portable band saw

Best Portable Band Saw Reviews and Buying Guide 2019

Best Portable Band Saw Reviews 2019

When you think of a bandsaw, chances are that a large cabinet model or even one of the smaller hybrid models come to mind. However, for those in pipe cutting fields, the ability to take a bandsaw with you on the go is an enticing option. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best portable bandsaw reviews of 2019. We also provide a helpful buyer’s guide and FAQ, so you know what to look for and what to watch out for. The DEWALT and Milwaukee topped our list due to their durability, but you have to keep reading to find out which provides the best performance and best deal.

Product Image
Best Seller
DEWALT Portable Band Saw, Deep Cut, 10 Amp, 5-Inch (DWM120K)
Top Pick
Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Band Saw
Best Value
Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw, Red
Makita XBP02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Portable Band Saw, Tool Only
10 Amp Deep Cut Variable Speed Band Saw Kit
Model
DEWALT Portable Band Saw, Deep Cut, 10 Amp, 5-Inch (DWM120K)
Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Band Saw
Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw, Red
Makita XBP02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Portable Band Saw, Tool Only
10 Amp Deep Cut Variable Speed Band Saw Kit
Customer Rating
170 Ratings
34 Ratings
31 Ratings
43 Ratings
14 Ratings
Prime
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-
Best Seller
Product Image
DEWALT Portable Band Saw, Deep Cut, 10 Amp, 5-Inch (DWM120K)
Model
DEWALT Portable Band Saw, Deep Cut, 10 Amp, 5-Inch (DWM120K)
Customer Rating
170 Ratings
Prime
Top Pick
Product Image
Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Band Saw
Model
Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Band Saw
Customer Rating
34 Ratings
Prime
Best Value
Product Image
Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw, Red
Model
Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw, Red
Customer Rating
31 Ratings
Prime
-
Product Image
Makita XBP02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Portable Band Saw, Tool Only
Model
Makita XBP02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Portable Band Saw, Tool Only
Customer Rating
43 Ratings
Prime
Product Image
10 Amp Deep Cut Variable Speed Band Saw Kit
Model
10 Amp Deep Cut Variable Speed Band Saw Kit
Customer Rating
14 Ratings
Prime
-

DEWALT DWM120K 10 Amp 5-Inch Deep Cut Portable Band Saw Kit – Best Seller

DEWALT Portable Band Saw, Deep Cut, 10 Amp, 5-Inch (DWM120K)
170 Ratings
DEWALT Portable Band Saw, Deep Cut, 10 Amp, 5-Inch (DWM120K)
  • Industry best 10 amp motor designed with controlled power to withstand any jobsite application
  • Industry best 5-inch deep cut capacity for round or rectangular stock.Max Capacity (Rectangular) 5 x 4-3/4 in
  • Serviceable steel shroud and rubber bumpers allow guards to withstand jobsite abuse without damage

As a manufacturer of power tools, DEWALT is easily one of the largest and most respected companies in the world. Of course, these days, DEWALT is better understood as a subsidiary brand of the Stanley BLACK+DECKER corporation which carries with it some important implications. First and foremost among these should be the realization that DEWALT, while still a professional-grade brand of power tools, does not really occupy the position within the market it once did. This is not to suggest that DEWALT is a substandard manufacturer, but you should not expect the same level of quality you once did 40 or 50 years ago. That said, their relative profitability has allowed DEWALT to continue to innovate in markets that have otherwise gone stale and led to a solid option for the best seller position.

Good Build
One thing that DEWALT has worked hard at reclaiming is their reputation for making a well-built power tool. Keep in mind, there can a mile of difference between a well-built power tool and one that performs well. Thankfully, the DEWALT portable bandsaw has taken this project to heart and produced one of the better built options on our list. One of the areas that the DWM120K portable bandsaw really shines above its competitors is in the maintenance department. The DEWALT portable bandsaw is able to reign supreme in this particular area by allowing the user nearly complete access to the internal components with especial ease paid to the brushes of the motor. On top of that, this is also one of the more ergonomically designed portable bandsaws that we came across. This starts with the use of soft grip material used for both the trigger and the back handles, something not often seen. Even better, the DEWALT DWM120K portable bandsaw also features a back handle that is significantly larger than those traditionally found on portable bandsaws.

