Portable band saw review and buying guide. Best small band saws for wood, plastic and metal cutting, including Dewalt, Makita, Milwaukee...
Portable band saw is the small hand tool that every handyman should have for professional work or hobby. The difference between this portable tool and the stationary saw is with a portable saw you take the saw to the job site instead of the other way around.
These small band saws are designed mainly for cutting metal and wood. Portable saws are versatile hand tools that are cutting curves, cross cutting, beveling, ripping or slicing through the thick material such as 4" thick lumber or metal tube.
If you need a portable saw to cut materials other than wood, such as metal tube or bar with different thickness, you should consider an electric band saw with strong motor.
Portable band saws are most often used horizontally for cutting while you can also find band saws, still portable, with the stands that are using clamp attachments for better stability and convenient workpiece cutting. Stand holds the band saw in the vertical position; it comes with the table, and is used as a work surface.
Band saw blades are very important components for efficient, reliable and long lasting cutting.
Most of the portable bandsaws are using the same length blade, which is close to 45", and similar cutting capacities, which is usually 4-1/2".
The blade should be strong enough for cutting different materials, easy to adjust and small enough not to obstruct the view of the cutline, therefore, allowing the precise cutting.
When choosing a portable band saw or simply the blade, rule of thumb is to select the coarsest (less TPI; teeth per inch) for faster cutting and widest blade for straight cut in thick stock; narrow blades can cut detailed designs and tight curves, but it depends on the material you are cutting.
For thin materials and cleaner cut, you should use fine-tooth blades. It is important to know not to use too much force as the band saw will cut slower and eventually the blade will snap.
Based on the material you are cutting, wood, metal channel... you should choose the appropriate blade to get a clean and quiet cut, spark free and long lasting.
The best portable band saw has a variable-speed blade or multi speed setting to optimize cutting for different types of materials, size and hardness.
If your portable saw has more than one speed settings or is a variable unit, always select the proper speed before making the cut. For example: use higher speeds for materials such as aluminum, cast iron, brass, copper; and lower speed for plastic pipes, stainless steel, tough steels, and materials that are hard to cut.
Some portable band saws are battery operated, they use batteries up to 28 volts; there are also electrically powered saws with 6 or 6.5 amp motors, plugged into the standard electrical outlet with the power cords. There is no setup, portable bandsaws are ready to use right from the box, can be moved and used anywhere.
Using a portable band saw, when comparing to the stationary saw, is very safe. Both of your hands are on the band saw; one is on the handle and power switch while the other on the top handle or knob; workpiece should be securely clamped to the bench while introducing the saw to the workpiece.
Additional features are also important, such as built-in work
light the cut area, light weight so you can easily move it around, or
handle for comfortable cutting.
Portable bandsaw is not capable of cutting larger pieces, but is handy for tighter spots and mainly designed for smaller projects. They are also compact and lightweight, cordless models are around 14 lb while band saws with both options (battery and power cord) are around 24 lb.
Which portable band saw is the best?
Almost all of them have a similar if not the same features, so choosing one doesn't have to be hard. Buy a portable band saw with a good reputation, offers a battery and power cord option, variable speed, tough carrying case, spare blades, long enough warranty and good customer service.
After searching through numerous professional and consumer reviews, three manufacturers and following models are rated higher than others:
Milwaukee 6238 portable band saw is the top rated on Amazon and Buzzillions.com online websites. It is called a deep cut band saw that can cut up to 4-3/4" in rectangular and round stock, with the speed of 250-350 ft. per minute. The main advantages are the powerful 6 amp two speed motor, ball and roller bearing system, worm gear and chain drive mechanism for durability, sight light and quick blade change system.
It costs approx. $290, and it comes with a great 5-year warranty. Buy Milwaukee 6238 from Amazon.com.
DEWALT D28770K portable bandsaw is designed for heavy duty jobs evenly for professionals and hobbyists. As the worldwide known brand, DEWALT D28770K offers a powerful 6-Amp motor with a variable speed that easily cuts 4 3/4" rectangular or round stock, 80 to 280 feet per minute and for an affordable price of approximately $270 and one-year warranty.
Its lighter body (23 pounds) vs. Milwaukee 6238 (26 pounds) is making it easier to carry. Buy DEWALT D28770K from Amazon.com.
Makita BPB180Z 18-Volt LXT is the cordless portable band saw that uses long lasting 18 V (3.0 Ah) rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Makita BPB180Z high torque motor allows a variable speed with six different settings. You can turn the speed dial to operate the tool at speeds between 275 and 530 feet per minute with no load; cutting capacity is the same as the above two band saw models, 4-3/4".
You can buy Makita BPB180Z 18-Volt LXT for approximately $280 with the warranty of 3 years.
Portable band saw is the hand tool needed in every workshop. Either you are using it regularly, or occasionally you need it. Band saws are powerful and durable hand tools used for metal, plastic or wood cutting that can deal any job in a matter of seconds, with the great speed and accuracy. You can buy a portable saw with the electrical cord and plug it into the standard outlet or cordless to bring the power to the job site.