Monday, July 22, 2024

5 Terrific Portable Bandsaws To Elevate Your Efficiency

Every serious DIYer understands that a bandsaw is an essential bit of kit for any workshop. However, they are often bulky, and not everyone can accommodate one. Fortunately, there is an alternative.

Portable bandsaws are an excellent substitute. They are lightweight, easy to handle, and meet all your cutting requirements.

With several options on the market, I have reviewed the five best portable bandsaws to help you get the most value for your money, with my current favourite being the Makita DPB183Z.

If you’re considering a portable band saw for your toolkit, check out our guide, which covers all the essentials, and learn why these models are among the best portable band saws available today. 

The Best Portable Bandsaws: Top Picks 

Why Does Our Opinion Matter?

I’m a passionate DIYer, and my collection of power tools is consistently growing. However, when my son was born two years ago, I had to scale down my workshop, which sadly included parting with my cherished bandsaw.

Every problem is an opportunity, though. I’ve tested five portable bandsaws to ensure my investment in the portable department was wise.

To this day, I still have four out of the five and use two regularly, so I’m well-positioned to offer an informed opinion on these machines.

The following are the best portable bandsaws currently available. As I review each of them, I can explain why they are fast becoming stable workshops nationwide.

Best Portable Bandsaws Reviewed

Let’s examine the best portable band saws that impressed me the most during hands-on testing. This selection includes full-size and compact models, and they’re all cordless.

Discover how each fared in performance and which type of user would perfectly match these top picks.

best portable bandsaws

Impressive cutting capacity: Handles 66mm round pipe and 66x66mm square pipe, suitable for a wide range of materials.

High-speed performance: Achieves blade speeds up to 192m/min, ensuring swift and efficient cuts.

Lightweight design: Weighs only 3.6 – 3.9 kg, reducing operator fatigue during extended use.

Variable speed control: Allows adjustment of blade speed to suit different materials and cutting requirements.

Long blade life: Uses 835mm long, 13mm wide blades with 0.5mm thickness, providing durability and consistent cutting quality.

What's Good?

  • Flexible trigger operation
  • Built-in LED work light
  • Adjustable cutting speed

What Could Be Better?

  • The included blade is not ideal for thick materials

My first impressions were that the bandsaw’s design was undoubtedly thought about during assembly and is extremely impressive.

The variable speed control, ranging from 1 to 6, is built for precise cutting across different materials. I found this very nice when switching between thin metal sheets and thicker pipes.

One standout feature I love is the trigger mechanism. Unlike some models, which require pressing a button before pulling the trigger, this Makita allows immediate operation.

I don’t have a problem with the dual-trigger safety system, but this was a nice touch. There is a lock button for safety, which Is good for when I’m not actively using the tool.

The built-in LED light is excellent for working in dimly lit areas. It stays on for a few seconds after you release the trigger, giving you time to inspect your cut.

Battery life is commendable. I’m using a 3Ah 18V battery, and I made multiple cuts through various materials, including 75mm square tubing, without significant drain.

The bandsaw easily handles thin materials. It effortlessly sliced through a 30mm square box section with 1.8mm walls when tested. It also manages thicker materials, though slightly more elbow grease is needed.

The 120mm throat capacity is generous for a portable model, and I was particularly impressed with the accuracy of angled cuts. The adjustable fence provides a stable guide, resulting in a smooth cutting action even at angles.

While the included blade works well for thinner materials, it struggled slightly with thicker materials. I eventually invested in a blade with fewer teeth per inch for my thicker cuts, which was worthwhile.

While functional, the tensioning lever could be more robust. The mechanism could be more secure, especially when working with more challenging materials.

The Makita portable bandsaws‘ ability to cut cleanly and quietly, without the sparks and dust associated with angle grinders, made me want to invest. The reduced noise levels and absence of flying sparks make it a safer and more pleasant tool to use, especially in confined spaces.

best portable bandsaw

Rapid cutting performance: 20% faster cutting compared to the previous model.

Substantial cutting capacity: Handles materials up to 85mm in diameter.

• Versatile speed control: Variable speed trigger allows quick adjustments to match cutting needs for different materials.

