Carbide cutting tools are the standard in any precision machine shop, whether it is for tool and die making, injection mold making, or aerospace machining. One tool that is often overlooked or taken for granted is the metal cut off saw.
This tool is essential for any subsequent milling, drilling, EDM or grinding operation. If you can’t cut the steel off from the bar stock, it is rather difficult to make any progress! Yet, little thought is often given to the metal cut off saw.
Usually, precision machine shops use a band saw to cut off steel from bar stock, unless they order it already cut off and ground to specific dimensions. Some band saws are fairly accurate and cut relatively straight, giving a somewhat square surface to work with. But many are actually quite crude and not at all accurate. This is a waste of time and material, and can be avoided.
Types of band saws
The typical metal cut off saw hinges on one end of the machine and is hydraulically lowered over the workpiece, sawing it off in a scissor fashion. This works, but it is hard to control the length of the workpiece and usually extra stock is allowed, just to be safe.
Other metal cut off saws are guided by two parallel posts that allow the band saw to descend in a straight manner, directly over the workpiece. This is much more accurate and easy to control.
The Do-All company makes a great saw that has been available for many, many years, Some of the common models are: C-916M and the 400M. They have many models that meet the needs of just about any tool and die or mold making shop.
The Grob company, in Wisconsin, makes a vertical band saw that is very reliable and durable. Many precision machine shops use these on a daily basis. The 4V-18 and 4V-24 are great saws and will stand up to the most demanding use.
Another company that makes quality band saws is the Kalamazoo/Clausing Company. They make many machine tools, but one that stands out is the double column band saw H330A and H330SA. These are very accurate saws that include a digital readout, automatic feed for barstock, synchronized stock clamping action and an automatic blade shut-off control. This type of machine is primarily for production applications, but can be very useful in a toolshop.
Carbide tipped metal cut off saws
A less commonly used machine is the small, benchtop carbide tipped cutoff saw. These are cold saws, as opposed to abrasive, meaning that they use a carbide tipped blade. This is a good way to accurately cut off material for core and cavity blocks, or die blocks.
Carbide cutting tools have the advantage of durability and high hardness. Tough materials, such as D-2 or H-13 quickly wear out high speed steel blades, but carbide will last up to 10 times longer. These small saws are designed for small batch work, such as would be found in a small tool making facility.
Ultimately, your own particular needs and budget determine which metal cut off saw is appropriate for your shop.