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Technical Bench Top Metalworking Equipment

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by brianf31, Aug 9, 2021.

  1. brianf31
    Joined: Aug 11, 2003
    Posts: 969

    brianf31
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I need to upgrade some raggedy metalworking equipment but I am space-limited. What's your favorite benchtop vertical bandsaw and belt sander in the $500-1000 range? This would be for your standard hot rod bracket and sheet metal stuff, everything from 20 gage steel to 1/4" plate.
     
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  2. Dave G in Gansevoort
    Joined: Mar 28, 2019
    Posts: 2,799

    Dave G in Gansevoort
    Member
    from Upstate NY

    I have a space challenged shop as well. For a bandsaw to cut out smaller brackets, and also be able to do cutoffs on long stock like rollcage tubing, I got a Milwaukee Porta-band saw and an accessory stand from Swag Offroad. DSCN1096.JPG I've cut 1/2 inch steel with it, just have to plan each cut as the depth is that of the Porta-band saw, about 6 inches. You can't rip long stuff but cost ($500) and size for me makes up for it.
     
  3. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 23,490

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I have that setup, but with a Dewalt band saw. It works well.

    As I have a Porter-Cable combo disc/belt sander.

    Along with a good drill press, you can have a pretty good shop.
     
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  4. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 23,490

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Just about the most useful thing that I have in my long-time kit is a basic body hammer and dolly set. You don't need many of either, but get good ones. I use Martin stuff. Worth every penny.

    I also have one big dumb piece of high quality steel, and that is an about 8-inch section of railroad track. It has several profiles already on it to hammer against, and I re-shaped a few, as needed. You can curve and brake over it, to make patch panels, even including steps and beads, with some practice.

    Any bench vise is better than no bench vise.
     
  5. I got rid of my band saw years ago, switched to a chop saw. While a chop saw won't do everything a band saw will, it'll do most of it and do it much faster. Plus they're cheaper to buy/own. I've never missed the band saw. The only downside to the chop saw is they're messy. I usually cut non-ferrous metal on my table saw with a carbide blade, although I do have a 70T carbide blade for the chop saw that I can use.

    If you want to get fancy, a compound-mitre chop saw usually used for wood trim will work just as well with an abrasive blade, plus do non-ferrous with a carbide blade.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2021
  6. I agree with Anthony Myrick. Buy used commercial shop equipment. About 10 years ago, a local machine shop closed down, and I got a good used Rockwell belt sander for $ 80.00. That was cheaper than buying an imported one of dubious quality. It works well, I am happy with it.
     
  7. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 5,377

    indyjps
    Member

    A piece of railroad rail. I picked one up about 18" long near an area where the RR does maintenance. Have shaped one end to different radii. Great anvil, heavy enough to stand on its own and can be moved around.
     
  8. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 4,507

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Me, too. The portaband is one of the handiest tools in mt shop.
     
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  9. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 4,507

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I will sell you my chop saw (cheap), if you want it. Chopsaws are definitely messy, which is why I don't use mine any more.

    A bandsaw is much cleaner and more versatile, IMO. I now have two bandsaws. One portaband vertical and one Klutch convertible from Northern. I was in a hurry earlier. I also have the Porter Cable belt/disc sander and a cheap drill press. Those tools allow me to make a lot of stuff. In addition, when you get to this point, buy a HF 20 ton press and the SWAG Offroad press brake kit. You can make some really professional looking brackets with this setup.
     
  10. el Scotto
    Joined: Mar 3, 2004
    Posts: 4,705

    el Scotto
    Member
    from Tracy, CA

    A BIG ASS vise.

    I've broke a couple of $100 5"-6" box store vises and was on my third one when I came across a BIG ASS Snap-On branded one clamped to an outside workbench(!!!).

    As I was buying a project vehicle from the estate of said gentleman I asked if they would include the vise in the deal for the vehicle. They said, 'sure!' and I came home with a vice Snap-On valued as much as the project vehicle I bought.
     
  11. brianf31
    Joined: Aug 11, 2003
    Posts: 969

    brianf31
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Thanks for the input guys. I have all the stuff (chop saw, ,bandsaw, drill press, belt sanders, grinders, presses, etc.) I'm just looking to upgrade from my mix of HF, Delta and the like.