• Enhanced safety features: Band saw cover and dual action trigger prevent accidental blade contact and operation.

• Convenient design elements: Tool-free blade changes, adjustable shoe, and integrated LED light.

What's Good?

  • Dual-trigger safety system
  • Powerful and smooth cutting performance
  • Lightweight at 3.9KG

What Could Be Better?

  • Awkward rafter hook design

I was impressed with the kit’s contents, which were right out of the box. You can select two high-output 3.0 batteries to come with the bandsaw.

A rapid charger, blade covers, and bandsaw are also included. Including two batteries was sensible on my part so I could keep working without interruption.

Setting up the bandsaw was straightforward. The blade installation process is user-friendly, with a simple release lever for loosening the pulleys. Once the blade is in place, a quick trigger pull helps it adjust perfectly.

The dual-trigger system is very advanced. It’s a clever safety mechanism that requires a specific sequence: pull the rear trigger first, then the front. While it took a moment to get used to, its added safety is good, which will reduce accidental cuts during your projects.

Performance-wise, this bandsaw is insane. It easily slices through a 3/4-inch threaded bar and thicker materials. The cuts are smooth, controlled, and surprisingly quiet.

It handled everything I threw at it without bogging down. You’re in safe hands at 540 surface feet per minute and with a cut capacity of 3 1/4 inches by 3 1/4 inches.

The brushless motor contributes to its performance, and at just 7.5 pounds, it’s an excellent weight for overhead work. The build quality is top-notch, with robust metal components and high-grade plastic.

However, I found a couple of minor quibbles. The button for adjusting the guide can be fiddly to reach and operate. While not a deal-breaker, it could be more user-friendly.

The rafter hook’s design could be more comfortable. Its orientation makes hanging the tool a bit more fiddly than it needs to be.

The bandsaw has an LED light, which is a strong addition for working in dimly lit areas, though it could be better. Its compatibility with any M18 battery means you can easily extend runtime with larger-capacity batteries.

The Milwaukee M18 is a well-designed, powerful tool that excels at its job. Its safety features, cutting performance, and build quality make it a solid choice for professionals and serious DIYers.

While there’s room for minor improvements, it’s a tool I rate highly, and I’m glad to have it in my arsenal.

best portable bandsaws
  • Versatile cutting capacity: 2-1/2 in. (63.5 mm) cut capacity suitable for a wide range of applications.
  • Multi-material compatibility: Designed to effectively cut wood, metal, and plastic.
  • Ergonomic design: Integrated pommel handle for improved comfort during use.
  • Enhanced visibility: Handle design allows for better visibility of the cutting area.
  • Efficient cutting speed: 560 SFPM (170.7 m/min) blade speed for quick cuts across various materials.
  •  

What's Good?

  • Smooth and quiet operation
  • Versatile cutting capability (various metals)
  • Bright LED light for visibility

What Could Be Better?

  • Poorly designed rafter hook

This compact powerhouse promises to bring the convenience of a portable bandsaw to the average DIYer, so I was keen to test it.

I was impressed with the saw’s build quality. While it’s not as robust as some professional-grade models, it feels sturdy and well-balanced, even with the larger 6.0 HP battery attached.

The plastic components are heavier than I expected, which bodes well for durability during awkward projects.

The 32 7/8-inch blade is easy to install and adjust thanks to a simple lever mechanism. Ryobi includes two blades with the saw, and their standard size means replacements are readily available from various manufacturers.

In terms of performance, this little saw punches above its weight. It boasts a cut capacity of 2.5 inches and operates at 560 surface feet per minute.

I tested it on various materials, including galvanised angle iron, black pipe, and rebar. The cuts were impressively smooth and quick, with minimal vibration.

A feature that I’m always impressed with is the bright LED light that activates when you pull the trigger. It’s a small touch but makes a big difference when working in poorly lit areas.

The onboard storage for the adjustment wrench is another thoughtful addition that helps keep everything you need close at hand.

The saw’s compatibility with any Ryobi ONE+ 18V battery is a major plus. With the 6.0 HP battery, Ryobi claims you can get up to 100 cuts in 1-inch black metal pipe on a single charge.