Solid Cutting Action
As noted prior, there is a big difference between how well a power tool is built and how well it performs. While the DEWALT portable bandsaw is fairly well-built, it does have a bit more of a rocky track record in regards to performance. This is not to suggest that the DWM120K portable bandsaw is poorly performing, but it does not have as much oomph as some of its competitors. This is most notable in regards to the blade speed which the slowest on our list topping out at only 350 fpm. That said, it does have a fairly solid range of blade speeds between 100 to 350 fpm, but that maximum will definitely limit some of the more extreme circumstances. Thankfully, the corded 10-amp motor is still able to generate plenty of cutting torque, so you can still make all of the necessary cuts to a wide variety of materials. In fact, the DEWALT DWM120K portable bandsaw also has one of the larger cutting capacities at 5” x 4 ¾” which is the second-largest capacity that we reviewed. To be fair, the DEWALT portable bandsaw may very well have sacrificed a bit of blade speed in order to maintain a higher degree of cut precision as noted by their inclusion of dual bearing blade guides.

DEWALT Portable Band Saw, Deep Cut, 10 Amp, 5-Inch (DWM120K)

Pros

  • Has a 5” x 4 ¾” cutting capacity
  • Has an onboard LED work light
  • Has variable speed control
  • Has a dual bearing blade guide
  • Is easier to maintain
  • Is ergonomically designed

Cons

  • Is a more expensive portable bandsaw
  • Has the slowest blade speed reviewed

Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw, Red – Top Pick

Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Band Saw
34 Ratings
Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Band Saw
  • Best-in-class compact size up to 60-percent lighter than deep cut saws and up to 40-percent more compact
  • Integrated LED work light: illuminates the cut line in dark areas
  • 2-1/2-inch by 2-1/2-inch cutting capacity

Milwaukee was founded in 1924, and from its onset has been consistently rated as one of the best professional-grade power tool manufacturers in the world. While they may not have quite the same reputation outside of the contractor fields as some of the other companies on our list, within the contractor circle, it is understood and respected that this brand can compete with any other in virtually any tool’s market. A big part of this comes from the fact that Milwaukee makes it a point to target each of the primary categories of a power tool’s quality: performance, durability, and power. While most power tool manufacturers are content to gain their edge through one or the other of these qualities, Milwaukee takes a more generalist approach and produces power tools that have few flaws and many advantages.

Excellent Build
While our best-selling portable bandsaw may be known for its quality build, few products can truly compete with the Milwaukee 6238-20 in this regard. Whether you look at the physical build or the internal components, the 6238-20 portable bandsaw is by far one of the most powerful and durable models we found. It may not necessarily be as easy to handle as some of the others, but neither is it overly complicated either. Still, the all-metal direct drive offers a high level of strength and durability while being able to more effectively transfer cutting power to the blade than some of the chain-driven models we saw. This is also the only portable bandsaw we came across with a gear-protecting clutch to make sure that none of the components suffer unnecessary wear and tear while starting the blade up or turning it off. To further extend the protections of the internal components and reduce the need for extensive maintenance, the Milwaukee portable bandsaw has a debris protection system that extends the pulley life. Not content to focus all of their protections on the interior, the Milwaukee 6238-20 portable bandsaw also features the proprietary Job Site Armor composite to ensure that you do not have to worry about it breaking when coming into contact with workpieces or surrounding materials.

Solid Performance
Gauging the performance of a portable bandsaw can be a bit tricky when you consider that the cutting torque is rarely provided. This can make judging the Milwaukee portable bandsaw that much trickier when you consider that it has one of the slower maximum blade speeds we found at 380 fpm. Things can get a bit hairier still when you also realize that though it has a variable speed control, the 6238-20 portable bandsaw blade speed’s range is the most narrow with only a difference of 80 fpm. On the other hand, the Milwaukee 6238-20 portable bandsaw also tops our list with the most powerful motor reviewed at 11 amps which is only further strengthened considering it is also a corded model. On top of that, the 6238-20 portable bandsaw tops our list in another important spec, perhaps the most important, with the largest cutting capacity we found at 5” x 5”. Of course, this is also the most expensive portable bandsaw that we reviewed which further highlights how premium that cutting capacity truly is.

Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Band Saw

Pros

  • Has an all-metal direct drive
  • Has Job Site Armor protections
  • Has a 5” x 5” cutting capacity
  • Has a gear-protecting clutch
  • Has a debris protection system
  • Can run on different power sources

Cons

  • Is the most expensive portable bandsaw reviewed
  • Has a slower blade speed

Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Band Saw – Best Value

Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw, Red
31 Ratings
Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw, Red
  • The product is easy to use
  • The product is durable
  • The product is manufactured in China

Out of all the companies on our list, few are respected for their dedication to and achievement of precision as Bosch. While this often leaves their products on the somewhat expensive end of the spectrum, the company is almost the poster child for the phrase “you get what you pay for.” To be fair, Bosch Tools is easily the oldest and most experienced company on our list with a storied history that stretches back well over a century. Still, it does come as a bit of a surprise that not only is the Bosch portable bandsaw our best value option, but it is the least expensive product that we reviewed. Of course, there are some compromises that they had to make to achieve that state.

