Sumo Gardener
Shares

7 Best Portable Band Saw 2022 | Ultimate Buying Guide

While a portable band saw isn’t likely to see much use for domestic gardeners, it’s almost essential for commercial landscapers. Portable band saws slice through pipe, branches and awkward obstructions in the garden with ease. 

In this article we’ll explore how and when to use a portable band saw, and we’ve scoured the internet for the best portable band saws to buy in the US today.

With the ever growing competition in the power tool market, it can be really difficult to find the best tools so don’t sweat. Sit back, relax, read, and then buy your new band saw with confidence. 

More...

Portable Band Saw Ultimate Buying Guide

Best Portable Band Saws for 2022

Portable Band Saw Buyer's Guide

What is a Portable Band Saw?

What is a Portable Band Saw

A portable band saw is a tool used for difficult to reach precision cutting, usually used in the construction industry for cutting pipework and brackets after installation to avoid time consuming and often dangerous cuts using manual hacksaws.

Portable band saws are adaptable tools with interchangeable blades, so can be used for timber or metal (particularly sheet metal). Importantly though, they have ribbon blades, which are supplied in rings.

These rings are fitted by opening the casing (we’ll cover that later), and spin quickly between a motor and guide. There is one big difference between band saws and portable band saws though; precision. 

If you’re doing precise cuts in the workshop, you need to buy well-built budget friendly bandsaws that stand steady on a workshop floor and allow you to use cutting guides to create clean, accurate, straight cuts.

Because of the ribbon blades, band saws have a tendency to stray from their lines, so they need steady hands, especially portable band saws.

Because they are hand held power tools they are only as steady as their operator, so in the guide below we’ll talk more about how to use them, as well as what to look for when buying portable band saws.

What to Look For When Buying a Portable Band Saw

Portable band saw is a tool used for difficult to reach precision cutting

Safety features are the most important thing to look for when buying a portable band saw, and any electric cutting tools for that matter. Rotating saws, from angle grinders, chainsaws, miter saws or just a basic jigsaw, you can never underestimate the importance of safety when buying power tools.

But you’re also looking for versatility. Are there multiple blades that work with different band saws? Are there different speed settings to control cutting accuracy?

If there is, you’ll be paying a higher price for your tool, but you’ll be getting a better product. The basic thing though is to remember that this is a portable tool, so buying a portable band saw with a long cable is surprisingly important. 

The longer the cable, the less you need to move your generator, or extension cords around the garden with you. These tools are all about efficiency, and there’s nothing more frustrating than buying a tool for speed and accuracy but constantly having to get up and down from a ladder to move cables.

Size and Weight

Most portable band saws are around 15lbs, give or take a few pounds for more powerful engines. It’s important to consider how heavy you’re willing to lift, especially if you’re likely to be using these tools on a ladder, or out in the garden.

In comparison, an average handheld hacksaw (which will do similar jobs less efficiently) weighs under 1lb. It might be slower, but if you’re worried about controlling heavy power tools, it’s a safer option.

Cutting Efficiency

To maximize the cutting efficiency of this tool, you do need to regularly replace the blade. Their thin blades are made to be used as spinning belts, so have flexibility. The tradeoff for flexibility is usually durability, so the blades don’t last as long as thicker more rigid blades.

The benefit of the thinner blades, and the speed of cutting is that they will cut through objects at least twice as fast as a jigsaw, and at least 10x as fast as a manual blade.

Blade Adjustment

Check each product listing for detailed guidance on blade adjustment. While every saw blade should be adjusted manually for complete safety, and checked, different materials need different blade tensions, so you want a saw that is easy to fit, and easy to adjust.

  • Note: Flick the fitted blade, it should slightly ring if it is tight enough, but if it rings for too long or continues to resonate, the tension is too high.
Best Portable Band Saw Reviews

Durability

The durability is as much about its internal components as it is about the blade itself, and you should always base your decision on the tool, not the blade.

