Unlike common belief, a portable band saw is not used only for making unique decorative cuts. This useful tool can be used for various cutting tasks, materials, and purposes.
Some of the uses of a saw like this include cutting structural steels, billet or bar stocks shaping, making tenon joints or notches, sawing large timber into smaller sizes, making truss circles on the roof, making veneers, and even butchering meat.
If you are considering buying a portable band saw for your DIY projects or your work, then you will find out everything you need to know about choosing the best one for your needs.
Features to Consider When Shopping for a Portable band Saw
The main feature that makes the portable band saw a unique tool is that with the right blade, you can use it to make perfect cuts equally effectively regardless of the material being cut.
But there are different factors that you should keep in mind when choosing the best portable band saw for your needs.
The Power Source
Battery-powered portable band saws allow easy mobility and use without a power cord getting in the way. Remember, though, that the cordless tools of this type are up to 50% more expensive than their corded analogs.
Also, if you want to make the most of your instrument and work with it for many hours, you will need to buy at least one spare battery for a seamless job. When choosing an extra battery, opt for the one which has the highest Ah (amp-hour), which will ensure the longest possible runtime of your cordless band saw.
Electrical-powered ones are more affordable than cordless band saws. They usually have long power cords of about 8 feet. This means that you may need an extension cable if there is no power outlet or generator nearby.
At the same time, a corded band saw will ensure continuous work without running out of batteries. It is an excellent option for a portable cordless band saw for people who do not want to break the bank.
The Cutting Capacity
If you need a tool like this for cutting material to a specific size, this may considerably limit your choices.
When selecting the right cutting power tool, make sure to consider the width of the cuts of the machine. This is the length for cutting or the distance between the two body sides where the band saw wheels are housed.
The depth of the cut of a portable band saw is the distance from the back of the frame to the blade.
The smaller saws of this type are designed for one-handed use and usually have a maximum cut of 1 ½ x 1 ½ inches. The larger ones typically can cut up to 5 x 5 inches.
The Speed and The Blade Type
The speed of a portable band saw is usually measured in SFPM (surface feet per minute) or FPM (feet per minute).
The portable saws of this type usually have a speed of 0-550 FPM. This is sufficient for cutting various materials.
In some cases, the speed can be adjusted via a trigger, but in others, you can adjust the speed of the portable band saw to up to 6 different speed levels.
A thumbwheel is mounted on the handle of the tool, which allows for easier control and adjustment of the speed during use.
When it comes to the blade type, keep in mind that these portable band saws are typically considered tools for metal cutting. They usually come with an all-purpose blade for metal cutting with 14-18 teeth per inch (TPI).
But you can buy a blade that is specialized for wood cutting and has 8-10 TPI.
It is essential to choose your blades wisely for the material and purpose you will be using them and invest in high-quality blades that are much more durable than the inexpensive ones.
The Portability, Size, and Weight
The portability of a tool like this is one of the key factors for choosing to buy it in the first place.
If you are planning on using it occasionally for small DIY jobs, then the weight and size may not be so essential. But for prolonged use, especially at a height above the head, the dimensions of the tool can be vital.
Plastic and aluminum are lighter in weight, but a portable band saw with too many plastic components may be prone to breaking.
When checking the weight of a cordless band saw, keep in mind that often the battery is not included in the weight. An average battery for an instrument like this usually weighs about one pound.
The overall size of the tool is essential if you plan on using it in tight spaces. The smallest portable band saws are usually made for one-handed use. The larger ones come with an adjustable added handle on the front for better control. The latter ones are more suitable for cutting at different angles.
The Bare Tool, Bumpers, Lighting, and Case
The cordless portable band saws are sold as bare tools in many cases. This means that unless you have compatible batteries and a charger, you will need to buy them separately. Check the compatibility of the power tool and the batteries and tools you already have.
The portable band saws often have rubber bumpers around the wheel shroud exteriors. They are meant to protect the tool from impact during use, transportation, or storage.
Some of these cutting tools have LED lights for easy visibility in darker areas.
Many of them come with practical storage and carry cases as well.
Basic Safety Tips when Using a Portable Band Saw
Always follow the general safety instructions for using band saws and other saws. Portable band saws have some more specific things to keep in mind when it comes to the safety of use, including:
Wear well-fitting work gloves, which provide a better grip when cutting with a portable band saw.
Before using the tool for the first time, make sure to perform some practice cuts first to get the feel of the portable band saw.
Keep the gloves on when you are changing the blade.
Unplug the tool or remove the batteries before changing the blade.
Make sure that the blade and wheels have entirely stopped before putting the instrument down.
Check the blade tension periodically during use. A loose blade will not only cut poorly but can also come off and injure you or somebody else.
Wear suitable goggles or other eye protection when cutting with a portable band saw.
The cut metal pieces can be extremely hot, so be careful where they fall.
The Best Portable Band Saws
Here are the top-rated portable band saws on the market, according to type, usage, portability, the best value, and price.
It has a speed range of 0 to 380 FPM and has a capacity of cutting surfaces that are up to 5 inches deep and wide like butter.
The tool weighs 15 lbs. (with the battery) and works with an 18V Li-ion battery.
But keep in mind that this is a bare tool only, so you will need to buy or provide the charger, the batteries, and the blade and case yourself.
- Power: 18V li-ion cordless
- Weight without battery: 13.6 lbs.
- Cutting size capacity: 5 x 5 inches
- Very powerful motor, comparable to the corded saws
- Great cutting capacity
- Long-lasting battery life
- The batteries, charger, blades, and case are not included in the price
- You cannot adjust the auxiliary handle
Thanks to its powerful motor of 10 Amps, you can use this portable corded band saw to cut through all types of materials, including metal, plastics, wood, and more.
