Portable Band Saw Uses. How to Use the Saw on Wood & Metal?

A portable band saw is a versatile tool for any contractor or woodworker who wants clean and straight cuts. Even if you have a larger stationary band saw, the portable model can be used for smaller jobs or to finish parts cut on the larger saw.
A Portable Band Saw
Portable band saws are less expensive and more mobile, making them a great choice for hobbyists or those with limited workshop space.

10 Uses of Portable Band Saw

Although portable band saws may not get noticed compared to their non-portable counterparts, they do offer a wide variety of uses. What follows are ten of their most common uses on a job site.
Best uses of portable bandsaws

1. Cutting Pipes

Pipefitters use this handy power saw all the time for the installation and maintenance of piping systems. Pipe fitting requires precision when cutting downpipes to a proper length. A portaband is perfect for this type of work as it can create precision cuts.

DEWALT Portable Band Saw used for cutting Pipes
Tool Used: Dewalt DWM120 (Deep-Cut)- Click to See Price

I recommend getting a deep-cut portable band saw since they can go more depth of cut.

Have you ever tried using a Sawzall for cutting pipes? Unless the pipe is secured very tight, it is going to be very difficult to get a clean cut due to vibration. This is because, on reciprocating saw (similar to jigsaw), the blade is held only on one end, and the cutting end is free to wander around. For pipes that need to be a specific length, a portable band saw is the right tool.

The only downside will be the thickness and the large diameter of the pipe, which may prohibit the use of this power saw.

2. Metal Fabrication

The most common places to find portable band saws are in shops that specialize in metal fabrication. If you need to cut steel, then chances are a portable band saw will be in the shop. The portable bandsaw or portaband works similarly to a horizontal bandsaw with added mobility.

You can cut bar stocks, angle irons, metal studs, screws, bolts, etc. as long as their width or diameter is within the range of the portaband. You can also use this power saw to cut thin sheets of steel into specific shapes.


Another use for a portable band saw is to cut bar stocks or billets of metal down to a smaller size. Billets are pure forms of metal that are in a raw state. Standard band saws are used to cut billets into shapes, so the portable versions are just as good if you are on a job site. Most portable band saws will cut billets into square or rectangular shapes that have different uses, although they are generally cut by other types of saws at this point.

Get a portaband that comes with a removable base and you can use it as a regular horizontal band saw. (See picture below)

Anbull Portaband with Steel Base
Portable Band Saw with Detachable Base – Click to See Price

The only downside is that these handheld band saws are limited in terms of cut capacity (depth of cut and how wide you can cut). So, you will need to use a powerful version that holds up to the wear and tear of creating billets.

3. Cutting Rebar

You might have seen construction workers using metal cutting chop saws and angle grinders for sizing rebars. There is one problem with this method; it generates a lot of sparks.
DEWALT Portable Band Saw, Deep Cut, 10 Amp, 5-Inch (DWM120K)
High-performance portable band saws are perfect for cutting rebar without sparks. They are also handy on the job site when rebar needs to be recut and trimmed.

4. Decorative Cuts

This is perhaps one of the most common uses of a portable band saw. Compared to a reciprocating saw, the portable bandsaw makes clean-cut edges with very little vibration. This allows you to use this tool for cutting bevels and notches for decorative work. As a DIY enthusiast, I found this tool to be a good addition to my arsenal to create crafts and fix things at home.

Other uses of this saw include creating birdsmouth cuts and notches for woodworking purposes. A notch is often used in securing rooftops.

5. Slicing Timber

For cutting up timber, few saws are as easy to use as the portable band saw. They are commonly found in lumberyards when larger timber needs to be cut down to smaller pieces.

There are specially designed band saws with higher cut capacity for this purpose. For instance, a 12” portable band saw can be cut 12” x 12” in half or down to smaller sizes with ease.

However, very large pieces of timber are generally too much for the portable saw as other types of saws can do the job much better. Once the timber has been cut to a reasonable size, then you can use the portable band saw to cut it down further.

6. Creating Wood Joints

As part of their woodworking uses, portable band saws are excellent for cutting scarf and tenon joints. In woodworking, mortice and tenon joints are a must as they connect two pieces of wood together. You can use this handheld power saw to create the tenon tongue first and then the mortice hole. When put together, they create a strong joint that will hold up under most circumstances.

The portable band saw is a good tool for creating tenon joints, rabbets, and bridle joints on large workpieces because of the thin blade and portability. However, when it comes to creating wood joints, a vertical bandsaw or table saw will provide you with the best results because of the precision that can be applied.

7. Electrical Conduit and Uni-Strut

As with pipefitting, a portable band saw is a great tool for cutting electrical conduits to their proper size. The conduit is just thin enough to be easily cut by the portaband. At that point, it can be bent into the proper shape and placed in the wall or ceiling, depending on where it is needed. It’s one reason why you find cordless portable band saws on a construction site.