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. The rafter hook needs to be better designed and feels flimsy. I found it unreliable for hanging the tool securely, which is disappointing for a basic feature.

While the saw easily handles metal-cutting tasks, it’s worth noting that it’s not designed for wood cutting. You could use it on wood in a pinch, but better tools exist.

While the Ryobi is perfect for home use and light commercial applications, it may not withstand the rigours of heavy-duty, constant use on a professional job site.

Despite these minor drawbacks, Ryobi has hit the mark with this portable bandsaw. It opens the world of metal cutting to DIY enthusiasts who might have baulked at the price of professional-grade models.

The combination of performance, ease of use, and affordability make it a valuable addition to any home tool shed. This Ryobi portable bandsaw offers excellent value for the average DIY enthusiast who needs occasional metal-cutting capabilities.

It’s a tool that punches above its weight, bringing professional-style capabilities to the home user at a decent price point.

best portable bandsaw
  • Compact cutting capacity: Handles materials up to 46 x 46 mm, ideal for smaller-scale cutting tasks.
  • Adjustable cutting speed: Variable speed from 150 to 380 SFPM (45.7 to 115.8 m/min) for versatile material cutting.
  • Lightweight design: Weighs only 3.18 kg without battery, reducing operator fatigue during extended use.
  • Brushless motor technology: Provides increased efficiency and longer runtime compared to brushed motors.
  • User-friendly features: Tool-free blade change, integrated LED worklight, and retractable hanging hook for improved usability.

What's Good?

  • Variable speed control with both trigger and dial adjustment
  • Lightweight design for easy one-handed use
  • Adjustable blade tracking for improved blade life and cut quality

What Could Be Better?

  • Higher price point compared to some competitors

I recently had the opportunity to test DeWalt’s DCS377Q1 compact bandsaw. As someone who’s used various portable bandsaws, I was eager to see how this model would stack up.

The saw boasts a 44.45 mm (1-3/4 inch) cut capacity, which is quite generous for a compact model. A standout feature is the variable speed control. With a range of 150 to 380 surface feet per minute, controlled by both a trigger and a side dial, I could easily adjust the speed to suit when cutting different materials.

The saw’s weight of about 3.18 kg makes it incredibly manageable. I could comfortably use it one-handed and work overhead without strain. This portability doesn’t come at the cost of sturdiness, though. The metal frame gives it a robust feel that many plastic-framed bandsaws lack.

I particularly liked the blade tracking adjustment feature. It’s not something you find on all compact bandsaws, and it allows for finer tuning of the blade’s position. This can significantly extend blade life and improve cut quality.

The LED work light is another good addition. It illuminates the cutting area, which is especially helpful when working in a darker space.

However, some things on the DeWalt bandsaw could be better. While the 44.45 mm capacity is good, cutting anything close to this maximum required a bit of finesse. It’s doable but not as effortless as smaller cuts.

The price point might also be a sticking point for some. The bandsaw is positioned at the higher end of the market. That said, the build quality and features do justify the cost to a large extent.

One minor gripe was the absence of a reaming tool on the drive wheel. This would have been a handy addition for electrical work, allowing for quick deburring of cut pipes.

The saw performed very well when used. It easily cuts through various materials, from thin sheet metal to thicker angle iron. The blade speed is noticeably faster than some older compact models I’ve used.

The DeWalt grip design is comfortable and familiar if you’re used to their other tools. Combined with the saw’s good balance, it is a pleasant tool to use even over extended periods.

Its power, portability, and thoughtful features make it a solid choice for professionals in various trades.

best portable bandsaw
  • Pioneering cutting capacity: First 12V band saw with 64mm cutting capacity, expanding capabilities in its class.
  • Compact and lightweight: Designed for one-handed use in tight spaces and overhead applications, weighing only 3.2kg with battery.
  • Adjustable cutting speed: Variable speed from 0 to 174 rpm to suit different materials and cutting requirements.
  • Efficient blade system: Uses a 776.3mm blade length, allowing for extended cutting before replacement.
  • Reduced noise level: Operates at 87dB(A) sound power level, minimising noise pollution on job sites.

