Danjmath

Horizontal/Vert or Porta Bandsaw

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Wasn't sure if this belonged in shop or tools, so I stuck it here.

I am sick of cutting everything with my angle grinder, and got wife approval for a band saw (mostly because it also has non-blacksmith purposes).

 

Anyways, do you find the portable band saws or the stationary ones more useful (if you could only have one.)

I also take into consideration that porta is cheaper, but I got permission for "A band saw" so I could do either.

Thanks.

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I don't have either But I'm thinking of getting a portable band saw since I saw a thread on here where they made tables for them. I'd like the versatility and it would work for what I need. Interested to see others replies as well tho. 

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Depends what you're planning to cut and how accurate you need it to be. 

Perfect straight or mitred cuts for structural work, you'd want a proper band saw so you can adjust and fix the tracking of the blade to get precision. 

Just wanting a faster, neater way of cutting(compared to a grinder), with the flexibility of moving the blade to your work, even at awkward angles, go for the porta band. 

Another factor is how much will you be using it? Stationary tools tend to be harder wearing and can take more daily abuse than scaled down portable versions. 

Personally I'd go for a proper band saw, preferably one that can be operated in a horizontal and vertical position. Not the cheapest bit of kit though. 

Blade availability, pricing and longevity should also be a factor in your decision. 

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I jumped on the Porta-Bandwagon after trying one out on one of my visits to Lou L's forge, and I was pretty lucky to get a used one for quite cheap. 

Like Daswulf says, there are a number of designs for add-on tables to convert it to upright use, but one of the big advantages of the hand-held version is that you can take it to the work much more easily. I used mine to trim the feet on my anvil stand a little while back, and I don't even want to think what it would have been like trying to wrestle ~300 lbs of steel up onto a regular bandsaw table. You could piece up a 20' stick of 1/2" round on your shop floor, trim the end of a fabbed-up workbench frame, cut off a piece held in the vise, and so on. 

Also, think of this in terms of your overall budget, keeping in mind that your blades are going to be a consumable. You can get a new PortaBand (or the equivalent), an add-on table, and a good supply of blades and still have lots of money left over for other tools and materials.

Edited by jeremy k

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Greetings all,

        By all means a portable band saw.  ( a good one with variable speed) .  I have several . The best thing I ever done was to rig a trolly system on the ceiling with a industrial tool balancer hooked to one of my portable band saws. It makes it readily available and takes the weight off the blade for more accurate cuts. I also have other band saws , much bigger Roll In style but they are quite pricy. Another addition is a reasonably priced horizontal saw .A great addition and you won’t need a table for your porta-band. Just this’ll boys 2c 

Forge on and make beautiful things 

Jim

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I use a 16" DoAll vertical band saw EVERY DAY.

Don't know how I got along all those years without it.

Next most useful is the horizontal cut-off saw.

Portable band saws have their uses, but are a distant 3rd in my estimation.

 

.

 

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I thought about trying to find one of those fancy ones you set the blade down and let it cut off while you did something else but decided on a portable instead. I then decided to build a table so I can build jobs for repeatability for projects such as a split cross. I show pictures and made a description of what went into the build in the following thread. Maybe that’ll help a little with your decision.

https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/53269-portaband-table/

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A buddy of mine has this one Grizzly G0622 - 4" x 6" Metal-Cutting Bandsaw and he can use it as a 90 degree Vertical Cutting or for Horizontal Cutting and he seems to like it. I have a HF portaband and I don't like some of the changes that they have made since adopting the Bauer name but it works well enough.

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I'm about to buy a band saw and have decided on HF $259 Horizontal  one.  It's that or nothing I know the stories of HF etc. but it's what I can afford.  I have yrs of experience using this type in shops but have to admit we also had verticals ones available to us.  I like the horizontal one for repeat cuts when building or working on a project and they are set and cut while you are doing other things and a lot easier on old shoulders and arms than a portable model. 

I  have a older Multi Delta vertical band saw that I bought at auctions a few yrs. ago that is suppose to be a wood or metal depending on blade that I will set up as well and see how it works out.  I've tried the cut off/chop type ones and not impressed except for making Hyd. Hoses which I no longer do so will sell it. 

Everyone has their own needs, desires and expectation of equipment hence that different designs, models and prices.  

 

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I have the HF saw of which you speak.  Like most tools from HF it is not perfect.  The table for vertical position is a bit flimsy, but if you're not working really heavy stock in that position it shouldn't matter.   I've replaced the stock blade with a higher quality blade and have had no trouble at all cutting non-annealed leaf springs.

Originally I was going to go the portable route and buy a table.  What I found is a portable saw plus a table (retail) would cost more than the horizontal/vertical saw.  It really doesn't take up that much room and it does have cheap wheels on it so you can roll it out of the way when not in use.

If you can find a used portable saw cheap and build your own table you'll be ahead.  If you are going to pay retail which ever way you go, you'll probably be slightly better with the horizontal/vertical saw as far as economics.  