Makita XBP03Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Compact Band Saw, Tool Only

The same applies to the uni-strut which can also be cut by this device.

8. Commercial HVAC

When it comes to creating the right size ventilation ducts, the portable band saw offers a solid solution. The generally thin metal used in commercial HVAC is perfect for the device to cut through with precision and ease.

Makita Portable BandSaw
Makita XBP02Z Cordless & Compact – See Price Here

The lightweight sub-compact portable band saw is perfect for cutting overhead pipes and tubes at the ceiling. This means that where needed the commercial HVAC can be shaped and put into unusual places where standard fitting would not apply.

9. Automotive: Cut Old Motor Shaft or Crankshaft

Want to cut that exhaust pipe cleanly without sparks and fire hazards? The compact portable bandsaw is your friend. Of course, if you are working in very tight spaces the portaband may not be the ideal tool. In such cases, a hackzall or an oscillating multi-tool may be a better choice. However, A portable band saw will produce a much cleaner and straight cut.

If you visit an auto salvage yard, you might have seen an employee use a portable band saw to cut away old motor shafts or crankshafts from demolished vehicles. Because they are portable, they can get into tighter spaces easier. Plus, they have the power to cut through a crankshaft with ease. For auto salvage yards or junkyards that destroy vehicles, salvaging the parts of a car or truck will often require removing the motor shaft. This is where a handheld portaband can shine.

10. Truss Circles

This is not easy, but it can be accomplished with the portable band saw. Truss circles require precision and it will take effort to accomplish. But the result may be worth it as a circular truss will help make a roof look spectacular. You will need a little expertise in using a portable saw for this job, but it can be done and it is often used on home construction or renovation sites.

Other Uses

There are numerous other uses of portable band saws that include, plumbing, cutting copper tubes, aluminum fabrication, cutting plastic, construction and remodeling works, etc.

If you are a hobbyist working at your garage with limited space, you can clamp the portaband on a vise and use it as a vertical bandsaw. You can also use it for woodworking and carpentry work to cut bevels and shapes. The relatively thin blade and ease of use make a portable version of a band saw highly desired.

How to Use Portable Band Saw

You can accomplish quite a bit with a portable band saw. While they are bulkier compared to other types of portable saws, they have their uses if you understand how they operate.

The saw is very easy to use as there are too many adjustments to make.

Step-1: Get Familiar with Size and Weight

The first step is to get familiar with the size, weight, and shape of the saw. A portable band saw tends to be much heavier and longer compared to other portable types of saws, but the weight is evenly distributed. In many versions of the saw, the wheels and blade are exposed for easier maintenance. You do not have to wear gloves, but eye protection is recommended because of the potential for chips or sawdust to get into your eyes.

The next step is to read the instructions that come with the device. While it is rather straightforward in operation, the manual provides insight into the characteristics of that specific brand or model of portable band saw that can be most helpful when operating.

Step-2: Check the Blade Tension

There is a lever with which you can release the tension of the blade when you need to replace the band saw blade. Make sure that the lever is tightened fully before you start the motor.

Step-3: Blade TPI (Teeth per Inch)

As with any other saw blade, use a higher TPI blade for cutting hard materials like metal and hardwood and use a lower TPI blade for wood, plastic and other softer materials. A 14 TPI blade is a good general-purpose blade for a portable band saw.

Step-4: Hold the Tool Right

Your dominant hand should be on the guide in front while the other hand operates the trigger mechanism. Because the front wheel can be turned, you can create notches into metal or wood with ease using the saw. It is recommended that you start with scrap pieces of wood or metal to get a proper feel for the saw and its characteristics.

Step-5: Let the Weight of the Saw Cut

Once you have set the blade to your liking, place the blade lightly on the area that needs to be cut and start the motor. The weight of the tool will apply even pressure as you work your way through the material to the desired depth. Your head should be over the device, but in a position, so you can see the work that you are doing.

Step-6: Use the Variable Speed

Most portaband will have variable speed triggers or speed adjusting knobs. Start with low speed and once the blade penetrates the workpiece, pull the trigger fully to increase the speed.

As the blade reaches the end of the cut, reduce the speed and prepare to lift up the weight of the tool.

And that is how you use a portable band saw. Once you get a feel for its operation, it will become a popular tool in your wood or metal shop or on the job site.

Can You Use a Portable Band Saw for Resawing and Veneer Making?

In woodworking, the vertical band saw is used for resawing to create thinner veneers from thicker ones. In many cases, the veneers available are too thick for the job required but thinning them down requires precision that a handheld saw cannot accomplish.

You could use a portable band saw to slice the wood into thin sections; however, it has limited depth of cut and width it can accommodate. A vertical band saw with a fence does the job easier, which is why it is a popular choice in wood shops that use veneers in their work.