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71gtx 11-22-2007 11:45 AM

Seeking advice on metal fab tools...
Hi guys, I have been looking around trying to add some tools to the collection to help with building the street rod. I think I'm interested in a Drill Press, Band Saw, and a Tubing Bender. I am a college student so I can't invest in huge equipment, but I want good quality tools that I can potentially keep forever. Here are my questions for each...

Drill Press- I've looked at some in stores but am not sure what kind of HP or amps or any other ratings that will be sufficient for metal working. Or will they all work for wood and metal?

Band Saw- Also have been looking around at Sears, Menards. These seem to be wood working band saws if I'm not mistaking? What kind of ratings should I be seeking for metal band saws? Any special places to look or online companies? (I am looking for vertical models)

Tubing Bender- I haven't seen many other than one manual bender at Harbor Freight. I am going to want to bend tubing for a roll cage, and then smaller tube as well for supports over the driveshaft, etc. I don't know where to start looking for this one??

Happy Thanksgiving :thumbup:

OneMoreTime 11-22-2007 12:02 PM

For a drill press you need one with very slow speeds to drill steel..most of them have multiple speeds...

for the bandsaw most of the metal cutting bandsaws have a vertical as well as the horizontal setup to them..

Try grizzly tools online for some good tools at a reasonable price..

For tubing bender it is either JDsquared..or Pro tools..

Just set aside some cash in your budget and get the tools as you can..I have done that and have a good collection now..


Henry Highrise 11-22-2007 12:31 PM

On the drill press....the more speeds one has, the more versitile it is...mine has 16 speeds.

stoneshrink 11-22-2007 12:57 PM

Don't buy the Harbor freight tubing bender if you plan on doing a roll cage.. You need a pipe bender not a tube bender (pulls the pipe around a die rather then pushes in the middle).... those are spendy, but you'll just waste your money on the tube bender.

Rambo_The_Dog 11-22-2007 01:43 PM

400.00 Entry price with 1 set of dies...

leldai73 11-22-2007 01:52 PM

i thought it was the other way around, you want a tubing bender, not a pipe bender....

As far at tools go, you should look for used industrial quality stuff. I just picked up a Powermatic vertical band saw. granted it needed some TLC and started life as a three phase machine. but now i have an industrial quality tool that with any luck will last my entire life all for just a shade over 500 dollars. (and man does it tear through stuff too) when buying a band saw make sure you get one that is intended to cut metal. strictly wood cutting band saws operate at a very high speed, probably on the order of 2000-4000 surface feet per minute (thats a guess based on the recommended surface feet for cutting wood) cut steel you need between 100 and 150. (surface feet per minute is a measure of how many feet of cutting tool pass by a given point in a minute and is the accepted way to designate tool speed, be it drills, band saw, lathes, etc.)

instead of a drill press you might think of looking into a small vertical milling machine. not only can you drill holes, but you can drill very accurately placed holes. not to mention all of the other things you can do.

Craig's list and eBay has a lot of used machinery. also look through the paper for auctions. But make sure you have an idea of the actual value of an item before you buy it at an auction. when two guys both want something the price can get out of hand sometimes. like a used 6 foot fiber glass step ladder i watched some idiot pay nearly 100 dollars for when the same thing was on sale at Lowes for 25.

I saw grizzly mentioned, and the old adage you get what you pay for most certainly applies to that place. if you buy a 100 dollar tool thats what you've got. but if you go for some of their higher shelf items you get better quality...of course at a higher price.

71gtx 11-22-2007 01:58 PM

I will start to look around at craigslist and such. As far as the pipe/tube bender, the one from speedway seems to only bend certain sized pipe for things such as a roll cage. What about bending small, say 1/4" solid round bar. Would I need two separate tools for those?

What kinds of speeds should I be looking for for the drill press? How about a belt sander, if I run across one of those, I imagine the speeds on that don't matter, just the paper?

cboy 11-22-2007 10:12 PM

Personally I'd move the stationary belt sander (or ANY belt sander) WAY down the list of priorities. I own one but only use it in my woodworking shop. I've never had a use for it in fabricating a hot rod.

leldai73 11-22-2007 10:26 PM

i agree its nice for de-burring but nothing that cant be done with a file or a fiber wheel on a bench grinder.

