A portable bandsaw acts and performs almost the same with a floor-mounted bandsaw, except that the first one is more convenient to use. However, using it for the first time may cause difficulty in cutting straightly. So, in this article, we’ve included helpful tips on how to cut straight with a portable bandsaw.
Always make sure to check the blade sharpness, the right type of blade for the material, blade tension, and aligned guides. These are the factors that will help in ding straight cuts in using a portable bandsaw. It’s always safe to measure your cuts twice, mark your wood, and start cutting from the shallowest angle to get a clean and smooth slice. Then, start at the shallowest angle.
Are you ready to find out more tips and tricks on how to cut straight with a portable bandsaw, and how to make the most out of it? Continue reading, and see why you should get this movable type of bandsaw.
What Is a Portable Bandsaw?
It is still the same bandsaw most beginners know, except that they are moveable and differs in size and various purposes. They offer adjustments in holding positions, ease in trimming excessive pieces off and slice straight or curved lines by changing the direction quickly to create curves.
Portable Bandsaws are as big as a handheld circular saw, which is specifically for cutting small areas – opposite to what a floor-mounted bandsaw can do.
How Does a Portable Bandsaw Work?
Portable Bandsaws are ideal for cutting various materials other than wood. It is available in horizontal or vertical styles, depending on how you need it. Meanwhile, the blades are in the shape of either a ring or a band.
It works just the same with a standard bandsaw, wherein it rotates continually on the wheels to create a smooth cutting action. Usually, lithium-ion battery rechargeable batteries with a powerful electric motor run them that can consistently slice at a fast speed.
How to Cut Straight with a Portable Bandsaw?
There can be many reasons why your portable bandsaw can’t cut straight. More often, the issue is the same as a standard floor-mounted bandsaw. Crooked cuts are a common beginner’s mistake, but you must know how to avoid it, especially if you are designing high-quality workpieces.
- Cutting Speed. Blade speeds from 3,000 to 8,500 feet per minute (RPM) are perfect for cutting wood, plastic, foam, and insulation. Meanwhile, low-speed blades from 10 to 300 RPM range are often for cutting metal.
- Proper Way of Cutting. When using a portable bandsaw, or any bandsaw in general, it is better to start cutting from the side with the shallowest angle. It prevents having ragged edge and rough cuts. It is because the bandsaw blade can sheer at the edge of the material and pop out. If there are equally shallow angles at both ends, then start at each side, and cut to the core.
- Choose the Highest Quality Blades. Only use the best quality bandsaw blades. It adds more accuracy in cutting straight, and it doesn’t get dull fast. Plus, they are easier to sharpen whenever needed.
- Install the Blade Properly. It is one of the basics of using a bandsaw. If you are using a portable vertical bandsaw, the blade tips should point downwards. On the other hand, a portable horizontal bandsaw should the tip should head upwards.
- Use Correct Blade Tension. Inaccurate blade tension results in a rambling cutting line. So, make sure to have an adequately tensioned blade for your desired cut. Always check if the pressure on all bearings is all equally tight.
- Blade Guide Distances. When it’s too far from the sword, the guides can’t give enough support resulting in a shaky sharp edge. Meanwhile, near blade guides make it harder to pass through your workpiece, leading to a diagonal cut. The rear guide should be ⅛ to ¼ inch clear of the back of the blade or use a dollar bill or use a piece of paper as a spacer between the guide and the knife.
- Pushing the Wood Too Much. Avoid pushing your material too hard to the blade because it may twist or buckle. Give enough force, and let the blade teeth cut through as it goes deeper.
- Charge the Bandsaw. Remember, lithium-ion batteries usually power up bandsaw. Less charge means the little capacity to cut through the material resulting in low-quality or crooked cuts. So, make sure that your portable bandsaw has enough charge to cut through the wood, and get the desired cut that you want.
