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Thread: Rockwell "Bladerunner"

  1. #1

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    Feb 2012
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    Rockwell "Bladerunner"

    First post here. Member of EAA since '08 and have been considering a build (subject for different thread). Right now I am in "planning" assembling necessary tools. Specifically wondering about the "bladerunner" from Rockwell. As I don't have a metal cutting bandsaw in my home shop right now, I was hoping someone could share their experience with this saw. Does the "Bladerunner" work as advertised? And is it suitable for cutting the myraid metal fittings in 4130 that would be necessary for a scratch build? I do have access to substantial metal cutting bandsaws at work for the heavy stuff....
    Thanks in advance and glad to be aboard.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    I was wondering the same thing......anybody have one?

  3. #3
    Well...it *is* a jig saw, so the pieces are going to want to hop up and down. That's the nice thing about a bandsaw, with the blade moving in only one direction.

    One must always be cautious about the term "metal." Rockwell might be thinking of skinny little 16-gauge galvanized, not 0.25" 4130. I see one of the reviews say it's limited to 1/8" steel, and another uses the term "mild steel."

    Hopefully, someone with experience will step up and relate.

    But take it from me, NOTHING is a cheap substitute for a good shop tool. I tried to go the cheap hand-tool route, and was shocked at how easier things got once I got a bandsaw. Even though I'm not actively working on an airplane any more, my hand-held jig saw collects dust in a tool drawer while my bandsaw gets regular workouts.

    Check your local newspapers, you might be able to find a good bandsaw fairly cheaply.

    Ron Wanttaja

  4. #4

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    Yes - thanks, Ron - your opinion is highly valued. I understand the value of good quality tools; I also get the value of shop space. My current bandsaw is fair enough for some light duty wood & aluminum work (1/2 hp, 10") but is due for a replacement/upgrade. Unfortunately, a real metal-cutting bandsaw seems to be an expensive commodity. I think the metal capacity listed for the "Bladerunner" is 1/8" in steel. And, yes, the "jigsaw" style operation has me concerned. All this has to go into the "decision machine". The good (?) news is that I haven't committed to a project yet, so I can wait for the good deal on a bandsaw upgrade. Or fitting a gear reducer to a serious wood cutting bandsaw....
    But, for what its worth, a boatbuilder friend of mine once told me that a good quality jigsaw beats a bad bandsaw.

  5. #5
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
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    CAD files + waterjet = quicker, cheaper, easier, and probably more uniform-looking steel parts for a complete airplane in a couple of days.

    And even though steel is cheap, probably also would mean cramming more parts into less area as well.

    Maybe that takes too much fun out of it...

    But if I was asking the question, it might be: anyone want to digitize the steel parts for my plans built...

    And though you didn't say, have you discovered the "tube set" kitters? Forget that fishmouthing of tubes stuff. There's companies out there making perfect weld-it-yourself tube kits for plans builds. See Cartesian Tube / Skyote, for example.
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

    http://www.spoonworld.com

  6. #6

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    Eric:
    Caution with waterjet - accuracy not quite as good as with EDM. What are you building? I use AutoCad 2010 for 2D work and have just migrated to Creo/Wildfire 5.0 from ProE for 3D modeling. I haven't worked in the sheet metal module yet, and the piping/tubing module is on the way. What file format are you looking to have your parts drawn in?
    Regarding the Cartesian pre-profiled tube kits, I haven't heard anything but good things. It comes down to the old time vs. money equation....and I think I come down on the "less money" side of that one.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Witherspoon View Post
    CAD files + waterjet = quicker, cheaper, easier, and probably more uniform-looking steel parts for a complete airplane in a couple of days.
    Hey, Eric, how about a tutorial? Let's say I get a CAD program and draw up my parts. How do I find a company that can do the cutting? What file formats will they want? What kind of special instructions do I need to give them? What kind of product should I expect back? Are there any other special things that I can ask them to do for me? Do they typically have a minimum lot size/minimum charge, or can I bring some little thing in for them to whack out?

    Enquiring minds want to know! I'd love to draw up some of the Fly Baby stuff and get it so folks could get their own parts cut out locally.

    Ron Wanttaja

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieF View Post
    Yes - thanks, Ron - your opinion is highly valued. I understand the value of good quality tools; I also get the value of shop space. My current bandsaw is fair enough for some light duty wood & aluminum work (1/2 hp, 10") but is due for a replacement/upgrade. Unfortunately, a real metal-cutting bandsaw seems to be an expensive commodity. I think the metal capacity listed for the "Bladerunner" is 1/8" in steel. And, yes, the "jigsaw" style operation has me concerned. All this has to go into the "decision machine". The good (?) news is that I haven't committed to a project yet, so I can wait for the good deal on a bandsaw upgrade. Or fitting a gear reducer to a serious wood cutting bandsaw....
    I've got two bandsaws. One is a three-wheel Delta model with a ~1500 fpm speed that I bought from the local big-box hardware store. It's OK for aluminum and good for wood (and knocks the teeth right off the blade if I try to cut steel with it).

    The other is one of the el-cheapo horizontal/vertical metal-cutting bandsaws that I bought at a local Harbor Freight equivalent. Cost about $200.

    Now, I don't think I'd want to do a whole airplane on the cheapo H/V model...but it's done me pretty well, for the casual stuff I've had to do. I *have* had to fiddle with it, to keep it running decent, but it's usually up to the minor steel cutting I've had to do. For the heavier duty stuff....well, this the genesis of my question to Eric about using CAD files and local water-cutting emporiums....

    I know, it violates my own rules about cheap tools. But it might be a good option to consider, if you can find an aluminum-cutting one at a decent price.

    Ron Wanttaja

  9. #9
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja View Post
    Hey, Eric, how about a tutorial?
    Sorry, I should have said "I've seen this done before on other builder's sites". Reviewing some now, it seems laser is the most common process. I'm working in Al, with a 14" wood-bladed bandsaw. Cut through up to 1" thick with it, but I'm sure it wouldn't last 2 seconds with any thickness of steel.
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

    http://www.spoonworld.com

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Jacksonville, FL
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    CAD Files and waterjet

    Basically, the need first is to be able to produce your drawings in AutoCAD DXF or DWG format. DXF is generally better, as most companies can use them. Then, research your area - a quick search on the web found three places here in Jacksonville. Call or go by each and talk to the owner/operator. Usually, what you will find is that they will want a set-up fee, and then a per-piece fee. Most of the companies I have spoken with can handle thicknesses well beyond what we need. Remember to plan for bend allowances! I've had some done in the past, and they can be almost works of art. A number of inexpensive and/or free CAD packages are available - I have seen quite a few mentioned on VAF. I use VisualCAD, which grew out of Generic CAD from the DOS days. I prefer it to many of the other software I have seen.

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