What is a Portable Band Saw?
A portable band saw is a power tool used for cutting irregular or curved shapes but it’s also handy for performing straight edge cuts as well. A band saw uses a continuous band of serrated metal to cut various materials with speed, usually with the help of two rotating wheels.
Portable band saws do exactly as their name suggests, and are able to be carried around from job to job. Due to this ability, they’re the preferred choice for larger projects where the material might not necessarily fit into a larger scale band saw or times where you need to take a band saw out of the workshop to operate it.
Portable Band Saw Uses
Portable band saws aren’t only a tool for the home handyman, but often an integral part of larger scale workshops too. Thanks to their versatility, the range of portable band saw uses is nearly endless:
- Cutting railroad tie, metal sign posts, or anything that might be a distance away from a workshop and unable to be taken in;
- Cutting larger materials that can’t fit in a regular band saw machines and require a tool to work around its bigger frame;
- Cutting pipes or a similar substance, as the portable band saw blades provide reduced vibration and consistent pressure meaning a cleaner cut to your material.
What are the Parts of a Portable Band Saw?
A portable band saw works under the same method as a cabinet band saw, just on a smaller scale.
- Portable band saw blades: These are the blades that come with your band saw, and each blade will be able to perform a different style of cut;
- AC adaptor or battery pack: Some portable band saws offer a battery option while others simply plug into a standard wall adapter;
- Motor: Depending on the power of your portable band saw, its motor capacity will differ. Many portable band saws offer variable speed motors so they can adapt to different situations;
- A portable band saw stand/portable band saw table: These handy accessories make it simple for you to turn your portable tool into a vertical band saw with a few simple steps. In doing so, it’s only necessary to ever purchase the one machine to cover all of your cutting needs;
- Additional features: In an effort to stand out in a sometimes saturated market, many band saw manufacturers have added extra features to their tools. LED lights, variable speed settings, and handy travel cases are just some of the extra benefits advertised in modern portable band saw kits.
The Power Tool Institute recommends inspecting all parts of your portable band saw before each operation, as failure to do so can result in the blade or wheel pinching, binding or stalling, causing you to lose control of the tool.
How to Choose the Best Portable Band Saw
There are a few things to consider when choosing the right portable band saw for your project, and they can be applied to the purchase of just about any power tool.
- Power source – Many portable band saws come with battery operated options these days for those jobs that are performed outside. If selecting an electrically run band saw, though, these will have unlimited lasting power and won’t need to be recharged constantly like their battery-operated counterparts;
- Size – Your portable band saw will need to have a throat which fits the material you’re intending to cut, so be aware of the size of your machine. Opt for a large capacity portable band saw when possible as they offer a wider range of cutting capabilities.
- Brand name – Quality is key when selecting a portable band saw, as you don’t want to compromise on safety and torque when dealing with such potentially dangerous machinery. Some of the more popular brands include Milwaukee, De Walt, and Makita which are favored by serious woodworkers.
The Top 3 Portable Band Saws
After considering the most important functions when purchasing your portable band saw, you’re now ready to begin the hunt for your ideal machine.
We’ve compiled a list of the top three portable band saws on the market that offer strength, versatility, and precision. Which machine you decide on will depend on your intended use and projects, and what additional features might be useful for your work.
Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw
One of the most popular brands of band saws available, Milwaukee has a solid reputation for creating durable and refined power tools. The 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw features a powerful 11-amp motor for maximum performance and durability.
- Excellent value for money, and priced far better than other quality portable band saws available;
- It’s versatile and able to be used for wood, metal and plastic jobs so you’ll never require another machine;
- The two-speed options make it easy to control cutting and easy to adjust according to your work.
- Doesn’t come with any blades upon purchase, so you will need to visit a hardware store before use;
- Although advertised as a lightweight model, this portable band saw can be a little heavy to operate and requires both hands to use;
- The Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw runs significantly louder than other band saws on the market, so ensure you have adequate safety protection for your ears.
Overall, the Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw shows fantastic value for money. Its versatility with materials and strong durable frame mean you won’t need to invest in another band saw for years to come.
DEWALT DWM120K 10 Amp 5-Inch Deep Cut Portable Band Saw Kit
This DEWALT portable band saw kit comes with a power tool, a band saw blade, hex wrench, and box for storage. Featuring 5-inch-deep cut capacity, it is versatile for use with a range of materials. Its patented 10-Amp motor means it’s full of torque so won’t give up on your when you need it most.
- This portable band saw makes an absolute breeze out of cutting thick stock, and cuts metal a lot easier than other brands;
- It features an LED light which has been an absolute lifesaver in those jobs where darkness might prevent a clear line of sight.
- The case that this DEWALT Deep Cut Portable Band Saw comes in isn’t very sturdy, and can put lots of pressure on the spare blades that are stored in it so caution is advised;
- The factory blade which came with this portable band saw did not last very long and snapped quite easily.
The DEWALT DWM120K 10 Amp 5-Inch Deep Cut Portable Band Saw Kit is a durable machine, which was easy to see on its first use. The DEWALT brand overall is known for quality, and this portable band saw is no exception. It sits about mid-range in the price scale, so it’s worth every cent. Its 10-amp motor ensures it will make short work of a range of materials without losing its strength.
Makita XBP02Z 18V Portable Band Saw
The Makita XBP02Z 18V Portable Band Saw offers 6 variable speed settings that allow the user to adjust according to the material. Makita pride themselves on their motors and this machine is no exception, with cutting capacity of 274-530 feet per minute. Although it has the possibility for battery operation, this particular model doesn’t come with the battery pack attached.
- The protective bumper was extremely handy in ensuring that the user was kept free from harm;
- The battery has a long life and was able to perform more tasks than previous portable band saws before requiring a recharge;
- The blade is extremely powerful and made it so simple to cut through metal, wood and plastic.
- The Makita portable saw is a little on the heavy side, and makes it difficult to use at awkward angles or for long periods of time;
- It was a little costlier than comparable band saws on the market but possibly due to its brand name and reputation.
Makita is no stranger to industrial machinery, and their portable band saw is a testament to their years of customer satisfaction. This machine shows amazing strength and durability, so although it was a little heavier than other models it’s proof of the quality of materials used in its construction.
The Makita XBP02Z 18V Portable Band Saw is a robust machine, but there are perhaps others in its price range that might be more worthwhile purchasing.
After careful consideration of these three amazing machines, the clear winner in both price and power is the Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw. With its impressive 11-amp motor and deep cut capability, it’s a standout power tool that won’t fail you on the tough jobs.