You can buy a new blade, but you can’t just buy a new motor. Check reviews online, and buy from recognized brands (they’re recognized because they’re reliable!) to avoid disappointment. 

Also, always check if you’re buying a portable band saw with warranty, and how long the warranty lasts. That’s always a great guide to quality.

Speed Control

Most big brands have extra features on their band saws that let you adjust the cutting speed. This tool are no different. Faster speeds mean faster cuts, but can quickly clog up the motor if you’re trying to cut wet timber, and overheat if you’re cutting metal. 

Different blades and different band saws have their own guidance, so there’s no one size fits all guide to cutting speeds.

Price

You can pick up a reasonable quality portable band saw for around $150, but the best portable band saws sell for over $1000. For domestic gardeners, the low end is fine, and will do most jobs, but if you plan on using your band saw regularly, buy something at the top end.

It’s the only way to be sure you’re buying quality, and that your band saw will last.

Different Types of Portable Band Saw

Different Types of Portable Band Saw

With standard band saws, you can buy either a vertical band saw or a horizontal band saw, but there’s no choice with portable band saws.

Because they rely on your own steady hand, and need even pressure on the blade between motor and guide, portable band saws must always be used to make horizontal cuts (i.e. through the object, not along it).

  • Safety Note: There are some vertical portable band saws online, but they aren’t safe. Please stick to horizontal portable band saws, which are far safer, and can be used for cuts in most directions.

A common google search is “portable band saws for wood”, and there are a few band saws that claim to be built for timber cutting, but for the most part they are all designed for metal.

Whatever band saw you buy, you can lower the cutting speed to have more control when cutting through timber, and make it faster for metal. So yes, there are some for wood, but buying a decent quality general purpose model is a much better choice.

How to Use a Portable Band Saw

Another point I mentioned at the start of this article was that these are tools designed for trade landscapers, and commercial gardeners. Because they are so lightweight, and reasonably compact, they are perfect for landscapers and a safer alternative to chainsaws for small-scale scrub clearance. 

If you ever find yourself in that position though, you’re probably not near a power source, so you might be in need of a generator. The best dual fuel generator for commercial landscapers is portable, lightweight, and fuel efficient, and means you can run tools like this wherever you are.

Safety Guidance for Portable Band Saws

How to Use a Portable Band Saw

  • Depending on the material, adjust the blade tension and cutting speed before starting any task.
  • Set up your work area. This might mean getting ladders on steady footing, and clearing trip hazards.
  • Wear safety goggles. This is essential for any rotary saw, not just portable band saws.
  • Ensure the object is held firm (for portable saws this is harder as the objects are usually attached to other parts of a structure, so ensure the object is reasonably still).
  • Plug the band saw in, and turn the mains power on (do not plug it in until you’re ready to cut).
  • Keep firm hold of the main handle, and keep one finger on the trigger (the triggers on these saws don’t lock, so if you fall it will shut off immediately), then make your cut.
  • After you’ve finished, switch off the main power source.
  • Do not touch the blade with bare hands, as it can be extremely hot and leave burns.

Best Portable Band Saw Reviews

We’ve reviewed and rated the best portable band saws you can buy online right now below, with build quality, ease of use, precision and value at the top of our agenda to make sure you get the most for your money. 

DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless Portable Band Saw

DeWalt used to be criticized for selling their tools cheap, and making money from the batteries. They haven’t changed much, but thanks to customer demand the price of batteries has come down A LOT recently.


That means you can buy their tools, and all the reassurances that come with buying from an internationally recognized manufacturer for a good price, and find the batteries separately (there’s also a good chance you’ve got some DeWalt batteries in the garage from another tool too).

Pros

  • Variable speed control
  • Adjustable blade tension
  • Blade included
  • Cordless
  • Light weight (10.2lb)
  • Trusted brand
  • Warranty available (on request)

Cons

  • Low power (20V)

WEN 94396 Handheld Portable Band Saw for Metal

I was pretty skeptical when I saw this portable band saw from Wen for such a low price, but on inspection it’s a really good tool. I don’t even mean “it’s a good tool for the price”. 