Unique Profile
One thing to consider when looking at the BSH180B portable bandsaw is that fact that it was designed with a specific user in mind. While a majority of the options on our list may be small compared to a traditional bandsaw, the Bosch takes that approach a step further. In fact, this is easily the smallest and lightest portable bandsaw that we reviewed which makes using it in confined spaces that much easier. On top of that, the relatively ergonomic design combined with its light weight means you do not have to worry about fatigue nearly as much as with the other products on our list. Unfortunately, this also has a significant impact on one of the more important specs as well– the cutting capacity. While a standard portable bandsaw will at least provide a cutting capacity of up to 4” x 4”, the Bosch portable bandsaw limps in at the bottom of our list with only a 2 ½” x 2 ½” cutting capacity.

Up and Down
While the Bosch BSH180B portable bandsaw does have some nice features, it is impossible to review this product without noting its lack of power. It might seem a bit predictable that the Bosch portable bandsaw would lack cutting power considering it is a cordless model, but it 6.3-amp motor is well below industry standards. That said, the BSH180B portable bandsaw is able to generate impressive blade speeds of up to 530 fpm which are able to be adjusted on the fly with a variable speed trigger. Of course, this does mean you need to be a bit familiar with the use of this product to best adjust the speed.

Milwaukee 6238-20 AC/DC Deep Cut Portable Two-Speed Band Saw, Red

Pros

  • Is the least expensive portable bandsaw reviewed
  • Is a cordless portable bandsaw
  • Has a dual bearing blade guide
  • Has the fastest blade speed reviewed
  • Has an onboard LED work light
  • Is a more compact portable bandsaw

Cons

  • Has the smallest cutting capacity reviewed
  • Has the least powerful motor reviewed

Makita XBP02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Portable Band Saw, Tool Only – Runner Up

Sale
Makita XBP02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Portable Band Saw, Tool Only
43 Ratings
Makita XBP02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Portable Band Saw, Tool Only
  • 4-3/4" cutting capacity accepts a 44-7/8" blade and is ideal for cutting multiple metal materials
  • Makita-built motor delivers faster cutting with variable speed 275-530 ft./min.
  • Protection circuit with built-in alert light provides over-torque motor protection warning for increased durability

While not the oldest or most experienced company on our list, Makita certainly does have a long history and has been regarded as one of the best manufacturers of professional-grade power tools for decades. A bit part of this likely comes from their focus on electric motors and their ability to deliver significantly more power out of a similar motor when compared to their competitors. This actually serves the Makita exceptionally well with their portable bandsaw, but it is not quite enough to get them over the hump of their rather hefty price tag. That said, there is definitely a particular kind of contractor who will prefer this model above all the others we reviewed.

Go Anywhere
Easily one of the best qualities of the Makita portable bandsaw is the fact that it is a cordless model. While this would regularly come with the caveat that it is unable to generate quite as much power as a corded model, the Makita does not seem to have this issue– likely due to their specialization in electric motors in the first place. In fact, this is one of the few portable bandsaws we found that was explicitly designed with a high-torque motor. To make using the DWM120k portable bandsaw easier to use in dark environments, something relatively likely when cutting pipes onsite, it also comes equipped with an onboard LED work light.

Great Performance
While the high-torque motor certainly serves the XBP02Z portable bandsaw well, it is not the only feature that allows this to provide one of the better cutting actions we found. The Makita portable bandsaw also sports the fastest blade speed on our list at 530 fpm and is also able to give a fairly solid range of 275 fpm to the 530 fpm maximum. This is accomplished with a 6-position variable speed control that takes the guesswork out of a trigger-operated mechanism. Unfortunately, not all of the other functions are as simple as the Makita XBP02Z portable bandsaw is noted for being one of the more difficult to use. Aside from the fact that changing the blade can be a bit difficult, even making adjustments to the general head’s position is noted for being a bit finicky sometimes.