    I saw the Porter Cable belt/disc today. ($279). How's the quality considering it's imported? Is it generally better than Delta?

    I'm digging that Porta-Band set-up. I'm off to check that out.
     
  12. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 4,507

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The Porter Cable sander has been good for me. No quality issues at all. Bought mine at Lowe's.
     
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  13. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 4,734

    alanp561
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    My son tried using an abrasive blade in a brand new Ridgid chop saw to cut 14 ga. x 3/4" square tube. Melted the back side of the exhaust port. Not one of his brightest moments.:(:rolleyes:
     
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  14. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 34,229

    Mr48chev
    Member

    Quickest way to get your ass chewed out when you take something to a machine shop to have them do lathe work on it is cut if off with a chop saw. Been there done that and the memory is firmly implanted.
    I don't have one but a good porta band in your favorite band with a table like Dave G showed in post 3 plus the attachment that turns it into a cut off band saw and you can probably do 75% of the accurate saw cutting you need to do. I've got a 6 inch horizontal/vertical band saw that is handy but takes up a lot of room for the amount I use it.
    I have to agree with Anthony M buy used quality tools when ever you can. Know your prices and don't get in a bidding war tough. I paid too much money for a drill press on a GSA auction and then spent more than I paid to go get it. My dog and I had a great road trip day and he got the front spot on the ferry boat ride so he could see the water but I could have bought the good Rigid one from Home Depot for less than I have tied up in that one.
     
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  15. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 4,415

    ekimneirbo

    I realize this isn't exactly what you asked for and you are space limited.........but

    I put most of my tools on caster wheels bought at auctions or Facebook. Good 6" ones. Bought 7 sets of 4 wheels for $120 last week. Like new. As for a belt sander, you will like a horizontal belt sander a lot more than a vertical one. They cost more and are harder to find used, but they are so much nicer to use. Jet or Grizzly if you can find one. I put a handle and some wheels on mine but I usually leave it in one spot. The horizontal plane really works well for the sides of things. I use this thing a lot....
    Belt Jet..1.jpg Belt Jet..1.jpg
     
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  16. pirate
    Joined: Jun 29, 2006
    Posts: 1,061

    pirate
    Member
    from Alabama

    I agree a porta-band with a SWAG table offers a lot of bang for the buck. I purchased a used Makita portable bandsaw on eBay for $50. It was nasty dirty. Took it completely apart cleaned, lubed, replaced brushes, rubber bands on wheels, fixed electric cord adjusted blade guides bought a SWAG table that is held in a vise. All together have about $150 invested. It is really a useful addition to my shop for small jobs. 920DCD47-9C9A-414F-A733-53210ADF8612.jpeg
     
  17. Dave G in Gansevoort
    Joined: Mar 28, 2019
    Posts: 2,799

    Dave G in Gansevoort
    Member
    from Upstate NY

    Must be Scottish heritage...

    How do you like the vice mount? I thought about that but knowing myself I knew that it would end up tieing up a vice permanently
     
  18. Dave G in Gansevoort
    Joined: Mar 28, 2019
    Posts: 2,799

    Dave G in Gansevoort
    Member
    from Upstate NY

    And space be damned, I want one of those...
     
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  19. Never2old
    Joined: Oct 14, 2010
    Posts: 739

    Never2old
    Member
    from so cal

  20. pirate
    Joined: Jun 29, 2006
    Posts: 1,061

    pirate
    Member
    from Alabama

    I have a 3’ x 2’ work bench made with 4”x4” legs and 2” x 4” frame with plywood top on casters so I can move it around shop or outside on nice days or for dirty jobs. I have a second vise mounted on one corner of this portable work bench and that is where the saw/SWAG table reside. I have never mounted it on my big vise main workbench. I also have limited space so this set up works well for me.

    I do have some Scottish heritage but enjoy resurrecting tools/things that other people give or throw away. A lot of stuff in my shop is either homemade, repurposed or rebuilt. I also have a Burr King (very expensive) belt sander that was given to me with no motor in really rough shape I rebuilt with new motor, couple of factory parts and several hours of my labor.

    Kind of bothers me things are made so cheaply or designed to be thrown away rather then repaired.

