Best Portable Band Saws 2018 – Top Picks & Reviews

a transportable bandsawIf you need a band saw that can create accurate cuts while tearing apart the toughest of wood, you need to choose from a variety of different models. The problem is which is the best portable band saw? That’s why we have tested some of the most popular band saws on the market today to give you the truth about each of them.

We have valued these band saws based on quality, features, benefits, and ultimately how it measures up to the price you pay. Whatever you want to use your band saw for, these portable band saw reviews will have you covered.

So, let’s take a look at which bandsaws on the market are worth looking into, and which are just mediocre.

Our Favorite Saws of 2018

ModelPriceWeightEditor Rating
DEWALT DWM120K
DEWALT DWM120K
(Top Pick)

Check Price
15 lbs4.9/5
Milwaukee 6238-20
Milwaukee 6238-20

Check Price
17 lbs4.7/5
Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B
Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B
(Best for the Money)

Check Price
9 lbs4.5/5
Makita XBP02Z
Makita XBP02Z

Check Price
15 lbs4.3/5
Chicago Electric Band Saw Kit
Chicago Electric Band Saw Kit

Check Price
23 lbs4.0/5

5 Best Portable Band Saws – Reviews:

1. DEWALT DWM120K Portable Band Saw – Top Pick

DEWALT DWM120K

The DeWALT is one of the finest mixes of durability and versatility you’re likely to find on the market today. The DWM120K excels at practically any task you can give it.

It comes with variable speed control through its powerful 10-amp motor. There are also additional enhancements that can be added for specific jobs. But even the default version can deal with even the most complex of jobs. The key is its variable speed dial, so you can get just the right setting for the job.

As well as dealing with most materials, the DeWALT comes with a bright LED light, so you will never lose track of the cutting area.

We love it because it’s made from solid steel and has a blade tracking adjustment system. What does this mean, you ask? It means that it monitors the wear on the blade. The adjustment system adjusts the band saw so that you get the maximum lifespan from the blade.

When we used it, we found it to be the most comfortable of the options on this list. The large front handle is fully adjustable, thus giving you the space, you need to work comfortably. The back handle is softer, so you won’t feel any pain, no matter how long you’re cutting.

In short, this is the typical band saw with a dose of the 21st century added in. Any professional or amateur will love to have this in their garage.

Pros

  • Blade adjustment system offering maximum lifespan.
  • Can deal with any task given.
  • Ergonomically designed to be comfortable.

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a trigger lock.


2. Milwaukee 6238-20 Portable Band Saw – The Runner-Up

Milwaukee 6238-20

Coming in a strong second is the Milwaukee 6238-20 band saw. If you’re a loyal follower of the Milwaukee brand, you can’t go wrong with this band saw. It delivers the results you expect in terms of durability and power. Its cut capacity is extremely strong, and it comes with many of the same features you will find with the DeWALT.

So why didn’t we place this as the number one? Honestly, we found that the blades simply didn’t last as long with the Milwaukee. There’s not a big difference, but in terms of value, you should opt for the DeWALT because it will protect the blades for longer.

But one feature we love with the Milwaukee is the Constant Power Technology system. This allows any craftsman to maintain a constant speed with their band saw.

By maintaining an optimal speed, you can reduce mistakes and get that clean cut, regardless of the material you happen to be working with.

Another feature we liked was the ergonomic design of this saw. Milwaukee designed this band saw with a natural holding in mind. Previous models struggled with this somewhat, but this band saw is light, easily maneuverable, and does a great job at cutting down on user fatigue.

Pros

  • Maintain optimal cutting speed constantly.
  • Natural holding makes this extremely comfortable to hold.
  • Powerful and durable.

Cons

  • The blades can wear down quickly.


3. Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B Band Saw (Portable) – Best Value for Money

Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B

The Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B is our number one pick when it comes to value for money. If we had to describe its benefits we would say it’s light, compact, and easy to use.

The main advantage of the Bosch Bare-Tool BSH190B is that it requires only a single lithium battery to power. Furthermore, it doesn’t compromise on power to be able to do this. It can make large cuts and small cuts, albeit not with the range that our other two entries possess.

For the novice, the hobbyist, and the semi-professional, this is our favorite band saw because you get a lot without having to spend the big bucks.

The only downside that prevents us from recommending it to a professional is that reviews have shown that the blades do break at a higher rate than the premium options on this list, so it’s not suitable for the daily grind.

However, that shouldn’t diminish your enjoyment of this blade if you want value for money.

Pros

  • Compact and cordless.
  • Simple to use for jobs big and small.
  • Requires only a single battery to power.

Cons

  • Blades break at a higher rate than premium brands.
  • Has a lower cutting range.


4. Makita XBP02Z Portable Bandsaw

Makita XBP02Z

The Makita XBP02Z scores strong points for its specialized applications. It operates with a built-in motor, which ensures a fast cutting speed. This allows it to tackle stronger materials. However, despite the variable speed dial, it doesn’t have the precision of the other entries on this list.

