Last Updated on November 19, 2022 by Barry Gray
Band saws have been around for a long time, but if you worry about them taking up too much space, then stop those thoughts right now. Instead, a number of compact band saws are out on the market designed to make life a whole lot easier while also using up little space.
You see, a band saw is designed to make a precise cut, with this primarily being on pipes and bars. A compact version just makes it easier to move around, and portability really can change things.
But even though this may not be one of those tools you have really heard of, it does seem to be the case that a number of options are on the market. Of course, that does result in you being left to wonder which compact band saw is the best one to buy. After all, who wants to make a potentially costly mistake?
Well, I have your back with this. What you will find below is my list of four of the best compact band saws available right now. I’ve covered different price ranges and ensured band saws are in there for people completely new to using them.
- Best Overall Compact Band Saw – Milwaukee M18 Fuel 18V Band Saw Kit
- Best Heavy-Duty Compact Band Saw – Metabo HPT 36V Compact Band Saw
- Best Compact Band Saw for Small Cuts – Milwaukee M12 Cordless Subcompact Band Saw
- Best Professional Compact Band Saw – DeWalt Atomic 20V Compact Band Saw
But I also plan on going another step.
After checking out my list, make sure you pay attention to the tips I add at the end. My hope is to provide you with information on the key areas you need to check out before you hand over any money.
How I Made My List
So, how did I manage to narrow down the options to these five? Well, I had to ensure that each compact band saw could do the jobs you would expect. Let’s face it, what would be the point of me recommending something that just didn’t cut anything?
So, effectiveness was clearly huge for me, but also, there was ease of use. I just want you to be able to make your required cuts and move on. There should be no messing around, or it taking an eternity. That’s an insane thing to do.
But I also added in my own experience of using power tools and making a variety of cuts. Also included was research into what other owners had to say about their experiences with their compact band saw. My aim? To find out if the saw continued to deliver the outcome they wanted without too much hassle even months after purchase.
Once all of that work was done, I was then left with these four different models. I’m sure at least one of them will prove to be the perfect compact band saw for your needs.
Best Overall Compact Band Saw – Milwaukee M18 Fuel 18V Band Saw Kit
- Power: 18V
- Cut Size: 3 ¼” x 3 ¼”
Milwaukee is a fantastic brand, and this compact band saw is a superb tool to have at your disposal. It comes with an 18V battery, and the Milwaukee battery is one of the best around while it offers a cutting capacity of 3 ¼” x 3 ¼”, which is pretty good.
It’s also important to note that this saw has a cutting speed of 540 FPM. I find that substantial enough when combined with that power. Honestly, it does an excellent job, in my opinion. It takes next to no time to cut through a ⅝” bar. It literally takes seconds.
I also appreciate that this model does have dual handles. It gives more control, and the actual grip is substantial. But this substantial feel covers the entire band saw. It’s clearly solid and well-built.
Also, the saw is pretty heavy at just under 8lbs without the battery. This is important as the weight contributes to how easily the saw can cut through material, and this model has that balance just right.
Overall, I just feel that this compact band saw performs exceptionally well. It does cut through thick bars with relative ease, so what else would you want from this tool?
- It packs power in the cut
- It perfectly balances weight and performance
- The dual handles make everything more stable
- You actually get a battery with this set
- It cuts through bars in seconds
- The safety lock can be tricky to get to
Best Heavy-Duty Compact Band Saw – Metabo HPT 36V Compact Band Saw
- Power: 36V
- Cutting Ability: 4 ¾” x 4 ¾”
If you know you will be using your compact band saw for some heavy-duty tasks, then this model by Metabo should be more than capable of exceeding your expectations.
First, it has a 36V battery, so there should be no issues from a power perspective. From a speed perspective, it runs at a maximum of 640 FPM, and that’s higher than the average. It does make short work of carrying out a variety of cuts.
To indicate how fast it is as a tool, it can cut through a ⅝” bar in three seconds. It doesn’t even struggle with a 4” x 4” metal post; such is its power.
That is astonishing, and the good news is that the saw comes with a dual handle for added stability. Honestly, you will need it due to the force it creates as soon as it springs into action.
I should also say it comes with a variable speed dial and even an LED light. I wish more models came with a light as it does make life easier.
Overall, it’s the absolute power of this machine that means it deserves to be on this list. If you need to cut through thick metal, this is the perfect tool.
- The power has to be seen to be believed
- It can cut through thick metal posts with ease
- It has a variable speed dial
- The LED light is more useful than you expect
- It remains stable even when pushing it to its limits
- It is heavy at over 16lbs
Best Compact Band Saw for Small Cuts – Milwaukee M12 Cordless Subcompact Band Saw
- Power: 12V
- Cutting Capacity: 1 ½” x 1 ½”
Compact band saws do come with varying cutting capacities, and if you only need this tool for cutting smaller materials, then this model by Milwaukee is ideal. It has a cutting capacity of 1 ½” by 1 ½”, which is excellent for small pipes or even thinner pieces of wood.