Only you can decide what will be better for your intended uses though.

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19 hours ago, Danjmath said:

(if you could only have one.)

So clearly, it is a matter of what scale, geometry, and volume you will be working with - for instance, cutting unrestrained cylindrical stock can be quite hazardous on a vertical band saw. There are workarounds.

My Smithy is currently a tent next to an awning (under construction).  So for the moment, the brand new Milwaukee Portaband  that I found for half price at a pawn shop has been serving me well.  Very nice with a bit of Boelube when cutting on 10' & 20' lengths of Strut Channel.

17 hours ago, SmoothBore said:

I use a 16" DoAll vertical band saw EVERY DAY.

you are making me drool.

Robert Taylor

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My wife gave me a Duracraft vertical/horizontal band saw for my birthday some 40 years ago. It is still working like new and is used a lot. This Christmas she gave me a HF Bauer porta band. I have yet to use it but think it will be a good addition to the shop. If I had to chose one or the other, I would stick with the Duracraft floor model.

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If you're planning if just cutting metal into lengths and not doing cutout work, think about a dry cut saw.  I've got the Makita model and did thousands of cuts before I needed to replace the blade.

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I have both the HF portable and the generic 4x6 saw.  I use the portable to reduce the size of stock to get it ready for the 4x6 and to sometimes cut off a piece that wont quite fit  the 4x6.  The 4x6 may need some tweaking to perform to its potential (there is a lot of info on the web, including a 4x6 specific group.), but once set up and then equipped with a quality blade (I use variable pitch Olsen blades,  Starretts  have a good reputation too.)  you will be able to clamp in thick, heavy, and bulky sections that would test your stamina with the portable. Then there is the issue of grinding time.  I think I have reasonably good hand-eye control, but I can't get straight enough cuts to suit me with the portable and so I then often get to spend some quality time with one of my grinders. I'd rather spend that time drilling, tapping, filing, welding, etc. while the 4x6 purs away in the background (best to not leave the 4x6 unattended as a jam can lead to a burnt out Chinese motor at best.  I've only had one jam when I was too lazy to change to a coarser blade when cutting some 1/4" thick copper plate.).

Also, consider the order of things.  You have approval to get a band saw.  Spend the money for the 4x6 now, enjoy its use, put away a little now and the for the portable.  If you get the portable first it will be a harder sell to get the 4x6.  

If you get the 4x6 go investigate the information online.  There is a lot out there on performance tweaks, and on the construction of various attachments and jigs to solve cutting problems. As you can probably tell I love my 4x6.  It has saved more time and physical effort that any other tool I own with the exception of my woodworking table saw.

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If you have the room and the funds get the best band saw you can for sure.  The portability of a porta band is irreplaceable in certain situations, as others have already pointed out.  If you own a chop saw you may be able to wheel and deal with the wife to get two ways to cut metal.  You can sell your chopsaw and buy an Evolution miter saw that cuts wood and metal.  That will satisfy the multi-purpose aesthetic.  Then you will be close enough to even to justify getting the bandsaw of your choice.  Search for the video of someone cutting an I-beam with the evolution saw to be convinced.  My nephew bought one for the shop he works in and it has become a crew favorite.

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One thing about your question struck me as worth pointing out.  I'm working with a grinder for cutting right now as well.  It's OK for cross cuts but I dislike the noise, sparks, and expense of replacing cut off wheels.  I'm hoping to pick up a portable bandsaw  because my space is limited and it would be a big improvement for what I do.  Plus I can easily take it to construction sites when needed.

That being said, I can see how a vertical bandsaw opens up options for fine work that are worth considering.  Before I had a belt grinder, it wouldn't have occurred to me how often I'd find a use for it.  I sincerely use it more often than any other power tool.  I expect a vertical bandsaw would be just like that.

That being said, I think I'd probably end up using a cutoff wheel in a grinder to cut stock that's too long to fit in a vertical saw's throat.

 

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I have a 7" x 10", I THINK it's 10" Jet horizontal vertical band saw and it's one of my most cherished power tools, well worth the $1,000 I paid for it 30 years ago. Amazon sells quality blades for it for about 1/3 what I have to pay here. I've had my eye open for a Porta band though, portable is good.

Frosty The Lucky.

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All good answers but I think you are comparing apples with nectarines ... :)

First consideration Mr Danjmath, assuming you have done your maths, is the obvious: What do you need cutting? 

I use my 5" grinder with a 1mm cut off wheel a lot. I can cut perfectly straight cuts even on 10" I beams. no problem and I am not particularly virtuous. Very little sparks because it removes very little material. The wheels are $60 per box of 100 (Pferd brand made in Germany) and I am sure you guys pay less than that. So your grinder is not a bad choice. 5" yes, 4" no good. 9" good if you have good strong and steady arms and some experience otherwise forget it. 

Bandsaw ... I love them too. You have the vertical bandsaw like the butchers or carpenter's bandsaw, for me, it's the best choice if you have the room.