It comes with a 10/14 TPI blade for metal cutting, adjustable front handle, ball-bearing guides for the blade, and a tensioning lever for it.
- Power: corded, 10-Amp motor
- Weight: 14.5 lbs.
- Cutting size capacity: 5 x 5 inches
- Very powerful 10 Amp motor with variable speeds
- It is corded and thus will not run out of battery power
- The saw is offered at an excellent price and contains everything you need to start using it right away
- Not as mobile as a cordless saw
This is a bare tool with a 560 SPFM, and if you already have another Ryobi One+ tool, you can use the same 18V batteries and charger.
The cutting capacity of the tool is 2 ½ inches and can be used for easy cutting of pipes, conduits, and others.
It has an offset pommel instead of an auxiliary handle, allowing you to view the surface or item you are cutting easily.
- Power: 18V cordless
- Weight without battery: 9.3 lbs.
- Cutting size capacity: 2 ½ x 2 ½ inches
- Sold at a very reasonable price
- It uses the same battery and charger as the other 225 Ryobi One+ tools
- It is a bare tool, so if you don’t have the batteries and charger, you will need to purchase them separately
- The tool does not have the cutting capacity of the more powerful band saws in this list
Its length of 11 inches and weight of less than 7 lbs. makes it suitable for one-handed use.
The saw has a 1 5/5 inch cutting capacity and a variable speed of 0 to 280 FPM.
Plus, it is sold with an 18 TPI 27 x 0.020-inch blade and an XC battery and charger, so you won’t need to purchase any of them separately.
- Power: 12V cordless
- Weight without battery: 6.7 lbs.
- Cutting size capacity: 1 5/8 x 1 5/8 inches
- The lightest and most compact of all, it is perfect for one-handed use and tight spaces
- Included 3 Ah battery, charger, and blade
- There is not such a large variety of blade options available
- Limited cutting capacity
The tool has a retractable cable and offers high precision while cutting thanks to its adjustable front handle and a variable speed of 0 to 350 SPM.
Plus, it has bright LED lights to view and cut accurate lines even in darker environments.
The portable saw has a sturdy base made of steel, with durable rubber bumpers, so you don’t need to worry about damaging it even if you use it on a daily basis.
Its cutting capacity is 5 inches, and you can buy the portable band saw with a case and with different blade options at very competitive prices.
- Power: corded, 10 Amp
- Weight: 15 lbs.
- Cutting size capacity: 5 x 5 inches
- Powerful motor with a large cutting capacity
- A tough build that will withstand a lot of wear and tear
- LED lights, adjustable handle, and more options for precise cutting
- Not the best speed range on the market
It includes a cordless band saw, two 20V Max Li-Ion batteries, and three 24 TPI blades. But it is also available in other kit options so that you can personalize it for your specific needs.
The saw has a cutting capacity of 2 ½ inches, LED lights, and an ergonomic and balanced central handle.
It is among the sturdiest of all tools on this list and is compatible with all other 20V MAX cordless tools by Dewalt.
- Power: cordless 20V
- Weight without battery: 8 lbs.
- Cutting size capacity: 2 ½ x 2 ½ inches
- The set includes two batteries and three blades
- It is small and lightweight
- Sturdy body and blade
- Compatible with other Dewalt 20V Max tools
- Non-adjustable auxiliary handle
- The included blades are excellent for cutting metal but not for wood
It is sturdily built and has a cutting capacity of 4 ¾ inches.
The Makita cordless band saw has a variable speed of 275 to 530 FPM and has an adjustable stopper plate for accurate and clean cuts every time.
It has LED lights, an ergonomic handle, and a number of safety features to keep you and the tool protected during use.
- Power: cordless, 18V
- Weight: 14.3 lbs.
- Cutting size capacity: 4 ¾ x 4 ¾ inches
- A sturdy and high-quality power tool
- A large speed range for fast cutting of all types of materials
- Safety lock for the trigger
- The slowest speed cannot be adjusted to lower than 275 FPM
The Benefits of Having and Using a Portable Band Saw
Portable band saws are unique power tools, which have no alternative. Here are the main advantages of these best portable band saws:
- They are portable, so you can go to the objects instead of transporting them to your stationary saw
- They cut, saw, and rip pipes and other materials and objects faster and easier
- You can make straight, curved, or angled cuts with them
- The tools are not as noisy and produce fewer sparks than other cutting tools
- You can easily control and maneuver with a saw like this
- You can easily turn directions while cutting
- You can use a saw like this with the right blade for cutting all kinds of materials, including wood, metal, plastics, composites, PVC, and more
- There are affordable models which are suitable for DIYers as well
Here are some of the most common questions we have been receiving regarding portable band saws:
Q. What is the longevity of a portable band saw?
The answer depends on the tool’s quality and how often and where you use it. The professional tools can last for a few years with the proper maintenance. As for DIY and occasional use, you can expect your portable band saw to last for much longer.
Q. How to maintain and clean a portable band saw?
Follow the instructions of the manufacturer of your portable band saw to find out the proper maintenance and cleaning procedures and instructions.
In general, you can expect to have to clean the waste from the saw wheels via a shop vac or air gun. Any corrosion of the blade needs to be treated and removed with a suitable liquid rust removal product.
Q. How deep can you cut with a portable band saw?
The width and depth vary among the different tools. The maximum is usually 5 x 5 inches. But you can choose portable band saws with smaller cutting capacities if needed too.
Q. Is it worth investing in a portable band saw?
As mentioned above, portable band saws are like no other portable saws. So, if you often need to cut surfaces, items and use other saws, then it is absolutely justified to invest in one of these nifty and versatile tools.
Last update on 2022-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API