What's Good?

  • Compact and lightweight design for easy one-handed use
  • Impressive cutting capacity 
  • LED light doubles as a shadow line guide

What Could Be Better?

  • Optional pipe reamer accessory costs extra instead of being included in the standard package

This compact powerhouse has quickly become a favourite of mine to use day to day. Right off the bat, I was impressed by its one-handed operation design. The saw’s lightweight nature makes it easy to use in tight spaces.

One of the standout features is the integrated blade cover. Changing blades is straightforward—push two tabs, flip the tension lever, and you’re ready to go. This design enhances safety and speeds up blade changes when needed.

The variable speed trigger is another gem. It allowed me to adjust the cutting speed on the fly, providing better control over different materials.

Speaking of cutting capacity, I was pleasantly surprised. In my test, I cut through 80 pieces of 3/4 inch EMT conduit and 7 pieces of 12-gauge super strut on a single battery charge. That’s impressive endurance for such a compact tool.

The LED light is good quality, effectively illuminating the cutting area. However, I discovered an unintended benefit—it doubles as a shadow line guide. This feature allowed strong, precise alignment before cutting, an unexpected bonus for detailed work.

Milwaukee’s attention to durability is obvious in the M12BS-0’s construction. The job site armour technology, featuring a solid material and crush zone barriers, gives me confidence in its longevity.

The inclusion of a rafter hook is a small but significant detail. It’s discreet when not needed but good for keeping the tool handy and safe on a ladder or scaffolding.

However, every tool has room for improvement. While the standard blade performs well, I’d recommend investing in heavy-duty blades for tougher materials. The adjustable shoe, which can move up to an inch and a half, is a nice touch. However, I found the default forward position suitable for most cuts and rarely needed adjustment.

One optional accessory worth mentioning is the pipe reamer attachment. This tool-free addition can save time when deburring cut pipes, though it would have been nice to see it included in the standard package.

Buyer’s Guide

There are some key things when looking for your ideal portable bandsaw.

Power Output

Battery tech has come a long way, and nowadays, cordless tools are giving their corded counterparts a run for their money.

A corded portable bandsaw will still have its perks. They’re often cheaper, and you don’t have to worry about recharging or replacing batteries. The thing is, cords can be a real pain. They get tangled, they’re never quite long enough, and they require you to have an extension cord close by.

That’s where cordless bandsaws shine. No cords mean total freedom to move around, which is great if you work in tight spaces or in the middle of nowhere. Plus, they’re more comfortable to use and take up less space.

If you prefer batteries, use the highest amp-hour (Ah) rating. They’ll keep you working longer without needing a recharge. You will always need to grab a spare battery for those longer jobs, but it’s worth it for the convenience.

Both types have their strengths. It comes down to what works best for you, your budget, and your work. But if you’re after flexibility and ease of use, a cordless bandsaw might be the way to go.

Cutting Capacity

Cutting capacity is a big deal when shopping for a portable bandsaw. Your choice might be what you need to cut, so pay attention to those specs. The width and depth are usually the same, but it’s always wise to double-check.

The width of the cut is basically how much of the blade you can use. It’s the space between the two sides of the tool where the blade sits. The depth of cut is how far back you can go from the blade to the frame.

The typical compact, one-handed model usually maxes out around 38mm by 38mm. But if you need something beefier for quick work, the larger tools can handle cuts up to 127mm by 127mm. That’s a big difference.

Size and Weight

Size matters, especially when it comes to bandsaws. The pros who swing these tools around all day know that every ounce counts, especially when you’re working overhead.

Manufacturers are savvy, utilising aluminium and plastic to keep their products lightweight. However, a word of caution: be sceptical of budget models that excessively use plastic. They may be lighter on your hands but not necessarily on long-term wear and tear. 

When working in tight spots, it’s important to consider the external dimensions. Many compact and subcompact models are tailored for one-handed operation, offering a significant advantage in confined areas. Larger models typically feature an adjustable front handle, providing reasonable control and adaptability for various uses. 