- Get the Right Blade Width. As a rule of thumb, blades with more diameter are suitable for thicker wood and create straight cuts. On the other hand, thinner sharp edges are perfect for creating curved cuts. For versatility, mid-sized blades ranging from ⅜ to ¼ inches can do both jobs.
- The Teeth-Per-Inch (TPI). In woodworking, we have a rule wherein a lower TPI is perfect for cutting thicker material, while a higher TPI will give you a smoother surface. Generally, there should always be two to four teeth that are interacting with your wood at a time.
How to Choose the Right Blade for My Portable Bandsaw?
Blades come in various teeth patterns and usage depending on the material and the outcome that you want to achieve. Choosing the right sharp edge entirely depends on your project and your preferred style. So, it’s crucial to understand these various blade types according to their teeth pattern and purpose.
- Hook Tooth. It is is a widely spaced teeth to provide better cheap clearance in cutting. This set-up is ideal for cutting hardwoods because of its beveled edges.
- Skip Tooth. It features super shop edges and also has widely spaced teeth, but it’s only ideal to use in cutting softer metals, and aluminum.
- Wavy-Set. It has a wavy-set blade for horizontal bandsaws applicable for horizontal bandsaws in cutting ferrous metal, and hardwood as well.
How to Choose the Correct Teeth-Per-Inch?
You already know that a lower TPI is perfect for cutting thicker material, while a higher TPI will give you a smoother surface. So, why does teeth-per-inch always matter? It’s because TPI s a deciding factor in obtaining the desired finish, and the proper feed rate.
A higher TPI cuts slower but smoother, and fewer TPI cuts faster, but with a slightly rougher finish. To help you understand further, use this table as your guide. Take note that this is also applicable to other types of saws.
|TPI||MINIMUM MATERIAL THICKNESS|
|2||1 and 1/2 inches|
How to Choose the Right Blade Width?
It is the measurement from the tips of the teeth down to the back edge of the blade. Usually, there’s an instruction to follow when selecting the right width for your portable Bandsaw blade width.
In case your device has no indicator, the blade should always be as wide as the cutting machine for Cut-Off Sawing for straighter cuts. For Contour Sawing, the sharp edge should be as full as the device and narrow enough to cut the desired radius shape. As a guide, check out this table.
|RADIUS SIZE||BLADE WIDTH|
|7 inches||1 inch|
|5 1/2 inches||3/4 inches|
|4 inches||5/8 inches|
|2 1/2 inches||1/2 inches|
|1 1/2 inches||3/8 inches|
|5/8 inches||1/4 inches|
|5/16 inches||3/16 inches|
|3/16 inches||1/8 inches|
Why Use a Portable Bandsaw?
You should use a portable Bandsaw if you want to try something new, updated, easy to maneuver, and more lightweight. It will give you less time transporting your wood back and forth to your working station. So, it will help you get more job done with high accuracy.
Portable Bandsaws also can cut and clean cuts with 4 to 5 inches cutting depth. Best of all, they are straightforward to use and ideal if you’re a hobbyist woodworker. For $150 and above, you can have a quality portable Bandsaw with a body cover.
What Is the Best Direction for Cutting? Horizontal or Vertical?
In using a bandsaw, either corded or portable, it involves two cutting directions. Each course has a specific purpose ideal for every material and the kind of project that you are working. In a simple explanation, here’s when and where you should choose each of them.
- Vertical Bandsaw. This type of cutting has an upright position driven by an electric motor through a belt transmission. It allows adjustment of the blade speed, while the sharp edge rotates on a fixed track. Then, the workpiece moves against the rotating blade to create the cut. It is versatile in contours, polishing, filing, and cutting simple workpieces.
- Horizontal Bandsaw. This type of cutting has a lengthwise position driven by an electric motor with a belt and pulley. It allows quick speed adjustments whenever required in cutting down into any workpiece. It is ideal for making primary and angled cuts, mostly, to any material.
What Features to Look for in a Portable Bandsaw?
