I have sclerosis of the lower spine and pelvic joints so heavy lifting is out and I try to organise tools of this type so that they're kept together at one end of a work table and can be moved along into clear space when I need to use them. The small physical size of the Proxxon saw is another thing in it's favour besides it's quality.

Rob Ashley01/02/2019 00:07:09
256 forum posts
86 photos
Blimey, fair play to you mate with your condition. Sounds like proxxon is the right choice for you Richard.
Tim Ballinger01/02/2019 10:08:58
791 forum posts
287 photos

I too use an upstairs bedroom as my workshop and find that the Dremmel moto saw suits my needs well. It is basically a ‘craft’ scroll saw designed into a bespoke dremmel. It mounts on the edge of the bench by g clamps when needed and attaches to a standard vacuum hose to extract the dust. Cuts 6mm ply with ease. Had it for 2 years now and gets a fair amount of use. Has guides to keep you straight until you get to small/ complex shapes at which point you are on your own! Retailed for about £90 when I bought mine .



Edited By Tim Ballinger on 01/02/2019 10:09:59

Nigel R01/02/2019 10:44:49
3905 forum posts
678 photos
Posted by Richard. W. on 01/02/2019 00:03:02:
Posted by Martin Harris on 31/01/2019 22:54:09:

One of these will pay for itself several decades sooner though!

Hehe......Very true! wink 2 ..... I have a couple of those kicking around and they do work but I find I struggle with them stripping 1/8 sheet and wouldn't attempt thicker sizes.

On the balsa stripper front, make your own - it'll be much sturdier / accurate / useful - a few bits of MDF or 3/4" ply:

(not my one, but I don't have a good picture of mine)

This design is on the net, here

With a fresh blade, the captive tip design is happy cutting rock hard 1/4". Because the tip is fixed, it doesn't wander.

The fence has a triangular wedge which allows a good accurate (enough for us, for sure) adjustment of the cut width.

It's solid enough to be clamped to a bench, so you can use blocks to push the sheet wood against the fence, and use a block to feed the sheet through the blade.

It's as best an answer as I've seen, anything more heavyweight would be a bit much. This thing only owes me a couple of hours cutting the parts from scrap constructional ply.

Edited By Nigel R on 01/02/2019 10:47:28

Martin Harris01/02/2019 11:22:30
9333 forum posts
249 photos

That looks a very competent design but to me, the great advantage of the stripper I pictured (can I say that Mods?) is its size - workshop and bench space is at a premium (especially as I'm not the tidiest of workers - to put it mildly!) and I've found it worked well with all the balsa I've tried it on. With care, multiple accurate cuts can be made on particularly hard wood.

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