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What steels to avoid with a bandsaw

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by EntrancedVermin, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. EntrancedVermin


    Jul 26, 2016
    Hello, im a hobbyist knife maker and a few months ago i decided to get a portable bandsaw. Now that ive been using it for a while i noticed that there are steels that will dull my blades fast. Ive noticed D2 is one i get a inch or two in and it will no longer cut.

    Im wanting to make a list of steels to not use on a bandsaw, to save me and other knife maker's some time and money. Im getting in some Z-Tuff soon, has anyone tried cutting it on a bandsaw?

    I try to see if anyone else has asked this question but i couldn't find any other threads about it.

    Steels ive cut on my bandsaw with no problems 1075, 1084, 1095, 80crv2, A2 and if i remember right some AEB-L.

    Thank you, Gabriel
  2. Josh Rider

    Josh Rider KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 2, 2014
    It also depends what condition the steel is in. Whether it’s hardened or if it has scale on it. A lot of steels come from the distributors annealed and relatively soft, but I’ve run across some that weren’t.
    EntrancedVermin likes this.
  3. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    The high alloy and very tough steels are harder to cut. Obviously, all hardened steel is not cuttable. Simple carbon steels usually are fully annealed when you get them and cut easily.

    As Josh mentioned, scale from forging needs to be soaked off before cutting, as scale is very hard. You can cut through it, because it is thin, but it is best for your blade to remove it first. Soak forged blades/billets in sodium bisulfate ( Ph Down) overnight to remove the scale.
    EntrancedVermin likes this.
  4. Keith Nix

    Keith Nix

    Jan 3, 2018
    Also it's extremely important to use proper speeds when cutting higher alloyed steels. Slow the blade down, keep your feed steady, and use coolant or oil to assist. Letting a nonabrasive cutting tool of any kind sit and rub a high alloy steel will work harden the steel, making it very difficult to cut.
  5. Robert Erickson

    Robert Erickson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 2, 2014
    Also important is the type of bandsaw blade you use. Bimetal blades for steel will do a better job. Lenox makes good ones for portaband saws.
  6. kdnolin

    kdnolin Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    I have cut CPM-154, S35VN
    M4, 8670, 80CrV2, AEB-L
    Thickness from .060-.125 all from AKS. I use cutting oil and a good blade, works great.

    The hardest I have cut was some 15N20, but it was not fully annealed and dulled my blade.
    Willie71 and EntrancedVermin like this.
  7. butcher_block

    butcher_block KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 6, 2004
    as said bi metal blades mind your speeds and feeds and avoid scale on the bars. noting hardened even tempered to spring temper. more alloy faster it kills a blade but its jsut something you have to plan for not like that portaband has much saw blade in it. just like grinding a blade on a 1x42 vs 2x72 you only get so much cutting action out of a belt or saw blade
    Keith Nix and EntrancedVermin like this.
  8. daizee

    daizee KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 30, 2009
    I've had no trouble with 1084, O1, A2, 154CM, CPM154, S35VN from Aldo, Starrett, etc. all delivered annealed. Sounds like your D2 may not have been fully annealed.

    I think the main producer of 15N20 delivers it to our well-known resellers semi-hard in the 40Rc range. That stuff sucks to cut or drill if you're not just chop-sawing it for damascus. Gotta anneal that before cutting, or at least temper it very very high (until dull red just barely starts to show seems to work).
    EntrancedVermin likes this.
  9. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    Does anyone use cutting fluid on their porta-band? I have a DeWalt DW120, and in the user's manual is says to never use coolant on the blades, as "it can build up on the tires and reduce performance". I get "buildup" on the tires anyways just from dry cutting, but it is very light and doesn't seem to interfere with performance.
    EntrancedVermin likes this.
  10. EntrancedVermin


    Jul 26, 2016
    Just to let everyone know all the steel ive been cutting on the bandsaw has been annealed (all from AKS and njsb). I have been using Milwaukee brand Bimetal blades. From what ive gathered from the comments I probably just need to turn down the speed.

    The D2 I was cutting had a carburized finish and is .20 thick so im sure if I grind it clean and take my time ill be fine. I did know that scale was harder then the steel under it but didn't even think about the carburized finish.

    Thank you for all the suggestions and information
  11. EntrancedVermin


    Jul 26, 2016

    The only problem ive had with using any kind of cutting fluid was that the blade came off... after using it to cut multiple knives out.
    samuraistuart likes this.
  12. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    My portable bandsaw recently started losing power at the lowest speed for some reason. It runs but then stops when I start cutting steel.
    EntrancedVermin likes this.
  13. 12345678910


    Jul 13, 2009
    The carbon steel blades from HF are total garbage, Bimetal is the way to go.
    Willie71 likes this.
  14. Alpha Knife Supply

    Alpha Knife Supply Always Innovating Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 14, 1998
    The only alloys we do not cut with a bandsaw are:
    • S110V
    • S125V
    • Rex121
    • Talonite

    I've previously written the importance of breaking in bandsaw blades. In our shop, a blade that is properly broken in will last a couple months. Without break in, a blade lasts a few days.

    TLR, EntrancedVermin and Willie71 like this.
  15. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Sorry about the 15n20. Forgot to tell you it was partially hardened.
  16. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    The condition of your blade is important. A dull blade will easily work harden higher alloy or stainless steel. Fresh, properly broken in blades cut best.
  17. Scaniaman


    Jun 15, 2012
    I've read a bit of poor reviews on Milwaukee blades. Lenox and MK Morse seem to be well appreciated. I use MK Morse BiM 18 TPI, broken in first. Have only cut RWL 34 with it, and it goes thorough that with ease.
    EntrancedVermin likes this.
  18. kdnolin

    kdnolin Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    No worries Warren. It was starting to dull anyway.
  19. kdnolin

    kdnolin Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    I’ve never heard of breaking in a blade before. Can you, or anyone, post a link to the thread?

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