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Best Portable Band Saw Reviews

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Milwaukee 6232-21 Product Image
  • MILWAUKEE 6232-21
  • $$$
Milwaukee 2429-20 Product Image
  • MILWAUKEE 2429-21 XC
  • $
R

Good for

Band saws are great tools for a vast variety of applications. Whether you’re a devoted professional or an occasional user, you’ll definitely find these tools helpful and worth checking out. The main things these machines are known for are accuracy, ease of use, and compactness. They are mainly used for creating curved or straight cuts both on metal and wood surfaces, depending on the blade that is installed. The principle on which they operate is pretty simple. The toothed metal strip is driven by two rotating wheels inside the casing. Some models feature more than two wheels, but a vast majority uses two.

A portable unit is a good choice for people who are looking for a more dynamic version of a regular table saw. Instead of being limited to working only inside your house or workshop, you can easily carry one of these around and have a powerful tool available to you at all times.

Q

Not recommended for

As far as the battery-powered models go, there are some limitations you should be aware of. The first thing most people complain about is the pre-determined amount of cuts characteristic for most battery-powered models. In simpler words, every unit is limited to a certain amount of cuts depending on the quality of the battery. On the other hand, the corded units are known to be versatile, but they won’t yield a smooth cut. Therefore, whenever you finish using a band saw, there is a high possibility that you will need to further process the piece that you have cut out due to rough edges.

Even though it’s regarded as a versatile piece of equipment, professional woodworkers usually put it low on the list of their priorities because a decent table saw is capable of providing better results in most cases. In other words, band saws are used for specific purposes instead of being an all-around piece.

Top Rated Portable Bandsaws


Milwaukee 6232-21 – Editor’s Choice


Our Rating: 4.8
When it comes to durability, reliability, and decent cuts, this particular model might be among the best on the market. It’s an easy to use tool with top-quality components and good features.

The 5x5 throat makes it a good choice for deep cuts. It is powered by an 11-amp motor and it features four variable speed settings. Therefore, it allows the user to control the speed of the blade thus impacting the overall time it takes to make a cut. As far as the performance goes, it’s excellent. Apart from wood, it can cut through steel pieces without a single issue. While it can cut at an angle, it is mainly designed for cutting at a 90-degree angle as it performs best under those conditions.

The integrated LED light is one of the first things most people notice when they power this machine on. While it seems pretty irrelevant and maybe even redundant, the LED light comes in handy quite often, especially if you’re a devoted professional. Furthermore, the overall design of this unit allows you to supervise the cut from both sides without jeopardizing your safety. This feature significantly reduces errors and also increases the overall safety factor as one doesn’t have to lean over and lose control.

The unit weighs about 14 pounds. It’s definitely not a lightweight unit per se, but the weight is there for a good reason. It allows you to cut through anything without applying too much pressure. Instead, all you have to do is let the weight of the tool take it through the material, whether it’s wood or steel. The Milwaukee 6232-21 comes at an affordable price with a hard case included. The case in question is not perfect by any means, but it’s sturdy enough to keep your tool safe and protected.

Dewalt DWM120k


Our Rating: 4.6
Dewalt is a well-known brand around the world, especially when it comes to manufacturing useful and efficient power tools. Needless to say, this particular one isn’t an exception either. It’s quite easy to use, can cut through many materials, and most importantly – it’s affordable and accessible to people who don’t want to invest a large amount of money in a single unit.

As far as the power goes, this model features a 10-amp motor with five different levels of intensity. In other words, one can regulate the speed of the wheel rotation depending on what kind of a cut they want to perform. The design is what makes this model so desirable among both DIYers and professionals. The side of the casing features rubber bumpers integrated into the shroud meaning you don’t have to worry about damaging the unit easily. In fact, it can withstand quite a beating which means one can easily utilize this particular unit on any construction site without thinking about damaging their tool.

The DWM120k features an integrated LED which is great for working in dark or dim environments. While it’s usually not recommended due to safety reasons, one can indeed cut through tough materials in dark environments with great precision. The unit weighs about 15 pounds which don’t make it the lightest one around, to say the least. However, as we already mentioned, the more weight a tool has, the easier it is to work with it, especially if you’re planning on cutting steel. Instead of having to apply pressure at all times and thus lose quite a bit of precision, all you have to do is let the gravity do its thing. Of course, there is still some pressure required from the user nonetheless. The machine comes with a wrench and kit box included which is a nice touch.