    781DDE22-6F4A-4C3E-A3C1-5E026F37F2FF.jpeg
     
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  21. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 13,529

    Budget36
    Member

    Have to go back and read the original post, but what the heck;). When I lived in the city and was space challenged I had a 3x3 table with a bench top drill press bench grinder and vice mounted on it, was on castors. Took a year or so of redrilling mounting points so I could clear work from the other units.
     
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  22. Have most of my equipment on locking wheels , line them up.on the wall when not in use and out to the floor around the car I am working on. Have a steel 3' x 4' welding table with my vice attached on wheels as well that I move around to work on . Also have a few carts with shelves I put parts and tools on as I am working . I am fortunate to have a fair size shop and saves a lot of walking to have my equipment closed to the car I am working on .
     
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  23. Dave G in Gansevoort
    Joined: Mar 28, 2019
    Posts: 2,799

    Dave G in Gansevoort
    Member
    from Upstate NY

    Love that belt sander. Great save. Yeah 1/2 Scots. I'm thrifty too... I have a garage and shed full of stuff that I just couldn't let go to the scrapyard.
     
  24. Dave G in Gansevoort
    Joined: Mar 28, 2019
    Posts: 2,799

    Dave G in Gansevoort
    Member
    from Upstate NY

    So it's safe to say I bet we all have given you a lot to think about as you expand your shop capabilities.
     
  25. boo
    Joined: Jul 6, 2005
    Posts: 580

    boo
    Member
    from stuart,fl.

    buy GOOD used equipment, i bought my first welder in 1965, slowed down latley, no time to use what i have. going to a lumberyard auction this friday, they beat me out on a large wood planer 35 years ago at another auction, ''here's my chance to get it''
     
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  26. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 6,873

    BamaMav
    Member
    from Berry, AL

    I use an abrasive wheel on an older Skil saw with the cast aluminum housing. Tried it on one saw one time that turned out to have a plastic guard, melted part of it, too.
     
  27. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 4,415

    ekimneirbo

    Let me suggest something outside of what you have. It may not be possible in your case but I don't know that. Lots of people struggle with limited space. I'm blessed with a pretty good size building, but it wasn't enough for me. I built a leanto off the building and its great. With a leanto, you don't need the same higher roof and ceiling that you have in your primary workshop. They are pretty simple to build, just take some effort...........but once done they open up a new space that you can store larger tools in and actually do a lot of work in. Then your existing primary shop gets rid of the clutter and tight work spaces. Instead of living with what you have, consider building a leanto.
    If you live in some areas where they make additions difficult, sometimes you have to get creative. Build a Carport. Then next year add a back wall to it. A while later add a side wall to it...........I know a guy (not me) who did exactly that and nothing was ever said.........but they wouldn't approve an attached garage in the same spot.
    Leanto 002.jpg

    Very simple construction

    Leanto.. 039.jpg

    This is just looking one way inside my leanto...........It really makes a nice shop addition and I put lots of things on wheels so I can put them out of the way when I don't need them.
    Crane in Leanto 1x.JPG

    Then looking the other way. Look at all the stuff a leanto gives for a minimal investment. This may not be possible for everyone, but if anyone has some room next to their shop, they can really help themselves with a lean to.
    DSCN1294.JPG

    Edit Note: For those of you who think this was expensive, those cabinets are really nice because they have roller drawers. These were for micro-film and I had to remove some dividers inside some of the drawers. Cost was only about $50 apiece. Most of the time you can find similar cabinets that are usually gray or green and have 4" deep drawers. Not as new looking but $50-$75 each. So for a few hundred dollars you can accumulate a half dozen of these off Facebook and make a similar set-up.

    Anyway, I know this isn't what you asked, but maybe something to think about. Good Luck with your shop.;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2022
  28. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 3,925

    nochop
    Member
    from norcal

    Same here, but I cheaped out and went harbor freight
     
  29. brianf31
    Joined: Aug 11, 2003
    Posts: 969

    brianf31
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The portaband is definitely on the list. I can attest to the usefulness of a roll-around table. Mine is 4' X 4" with a 5/8" steel top. I use it for everything.

    A lean-to on the back of my 30' X 30' shop is on the short list. I'd sure like to add a pan brake like you have, and a stomp shear. I got a quote on concrete recently and got my feelings hurt. Maybe the cost will come down soon.
     

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