New Tool Fridays: Bandsaw

I really like bandsaws. They’re way quieter than chop saws, and don’t spray dust and metal everywhere. This week’s NTF is about my Harbor freight bandsaw. I bought this thing when I got tired of walking around my gigantic Carolina that took up twice as much space. The funny thing is, they have the same capacity, 8 x 12.

My favorite things about this saw are:
-It’s an extremely common model called the RF812 that’s sold under a lot of brands, so spare parts are very easy to come by.
-It has a 3/4″ blade instead of a 1/2″ blade, and I find that the blade just doesn’t deflect as easy, and makes cleaner cuts. You’re limited to a finest TPI of 14 though, unless you make your own blades.
-It’s an extremely efficient design. It’ll cut up to a 10″ piece of metal with the vise as it is normally set up, but you can move the stationary jaw and get an extra 2″ out of it. I like being able to cut big stuff if I have to.
-It’s available from HF for $700.

My least favorite thing was the motor. So I removed the enormous, cast piece of junk motor it came with and made a new motor mount. It’s spring loaded so it’s easier to change speeds. Then put a nice Baldor 1HP I got from the salvage yard on it, and now it just sings.


It was also really low to the ground as it came, so I whipped up a steel stand and put some real wheels on it. I hate having to bend over to use tools, and I use this one a lot. Now it rolls over stuff pretty easy and I can move it when I need to.


They say everything Harbor freight sells is just an incomplete kit, and you have to finish it. This saw is a perfect example.

New tool Fridays: Belt sander

I started doing New tool Fridays a while back with the Buttfeeler. I haven’t had a chance to continue the tradition, but I want to because I really like the idea. When I buy or make a new tool, I’ll post a few pictures of it on a Friday!

This Friday’s new tool is a belt sander that I made this winter for the shop. It’s modeled off of a “Kalamazoo” double 2in belt sander. My version also has 3 different speeds. I painted it a nice soft blue.

I like how it turned out, but as usual, I can think of some things I would do differently next time. I’ll bet this isn’t the last belt sander I make.

I keep 80 grit on the left, and 120 on the right.




Keep an eye out for more New too Fridays!

Frame jig – Bench mount

After building the jig, I needed somewhere to mount the damn thing, since it weighs about 100 pounds. This part actually took quite a bit of thinking before I was ready to commit to a design. My design parameters were:

-Mounted to my welding bench so that it didn’t move much, but could still be rolled around if I needed it elsewhere.
-To rotate 360° to give me the most possible access when welding while in the fixture.
-To swing left and right so that I could get behind both the front and rear of the fixture for welding, and also so that I can swing the whole thing to the left and out of my way when I need to use the welding bench for other things.
-To raise up and down by quite a bit so that I can raise it for fitting all the tubes, and lower it to weld in my chair.

I decided to use bronze bushings to go between the two pieces of steel pipe. This gave me a nice smooth rotation, and also conducts electricity so that I don’t have to use a ground clamp on the fixture.

The bronze bushings installed in the larger tubing with machine screws to keep them from rotating.
Binders for the clamps.
The clamps with their extensions welded on.


I used 309L stainless filler and it came out very nice.
This is the part that bolts to the frame fixture.


Clamp slotted.
And here it is all assembled. 2 Axes of rotation, ability to raise and lower and fairly modular. I might add or remove things as I figure out more about what I want.

Frame jig

I haven’t posted in a while because for the last 6 weeks I was working on a pretty huge project. I decided to build a real frame jig. I built my first few bikes with the 80/20 beam style jig, and it did great for how little work it was and how much it cost. However, I really wanted something that was easier to set up and that I could do at least more than 50% of the welding inside the fixture. I spent a couple months drawing up different designs that I liked, and didn’t like, for various reasons. The jig I ended up designing and building was kind of a cross between an Arctos and an Anvil. Maybe I’ll call it the Arcvil.

It was a huge commitment to go in on this project, but I was pretty confident I could finish it. Luckily, I was right. I finished the jig a couple weeks ago and have already built my first bike in it. It’s downright dreamy.

I didn’t get many pictures of the actual building of it, but I’ll share a few here.

I started with a lot of rough cutting of all the MIC-6 tooling plate. I didn’t get pictures of it, but most of the long rough cuts were done on my boss’s table saw. Then I was able to cut those long pieces down with my bandsaw.

I clamped the long pieces down to the Bridgeport table in just the right spot so that I could take one continuous cut from one end to the other without stopping. Turns out a Bridgeport can take a cut that is 25″ long, as I learned on this day. I wanted both sides to be parallel and straight so that I could reference them.

Getting ready to cut the T-slots and 1/4″ slots for the guide rails.

T-slot in the center is done, and cutting the guide rail slots.


Different piece, but this is a guide rail being drilled and countersunk.

Just drilling holes.

A lot of my days ended looking like this. That pile is like 6″ high.

Done! The white walls in my shop make for horrible photos.


Like I said, not many pictures. Up next, the bench mount.