A well-balanced tool that feels good in your hands can make a difference. It’s not just about comfort – it’s about working smarter, not harder.

best portable bandsaw

The Benefits of Portable Bandsaws

If you’re considering a portable bandsaw, you’re making a wise decision. These powerful tools stand out in their category, offering specialised performance at high speeds that generalist tools can’t match. 

Consider jigsaws, for example. They’re fine for specific tasks but could be better for larger or circular cuts. Reciprocating saws? They’re powerful, but the vibration can make precise work challenging.

Angle grinders and Routers have their merits, but they could be faster. They can produce a spark show reminiscent of fireworks – not always what you need.

The portable bandsaw has many advantages. Choices range from nimble one-handed models to more robust two-handed ones.

These tools are also incredibly adaptable. They can slice through steel, other metals, wood, plastic, PVC—pretty much anything with the appropriate blade. Blades are typically designed for metal, but you can swap them out based on your project’s requirements.

The latest battery-powered bandsaws offer impressive performance and the convenience of working untethered from a power source.

Safety Tips

Following general bandsaw safety guidelines is crucial, but portable bandsaws present unique challenges. For those new to using these tools, making a few practice cuts on scrap material is advisable to get used to the tool’s operation and behaviour.

When changing blades, always wear gloves to protect your fingers from the sharp edges. Ensure the tool is unplugged or the battery removed before attempting blade changes.

Regular checks on blade tension are essential, as loose blades cut poorly and could come off the wheels in extreme cases. Always wear eye protection when operating a portable bandsaw to guard against flying debris or metal shavings.

Lastly, be mindful of where cut pieces of material will fall and use gloves when handling them, as freshly cut metal can be extremely hot.

FAQ's

The best portable bandsaws for any DIY project combine power, precision, and portability. Look for models with adjustable cutting speeds, comfortable designs, and reliable blade guides.

Brands like DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Makita are often considered top contenders. When choosing the best portable bandsaw, consider cutting capacity, battery life (for cordless models), and weight.

Yes, portable bandsaws can cut wood effectively. While many are optimised for metal cutting, they can handle various wood types with the right blade.
To prevent clogging, use a blade with fewer teeth per inch (TPI) for wood cutting. Remember that portable bandsaws are best suited for smaller wood pieces rather than large lumber.

Consider cutting capacity, power source, weight, blade change mechanism, and ergonomics when purchasing a portable bandsaw. Look for models with variable speed settings, LED lights for visibility, and durable construction. Ensure the cutting capacity matches your typical material sizes, and check battery life if opting for a cordless model.

The top 3 uses for portable bandsaws are:
1. Cutting metal pipes and conduits in plumbing or electrical work
2. Trimming structural steel in construction projects
3. Making precise cuts in various materials for automotive repairs

Always wear safety glasses and work gloves when using a portable bandsaw. Ensure the workpiece is securely clamped or supported. Keep your hands clear of the cutting area and let the saw’s weight do the work.

Regularly check blade tension and condition. Never force the saw through the material, and always allow the blade to come to a complete stop before setting the tool down.

The best portable bandsaws offer unique advantages over other cutting tools. Unlike angle grinders, they produce clean cuts with minimal sparks. Compared to reciprocating saws, portable bandsaws provide smoother, more precise cuts with less vibration.

They excel at cutting round stock and pipes, which can be challenging for jigsaws. While not as powerful as stationary bandsaws, portable models offer unmatched mobility for on-site work.

While portable bandsaws are versatile, they have some limitations. They typically have smaller cutting capacities than stationary models, and battery-powered versions may have limited runtime for extended use.

Some users find them less stable for precise work than bench-mounted tools. They may need help with very thick materials or hardwoods. Despite these drawbacks, their portability and ease of use make them invaluable for many jobs.

These 5 Terrific Portable Bandsaws Will Elevate Your Efficiency

Thanks for reading our article on 5 Terrific Portable Bandsaws to Elevate Your Efficiency. Please go check out our blog HERE for more advice for those handy dads out there.

Chris

Chris

I'm Chris, and my life revolves around two profound passions: embracing the joys of fatherhood with my energetic 2-year-old son and channelling my skills into transforming every nook and cranny of our home.
Dads tool shed

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"A Dad is as only as good as the tools in his tool shed"