Youngster 11-22-2007 11:49 PM

Seaking advice on metal fab tools
I'm going to go the other way with this. Industrial quality is nice, but for the hobbyist it's just braggin' rights. 12 years ago, I bought a $150 drill press and a $200 vert./horz. band saw from Northern tool. They have served me very well. the only thing I've replaced on them was the drive belts. The ones they came with were really poor quality, they would slip and I couldn't tighten them enough. I also have a belt sander, $69, and I use it a lot. As for the tube or pipe bender, unless I was going to do a lot of work with it, I think I would pass on it. Ask the circle track guys where they get their tubing bent. Have some assorted bends made up for mock ups, then take them to use as patterns to some one who has a bender. I've found most of these guys work pretty cheap if you do the head work. Put the money for the bender into a good compressor instead. You won't be sorry.


F&J 11-23-2007 06:44 AM

Being that you are in/near a major city; by all means check craigslist & newspaper classifieds for old top quality commercial tools. Here in Ct, the newspaper usually gets high prices for those quality tools, but it is still worth checking.

You need to set up some "favorite searches" on ebay, too. Most bulky used tools are usually a "pick-up-only" on ebay and that keeps the price WAY down. I picked up a 4 foot box & pan brake cheap about an hour away.

I prefer a used commercial tool vs. a new cheap tool IF it is something important. I still use my Miller 35-S mig that I bought used back in 1978/9.

oldred 11-23-2007 07:06 AM

I have no info on the drill press or the bender from Harbor Freight but that band saw they have on sale right now for $159.00 is a good one and mine has served me well for a number of years now. This is the same imported saw that is sold by Grizzly, Northern Tool and several others but usually at a higher price. The blade that comes on it is nothing to be impressed with but HF also has the excellent Morse replacement blades or if not they are easy to find. My saw has held up really well and is as accurate as any saw I have ever used including the Do-All brand I had in my shop that cost well over $1000. This saw like most Chinese tools is crude but in this case it seems to be quite dependable and with the addition of a support roller or table to hold the stock being cut this is a very handy tool that costs next to nothing.

cboy 11-23-2007 07:16 AM

Here's another option you might consider for an affordable tubing bender if that remains a top priority. Twisted Mini built this hydraulic unit himself and I think it came in under $400 including an assortment of dies. You can purchase the plans for it on the web...just PM TM (hey, I think I just became a rap star with that rhyme) and he'll point you in the right direction. Also, he's got a lot more pictures of the unit posted up in his journal beginning with entry 183.

timothale 11-23-2007 04:32 PM

band saw
I use my Milwaukee portable band saw a lot more than the horizontal saw. A lot of steel is now foreign and has a lot of hard spots can take the teeth of the band saw blades pretty quick. I do all the straight cuts with the abrasive blade chop saw I look for used good quality american made stuff first.

Twisted Minis 11-24-2007 10:37 PM

Here is the thread on the bender I built.

Its got a mild step by step. I only had a 1" die at first, but recently got a 1.5" die, and I am impressed with the results. The first thing I did was bend a 180 for a crossmember I was working on.

It makes a very smooth bend, you just need to use a little bit of lube on the guiding die. Companies that make benders sell it, but I just use WD40. It works fine, and isn't consumed as quickly.

Drill Press. I like Deltas. I am looking at getting a full height Delta soon, because the one I have now is just outdated. Look to spend between $300-500 on one, and you can find them on Craigslist at times.

Bandsaw. Personally, I like DoAll, and Kalamazoo. But those are both expensive units, especially new. We had some at the machine shop at school and I was simply impressed. The next thing I would buy, is a JET. It is probably the nicest of the import horizontal saws, and is around $400.

Another thing to look into is a chop saw. I just got one, and I love it. I don't use my band saw as much anymore. Its just a lot faster. I use it to make miter cuts on box tubing. I also use a carbide tipped blade from Bullet Industries. It resembles the blade for a dry cut saw, but can handle the 3000 RPMs of a standard chop saw. It cuts very fast and very clean, and last about as long as 4-6 abrasive blades if not abused.

A plasma cutter is another recent tool I really like. It really opened up the possibilities for me as far as brackets go. I picked one up for $400 shipped from Parker Metalworking Products.

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