When most people hear the word “bandsaw”, they think of a large floor mounted contraption that is hardly portable. However, many perfectly portable bandsaws do exist and offer the same amount of power, control, and versatility as a regular standing bandsaw.
Portable bandsaws are an excellent choice when you are limited on space and can’t properly set up a full-sized bandsaw table, or when you need a uniquely oriented cut on wood or metal you cannot bring into the shop. Portable bandsaws come in a lot of different models and blade sizes that are made for cutting heavy-duty materials like rebar, metal frames, piping, and wood. Check out this buying guide for bandsaws to see info on floor mounted models.
I have scoured the market and put together this list of the top 5 portable bandsaws available now. These products have been reviewed and ranked based on features such as motor speed, blade size/quality, power options, and ease of use. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Table of Contents
- Top Choice
- Portable Bandsaw Buying Guide What To Look For
- So, What Are The Top 5 Portable Bandsaws?
- Final Thoughts
The top reviewed portable bandsaw, and my personal favorite, is the Dewalt DWM120K 10-amp 5-inch Portable Bandsaw. The DWM120K wins the best product award in virtue of its user-friendly nature, powerful motor, multiple speed settings, and deep cutting capacity. Don’t sleep on this one, it is a great choice for hobbyists and professionals alike.
Last update on 2019-11-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Portable Bandsaw Buying Guide What To Look For
First things first, let’s talk about important features to look for when shopping for a portable bandsaw
Vertical or Horizontal Design
Most portable bandsaws have a horizontal design so they are easier to hold and move across the surface you want to cut. Some portable bandsaws have a vertical design and come with clamps and a portable stand to secure the bandsaw in an upright position. Vertical-oriented portable bandsaws may offer a bit more stability and control than a horizontal design but may sacrifice some maneuverability for making curved cuts.
The best portable bandsaws will have a multi-speed motor that can change the frequency at which the blade oscillates depending on the material. For example, cutting softer metals like copper, brass, and aluminum require a higher blade speed, while plastics and tough steels can be cut at a lower speed.
Most portable bandsaws have at least two different speed options with higher-end models having more control over motor speed.
Speed is also a factor depending on what kind of cut you want. If you are making straight fast cuts then a high blade speed is better. For curved, precise cuts, a slower speed gives more precision and control.
The blade is probably the single most important part of the bandsaw. Without a quality blade, it won’t be able to cut through the tough materials it needs to.
Basically, the kind of blade you want to get for your portable bandsaw depends on the material and type of cuts you want. Bandsaw blades are described according to their “teeth per inch” (TPI), the number of cutting grooves on the blade per unit of measurement.
In general, a wider blade with a lower TPI count is good for making fast, rough cuts through thick material. In contrast, a narrower blade with a higher TPI count is better for making precise controlled cuts on thin material.
Portable bandsaws are either corded or battery operated. Both kinds have their upsides and downsides.
Cordless bandsaws are primarily battery operated and need to be charged before use. In general, cordless bandsaws are smaller than corded bandsaws and have a smaller blade so they cannot cut through thicker materials as well. Cordless bandsaws are extremely useful if you are working in the field or are at a site where there are no reliable sources of power. The downside is the need to charge before using.
Corded bandsaws are typically larger and can put out more power due to them having a steady supply of AC (alternating current) electricity. A corded bandsaw is a good option if you have a lot of work to do and don’t want to worry about charging batteries. Of course, this means you will need to have a reliable power source nearby to plug into.
Bandsaw are heavy duty tools and require a considerable amount of strength and effort to operate, even portable ones. That’s why it is important to buy a portable bandsaw that is easy to handle and won’t tire you out from use. This includes making sure you have padded handles for a comfortable grip and a lighter frame to make moving easier.
Many portable bandsaws come with extra features and tools to make the construction process easier. Some bandsaws, for example, come with an attached LED light for working in dimly lit spaces. Other may come with an extra tool set for related activities or a carrying case. While not necessary, extra features like these are a nice touch that can make your work easier.
Get more insight on the video:
So, What Are The Top 5 Portable Bandsaws?
