Porter-Cable Porta-Band 725 Bench Mount
As a long time member of the hack saw club I reckoned it was time to get a band saw for metal. I had looked at some rigs that other knifemakers were using and was intrigued by the idea of mounting a portable band saw on the bench and making a little table for it.
What brand of saw to buy? Typically, common names like DeWalt and Milwaukee are sold second hand for the $100 to $200 range. These use a common size 44-7/8" x 1/2" x 0.020" blade. Having the same blade size makes buying replacement blades (pardon the pun) a snap.
As I was waiting patiently scanning the offerings on the classified sites, then heavy-duty Porter-Cable 725 came up for sale, I jumped on it.
The 725 is not a perfect portable band saw for mounting, but it's hard to beat for build quality and over all robustness. The first thing I noted about the 725 was that the cutting capacity was severely limited by the angle of the blade. The blade gets tilted about 30° by two sets of rollers. This keeps the blade straight up and down when holding the handles. In the bench mounted mode, I could re-position these guides to allow for very long pieces of steel to be "ripped" as the item being cut would miss the saw motor frame.
Here you can see how the original 725 blade angle allows for good cross cutting, but poor ripping.
As a knifemaker, I am more likely to be cutting long rip type cuts. The blocks will change the angle to accommodate this, while sacrificing the cross cutting capacity.
The Angle Offset Blocks
If I want to rip something longer than 4", these little guys have to change.
In-situ, this looks like it is going to work. Now to make two of them out of 1/2" steel.
It's important to note that there is a trade off with the angle of the blade. The factory angle will let you cut a piece off of a very long piece, but it is limited to about 4" in depth. The angle of my blocks will let me "rip" very long pieces but limit the length of cuts to about 6". Some angle less than 30° may be best for you, depending on your applications.
The table top is made from 3/16" cold rolled steel that I cut on a large band saw. The blade on the big band saw is thicker than my little 0.020" blade so the slot will work just fine.
I welded the cleat to the underside of the table after positioning it and marking it.
The underside of the table looks like this when screwed down.
Another view of the underside from the back of the saw.
Here we see the saw installed into the base.
Here it is before paint.
I will paint the base and tie up the power switch so that the saw stays on when powered. This leads us to the switched receptacle.
UPDATE: NOVEMBER 2015
I have to say, this thing is one of the most useful things in the shop. I used it almost everyday. I've cut tubing, lots of stainless cutlery stock, heavy bar stock and 3/4" high-carbon plate steel without any problems. The blades seem to keep going forever when I run it at the slower speed.
After having gone through some blades already, I can say that I am a fan of LENNOX. Good value blades.
UPDATE: AUGUST 2016
Still working well and still gets plenty of use.
Making the Switched ReceptaclePlease note that this article is intended to be only educational in nature. The author and/or publisher assumes no responsibility for use this information. Always consult with a qualified electrician and adhere to codes set out by your national and local electrical authorities.
This is the basic wiring of a combo switch receptacle. There are two ways this can be used: 1; the receptacle is always powered and the switch controls something else, say a light, that is NOT plugged into the receptacle, or 2; the switch is controlling the receptacle.
We want the switch to control power to the receptacle.
Remove about 5 inches of the jacket from the power cord.
Pop one knock-out and install the cord strain relief. I like to do that at the end, opposite to the grounding screw as shown.
As the receptacle will be switched, you must break the tab between the switch hot and receptacle hot like shown. Make a small 14 AWG jumper, about 3" long, strip about 1/2" of insulation off and crimp a fork lug on each end.
Connect the white, black and green wires. When connecting the green wire, add the green jumper wire as well. See photo. Push the cord back into the strain relief and tighten it down to secure the cord.
Tighten down and attach the plate.
Plug it in and check with your receptacle tester.