Bandsaw advice, please.


Solid surface material has always worked well for lettering. It makes good use of scraps and it is fun. Fiddling is therapeutic. I have some signs to make for a dentist office and I sent a bunch of DXF drawings to my CNC jobber for a quote. OUCH. It seems he anticipates difficulties with the hold-down of the smaller letters whilst routing through 1/2" of acrylic. To make a long story short. he wants too much money and can't guarantee results. I have worked with this guy for years and trust he's being up front with me.
I can buy a reasonable band-saw, cut the letters myself and still make out okay on the money side. I have Googled and Googled and there seems to be a variety of 14" units which will be fine.
I understand that the Delta, Powermatic and General will all take the Carter guides and run bi-metal blades at lower speeds. I have done this type of thing (on an old 3-wheel 16" Delta) in the past so I know 1 HP is adequate for my application. Budget is between 500 and 700 Can$ (350-500US$) plus the guides.
Here's my request: Am I missing a brand I could be looking at? Are the Carter guides really that good? Or are some standard guides good enough for now? Do I buy a fence with the saw or hold off till I can afford an after market/better fence? I have no intentions to get into ripping. Dust control is important. We have a brand here called King... worth looking at?
Thank you fine gents in advance, I remain
sincerely yours,
Rob.
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If I were going to make letters, and having done a few, I'd prefer to decline, it would be on a scrollsaw. Good parallel-arm brands out there, I'm sure. I've got an antique Delta "C" arm for what I do. Main reason for the scroll is to do insides, secondary to minimize edge cleanup, though as I learned from my experience - viewing distance is your friend.
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Robatoy:
I agree that doing lettering under 1.5 inches thick, a scroll saw is the tool to look at.
Doing Acrylic (Corian, nairoc, etc) on scroll saw takes special techniques (as well as blade), and involves a learning curve that may impact your delivery schedule.
However, your original post stated that Dust control was important. Scroll Saws, at least the ones I know about, don't have that in your budget.
Noticed from your email address that you might be located in Canada. There is a web forum http://www.workshopbuzz.com/forum/ sponsored by Canadian magazine HomeWorkshop. You might be able to post a "scrollsaw sub-contractor wanted" post at that site and exchange forum member's private mail with a scrollsaw hobbyist local to your area.
There are also web sites that craft show people sign up at that could also give you leads to scrollsaw sub-contractors. The ones I know about are focused to USA crafters. A new thread on this NG might give you Canadian crafter listings web sites.
HTH Phil

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No kidding, eh? *G*

Canadian
Thank you for the URL, I will go take a look.
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Robatoy wrote:

Robatoy:
I have the king industrial model of the 14". So far I am quite pleased. See my web site.
We also have a Delta scroll saw.
Send me some small samples and, if you can, a blade recommendation. I will try the material and give you the results. That should save a few wasted efforts.
I use the tufftooth blades -- so maybe you can look at them and see what would be appropriate.
Does this stuff require a metal cutting blade?
--
Will
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Actually, you'd be surprised but many plastics and composites cut better with skip tooth wood blade than metal blades. The metal blades don't go anywhere, they just drag back and forth. You actually need something with sharp teeth. I learned this the hard way when trying to cut a large block of composite plastic on a horizontal metal cutting band saw. Nothing happened. What I needed was a sharp skip tooth wood blade.
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Yup, you want some raking action and waste-clearing. 6 tpi with a bit of hook does nicely. Slow speed helps too. Heat is the enemy.
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Robatoy wrote:

Well we do have the correct blades for the scroll saw then.
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Robatoy wrote:

Remember that with a band saw you're either going to have to make letters with hollow centers (a, b, d, g, o, p, q, 0, etc) in two parts or you're going to have to cut and reweld/braze the blade for each letter.

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Sneak into the centre of the letter and close up the kerf with a sliver of solid surface material and colour matched adhesive...you won't see the seam. With the exception of the Oo's, you can put the kerf next to the de/ascenders and really hide it nicely.
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I made a bunch of routed wooden engraved signs a couple years ago and I always fantasied having them CNC'd...
Did you look at Jet? There kinda pricy though. Seperately, I would definately recommend a scroll saw for any kind of complex shapes. Remember: most letters have interior cuts and you can't do that on a bandsaw. Scroll saws were in fact developed for cutting intricate scrollwork. However, since the scroll saw is rather slow and noisy, I would rough out the shapes first on the bandsaw, then finish up on the scroll saw. I would take a look at the Dremel models. They aren't huge, but very accurate and not as noisy as some of the larger models. On the dust collection side, I would outfit the scroll saw with an aftermarket dust collector which is simply an acrylic or wood box that attaches to the bottom of the saw and catches all the dust. You can even buy or make them with a fitting for a shopvac or dust collection system.
Hope you can get it done.
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For cutting 1/2 acyrlic, I would look into a qualiity scroll saw. You are NOT going to be able to cut the holes inside letters like A, B, D, O, P, Q, etc with a bandsaw. There is NO NEED to use bi-metal blades for cutting plastics, and quality scroll saws are adjustable speed
John
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why not have them cut with a waterjet or laser?
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Steve Knight wrote:

Perhaps whoever has the waterjet or laser charges the same as the guy with the CNC router?
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I don't know anybody with that kinda gear. A whole new bag of research. But the 'hold-down' requirements would likely by less stringent, certainly with lasers. Lasers will likely 'burn' the cut, to the point of charred edges. I'm guessing here. The water jet might be a solution. I will look into it. But the prices of that kind of equipment will be higher or as high as CNC/spindle and the technology is relatively new so most of that stuff hasn't been depreciated much.
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Robatoy wrote:

Shouldn't. Lasers are hot in a way that nothing else in your experience is likely to be hot. Surface of a star hot. Heat transfer is so rapid that they vaporize the target spot without significantly affecting the surrounding material. If they charred anything the wouldn't be useful for surgery because the surgeon would have to clean out the damaged tissue before he closed, which kind of defeats the purpose.

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Actually, I have seen some incredible lasercam work in acrylic, polycarbonate, etc. I am on a robotics team and many teams in the competition cut the team numbers out with a lasercam. As I understand it, the lasercam works by vaporizing the material, not burning it. Also a lasercam will produce a polished edge, while a waterjet will leave a slightly ground looking edge. Steve Knight is correct. The lasercam and waterjet hold the the sheet material on a flat bed, while the cnc holds it in a vise like normal metalworking machinery. With lasercam and waterjet, you can just cut all the letters at once, each letter dropping free as it is cut.
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the problem was the guy would have trouble holding down the small letters. this is not an issue with the other methods since the material is cut from the top.
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My first thought about making lettering is to use a router and a lettering template kit. There are several letting templates available for routers, and reasonably priced. Or, use a scroll saw--high quality scroll saws can be expensive.. My third choice is between a bandsaw or jigsaw. With a bandsaw you can't cut inside, as in making letters a,b,d,e,g,o,p, and q. A router can cut into material or through it. With acrylic, you need to be concerned about the speed of the bit which needs to be a little slower than for wood, and to cut through 1/2" at least 2-3 passes are needed.
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after my posts I thought what about mounting the stock to a backing with contact adhesive? don't cut all the way through the backing and the letters would be held in place for the whole operation.
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