Band saws are generally considered to be ‘power tools’, the term which is often synonymous with heavy-duty construction work. Heavy-duty further relates to tiring, fatiguing tasks and projects; ones where you’ll need plenty of effort, strength, and time to even begin with.
Hopefully, not all band saws are huge, bulky, and unwieldy. We’ve scrounged the market for some of the best portable band saw models and have handpicked seven of the models which are a cut above the rest.
Before we even get to the reviews, let’s briefly discuss what’s in it for you if you opt for a portable band saw.
First and foremost, compact power tools allow you to be mobile while you’re cutting with just about the same power. Speaking of which, stationary power saws aren’t necessarily always ‘stronger’ than compact models, as both types are in most cases powered by sturdy motors.
Last, but certainly not least, compact band saws can, in certain cases, be used even when the power is down, or in places where there are on electric outlets. Certain models are outfitted with rechargeable batteries and are cordless, so they can be used in virtually every scenario, whereas regular band saws have a limited modus operandi.
Table of Contents
7 Best Portable Band Saw Reviews
1. Dewalt Portable Band Saw, 10 Amp, 5-inch DWM120K
Let’s open up our review of the best portable bandsaw models with DeWalt’s DWM120K. Briefly, DeWalt is certainly among the biggest names in the construction industry, and we’ve picked out the DWM120K as our top pick as it boasts an incredibly strong motor, superb deep-cut capacity, as well as a variety of helpful accessories and adjustments.
First and most notably, the DeWalt’s DWM120K comes supplied with a small, yet very strong and efficient 10-amp motor. It was specifically designed to provide the much needed accuracy backed up with controllable bursts of adequate power, allowing you to tackle most sawing tasks.
It boasts a superb 5 inches deep-cut capacity, as well as a built-in hanging-hook which allows you to freely saw without ever damaging the front of the handle or the castings. This hand held band saw also features variable selectable speeds, which basically means that you will be able to optimize your band saw’s performance to different situations.
Among the various features and accessories DeWalt’s DWM120K comes outfitted with there are the LED sight mounted on the platform which provides a drastic boost in visibility for sawing in poorly lit conditions, a serviceable shroud and a set of rubber bumpers for additional durability.
The portability of this band saw is more than obvious if we look at its actual dimensions which measure 14.25 inches by 23.5 inches by 7.94 inches.
2. Milawaukee 2429-21XC M12 Cordless Sub-Compact Bandsaw Kit
Our runner-up is Milwaukee’s 2429 21XC M12 cordless compact band saw kit. Frankly, this particular battery powered band saw model is as compact as can be given that it features a petite size and boasts a cordless method of operation.
First and foremost, this compact band saw is only 13.6 inches by 18.8 inches by 8.5 inches big, which makes it just a bit smaller than our previous pick (DeWalt’s model). It also weighs only 12.4 pounds, allowing you to cut and saw with only one hand.
The Milwaukee’s 2429 21XC M12 band saw rocks a very strong XC battery which can endure some 150 cuts on a single charge. To top it all, this band saw kit comes supplied with a neat quick recharger. It only takes approximately 30 minutes for the battery to regain its juices.
Other notable accessories included in the kit are the 18TPI high-efficiency saw blade, and a convenient carry case for improved transportability.
Milwaukee’s 2429 21XC M12 cordless portable band saw also sports an onboard LED light which makes any sawing process substantially easier. Moreover, it rocks the blade-tension adjustments which provide adjustable tracking of the blade, further boosting its versatility.
This particular model is one of the best portable band saws in the middle price point category, and due to its supreme efficacy and compactness it holds a huge value for the cash.
3. Makita XBP02TX 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Portable Band Saw Kit
The Makita’s XBP02TX LXT portable band saw is the go-to tool of nearly every professional worth their salt. It’s a heavy-duty kit which was specifically built to accommodate the most demanding handymen, and suffice to say, it has everything you could ever ask for in terms of performance, versatility, and accessories.
The XBP02TX band saw itself packs a huge array of premium quality features, including the tool hook, a set of protective bumpers, an integrated LED protection circuit, and six selectable settings right on the band saw’s base.
The protection circuit features over torque control which shield the motor while the bumpers guard the base from accidental bumps or drops. What’s more, the tool hook keeps it secure when you are not using it. It’s pretty safe to say that this particular model is one of the most durable and safest to use in the price range.
Now, you will notice about Makita’s portable band saw kit is that it costs several times more than all models we’ve covered so far. This, however, doesn’t make it any less valuable, but it certainly seems that it’s reserved for professionals exclusively.
4. Dewalt 20V Max Portable Band Saw, Deep Cut DCS374B
Here we have another DeWalt compact band saw labelled as DCS374B. It has a lot in common with our top pick (the DWM120K), but there are also a lot of differences between the two.
The first notable similarity is that both models have a 5 inch deep-cut capacity. Furthermore, both models feature an onboard LED light and a variable selectable speed on the base, as well as a built in hanging hook.
Now, the main benefit of the DCS374B is the reinforced base. It’s substantially more durable than the DWM120K, but it’s also slightly heavier. Even though the added sturdiness is certainly a huge plus, the extra weight makes it slightly less convenient to use, especially for hard to reach spots.
All things considered, this compact band saw is a very useful and versatile tool, and we highly recommend it. However, there’s just one little flaw that you should be concerned about. Namely, the battery and charger are sold separately, which somewhat diminishes the overall value of the saw.
5. Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Band Saw
Next up is Bosch’s Bare-Tool BSH180B compact band saw. Now, even though this is just a budget band saw model, it’s absolutely perfect for heavy duty work. It also comes supplied with a huge array of very useful accessories and boasts a huge level of versatility.
First and foremost, this is one of the lightest band saw models you can find in the price range weighing only 8.8 pounds. Furthermore, it is petite in size even in comparison to other compact band saws with dimensions measuring 15.4 inches by 9.6 inches by 6.5 inches. Needless to say, you will be able to easily reach even the toughest spots with just one hand.
This band saw rocks a 18V motor which operates on a very reliable battery which is, unfortunately, sold separately just like the charger. These are about the only drawbacks of the Bosch BSH180B, so if you don’t mind paying a couple of dollars extra for the bat and the charger, it’s easily one of the best portable band saw models in the budget price point category.
6. Milwaukee 6232-21 Deep Cut Band Saw W/Case 5619-20
Another Milwaukee’s band saw made it into our review, the 6232-21 portable band saw. It’s basically a kit comprised of a highly compact, powerful corded saw and a convenient gratis carry case.
The actual dimensions of this band saw measure 7.07 inches by 21.44 inches by 14.40 inches and it weighs just above 10 pounds. Although lighter and smaller models are available, this particular band saw offers premium performance due to its 120V motor which boasts unparalleled strength and suitability for even the toughest heavy-duty tasks. It also boasts supper cutting capacity of 21 inches.
One of the most exquisite features of Milwaukee’s 6232-21 band saw is the ergonomic handle which is substantially more comfortable to use in comparison to handles similarly priced models are outfitted with.
7. Chicago Electric 10 Amp Deep Cut Variable Speed Band Saw Kit
The last model on our list is one of the best compact band saws in the budget price point category. The Chicago Electric’s band saw kit is perfect for beginners, as it comes supplied with everything you need to tackle any kind of project.
First of all, it sports a strong 10-amp motor, providing enough punch and a decent amount of control for both light and heavy-duty tasks.
Furthermore, it boasts 5 inches by 5 inches deep-cut capacity, and it’s compact and light enough to be held in one hand. Its actual dimensions measure 21.1 inches by 14.5 inches by 8 inches and it weighs approximately 16 pounds.
One of the things that sets Chicago Electric’s band saw apart from other budget band saws is the amount of accuracy it is capable of providing. Namely, it’s supplied with needle bearing spindle and a three wheel bearing blade-guides which make sure that each cut you make is backed with surgical precision.
When to use compact band saw?
In a nutshell, regular band saws are usually used for heavy duty work as they boast superior cutting power and motor strength. This, however, doesn’t mean that compact band saws should be used for light-duty exclusively.
A compact band saw allows you to ‘close in’ and be more mobile, allowing you to get to hard-to-reach spots for accurate cutting of stationary objects. Alternatively, they’re also perfect for easier, but repetitive tasks.
Generally speaking, compact band saws are usually weaker than standard band saws, but the difference in their strength may or may not be so substantial. Some of the best portable band saw models have incredibly strong and reliable motors, and their performance is usually on par to an average band saw.
One of the main benefits a portable band saw can provide for you (which standard band saws can’t) is that they can be used virtually anywhere. Most cordless models don’t even rely on electricity; rather they’re powered by batteries.
Additionally, portable band saws are typically hand-held. This means that you can still move on and about, and position yourself ideally as opposed to positioning the object you intend to cut on a stationary band saw.
Since portable band saws are generally a bit weaker, they’re also usually a bit cheaper. This means that they’re perfect for layman handymen and for people who simply want to use them once every couple of months to fix a thing or two in a garage or any similar scenario.
How to choose best portable band saw
Weight of the portable band saw
The weight is one of the most important aspects of a compact band saw’s performance. Most portable band saws are supposed to be used with one hand in certain cases, which means that the heavier they are, the more difficult it is to use them.
The criteria of ‘weight’ is entirely subjective, which means that some people would consider 20 pounds to be light as feather while others would label it as ‘heavy as a ton of bricks’. However, we can easily say that most models in our review weigh approximately 10-15 pounds and are exceptionally easy to use.
Corded or cordless hand held band saw
Simply put, there are no downsides to cordless band saws while corded models impose certain limitations. You will be bound by the cord’s length and by the locations of electricity outlets if you are using corded models whereas cordless ones allow you to use them virtually anywhere, any time.
The ‘ergonomic’ aspect of a band saw’s performance relates to ‘how comfortable it is to use’. A portable band saw needs to have a comfortable handle atop being light in terms of weight before we can label it as ‘ergonomic’.
This basically means that the first prerequisite a band saw model needs to fulfil is appropriate weight. However, not all ‘lightweight’ band saws are ergonomic. If the handle of a model in question is built in a plain way and features no padding or reinforcement whatsoever, the band saw would simply be light, but unwieldy.
Only if both criteria check out can we label a model as ‘ergonomic’. An ergonomic band saw is an absolute must if you intend to use portable saws for heavy-duty projects.
Price of the saw
The price is just as important as any other factor. However, this element is not as definitive as dimensions, weight, or ergonomics. Namely, a layman handyman would probably think that a $500 portable band saw costs a small fortune while a professional would deem it as affordable.
This being said, the price of the saw is tightly correlated to the reason why you need the saw in the first place. If you want to get a band saw to simply tinker around your house or garage every once in a while, you could fare quite well with a budget model. If you’re a professional, consider more expensive options.
We hope that this guide has provided you with all the info you needed and that you now feel more confident about purchasing your very own portable band saw. Stay safe, folks!