Mastercraft Maximum 18V NiCad Band Saw

Faster than a hacksaw when you need to cut a lot of smaller sized and hollow core metal and PVC

mastercraft_055-6710

Mastercraft Maximum 18V NiCad Band Saw



For an occasional cut, a hack saw is the way to go. However, if you regularly cut metal, then an abrasive saw (metal chop saw) or metal band saw is the logical choice. For a trades person working on-site, or someone working metal as a hobby or craft, a portable metal band saw is a good bet. Portable metal band saws are available in either corded or cordless models.



The Mastercraft Maximum 18V Ni-Cad Band Saw (055-6710-4) is powered by an 18 Volt, 1.7 amp-hour nickel cadmium battery. I was somewhat surprised at the choice of battery, as most manufacturers are opting for Lithium-ion batteries. I think that, in large part, the general public considers Li-Ion to be the 'better' battery. There have been, with some Ni-Cads, issues of memory loss (due apparently to the formation of cadmium crystals in the battery), as well as self-discharging when not in regular use. Also, Ni-Cads are heavier than Li-ion batteries, which can be an issue with cordless tools where lighter weight is preferred. However, I've used Ni-Cads extensively for years, and have never experienced the memory loss problem, and as I use my cordless tools regularly, self-discharge hasn't been an issue.
 

MC1
Ni-Cad battery has on-board power level indicator
MC2
Quick blade change release
I found that the Mastercraft battery delivered sufficient power to cut an average of two dozen sections of 3/4" galvanized pipe on a single charge. The battery has an on-board power level indicator. You simply press a button on the back of the battery to see home much power is in the tank. This is a great feature that really should be standard on all batteries. It's especially welcome on the Mastercraft battery, because you only get one battery with the saw, and you don't want to be in the middle of a job when the power runs out. The saw comes with a 60 minute diagnostic charger that can be wall mounted, and has a convenient cord wrap.
 

MC3
The band saw is not too hefty, weighing in at just over 3 pounds (with battery installed) and measuring about 9" wide and 13-1/2" long. I found it too awkward to use one-handed. Thankfully there is removable auxiliary handle that makes the tool quite easy to control. 



The handle and grip are both padded, which makes the tool comfortable to hold. You need to depress a lock-off button before pressing the trigger, which is a good safety feature, especially if children have access to your shop or tools.

The trigger is somewhat on the small side, particularly when you're wearing gloves. There is no lock-on button, which would be handy when cutting for long periods of time. I don't know why Mastercraft chose a single speed (550 SFPM) for this saw rather than variable speed, as different ferrous and no-ferrous metals cut best at different speeds. I also find that variable speed makes it easier to start cuts, especially on thinner materials, and to control the saw.
 

MC4
Guide bearings are not adjustable
MC5
Metal cutting shoe
MC6
Bandsaw wheels (covers removed)
MC7
Best used two-handed with stock firmly secured
The cutting width and depth are limited to 2-1/2", adequate for a range of small to medium size items - metal framing, plastic piping, conduit, copper or steel tubing, and the like. Mastercraft has chosen a 1/2" variable tooth 14-18 TPI bi-metal blade (055-0870-8, $12.99) for this saw, which is a good compromise blade, particularly as Mastercraft doesn't have available any additional styles of blades for the saw. 



The saw cuts small diameter stock and non-ferrous metals quite well. Larger diameter stock, and ferrous metal place a larger strain on the motor. On the plus side, it certainly is quieter than an abrasive saw. I was able to make quite precise, reasonably clean cuts. The key is to ensure that your stock is clamped rock steady. If not, the small teeth on the blade are apt to grab the stock, and you'll risk breaking the blade. You can also use a band saw blade wax, which lubricates the blade as it cuts. 



The metal cutting shoe has a fairly narrow throat and supports the saw to offset the drag of the blade as it cuts the stock. The shoe can't be adjusted, and has a small portion that juts out about 1 3/8" in front of the blade, effectively preventing you from flush cutting.
 

MC8
Allow stock to rest against the fence when cutting
MC9
Smooth cuts done in a fraction of the time it would take if done with a hack saw
Changing blades is quite fast, thanks to the quick change blade release. You need to remove the two wheel covers, which takes all of 30 seconds. There isn't any way to adjust the blade, or for that matter, the guide wheels or the guide roller bearings (though I really haven't found a need to adjust them so far). 



The Mastercraft does lack a carry case and work light. While both would be nice to have, they aren't absolute necessities.
 

MC10
Mastercraft makes a reasonably priced Band Saw Station (055-6712-0) for this saw. Installing the saw on the stand takes under 30 seconds, and once installed, is held securely in place by means of a screw down clamping mechanism. The stand has a 5" by 8-1/2" metal work table. 



There is a separate on/off switch on the stand that by-passes the lock-off feature. Additionally, there are four mounting holes so that you can attach the stand to a workbench, or better yet, to a piece of plywood, which you can clamp to your workbench. This makes it a lot easier to store the band saw when you need the whole surface of your workbench.

The stand increases the versatility of the band saw, particularly if you need to make precise, detailed cuts. You have both hands free to guide the stock. I did notice some vibration when cutting with the saw on the stand, though not excessive.
  
MC11
Screw down clamping mechanism
MC12
Mounting holes
You really want to wear safety glasses and gloves when using this saw. It's also important to clean the blade and roller bearings regularly to remove burrs, chips of metal, and clumps of material. This will help you maintain adequate feed pressure, significantly reducing the chances of breaking the blade. Holding the saw steady without applying excessive pressure, and allowing the weight of the saw to do the work, will also serve to reduce breakage.

Tradespeople, who typically need to cut large diameter stock, particularly hard alloy materials, solid materials and heavy-wall tubing, will likely find this Mastercraft underpowered and undersized. However, for just about anyone else, particularly avid DIYers, hobbyists and craft makers who work in metal, the Mastercraft Maximum 18V Ni-Cad Band Saw is a good choice.

KEY FEATURES:

Band Saw

  • 18V, 1.7 Ah Nickel Cadmium battery
  • Battery power level indicator
  • Single speed 550 SFPM (surface feet per minute)
  • 2 1/2" cutting capacity
  • Lock-off button
  • Quick change blade release
  • 14 TPI bi-metal cobalt blade
  • Removable handle
  • 2 lbs, 13 oz (without bettery)
  • 1 hour diagnosic charger
  • 5 year limited warranty
Band Saw Station
  • Integrated on/off switch
  • Band saw clamping arm
  • Cast iron work surface
  • 4 mounting holes
  • 5 year limited warranty
MANUFACTURER:Mastercraft
AVAILABLE FROM:Canadian Tire
RETAIL PRICE:Band Saw - 299.99
Band Saw Station - $79.99
MODEL #Band Saw - 055-6710-4
Band Saw Station - 055-6712-0
MADE IN:China
Carl Duguay, June 2010
Discover more great woodworking reviews!
Subscribe Now and get instance online access to our library filled with exciting woodworking information.
Continue to stay connected to the latest tool reviews with our bi-monthly woodworking magazines!