Then you have the cut off bandsaw.  Pivoting on a frame, the best thing after sliced bread, to cut off large stock, repeat cuts etc. I don't have the room for it so I use a Brobo cold saw. Second best chop saw.

Then you have the portable bandsaw ... be it Milwaukee or Dewalt, the best two brands, the yellow one is the best. personally don't see the advantage of the portable bandsaw with all it's little quirks compared to a good quality 5" grinder with a good quality wheel, but each to his own. if you buy a portable band saw, don't fool yourself, you don't have a bandsaw. You have a power tool to chop stock by hand without any precision at all. Advantage over a 5" grinder ... none the way I see things. Sure you can buy a stand to mount the little bandsaw vertical and make little cuts with it. All depends what you do. I would have little use for such contraption that in my mind rates a bit above hobby/toy ... but that is me. 

If you can afford the room and the cash for a proper vertical bandsaw, that one is an actual metal working machine, that allows you to cut off stock, but also to make precision cuts at any angle, and even shape material. A horizontal chop off bandsaw that can be raised vertical, if it has a table in a position that allows to work at it, (they usually have the base in the way and are awkward to work at it) , is an interesting consideration. 

Curious how no one mentions Hand Shears ... must have gone out of fashion :)

 

 

 

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Ellis bandsaw is the way to go for you guys up north

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2 hours ago, Marc1 said:

All good answers but I think you are comparing apples with nectarines ... :)

 

Curious how no one mentions Hand Shears ... must have gone out of fashion :)

You can compare anything say, apples and quasars, you just have to work harder for some.

I'll pass on hand shears, I still use my hands I'll keep them attached thank you.  I'd use hand shears if I were working light enough sheet but I rarely do and I just break out the saber saw for sheet a Beverly shear would be appropriate for. And guys with plasma cutters . . . 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Hand shears.  This is just a baby one but you get the idea. You fingers are safe if you keep them away from the business end.  When I was 15, this is all we had, conceded much larger version with a rotating blade that would cut 10mm flat bar or angle, T section or round rather easily. Each had an appropriate hole in the blade.

 It was that or the hacksaw or the oxy cutter. 

image.thumb.png.b6a6ed1151fa7f10819e3f040c01ef10.png

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I love the SILENCE of using a Beverly shear and have used real hand shears with "bulldog" bits"for cutting alloy steel"---usually bandsaw blades for some reason. I generally put one handle in the vise and work the other handle.  Set up a length stop on the bench and can fill a coffee can fast with billet pieces. (Always cut from the softer back towards the hardened teeth and let the last bit break off---keeps your shears sharp longer!)

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Can't advise on which to get - that's personal, and dependent on what and where you're cutting, but if anyone gets the cheap HF type of horiz/vert 4" x 6" bandsaw, I highly recommend going over it with a fine-tooth comb while assembling. Especially look into the gearbox. I bought one and opened the gearbox - the steel worm gear had a burr on the outer corners of the tooth. It would have chewed the brass/bronze gear it meshes with to bits in short order if I hadn't cleaned the burr off.

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1 hour ago, John in Oly, WA said:

I highly recommend going over it with a fine-tooth comb while assembling. Especially look into the gearbox.

Good advice for most Chinese made equipment.  They're getting better in many ways but the HF stuff is definitely all about low cost so should be fully inspected/repaired before use.  They sometimes fill casting "holidays" with bondo and paint over for instance...and there is often grit from sand casting left in the gear boxes.  

As to the O.P's saw question, I can't really think of a time I needed a portable bandsaw.  Might be handy in the field but for shop work, the larger horizontal has been more than adequate.  Heck, I had to split a piece of 14" long  4.5" dia heavy walled tubing the long way the other day accurately and was able to scab together a way to clamp that with the H.

A few years back, I picked up a Boeing Surplus vertical metal cutting bandsaw (14" style similar to the one many woodworkers have but specifically for metal cutting) for a song and a dance.  It sat for a long time until something came up that only it would do and I now find that it's a tool which gets a lot of use.  Point is, I wouldn't dismiss the benefits of at least one of those vertical table conversions for a H saw these days.  Once you have the option, it's surprising how your work flow can change to use it's benefits.

I thought I'd use the 14" abrasive saw more but It's an annoying and noisy thing to use, while giving mediocre results.  The tiny (chinese cheap) 6" version abrasive cut-off saw has actually been remarkably handy as I cut a lot of small diameter rod and tubing.  It too is a HF special...but doesn't seem to want to die so I've gotten my money out of it 50 times over.

Working on a cold saw conversion now from a commercial "jump saw".  We'll see how that pans out.  Specific use will be cutting small profile bars to length and square for further machining.

In any case...you can never have too many toys.  

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You're right Kozzy, for most Chinese made power tools. Can make the difference between it turning into a piece of junk really fast or lasting years. If I hadn't cleaned up that steel worm gear, I don't think that HF bandsaw would've lasted long at all.

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