The Dewalt DWM120K has my vote for the best overall portable bandsaw. The first thing to notice is that this is an entire kit which includes the tool itself, a durable carrying case, and some extra blades to get started. This is a nice touch for someone on the go who needs to take it around a lot.
The DWM120K runs on a powerful 10-amp motor that is tough enough to cut through pretty much anything you need. The powerful motor combined with the 5 separate speed controls means you can get the cut you need for any material thick, thin, tough, or soft. In fact, it’s rather impressive just how powerful this bandsaw is considering how light it is.
The only downside to operation is the lack of a trigger lock; you have to keep the trigger pressed down the entire time you are cutting which can tire your fingers out quickly.
Another great feature is the cutting capacity. Five inches is very large for a portable bandsaw, so it can be used in many contexts where a larger bandsaw would otherwise be required. It’s not cordless so you do need a reliable outlet source of power, but the cord is heavy duty and reinforced at the lead so you don’t have to worry about it being damaged on the work site.
Extra features include a mounted LED light and a sturdy black carrying case. The LED light is actually very useful and bright unlike the LEDs on a lot of other bandsaws. The carrying case seems to be hit or miss. Some users describe it as sturdy and useful, others say it’s too bulky and not fun to haul around. Whether or not you find the case satisfactory probably will depend on how much you will be transporting the tool.
Overall, the DWM120K is a mighty portable bandsaw that won’t cost you an arm and leg either. This amazing price/quality ratio is one reason why it is my pick for the best portable bandsaw.
- The full kit includes a carrying case and extra blades
- 10-amp motor is very powerful and has 5 speed settings
- Changing and cleaning the blades are easy
- The saw is able to cut deep with a 5-inch cutting capacity
- Requires AC power to use
- There is no trigger lock for continuous cutting
Overall Rating 4.8/5
The XBP02Z is a relatively new portable bandsaw from Makita. Makita is a brand known for its high-quality yet affordable products.
The first thing to notice about the Makita is its uber-ergonomic design. The dual grips on the top are made out of a dense, non-stick rubber that is easy to get a handle on and won’t get grimy from sweat. Many bandsaws fall flat on this point, so it’s good to see the Makita pull through in spades. The ends of the tool are also cased in rubber to avoid damage from nicks and scratches.
The performance is nothing to snub your nose at either. The motor is powerful and offers speeds between 275-530 feet per minute, a very good range. The Makita works very well on a variety of surfaces, but it’s best used for cutting metal pipes. The 4.7-inch cutting depth is deep for a portable bandsaw and can be moved around to accommodate up to 6 inches if you know what you are doing.
It’s also very user-friendly. Replacing the blades is very easy and does not require any fine tuning; just attach them and start cutting, and the wheels tighten the blade to the right tension.
This saw is very light, but this is somewhat countered by the slightly bulky shape and design.
The tool is battery operated and so does not require any cords. Unfortunately, you have to buy the battery separately, but the required battery is interchangeable between a number of Makita’s tools such as their impact and drills. So, if you are really strapped for cash, you can share a single battery between your Makita tools.
- Super ergonomic and comfy design
- Blades are able to auto-adjust while in use
- Battery works with other Makita tools
- Somewhat bulky
- Battery and charger are not included
Overall Rating 4.5/5
Dewalt is a big name in the tool industry, known to hobbyists and professionals alike. The DCS371B is a fantastic cordless bandsaw that is strong enough for most industrial applications and also easy enough to use that a beginner can do it.
Let’s talk about the basics. First off, it is cordless meaning no clutter from power cables. The 20V lithium-ion battery is large and has enough juice for 30 straight minutes of cutting—a pretty decent amount of time if you ask me. The downside is that the battery and charger have to be bought separately.
As far as performance, the DCS371B has a 2.7-inch cutting capacity meaning that it can cut through materials up to 2.5f inches wide and round. This capacity is not huge, but the Dewalt is best suited for smaller projects that involve cutting piping and rods.