The Star Protection Computer Controls innovation is especially interesting from a safety standpoint. The battery and the tool are connected to each other and they communicate to prevent overheating and overloading, which can be a problem when cutting at high speeds.

This is more of a precision material because it’s extremely easy to cut in awkward positions and in hard to reach places, but it lacks the versatility of our other entries.

It’s definitely one to consider, but for us, it comes with advanced technology without the body and blade range to match. Certainly, a brand to look at in the future.

Pros

  • Prevents overheating and overloading via new technology.
  • High cutting speed to demolish solid materials.
  • Good for cutting in difficult to reach locations.

Cons

  • Lacks precision.
  • Variable speed dial not as accurate as other models on the market.


5. Chicago Electric Portable Bandsaw Kit

Chicago Electric Band Saw Kit

The Chicago Electric Band Saw Kit is a product many people consider. However, when we tried it we were extremely disappointed in it from practically every standpoint. One alarming problem we experienced is that some of the settings on the band saw didn’t work.

For simple jobs, it does a fine job. However, for anyone that wants to take on a range of different projects, this is unsuitable for the job. It lacks the cutting range and it lacks the technological advancements that you’ll find from the four band saws above.

We also found that the blades broke regularly, due to the motors within being too powerful for the blades supplied. Unless you have money to burn on purchasing new blades, you’re going to waste a lot of money feeding this band saw.

This was the biggest disappointment during this entire experiment.

Pros

  • Can handle simple jobs.

Cons

  • Blades regularly break due to poor design.
  • Little cutting range.
  • Some settings failed to work.


Buying Guide

Now that you have a better idea regarding the right band saw for you, we need to talk about what you should be looking for in a band saw. It’s a sizeable investment, so you need to get this right the first time to avoid any nasty surprises. Let’s look at the different factors you should take into account when buying a band saw.

Comfort

The first point is the comfort. Your band saw should be ergonomically designed for natural holding. That means the handles should be padded and it should be geared towards natural holding.

The weight of the band saw also goes into this. We believe that you should always opt for the lightweight approach to reduce fatigue and to make cutting easier.

Durability

You have to address durability in two parts. The initial part of this section focuses on the body. Unfortunately, some lightweight band saws focus on how easy the tool is to carry around at the expense of durability. There has to be a balance struck.

Some band saws use a simple tough plastic outer coating while using a steel shroud to protect the most vulnerable parts of the tool. We also recommend looking for a band saw that comes with a strong holder for when you’re not using it.

The second aspect of durability is in how durable the blades are. Do the blades last a sufficient amount of time? When blades break it’s either because the blades are of low quality (tainted metal maybe?) or due to the fact the motors are too strong for the blades used.

Versatility

You never know what you might need your band saw for in the future. Your band saw should be able to take on a variety of different metals to make sure that you’re never left badly equipped for the job. Premium band saws will be able to cut everything from lumber to the strongest metals.

Crucially, it should be able to do this accurately. Cutting is only one part of the process. You must be able to cut accurately and with smooth edges.

Another feature you should look for is whether that band saw is able to cut in difficult to reach places. Is it lightweight enough? Is it cordless? Can the blade cut in a variety of positions?

Added Features

Band saws are incredibly advanced today. The most basic feature you should look for is a variable speed setting. The more settings it has the better because this ensures accuracy and precision in your projects.

Some band saws include features that prevent wear and tear on the blade by adjusting the blade position at the micro level. That way you can reduce blade breakage and a reduction in performance as time goes on.

Other band saws contain features that protect against overloading and overheating through an internal link between the battery and the tool itself. This is excellent for safety and ensures that the user and the tool are kept safe at all times.

A Word on Safety

As we talk about safety, we have to mention the need for your band saw to come with a safety lock. These tools are dangerous and accidentally pressing the button could be catastrophic. A safety lock prevents this from happening and should be considered an essential for any band saw you own.

It’s also worthwhile to look at the supplied carry case. Make sure it comes with a lock, so your band saw can stay out of the hands of novices.

Conclusion

The DeWALT DWM120K is the overwhelming winner when it comes to the band saws we have put to the test. It wins out in every area and is easily the best tool for whatever job you’re about to take on. The Milwaukee 6238-20 comes in at a close second, with it just falling short of the DeWALT and is a fantastic option too.

If you want to spend less and still get a great band saw, then we recommend the Bosch Bare-Tool BSH180B. It doesn’t come with the premium features of the two other band saws, but the price is lower to account for that. Unless you’re a professional, this will almost certainly cover most of your needs.

Before you settle on any of these models, review our buying guide first. It covers the essential elements that make a great band saw. By comparing each model against our buying guide, you can understand our methodology and come to an informed buying decision.

Do you know which band saw model you want to have in your home?

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Best Portable Band Saws 2018 – Top Picks & Reviews
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