View Full Version : Plasma or Band Saw?

06-27-2007, 07:26 PM
I'm to the point where I need a better tool for fabricating; cutting thick brackets, various metal stock, etc. I'm considering either a metal band saw (details yet unknown) or a plasma cutter such as the miller 375.
Are there any recommendations on which type of either of these two? I have very limited space in the garage so the foot print of the smaller plasma is attractive as well as its versatility in trimming all types of metal materials and its portability. I migh suppliment this with a chop saw for accurate square & round tubing etc. However having to dress the cut material due to the plasma nature is a drawback while the band saw will have a better initial finish cut.

Thoughts? Recommendations? Input?


06-27-2007, 08:11 PM
id personally go with the band saw, just because they make much nicer cuts compared to a plasma cutter. Plasma cutters are very good for rough cuts or panel removal, but for brackets and such the band saw is a much better choice....I think.

DRJDVM's '69
06-28-2007, 08:40 AM
If you space is really limited I would go with a plasma and some form of chop saw.

A band saw is awesome but they're big and take up alot of space. They make nice clean cuts for brackets, easier to cut in a straight line etc etc., but they also arent portable like a plasma. You always have to take the work to the tool rather than the tool to the work.

I'd love to have a band saw too but just dont have the space. I use my plasma to rough cut stuff and then finnish up with a grinder. Its more work but I can take my plasma anywhere in my garage or outside and move it whenever I need the space etc.

If space is really an issue, you're better off with something easily moved around.

06-28-2007, 08:56 AM
I use my bandsaw more than any other tool I own. My plasma cutter? I loaned it to a friend a couple of years ago ... haven't had a need to get it back.


06-28-2007, 09:36 AM
Thanks guys!
space really is an issue. I'm determined to keep it a two car garage and refrain from selling my house.... as I can't afford that. I'm packed to the gills and I really don't have all that much stuff.... yet.
I think the 375 would be the plasma for me, if I were to go that route. Are there any recommendations on band saws, affordable band saws? I've read about others converting wood cutters but I'm not sure I want to deal with that. There are the stand up models that are big n heavy but I've also seen the horizontal/vertical versions? the ones that have a nominal throat width but can be tilted and such. do those work well? I'll have to check the foot print of each of these and measure my proposed storage spots.
something along the lines of this?
cheap version http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_20885_20885

Jim Nilsen
06-29-2007, 05:21 AM
Check out the Delta bandsaws, There are several that don't take up very much space and they can be put on wheels to make them more portable.The price of them on sale can be as low as $249 to $349 for a metal/wood combo. My Jet bandsaw only takes up a floor space of about 2ft x 1.5 ft and tucks away against the wall nicely.

You need more space with a plasma than you may think when you start to think about the distance to the combustibles in your garage. The sparks from a plasma make quite a bit of dirt to clean up compared to a bandsaw that just drops it straight down.

I have only wished I had a plasma a couple of times and my oxy/acetylene torch did just fine to do the job.

my vote is for a bandsaw all the way !!!!

06-29-2007, 06:59 AM
Bandsaw, I also have a JET, but it is a combination horizontal/vertical, still keeps the space to a limit and does a great job! I also agree with Jim, the mess is very easy to clean. I would stay away from chop saws, I have one, have not used it in ages. If you want to spend some money, go with a cold saw, cleaner, quieter than a chop saw.

06-29-2007, 07:10 AM
I added casters to my custom modified-for-metal bandsaw. I roll it all over my shop, then tuck it away like Jim does.


06-29-2007, 10:54 PM
I bought a thermal dynamics cut master 38 it was cheaper and I like it better than the millers.

Jim Nilsen
07-03-2007, 09:10 AM
The cool thing about putting them on casters is that if you buy the right casters with the post and locking nut , you don't even need to drill the hole since it is usually there:bananna2: All swivels is what I used. I'm like John and move it where I need the room. I have outlets in my ceiling and it makes it really handy.

07-03-2007, 09:46 AM
I vote Bandsaw. That thing has been a life saver. Much more useful than a plasma. Anything that needs to be cut off on the car is always taken care of by a cutoff wheel, sawzall or jig saw. the mess made by a plasma and the margin of error when cleaning up the cut are too much for me.

Damn True
07-03-2007, 10:08 AM
I'm going the bandsaw route. Craftsman has some decent units that are rather affordable and that can be configured to be rather mobile within your shop.

07-04-2007, 12:06 PM
More points to the bandsaw if any production or repatitious work is done, jigging is relatively easy.