Dewalt DWM120k


Our Rating: 4.6
Dewalt is a well-known brand around the world, especially when it comes to manufacturing useful and efficient power tools. Needless to say, this particular one isn’t an exception either. It’s quite easy to use, can cut through many materials, and most importantly – it’s affordable and accessible to people who don’t want to invest a large amount of money in a single unit.

As far as the power goes, this model features a 10-amp motor with five different levels of intensity. In other words, one can regulate the speed of the wheel rotation depending on what kind of a cut they want to perform. The design is what makes this model so desirable among both DIYers and professionals. The side of the casing features rubber bumpers integrated into the shroud meaning you don’t have to worry about damaging the unit easily. In fact, it can withstand quite a beating which means one can easily utilize this particular unit on any construction site without thinking about damaging their tool.

The DWM120k features an integrated LED which is great for working in dark or dim environments. While it’s usually not recommended due to safety reasons, one can indeed cut through tough materials in dark environments with great precision. The unit weighs about 15 pounds which don’t make it the lightest one around, to say the least. However, as we already mentioned, the more weight a tool has, the easier it is to work with it, especially if you’re planning on cutting steel. Instead of having to apply pressure at all times and thus lose quite a bit of precision, all you have to do is let the gravity do its thing. Of course, there is still some pressure required from the user nonetheless. The machine comes with a wrench and kit box included which is a nice touch.

Makita XBP02Z


Our Rating: 4.4
Makita usually manufactures affordable yet quality tools. The XBP02Z model is a good representation of their business strategy and it’s far from being a bad choice. In fact, it’s an excellent choice both for devoted professionals and occasional users. The cutting speed of this unit is from 275 up to 530 ft. per minute, depending on the selected speed.

As far as the design goes, it’s quite conventional. There aren’t many impressive components to talk about, but the ones that are included in the build are of good quality. One of the biggest advantages of this model is its longevity and ability to withstand rough conditions, especially if you’re working on a busy construction site. It features a rubber shroud at the bottom of the chassis meaning you don’t have to worry about damaging the unit at all. You can rest assured that it is built to endure quite a beating.

The difference between this and many other portable band saws is the fact that this particular one utilizes battery power instead of drawing power from an outlet. It’s a double-edged sword for many people due to certain limitations but also a few advantages. As far as the limitations go, the biggest one is the limited number of cuts per charge. Now, the manufacturer didn’t specify the exact (or approximate) number of cuts per charge, but you can expect at least a hundred considering it uses a 18V battery. Speaking of battery, the most important thing one should remember is that it’s not included with the unit. In other words, you would have to buy both a battery and a charger in order to use this machine.

The price is okay, but it could have been a bit lower. However, considering it’s a battery-powered model, the slightly higher price is to be expected.

Milwaukee 2429-21XC M12 Bandsaw Kit


Our Rating: 4.4
This particular model is best-known for being one of the most compact and lightweight units around. It’s suitable for one-handed cuts and it weighs only about 11 pounds meaning it’s a great choice for electricians and people that don’t have much time to hassle over a simple cut. The motor is able to cut a ¾-inch EMT in three seconds. The battery offers about 150 cuts per one charge and takes about half an hour to recharge fully.

The design is quite peculiar and unconventional. That doesn’t mean it’s particularly hard to get the hang of this unit, but it isn’t something you see every day. The biggest drawback design-wise is the fact that most outer components are made of plastic. While the plastic is hardened, it’s still far less durable than any metal. Many people think this is quite a deal-breaker, but if one considers the affordable price, it makes sense that Milwaukee engineers went with plastic components instead of metal or rubber. Nonetheless, we would like to see at least a rubber shroud added onto the existing chassis for improved durability.

As you can tell, this isn’t a heavy-duty tool. It won’t perform miracles, but it will cut through most things you put in front of it as long as it’s foreseen for such materials. The battery is okay, but it’s far from impressive. The 12V battery will yield over a hundred cuts, but if you utilize the LED light frequently, the battery efficiency decreases significantly. Speaking of LED lights, the one integrated into this machine highlights the cut line instead of illuminating a big radius. It can be considered as an advantage because the brightness increases with focus. In other words, the more focused the LED is at a particular point, the brighter it gets.

