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Slitting saws, arbor / mandrell

Bill Hudson

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A little bit of information on slitting saws. They are usually small diameter HSS metal cutting circular metal cutting blades. I believe I got mine at MSC catalog along with the adjustable arbor so many years ago.


Many years ago a retired machinist friend gave me a box (61 blades) of metal cutting slitting blades of various thicknesses.  I never used them because I did not have an arbor ( AKA mandrel ) to fit the small hole size of the blades.


I found a need for a .023 saw bade for a forming jig I am making but no arbor that fit them.   


I also had a lot of bronze (veneer lathe bronze nose bar) scraps 3/4" diameter.  So I decided to make an arbor for the saw blades. It works very well.  I hold it in a collet on my Sherline mill.


Slitting saws are very handy in the miniature field.  they come in various diameters, thicknesses and teeth numbers.  They can be mounted on an arbor and held in a drill press chuck.  NOTE: be sure to have some kind of guard around the blade to protect  from cutting your fingers.


Preack table saw uses slitting blades as wells Micro-Mark's small fixed arbor table saw.  








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Bill shows us a great tool !   Making an arbor as Bill did is a great lathe project with a very useful end product.   Using easy to machine brass is also sensible and is easier to turn and drill/tap than steel would be.


Slitting saw blades on arbors demand a lot of respect (or should I say fear!) since, like fly cutters, they can be very dangerous if not set up and used correctly.  Above all keep away from the rotating blade and be absolutely sure the power is off when setting up or removing the blade/arbor from the machine.


I often use slitting saws in milling machines though I've never tried one in a drill press.   The quill of a mill or drill press needs to be locked in place vertically and the work needs to be held very securely in a vise or fixture.  The work needs to be solidly under control for safety.   I have never set up a guard on one as Bill suggests but it is worth considering given the ability of a saw to produce a serious wound.  It would also be useful to contain the mess.


My mill is the tool of choice for cutting sheet brass.  The sheet is held in a vise vertically and backed up (or sandwiched) with a sacrificial piece(s) of wood or aluminum.   The brass is toward me and the wood behind it.   With the cutter rotating clockwise the material is "climb cut" moving right to left rather than conventional cut.   The result is a very precision cut.   The method is safer than a table saw if done correctly since the mill moves the metal through the saw blade via the feed crank with hands/fingers away from the blade.


One can also use a slitting saw in a lathe with either a milling attachment or fixture or purpose built saw table.


Blades in 1.5" - 3" diameter with 1/32" and 1/16" thickness are most useful to me but other sizes might be useful depending on the job at hand.


A similar saw blade that is almost the same is the "jewelers slitting saw blade" which has more teeth per the circumference.   I use these on my Byrnes saw.

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Jack brought up a point of using slitting saws on the drill press.  I need to expand on this subject a bit more.  Never, ever try to feed material into a running slitting blade free hand; even if you think you can hold it firmly. The blade can grab and before you actually realize it it has grabbed your finger(s) and has done a lot of damage. The mill is definitely the best to use the slitting saws on. You have the X-Y movements to feed the work into the saw keeping your hands away.


Below is my set up on my mill to cut the angles on the ends of my popcorn wagon wheel spokes. The spokes are placed in a row on the table and held down with the metal strip and clamps.  All is squared up and the proper angle is set on the tilt table. The spokes are cut then flipped over to cut a matching angle to make the wedge shape. next can be seen how the spokes are fitted together in the wheel jig.












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