A rolling stand for the Harbor Freight 4x6 horizontal/ vertical metal cutting bandsaw. An easy pusher!
Goal: To construct a low-cost rolling stand for the Harbor Freight (HF) 4x6 metal cutting bandsaw. There are a lot of metal tubing variants posted on the Internet but I don't have a welder and to be honest, tubing is getting too expensive and I like woodworking. I figured it could easily be done with wood scrap and whatever casters I had in my junk bin. Using old casters and two bucks is my limit.
Background: My recent purchase of a HF bandsaw was a bit of a let down. Not that I expected a whole heck of a lot, but I didn't figure on one of the surprises. The saw is extremely unstable with the existing stand. Most people who own this saw describe the stand as being cheesy, but I didn't think so. It's a durable stand, just off-balance and wobbly. I also expected the included wheels and lifting handle to do a fairly decent job, but that was a severe misunderstanding on my part.
So the netizens are correct in respect to the included wheels, they should be scrapped. And in my opinion the axle assembly and lifting handle too. The sheet metal construction and corner bracing is fine, but when HF upgraded the motors on their saws from the moderate 1/2 HP to a beastly 1HP motor, the pits of hades opened. The motor has a cast iron housing and must weight at least 40 lbs.
The weight is sufficiently off-axis that the slightest push forward will topple the saw. I do understand that once you place a large piece of material on the saw, it can offset this imbalance. I'll never cut more than 30 lbs. of steel and hang it off one side without support. But after some "bumping" and "lifting" mishaps, I had to do something. Even chaos needs to be somewhat orderly.
I carefully experimented to find some kind of optimal values for the stand. I discovered that the saw required about a 14-degree tilt front to back in order to properly balance. Front being the stock-stop side. This translated to moving the longitudinal axis forwards with approximately 6" of cantilever, based on what I estimated the centroid of mass to be from the floor. PFM, trigonometry, and a couple of trials later I settled with 7.5" forward (since the rear casters added 1.5").
Construction: I used scrap 2x4 lumber and a small section of 1x4; use what you have. You can see from the photos what and how I did it. Interestingly, the casters were originally from a Pepsi-Cola rotating display that was junked. Even after 15 years, they found a use and I was actually able to find the manufacturer. They're black phenolic loaded with bits of canvas. Apparently this combination is designed not to mar the concrete or vinyl tile floors of most food store chains.
These casters are 6" of BIG, granted too big (250+ lb. capacity). But I like them! And they were cheap (free)! They just needed some TLC to tear them down, soak in kerosene, clean out the mud, brush off the rust, pound out the bends and kinks, lubricate the lovely ball bearings and axles, and reassemble. This took the better part of a morning and two pints of kerosene (then recycled).
I constructed the wood frame so as to accept the HUGE caster stems and drilled them with a Forstner bit. The closest fitting bit oversized the hole by 0.040" so those white square pieces next to the stems in the photos were used as shims. Those shown are polyethylene, but I ended up using polypropylene (from soda bottles), since they would hold up better and the thickness allowed for a better fit. They all snapped in fantastic. Very secure. It turned out so well that I used the same technique with other stemmed casters for a rolling metal-stock organizer (made from scrap lumber).
I carefully measured with the consideration of my bandsaw base; be advised that they may not all be the same (no dimensions given). You don't have to be as critical as I was. But the easy thing to do is build it without the casters; don't tie it together with the center brace. Position the stand on the 2x4's, use a transfer punch to translate the centers of the corner braces (drill for 5/16"-18 carriage bolts). Then measure and cut for your brace.
Assemble everything square, insert the casters and coral it with some scrap lumber and two-man lift the saw unto the base. Flex the metal legs for a perfect fit and bolt everything down snug, but not overly tight. It's not going anywhere and you don't want to break the welds on the corner braces.
Conclusion: It's a Pinkie Pusher because I can literally move the thing with my little finger and it's fantastic! Note the 1"x4" is screwed from the bottom. I considered placing it on top since it would easily fit in the raised gap between the corner braces. But I opted against that idea once I considered a future shelf for a coolant system. The forces also seemed to resolve better that way. Statics and dynamics isn't my strong suit, but it made sense after staring at it for a few minutes imagining dark matter and Casimir forces. Ummm...yeah...right! Zero-point energy ahoy!
A Few Notes: Building a base with HUGE casters has its advantages. The work-piece is now at a more ergonomic position (raised by 7-1/2"). However watch your feet, it can fall further too! I'll be fixing that with a coolant/chip recovery tray someday. So it's nothing to worry about. -5/30/2007-