It uses 32 x ⅞-inch blades that connect via dual-bearing blade guide rollers. The included blades are nothing special, though, so it is recommended to pick up some extras.
With respect to the build, the casing is a heavy-duty plastic that can take a beating. Despite its hearty and robust construction, the entire tool only weighs just over 10 pounds meaning it is easy to move and position. The grips are soft, tactile, and are treated to resist sweat and grime so no slipping.
It does have only one-speed channel which is somewhat disappointing, but it’s pretty versatile and should be enough for most uses. Lastly, it comes with an LED mounted above the blade and a nice auto-lock safety feature.
- Very light and easy to use
- Cordless/battery operated
- Slip-proof grip
- Built-in LED
- One speed setting only
- Battery and charger are sold separately
Overall Rating 4.3/5
Next up is Milwaukee’s 2429-21XC M12 Cordless bandsaw. Like the Dewalt DWM120K, this bandsaw is a full kit and comes with everything you need to get started.
Fitting the title of “sub-compact,” the Milwaukee comes in at just under 7 pounds making it one of the few bandsaws that can easily manage single-handed or overhead cuts. It’s also only about a foot long, so you can fit it into tight spaces for making precise cuts.
Despite the relatively low-power 12V battery, the Milwaukee is still capable of cutting through most materials effectively including metals, plastics, wood, and more. The battery is rated for at least 150 cuts through ¾-inch EMT (electric metallic tube) which should be more than enough for most uses.
Blade replacement is super simple also. All you need to do is flip open the clips on the blade case and release the tension. Just loop the new blade, turn the tool on, and the blade automatically tightens to the right tension. A system of internal brushes and magnets keeps the wheels clean from dust and metal pieces from jamming the gears.
The best part of the whole package is that it is very affordable. The great price coupled with the lightweight and ease of use make the Milwaukee a perfect choice for novices who do not have a lot of experience with a bandsaw. It also runs very quietly for a bandsaw.
- Super light and portable
- Small frame makes it good for use in cramped spaces
- It has internal mechanisms to auto clean the blades and wheels
- May be too small for some large projects
Overall Rating 4.5/5
The last item on our list is another product from Milwaukee. The 6232-21 Deep Cut is a portable corded bandsaw that is the bigger brother to the M12 sub-compact model.
The two biggest draws of the 6232-21 Deep Cut is its powerful motor and deep cutting range. The 11-amp motor has multiple speed settings that go up to 380 feet per minute. The 5-inch slot is large for a portable bandsaw and is deep enough for most cutting applications.
The casing is made out of casted aluminum and weighs about 14 pounds. Coupled with the composite wheel protectors, this bandsaw is built to last and can withstand abuse. The cutting region is slightly angled off to the side, so you have a clear line of sight while cutting from the top.
Blade changing is easy and involves loosening the tension, removing the old blade, and placing the new blade.
The tool is corded and does not have a battery, so you have to plug it in to use. The downside is that the kit does not come with any blades, so you can’t use it right out of the box.
- Unique angled design makes cutting easier
- Tough and durable construction
- Carrying case is included
- The 11-amp motor is very powerful
- Blades aren’t included
- No power lock button
Overall Rating 4.4/5
Best Overall Product
So which portable bandsaw is the best? My choice is the Dewalt DMW120K 10-Amp 5-inch bandsaw. The DMW120K has an amazing price/quality ratio and comes with all the things you need to get started sawing. The powerful motor, multiple speed settings, and deep cut profile make it the best portable bandsaw on the market right now.
Best Value Product
My choice for the best value product for your wallet is the Dewalt DCS371B. At just under $200, the DCS371B offers great performance at an extremely attractive price. This low price is slightly offset by the need to buy a battery, but even with that extra expense, it comes out to cheaper than many other portable bandsaws.
At the end of the day, the right portable bandsaw will be dependent on your needs. The best portable bandsaws have a mix of blade quality, motor speed/power, and ergonomics. Whatever you decide, hopefully, this guide will put you on the right track. If you’d like to read about other great bandsaws, check out this roundup post on Ryobi 9-Inch Bandsaw.