6 Portable Bandsaw Practical Uses: From Metal to Woodwork

Portable band saws are distinguished by their ability to perform complex cuts that other saws can’t do as efficiently.

Whether it’s resizing structural steel in construction, cutting pipes in plumbing, or crafting decorative metalwork, these saws offer unparalleled precision.

What Is A Portable Bandsaw Used For?

1) Cutting Structural Steels

Portable band saws are invaluable on construction sites for cutting structural steel elements. They provide a convenient and efficient way to cut through beams, columns, and other steel components used in building frameworks.

Their portability allows for easy maneuverability on-site, enabling precise cuts in various locations without the need for large, stationary equipment.

2) Pipe Cutting

These saws are highly effective for cutting both metal and plastic pipes, a common task in plumbing and pipefitting. Portable band saws offer precision and stability, which is essential for ensuring that pipes are cut to the exact required length and angle.

This precision is particularly important in complex piping systems where every cut impacts the overall integrity and functionality of the system.

3) Metal Fabrication

In metal shops, portable band saws are a go-to tool for cutting a variety of metals into smaller sizes. This includes tasks such as cutting bar stocks, angle irons, metal studs, screws, and bolts.

The mobility of these saws allows operators to handle various metal fabrication tasks with ease, making them a versatile tool for both professional and hobbyist metalworkers.

4) Sizing Rebar in Construction

Portable band saws provide a safe and efficient method for sizing rebar, which is used to reinforce concrete in construction projects.

Unlike grinders or chop saws that can produce a lot of sparks and require more safety precautions, portable band saws cut rebar cleanly and with minimal spark production.

This makes them a safer choice, especially in environments where sparks can be a hazard.

5) Decorative Cuts in Metalworking

These saws are capable of making intricate and decorative cuts in metal, which is especially useful for metalworking hobbyists and artisans.

The ability to create detailed patterns and designs in metal pieces allows for a wide range of creative applications, from artistic metalwork to customized metal fittings and decorations.

6) Electrical Conduit Cutting

For electricians and contractors, portable band saws are essential for cutting electrical conduits. These conduits protect electrical wiring in buildings and must be cut to specific lengths for proper installation.

The precision and ease of use of portable band saws make them ideal for this task, ensuring that conduits fit correctly within walls and ceilings and contribute to electrical systems’ overall safety and functionality.

How Can a Portable Bandsaw Be Used In Woodworking?

  1. Curved and Irregular Cuts: One of the primary advantages of a portable band saw in woodworking is its ability to make precise curved and irregular cuts. This is particularly useful for creating custom shapes or intricate designs in wood.
  2. Resawing Lumber: Portable band saws can be used for resawing lumber, which involves slicing large boards into thinner slabs.
  3. Cutting Tenons and Small Rabbets: The precision of a portable band saw makes it ideal for cutting tenons and small rabbets in joinery. Its ability to make clean, straight cuts is essential for ensuring strong and accurate joints.
  4. Creating Decorative Details: For decorative woodworking, such as creating patterns or detailed cut-outs in wood panels, a portable band saw offers the control and precision needed for such intricate work.
  5. Trimming or Sizing Parts: In cabinetry or furniture making, a portable band saw can be used for trimming or sizing parts, especially when dealing with irregularly shaped components or when needing to make adjustments for a perfect fit.
  6. Crafting Wooden Toys or Art: For crafting wooden toys, sculptures, or art pieces, the portable band saw is ideal for shaping and detailing, allowing for creative freedom and precision.
  7. Jigsaw Alternative: For tasks typically done with a jigsaw, a portable band saw can often provide a more stable and precise alternative, especially for thicker or harder wood pieces.

Here’s a video showing a DEWALT portable band saw in action on steel. It is a heavy beast, but watch how easily it cuts through steel.

Portable Band Saw Mouth: Size and Depth

  • Mouth Size: The mouth size of a portable band saw indicates its cutting area. Smaller saws have smaller mouths, and larger saws have larger mouths.
  • Mouth Depth: The depth of the saw’s mouth varies with its design and is crucial for cutting thicker materials.
  • Cutting Capacity: A saw’s mouth must be wider and deeper than the material being cut. For instance, to cut a 1-inch diameter item, the mouth needs to be over 1 inch wide and deep.
  • Standard Sizes: Typical mouth sizes are 6 inches and 8 inches, with wide mouth versions common for larger tasks like cutting wide metal pipes.

Using a Portable Band Saw: Quick Guide

  • Safety: Always wear safety glasses. Gloves are optional but recommended for extra protection.
  • Tool Familiarity: Get to know the saw’s weight and handling. Larger models require two-handed operation.
  • Blade Safety: The blade is partially enclosed but exposed underneath and in the mouth. Ensure clear visibility while cutting.
  • Read the Manual: Always consult the manual for specific instructions.
  • Blade Tension: Check that the blade is properly tensioned and secured before use.
  • Right Blade for the Job: Choose blades with higher tooth counts for metals and hardwoods and lower counts for wood and plastics.
  • Speed Control: Start cuts slowly, increase speed gradually, and slow down towards the end of the cut.
  • Let the Saw Work: Use the saw’s weight to aid in cutting; avoid forcing the blade through the material.
  • Basic Operation: Mark your cut, guide the blade smoothly, and turn off the saw after completing the cut.

If you’ve never seen or worked with a portable band saw, here’s an excellent video to get up to speed.

The saw in this video is a cordless model with an 18 amp battery pack, a trigger handle, and a hand grip.  It’s light in weight, has a relatively small mouth, and cuts through materials like a knife through butter.

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