Before you go ahead and buy a portable bandsaw, make sure to read this and know the qualities that make them perform to its fullest capacity are. So, how do you know which one is for you?
- Power. Most battery-operated bandsaws have 20-v lithium-ion batteries supported by an electric motor. It is enough to let you take it anywhere. Just make sure to pay attention to whether the device is rechargeable or not. Some manufacturers only rely on interchangeable special battery packs.
- Cutting Capacity. Most portable bandsaws can cut up to 5-inch thick wood, while some can go as little as 1 and ⅝ inch. It depends on your project and the thickness of your material.
- Opening Size. Most bandsaws have an opening range from 1.5 to 5 inches. Be mindful that as the opening gets larger, it means you’ll get more flexibility in cutting your wood. However, the bigger opening size is more massive and more expensive.
- Weight. Depending on how much you can carry, most portable bandsaws weighs from 6lbs to 25 lbs. As a simple rule, you don’t want a device that will make you exhausted as you use it.
- LED Lights. It’s a new and extra feature for most portable bandsaws. They are not just cool to look at, but very useful when working in conditions with poor lighting. It is not a requirement, but it’s good to have this feature.
- Rubber Bumpers. It’s another extra feature to watch out. It acts as a protection to prevent the wear and tear that comes from transporting the portable bandsaw or from using it very often.
How to Use a Portable Bandsaw?
Using a portable bandsaw is easy and convenient. The first thing that you have to understand is how to use a portable bandsaw properly. It is about knowing the right size that you need for your material.
If you want versatility for any wood sizes and thickness, you will never go wrong with larger capacity models. Regardless of the lumber’s scale, here’s how to use most portable bandsaw in a nutshell.
- Prepare Your Material and Wear Safety Gears. Get yourself familiarized with your bandsaw, get the material that you want to cut, and wear safety gear for your hand and face. Most importantly, it is essential to hold the two handles when cutting to produce a straight cut.
- Check the Blade. Always check the sharpness of the blade before cutting through your actual wood. If you need some replacements, then do so. There’s a tension release handle on the forward end of most portable bandsaws.
- Start the Power. The bandsaw blade should be firmly against the material before starting the machine. It helps in aligning the shoe of the saw at the wood that you’re working. The best tip is to keep the device in place and avoid pushing too much. Apply light pressure, and cut as smoothly as possible.
- Finish the Cut Properly. Keep a tight hold with the bandsaw when you are almost at the end of the cut. It helps in preventing buckles as the blade approaches the edge. Also, make sure that the workpiece will fall to a safe place.
- Wait for the Blade to Stop. Once you have cut your material, wait for the blade to stop moving before slicing your next piece of wood, or putting it down on a stable surface. Never let it go off your hands while it’s still running. Remember, for as long as the blade is moving; It can cut anything whether accidentally or not.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why Is It Called a Bandsaw?
It’s because of its sharp blade consisting of a continuous band of toothed metal stretched between two or more wheels to cut material. This pattern is performing uniform cuts and curves. The sharp edge comes in various sizes and teeth designs, which enables the machine to be versatile in cutting different materials like wood, metal, and plastics.
How Fast Should a Bandsaw Run?
For most bandsaws, both portable and traditional, have a typical speed of approximately 1,000 feet per minute. Some types of wood may need higher rates of up to 5,000 feet per minute.
What Can You Do with a Bandsaw?
Bandsaws are versatile to use not only in woodworking but also in cutting metals and plastics. It has an array of applications, which helps slice through these elements or shape them according to your project.
Cutting straight using a portable bandsaw is possible for as long as you follow the tips mentioned above. It’s all about the blade, proper cutting, and making sure that it has enough charge to cut through the material.
Bandsaws are an all-around tool, although it’s sager to use than other power tools; you should never take advantage of it. The chips from the material that you cutting can harm your eyes, the dust can trigger asthma, and the blade can cut your fingers. So, safety precautions should be a top priority.