Milwaukee 2429-21XC M12 Bandsaw Kit


Our Rating: 4.4
This particular model is best-known for being one of the most compact and lightweight units around. It’s suitable for one-handed cuts and it weighs only about 11 pounds meaning it’s a great choice for electricians and people that don’t have much time to hassle over a simple cut. The motor is able to cut a ¾-inch EMT in three seconds. The battery offers about 150 cuts per one charge and takes about half an hour to recharge fully.

The design is quite peculiar and unconventional. That doesn’t mean it’s particularly hard to get the hang of this unit, but it isn’t something you see every day. The biggest drawback design-wise is the fact that most outer components are made of plastic. While the plastic is hardened, it’s still far less durable than any metal. Many people think this is quite a deal-breaker, but if one considers the affordable price, it makes sense that Milwaukee engineers went with plastic components instead of metal or rubber. Nonetheless, we would like to see at least a rubber shroud added onto the existing chassis for improved durability.

As you can tell, this isn’t a heavy-duty tool. It won’t perform miracles, but it will cut through most things you put in front of it as long as it’s foreseen for such materials. The battery is okay, but it’s far from impressive. The 12V battery will yield over a hundred cuts, but if you utilize the LED light frequently, the battery efficiency decreases significantly. Speaking of LED lights, the one integrated into this machine highlights the cut line instead of illuminating a big radius. It can be considered as an advantage because the brightness increases with focus. In other words, the more focused the LED is at a particular point, the brighter it gets.

Dewalt DCS 374B


Our Rating: 4.2
The 5-inch cutting capacity and 20V battery make this particular model one of the most versatile on our list. As you may know, Dewalt has quite a good reputation for manufacturing top-quality products, and this one isn’t an exception. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, this particular model will definitely meet your expectations.

The design is sturdy, reliable, and most importantly – made of high-quality materials. Instead of being all-plastic, it contains both metal parts as well as a rubberized shroud on the sides. The shroud allows you to work with the unit without having to worry about suddenly damaging it. It is quite resistant both to hits and other rough conditions. The integrated LED comes in handy, especially if you’re used to working in darker environments. While it’s not recommended due to safety reasons, working in dim environments isn’t impossible with this model.

The battery is great, but it’s not included. That might be quite a deal-breaker for some people because it means you will have to invest more money in order to make it work. Now, while it does require a heftier investment, you can rest assured that it’s worth every penny as long as you’re planning on using the full potential of this machine. It features a trigger lock meaning it does reduce fatigue to a certain extent, even though it’s not much to be fair.

The unit features five different speed levels which allow you to fine-tune it to your own preferences. Depending on what are you planning to cut, each of those five levels offers slightly different results. Most people like the quality of this band saw, even though it offers similar features as some that are less expensive. However, considering the reputation of this brand, getting one of these won’t turn out to be a mistake by any means.

Quick Product Comparison


 POWER SOURCECUTTING CAPACITYWEIGHTPRICE 
Milwaukee 6232-21 Product Image

MILWAUKEE 6232-21

Corded5"21.9 pounds$$$Check Price
Dewalt DWM120k Product Image

DEWALT DWM120k

Corded5"15 pounds$$Check Price
Makita XBP02Z Product Image

MAKITA XBP02Z

Battery4-3/4"14.3 pounds$$Check Price
Milwaukee 2429-21XC Product Image

MILWAUKEE 2429-21XC

Battery1-5/8"12.4 pounds$Check Price
Dewalt DCS 374B Product Image

DEWALT DCS 374B

Battery5"15.9 pounds$$Check Price

Before You Buy: How a Portable Bandsaw Works?


Quite a lot of people aren’t aware of the possibilities that their new tool has to offer. While it’s certainly not the end of the world, it does cut you from using the full potential of your new tool. In order to avoid such scenarios, especially if you’re a novice, go ahead and read this short description of how band saws work and what are they best for. Instead of having to research and read dozens of guides, you can learn a thing or two right here.

The Mechanism


The first thing one should know about these tools is the principle on which they operate. Luckily, it’s a pretty simple thing. Most modern portable band saws have two rotating wheels that are responsible for keeping the teeth in motion. Some models include an extra wheel for added consistency and some other minor advantages. An average user will find the two-wheeled models good enough.