It’s just a good tool. It might be a bit flimsy, but it’s lightweight – especially for a corded model – and still offers 120V of cutting power and good safety features.


The only downside is that it won’t cut wood. This really is just designed for metal as the mechanism tends to clog up when cutting timber. 


As long as you’re careful and don’t drop this portable band saw, you could save a lot of money with the Wen portable band saw.

Pros

  • Variable speed control
  • Adjustable blade tension
  • Blade included
  • High power (120V)
  • Warranty available (on request)

Cons

  • Corded
  • Heavy (14.5lb)
  • Unknown brand

Milwaukee Electric Corded Portable Band Saw

With Milwaukee making this the lightest corded band saw on review here, but still with all the power of the Bosch portable band saw, it’s impossible not to rate it at nearly perfect.


The only thing that lets it down is the lack of warranty – but you can ask the manufacturers for one before you buy through Amazon.

Pros

  • Speed control
  • Adjustable blade tension
  • Blade included
  • High power (120V)
  • Trusted brand

Cons

  • Corded
  • Heavy (14.5lb)
  • No warranty included

Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Cordless Portable Band Saw

I don’t hate the Ryobi band saw, but I definitely don’t love it either. There’s something really average about this tool, which just kind of lets it down.


It’s not particularly powerful (most cordless band saws are at least 20V) and it’s light, but could be lighter. The real let down though is that it only runs at a single speed, which makes it the least versatile band saw on review here. 


It’s a shame, because I really love the convenience of Ryobi, and it's great value for something that’s really well made.

Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Cordless Portable Band Saw has great value for something that’s really well made

Pros

  • Blade included
  • Adjustable blade tension
  • Cordless
  • Light weight (9.2lb)
  • Trusted brand

Cons

  • Battery not included
  • Low power (18V)
  • No warranty included
  • Single speed

VEVOR Portable Band Saw and Base

I was pleasantly surprised by the Vevor portable band saw. It’s not every day that Vevor comes out with products this good.


More often than not, this lesser known power tool manufacturer produces budget tools that feel like budget tools, but there are no corners cut here, and there are actually more safety features in place than most other portable band saws.


The one thing that does let it down though is the weight. At over 30lb you might as well be carrying a bench saw up a ladder with you!

Pros

  • Variable speed control
  • Adjustable blade tension
  • Multiple safety features
  • Blade included
  • High power (110V)
  • Warranty available (on request)

Cons

  • Corded
  • Very heavy (31lb)
  • Less well known brand

BOSCH GCB10-5 Corded Electric Portable Band Saw

You don’t need me to tell you that Bosch makes great power tools, but they do, and their portable band saw has a super deep cutting depth just to add to its appeal.


This band saw is a great example of why corded band saws are better than cordless. OK, so I prefer the convenience of a cordless portable band saw, but the power you get with corded tools just isn’t comparable at all.


The Bosch band saw is 120V, and the ability to cut steel pipes or timber up to 4.75” wide. The only thing that lets it down is its weight.


Even though it has a handy hook so you can keep it safely to one side between cuts, it’s almost 15lb! Just too heavy in my opinion, especially if you’re cutting in awkward spaces.

BOSCH GCB10-5 Deep-Cut Portable Band Saw is a great example of why corded band saws are better than cordless

Pros

  • Variable speed control
  • Adjustable blade tension
  • Blade included
  • High power (120V)
  • Trusted brand
  • Warranty available (on request)

Cons

  • Corded
  • Heavy (14.5lb)

Milwaukee 18V Cordless Portable Band Saw

Milwaukee is the contractor’s choice for power tools, always just a little bit more powerful than their rivals, with sturdier parts and more safety features for more confident users.