Makita XBP02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Portable Band Saw, Tool Only

Pros

  • Is a cordless portable bandsaw
  • Has variable speed control
  • Has the fastest blade speed reviewed
  • Has an onboard LED work light
  • Has a high-torque motor
  • Has numerous safety and protection features

Cons

  • Is a more expensive portable bandsaw
  • Requires more effort to use

Chicago Electric 10 Amp Deep Cut Variable Speed Band Saw Kit – Also Consider

10 Amp Deep Cut Variable Speed Band Saw Kit
14 Ratings
10 Amp Deep Cut Variable Speed Band Saw Kit
  • Powerful 10 amp motor with variable speed dial 0 to 420 FPM
  • 5 in. x 5 in. deep cut capacity
  • Superior ergonomics and balance for accurate cuts and less fatigue

Chicago Electric should not be confused with the similar-sounding company that also makes power tools, Chicago Pneumatic. In fact, Chicago Electric is not even its own company and is instead the proprietary brand owned by the power tool retailer Harbor Freight. While the parent company seems to understand where the market standards lie and even makes it a point to exceed them, the build quality of this option definitely leaves a bit to be desired. That said, this is a less expensive portable bandsaw and one of the few corded models within this price range.

Surprising Cutting Power
Whatever one may say about the Chicago Electric portable bandsaw, a lack of cutting power will not be one of them. Aside from the fact that it comes with an industry-standard 10-amp motor, it is also able to generate fast blade speeds. In fact, this is the fastest cutting corded portable bandsaw we found with a maximum blade speed of 420 fpm. To make that even more impressive, it also has an infinitely variable speed control which provides for the largest range of cutting speed on out list. As if that were not enough, the Deep Cut portable bandsaw also tops our list with the largest maximum cutting capacity at 5” x 5”. Of course, you cannot get all of these great specs at such a good price without having to give up something else in return.

Questionable QC
At first glance, it would appear as though Chicago Electric did their due diligence when designing this portable bandsaw. This is the only option on our list with a 3-wheel blade guide as opposed to a dual-ball bearing option. On top of that, the Chicago Electric Deep Cut portable bandsaw also features a needle bearing mount. Sadly, these features do little to account for some of this portable bandsaw’s failings which strike at the heart of its value. It is a good thing that this is a less expensive option too because these flaws relate specifically to the long term durability of the product. For instance, there are multiple accounts of the electronics within the Chicago Electric short-circuiting and smoking from heat. Even more, there are a number of reports of the guides themselves failing to keep the blade at a straight angle, though this may be, in part, due to the power of the portable bandsaw.

10 Amp Deep Cut Variable Speed Band Saw Kit

Pros

  • Is a less expensive portable bandsaw
  • Has a blade speed of 420 fpm
  • Has a 5” x 5” cutting capacity
  • Has variable speed control
  • Has a needle bearing mount
  • Has a 3-wheel blade guide

Cons

  • Is the heaviest portable bandsaw reviewed
  • Not the most reliable

Best Portable Band Saw Buying Guide 2019

Type

Though bandsaws more broadly come in a wide variety of types, of which the portable model is one, the portable bandsaw itself can be divided into the cordless and corded types. While not necessarily the most important quality to consider in regards to the actual performance of a portable bandsaw, it is definitely one of the more relevant to the tool’s purpose. It may seem a bit basic on its surface and a question better framed as one of preference, but the choice between a corded or cordless portable bandsaw will have an important impact on the performance of the tool.

Corded

Easily, the most limiting quality of this type of portable bandsaw is its reliance on an outlet from which to draw a steady supply of power. However, in that same system which tethers the corded portable bandsaw to an outlet, we find a more robust performance. Basically, when the power supply remains stable, the motor will not have to modulate its use of electricity in correspondence with the reserves. This generally allows for the portable bandsaw to generate more torque than a cordless model, though some brands have found a way to effectively compete with the use of engineering.

Cordless

Clearly, the most useful component of this type of portable bandsaw is its ability to go places where there is no steady power supply. While corded models can be powered by portable generators, that definitely takes some of the convenience out of the portable bandsaw. However, it is important to remember that cordless power tools have a tendency to provide less mechanical power than their corded counterparts. This is especially true when the battery pack of the cordless model begins to lose significant amounts of its charge. It is also worth remembering that few cordless portable bandsaws come with their own battery pack, and this additional charge can push their price point well above that of their corded competitors.

Blade Speed

In terms of quantifiable metrics that allow us to quickly and easily understand how effective one portable bandsaw is compared to another, this is the best spec we have. To be clear, blade speed, measured in feet per minute, is not a perfect measurement, but it is the most reliable at our disposal. This has to do with the fact that the overwhelming majority of portable bandsaws all use electric motors within 1 amperage of difference– regardless of whether the bandsaw in question is corded or cordless with a few exceptions. That said, this is not a simple, one size fits all approach where the fastest blade speed is unanimously the best. This is because portable bandsaws are designed to cut metal and other materials besides wood.

