Jun 26, 2016 | By Alec

While a 3D printer is a fantastic and extremely versatile tool, many veteran makers will confirm it actually works best in collaboration with other making tools. It’s exactly what makes makerspaces so appealing. But unfortunately most CNC machines or laser cutters are far too expensive for the average home user, no matter how tantalizing they seem. But there are other ways to add new dimensions to your own making HQ, as Engineerd3d’s Bruno M. reminds us. To save a bit of money, he has actually used 3D printed components to build a DIY automatic hacksaw that is strong enough to cleanly cut through steel.

Bruno M. is a New York-based veteran maker, technologist and systems engineer who shares his inspiring building projects on the Engineerd3d blog. Just like many of us, his making capacity is largely limited by his wallet – so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Having set his sights on a DIY CNC machine, he dreaded having to cut countless metal parts by hand and sought a more accurate, low cost solution. “The why is a complex question, but the simple answer is that I needed a tool to cut steel in a precise way so I can build my CNC frame. The other answer is that I don’t mind having another tool around. This is a great way to do both while exercising my brain,” he revealed.

As it makes no sense to break the bank for a tool to build another low-cost tool, Bruno decided to use all his making skills to turn a hand-powered hacksaw into an automatic version. As an avid 3D printer, he immediately saw opportunities to 3D print all the necessary parts surrounding a hacksaw and a clamp. “One does not keep a dog and bark one’s self. I used my machine as prototyping machine as well as a mini factory,” he revealed. “You didn’t think 3d printing was all about downloading files and filling your house with yoda heads, did you?”

This makes this automatic hacksaw a very low-cost solution, which can be built for around $50 or so. Really the only expensive parts are the hacksaw, and the clamp, though you might have some laying around that go unused. Bruno did splurge on the hacksaw to ensure it comes with a good, adjustable blade, but that’s a matter of preferences and priorities.

As you can see in the photos above, the saw itself is bolted onto an old Ikea table leg, while Bruno also built a linkage system from 3D printed parts. Looking a bit like a steam locomotive’s driving system, it uses rotary motion (powered by a geared motor) to create a linear sawing motion. All parts are held into place with 3D printed brackets (even the guide that lines up materials is 3D printed), and cutting speed can be adjusted by adding weight to the top.

But the real question is: what can it cut? In the video below, Bruno reveals the saw can even cut through the solid steel of a threaded rod. Using just a bit of oil as lubrication, the saw actually cuts through the 8mm rod in about two minutes. Most importantly, the finished results are very smooth, and perfect for immediate use. “You don’t even need to clean it up. If I had cut this by hand, I would have to file out the top [of the rod] to thread a bolt on it. Can it cut steel? Yes it can,” he says.

While intended for metal parts, the second clip shows that the automatic hacksaw is also a good option for cutting wood. “[The saw] leaves almost like a sanded finish, which is awesome. This is exactly what I was looking for,” he says. By adding a bit of weight, the saw should also become a bit more stable.

If these cool clips are getting your hands itchy, here’s some good news: Bruno has shared all the files, including the Sketchup design files here and invites everyone to adapt it for their needs. You can find the full bill of materials here, as you will need quite a bit more than a hacksaw and a clamp. But with the help of the clips above, it should be a fairly accessible project that can really add a new dimension to your making arsenal.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Perry Engel wrote at 6/28/2016 11:51:17 PM:

I did get a good laugh from Paul Krajewski's comment. Agreed it is like many projects I see on inventables. More of a mental exercise than practical. I am guessing it was a fun project for the creator, but is clearly not practical.

Paul Krajewski wrote at 6/27/2016 4:40:32 PM:

Ummm.... yeah. My grandfather welded together just such a device in an afternoon out of an old windshield wiper motor from a Chevy truck... and while it CAN cut steel, neither he nor I would call it a "Power Hacksaw". The term "Power Hacksaw" refers to a SPECIFIC machine-shop tool, one with known quality of finished work and known precision. This device has NO precision built-in; the head will flop around like a rag-doll. You have to set the angle manually and HOPE it doesn't skip out of track once it starts cutting. Why would anybody spend DAYS making this POS when they can buy a chopsaw at Harbor Freight that runs on house current, cuts a smooth-ground edge and will cut at precise, repeatable angles in literally seconds vs minutes? The BOM is utter BS; it relies on being able to steal a $150 gearmotor used or on fleaBay and doesn't include the cost of 90% of the build as it assumes you'll have this stuff just lying around...All it really counts is $15 for the hacksaw and $35 for the machine shop vise. :rolleyes: You can walk into Harbor Freight and walk out 5 minutes later with a 14in cutoff saw for $63 EVERY DAY (The same place you'd need to go for the vise, BTW); less if it's actually on sale. And I'm more than reasonably sure even that HFT cheapo will last as long as this cobbled-together mess. A completely FORGETTABLE project from start to end... this wouldn't even be worth a journal entry in a real Maker's log.

kelleher wrote at 6/26/2016 11:52:26 PM:

That, gentlemen, is a prime example of climbing a tree butt-first.

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