This cordless band saw is brilliant, and up there with the rest of their cordless range (you can use the same battery if you’ve got other Milwaukee products too), but it just doesn't have the power of their corded model. Not even close. 

Milwaukee 18V Cordless Portable Band Saw is brilliant, and up there with the rest of their cordless range

Pros

  • Variable speed control
  • Adjustable blade tension
  • Blade included
  • Cordless
  • Light weight (7.7lb)
  • Trusted brand

Cons

  • Low power (18V)
  • Battery not included
  • No warranty included

Portable Band Saw Top Picks for 2022

Portable Band Saw - Our Top Pick

Top Rated Best Portable Band Saw
DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless Portable Band Saw

For a pretty average price, I’m amazed at the quality of portable band saw you can buy from DeWalt. It used to be that Amazon only sold dodgy tools from dodgy manufacturers, but you can get some amazing products these days, including some of the best portable band saws on the market.

With a cutting width of 2.5” it’s enough to tackle most garden jobs and versatile for contractors too. The shorter cutting width makes it safer for domestic use if you’re not confident using band saws as well.

Best Value Portable Band Saw

Best Value Portable Band Saw
WEN 94396 Handheld Portable Band Saw for Metal

OK, so WEN makes budget tools, and for contractors that might not quite make the cut (no pun intended), but for domestic users who don’t want to break the bank on new tools that they might only use a few times, this is a really good option.

For me, if I was going to buy a portable band saw to use in the garden at home, I’d be investing in this today. It’s not powerful enough, or durable enough for professional landscaping duties, for personal use it’s more than enough, and a fraction of the cost of some of the top end band saws.

Premium Choice Portable Band Saw

Premium Choice Portable Band Saw
Milwaukee Electric Corded Portable Band Saw

Milwaukee’s corded band saw comes in at 15lbs, so it’s pretty heavyweight to carry up ladders, but with 120V of cutting power behind you, you won’t be there for long. 

It’s blade can even handle thick branches and drain pipes, with a massive 5” cutting capacity that gives you full control of your task.

The safety features, adaptable speeds and fully adjustable blade tension make it incredibly durable too. If you’re a contractor, this is the best portable band saw for you.

Portable Band Saws FAQs

What is a portable band saw used for?

A portable band saw can cut straight lines or curves in almost any material. Portable band saws give you slightly less control than static band saws, but they also give you the option to move around away from the workshop, and cut objects after installation.

Why does my band saw cut crooked lines?

If your band saw is cutting crooked lines it’s usually caused by a dull blade or poor tension. First, try to adjust the tension on your band saw.

If the problem persists, replace the blade. Band saw blades never last very long, and should be regularly replaced. 

How do portable band saws work?

Portable band saws have a motor on one side, powered either by main electricity or rechargeable batteries. On the other side, they have a feeding wheel which guides the circular blade evenly back around to the motor.

The gap between these wheels limits the width of the object you can cut. Wider gaps cut thicker objects but have less tension. 

Get the Best Portable Band Saw For Your Needs

Since we're already talking about saws, check out our table saw and bow saw reviews too. Safety really is key with these tools, and it’s all on you to ensure you’re being sensible when using these tools. 

Remember, there’s a big difference between a band saw and a chainsaw. They might both work in similar ways, but they’re built for different uses. 

Portable band saws are absolutely essential for your safety when cutting challenging timber or metal objects in the garden, but their blades are less durable than chainsaws or rotary saws, so choose your tool wisely.

About the Author Pat Moreno

Pat is our gardening tool expert here at Sumo Gardener. Working for many years as a private and commercial landscaper, Pat has used almost every type of gardening tool there is. Along with a vast knowledge for types of plants and putting together an amazing looking and maintainable garden, Pat developed a passion for gardening tools as he found that using the right tools vastly improved the ease and outcome of any landscaping job he undertook. When spending hours, days or years using a particular tool, you want to make sure you’ve got the best one for the job, and Pat is the right guy to guide us to the best gardening tools.

Leave a Comment: