Gravity Powered
Bandsaw Feed
© Frank Ford, 2007, 2009; Photos by FF

My metal cutting band saw is a classic fourteen inch Delta, made in 1943, as part of the great War Effort.  I recently fitted it with a simple gravity feed attachment so I could cut heavier pieces with less effort.
The power is delivered by a regular 16-ounce soup can into which I poured lead and imbedded a screw eye for lifting.  A simple hook connects it to a 1/16" diamteter wire rope.
When it's not in use, it hangs on a stud on the front of the saw stand.
The wire rope passes over a little pulley I made of aluminum and pressed onto a regular 1/2" ball bearing.
And, the bearing is on a threaded rod that is mounted on brackets I screwed into the table's threaded holes originally intended for mounting a rip fence guide.
When I don't want the power feed rig in the way for cutting larger items, the support swings downward below the level of the table.
The basic "unit" of this rig is the slider, which is a V-block I made from some two-inch square aluminum stock.  I cut and welded a heavy C-clamp to a steel bracket which is screwed to the back side of the slider.
The slider is mounted on a 3/4" wide piece of cold rolled steel that fits the original miter gauge slot in the table.  With the little recess cut in the V-block, I can grip rods as small as 1/4" without trouble.  The maximum size is 2" diameter.  On the rare occasion I want to cut bigger rounds, I can clamp them to the front of the slider.
That little brass piece screwed on the back of the slider is a stop I can mount either on the V-block, or on the front side of the slider when I want to cut repetitive short lengths.
I make up batches of little items several times a  year, so I make good use of this little stop.
This piece is a long reach gripper I can use to hold short bits.  One end has a height-adjustable brass  support that fits the V-block and the other end either rests directly on the work piece, or, for small diameter rods, via a screw.
I can cut very short pieces easily and safely. As you can see, the head of the screw gets in the way of the saw guide, so I think I'll switch to a set screw.
Here's a piece barely over 1/2" long and it's no trouble to hold securely for cutting.
At the end of the cut, a stop on the slider serves to halt its forward progress.  The stop can be set at different positions to accommodate various diameters of rod being cut.
The stop flips up for use when I'm cutting flat things on the front side of the aluminum V-block.  That way the stop keeps the slider from moving more than about 1/8" past the cut, avoiding a nasty inertial blow.
Speaking of cutting on the front side, most of the time I don't even need to clamp rectangular or square stock.  Since it's fully supported on both sides of the cut, the piece doesn't tend to move laterally.
Check out the nice square cut I got on this hunk of scrap steel.  My blade of choice these days is a 1/2" wide variable pitch (10-14) bi-metal .025" thick. As to cutting speed, I tried different speeds until I got good blade life and action with W-1 drill rod, and I've left the saw set up for that speed. I'm generally not in too big a rush to cut brass and other metals, so that speed has worked well for me.  I use my wood cutting band saw for aluminum, running at 3000fpm.

UPDATE, September 2009:
New addition - a sled for cutting larger diameter round stock

Well, here it is - a separate fixture to hold round stock and pull it through the blade using the gravity feed. I made it just big enough to hold the largest round piece that would fit through the saw, namely a bit over 6 inch diameter. Here I've set up to split a less-than-two-inch-thick piece of six inch diameter steel. I'll make smaller hold-down straps as I need them.
Well, it turns out that the upper blade guide would only clear 5-1/2" diameter sitting on top of my little sled, so what could I do? I removed the blade guide, of course.
As you can see in the photos, the blade passes just outboard from the sled, and with so little mass actually on the sled, I figured it would get a bit tippy, so I used a lead shot bag for ballast as I started up the cut.
Slow going, yes, but with a bit of extra weight on the gravity feed line, the cut proceeded along nicely without needing any attendance.
At the end of the cut, the sled skips forward a fraction of an inch and stops as the u-clamp on the wire rope hits the pulley.
Here's a look at the cut. Even without that upper blade guide, it's nice and neat.

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