Furthermore, most units feature an option that allows you to change the speed or intensity of teeth. It’s quite a useful feature, even though many people decide not to use it, and most of them select the average value. Therefore, if a model has six different levels, a vast majority of users will select the level three and leave it that way. It’s not wrong per se, but there are much more options and versatility with dynamic change of levels.

The good thing about these machines is the fact that they don’t produce a lot of dust thanks to their design. Furthermore, most of them weigh well under twenty pounds meaning they are one of the lightest power tools for cutting thick wood or metal for that matter. Make sure you understand how these things operate before you decide to tackle a project. For a better insight, always refer to the user manual.

Best Portable Band Saw – Buyer’s Guide


Before you decide which model to invest in, there are a couple of things you should pay attention to. A lot of inexperienced people simply purchase the first thing they stumble upon and that seems visually appealing. Needless to say, it’s a huge mistake and it can result in you losing money, especially in the long run. Instead of getting the most popular or the cheapest model on the market, make sure it offers the features you’re looking for. In case it doesn’t, there is no reason to put money in it. Here are some of the things you should be aware of before spending money –

Weight


The weight is one of those things that most people don’t care about. However, you can rest assured that it plays a major role in almost any project you decide to tackle, whether you’re cutting a single pipe, or renovating your old furniture. Depending on how heavy the unit is, the levels of fatigue grow proportionally. In simpler terms, the heavier the machine is, the quicker you’ll get tired. Furthermore, the more downtime you have due to fatigue the more it will take to finish the project. Now, if you’re on a deadline or in a hurry, lighter models will usually yield better results, but not necessarily. The reason is simple – a heavier model is sometimes a better option because it requires less pressure and effort. As you can tell, the key is in finding the “sweet spot” in weight so that it doesn’t cause too much fatigue, but it also does not require too much pressure from the user.

Battery


As we mentioned, most portable band saws are battery-powered. As with all other tools, the overall capacity of the battery dictates the number of cuts before a recharge is needed. Now, the most important things you should look for are voltage, number of cuts, and time needed for full recharge cycle. The rule of thumb here is not to go with a unit that offers less than a hundred cuts on a single charge. In fact, you’ll hardly find any that don’t offer at least 125 up to 170 cuts. However, a high number of cuts per charge don’t always mean better performance and less downtime because some might require more time for a full recharge cycle. For example, if you have a battery that offers 150 cuts but needs three hours to recharge full, then it’s better to get one that offers 100 cuts but needs 20 minutes to recharge.

dewalt bandsaw battery

The Price


A higher price doesn’t always indicate better quality. In fact, it’s almost never true. However, many people take this for granted and aim for the most expensive models expecting a much better performance in comparison to some more affordable one. That’s not how it goes, and that mistake can cost you quite a bit. The first thing you should pay attention to is the brand. Naturally, more famous brands such as Dewalt and Makita will always have a slightly higher price in comparison to no-name brands. While it is a double-edged sword, it’s always recommended that you go with the most secure option. Also, bigger brands tend to issue better warranty conditions and overall have a better relationship with their customers. Cheaper models can indeed offer similar features, but the lack of warranty and customer support can be a nuisance sometimes. In the end, it’s up to you to choose the option that suits you better. As far as we are concerned, well-respected brands are the way to go.

portable bandsaw made of metal

The Design and Materials Used


One more thing one should always remember is to check the sturdiness of the design. While it may not be easy, especially if you’re buying online, it’s still a mandatory thing to do. Even though all-plastic models aren’t necessarily a bad investment, the ones made of metal are always a better option. Furthermore, look for models that include a rubber shroud around the chassis as it improves the durability by a lot.

The conclusion


Portable band saws are a good addition to anyone’s toolbox. The best thing about them is the fact that they are easy to use and easy to get the hang of, even if you have no experience whatsoever. On the other hand, they are also great for devoted professionals who are looking to cut thick pieces of both wood and metal without having to worry about lack of power, fatigue, or expensive equipment. Speaking of expensive, one more thing that makes these machines good is their affordability. Truth be told, there are some expensive ones on the market, but there are far more affordable ones that can make your life much easier. The key is in finding the model that fulfills your expectations and falls into the domain of your experience. In other words, don’t buy a complex power tool if you don’t know how to use it and don’t buy cheap copies just because you need a tool for a quick job. Instead, find the one that you’ll find useful even after many years.

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