Cutting Capacity

Outside of blade speed, this is generally considered one of, if not, the most important features for a portable bandsaw. This is in large part because it can seriously limit your capability to perform the desired tasks without this spec meeting a minimum standard. Specifically, that standard is generally around 4” in diameter which is the same size as the average plumbing pipe. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of portable bandsaws provide a large enough cutting capacity to at least cut this minimum requirement. That said, this features can also be seen as a bit of a measuring stick in terms of judging whether or not a portable bandsaw meets a professional-grade since manufacturers will often limit the maximum cutting capacity and charge a premium for sizes above the industry standard. While 5” in diameter is pretty good, there are some portable bandsaws out there that can go up to 6”– though these are few and far between and come with a significantly heftier price tag.

FAQ’s

Why Choose a Portable Bandsaw?

It may seem somewhat obvious, but the reasons for choosing a portable bandsaw as opposed to another type are a bit more specialized than it at first seems. For instance, a standard bandsaw is generally used for a wide range of purposes, but easily one of the more prevalent is the ability to make precise cuts or those of an irregular shape. Depending on the bandsaw in question, this can apply to a wide range of projects, materials, and cuts, but it is often the melding of precision and versatility that provides the bandsaw its impetus for necessity. If you do not need both of these qualities, there is often a less expensive and less substantial tool required.

That being the case, portable bandsaws are far more narrow in their indicated purpose and are often used by far fewer contractor professions than their larger brethren. A big part of this has to do with the fact that portable bandsaws are not designed and cannot be designed in such a way as to satisfy the breadth of cut that larger, stationary models do. Considering the limitations on the size of the cut, it might seem as though this power saw has little place in practical use. However, this is because portable bandsaws are designed to be used for cutting pipes almost to exclusion, though the materials can vary. As such, plumbers, electricians, and even HVAC can regularly find value in a portable bandsaw, but carpenters, counterintuitively, will not.

Which Type of Portable Bandsaw

While there are a fair number of attributes to consider when choosing a portable bandsaw, it is important to remember the ostensibly primary function of the tool. Specifically, the fact that this type of bandsaw is portable and meant to be used on-site as opposed to in a shop requires further examination not only of the tool but of the jobs as well. This is because, unlike a number of other power saws which are normally stationary, the portable bandsaw can be powered in a couple of different ways. To point, the portable bandsaw, while exclusively electric in nature, can be powered by a direct feed or a battery pack.

It is worth noting that battery-powered power saws generally have some limitations in terms of performance that direct feeds do not, but they also come with the added advantage of being even more portable than those tethered to an outlet. For a product sold over its alternatives primarily on its portability, this can be a significant enough advantage to choose it over a corded option– even if this means you may have to sacrifice some performance in particular cases.

What to Look for in a Portable Bandsaw

Like many power saws, the portable bandsaw market does come with some prescribed standards, but even within those, there is plenty of room to distinguish one option from another. That said, little of this difference shows up in raw cutting power, though there is a bit of variance to use here as well. While the actual motors will not show much range, their ability to affect the saw blade will which is why the blade speed is one of the more important factors to consider. However, this should not be taken simply as a faster is better axiom since different materials will require different blade speeds when being cut.

Because of this, one of the better features of a high-end portable bandsaw is the ability to vary its speed. This function will allow you to adjust the blade speed to best match the type of material you are cutting. It is worth noting that most portable bandsaws are designed to cut standard metal pipes, but not all of them are best suited for less common metals or plastics. Still, another important aspect of portable bandsaws is their maximum cutting depths which are judged both by the depth from the blade to the tool as well as the length of blade exposed. It is fair to consider this almost a luxury quality since most portable bandsaws can accommodate a standard 4” pipe but larger cutting capacities can often cost significantly more.

Conclusion

In the end, the difference between the portable bandsaw options may seem middling, but they can play a large role in how convenient the product is to use or how effective. The DEWALT may not pack quite the same punch as some of the other options on our list, but it is one of the better built products we found. The Milwaukee is another great portable bandsaw that offers to provide a durable and refined product that will last over ease of access. The Bosch portable bandsaw stays true to the company’s philosophy of precision over power or capacity. Makita is easily one of the more powerful options and is able to accomplish such a feat in a cordless model to boot. Finally, the Chicago Electric Bauer is an incredibly powerful model, especially for the corded options, but may not hold up as long as some of the others.