The smaller size does also then match up with the power source as it comes with the Milwaukee 12V battery. That drop in power doesn’t make much of a difference because of the material you will be cutting with this saw, so don’t worry about it.
The speed is also reduced on this model, with it coming in at 280 FPM. Once again, this is less of an issue considering what you will use it for. To give you an indication as to its capabilities, it cut through a ⅝” bar in around 12 seconds. That’s longer than most, but it still gets the job done.
Overall, I find this saw easy to use, from changing the blade to putting it into action. If I had any complaints, then it would be the fact it doesn’t have a second handle.
- It packs a punch for something so small
- Changing the blade is straightforward
- You can use it with just one hand
- It still offers a variable speed trigger
- It’s very compact
- It does take longer to cut things compared to other models
Best Professional Compact Band Saw – DeWalt Atomic 20V Compact Band Saw
- Power: 20V
- Cutting Capacity: 1 ¾” x 1 ¾”
Even though this compact band saw by DeWalt has a cutting capacity more at the lower end, I still love it as a tool. Of course, DeWalt always produces well-made tools, and this model is no different.
It comes with a 20V battery, so it packs a punch. It also creates speeds of 380 FPM, which meant it could cut a ⅝” bar in 10 seconds. I see that as being pretty good for a saw of this size and dimensions.
I also appreciate that the tool is designed for one-handed use. It makes it easier when holding those smaller bars or PVC pipes and then having to wonder how you would operate the tool. Well, DeWalt took care of that issue, resulting in a highly effective band saw.
Controlling the speed is also easy with this model since it comes with its own variable speed dial. This proves to be straightforward to use, and I do love how it gives you a sense of control over the cut when you can change the speed.
Overall, I just feel that this compact band saw by DeWalt is sturdy, reliable, and even changing the blades will not prove to be problematic at any point.
- It has impressive power for such a small saw
- It’s just an exceptionally sturdy saw
- It has a variable speed dial
- The cutting capacity is perfect for so many small jobs around the home
- It has an LED light to make it easier to work in darker areas
- Even though it works well one-handed, a second handle would offer more stability
How to Choose the Perfect Compact Band Saw
The different compact band saws above are all fantastic in their own right. However, I get that you still need to come to some sort of conclusion as to which one you should purchase. It’s tough, so here are some tips focusing on the main things you need to consider when buying a compact band saw.
Power is everything when it comes to your compact band saw, and I would say you shouldn’t worry about purchasing a cordless version. Battery power today is entirely different and vastly improved from previous years, so you get more bang for your buck with the battery.
No matter the power source, you need to go for something with the highest voltage and Amps. A compact band saw uses a surprising amount of power, so you need that high Amp number to ensure it can do the job.
Corded versions do exist, but I suggest you should go for a cordless version. It just means everything becomes far more portable.
Clearly, the cutting ability is another crucial area. Here, it would be best to look at both the width and depth measurements, but you also need to know what those two dimensions really refer to.
For the width measurement, this refers to the length of the blade ready to cut that extends between the two outer edges of the housing. The depth measurement refers to the distance from the blade to the frame’s rear.
That is what I mean when I talk about cutting capacity. Basically, it’s the measurement of the space within the compact band saw itself.
But there’s something else you should know.
A smaller compact band saw may have a cutting capacity of around 1 ½” by 1 ½”, so you can see the size of cutting tasks you can undertake here. On the other hand, a larger compact band saw may see that size increase to 5” by 5”, and that’s a substantial difference.
Speed is another issue to consider, and you will see compact band saws offering speeds of anywhere from 0 FPM up to 550 FPM. The higher the cutting speed, the harder the material it can cut, while the thickness of the material also increases as a result of the speed.
But it’s also how to adjust the speed that’s crucial. Some models have a variable speed trigger, while others offer set speed ranges that you move between. This sometimes comes via a dial you move with your thumb.
Clearly, the blade determines what the saw can cut, and you have more than one option out there. Often, you will receive a general-purpose blade designed to cut metal with the tool. This means the blade measures between 14 to 18 teeth per inch.
Yet if you intend to cut wood with your compact band saw, then you can change the blade to one between 10 to 14 teeth per inch.
But then, you should also pay attention to how easy it is to change the blade when you know you will be moving between different materials. Most brands ensure changing the blade is not difficult and can be done in seconds. However, it’s worth double-checking before you buy.
For me, those are the key areas of concern for you to check out when contemplating buying a compact band saw. As you can see, there’s not much to it, and yet each section is extremely important in its own right.
Staying Safe with a Compact Band Saw
Finally, I know that it can sometimes appear to be the case that a compact band saw is awkward to use. So, you might want to know how to always remain safe. It’s easier than you think.
I always suggest you wear gloves and eye protection. Pieces of wood or metal can break off, and you need to protect yourself.
I also suggest you practice on some scrap materials before you go ahead and use it for real. This allows you to become accustomed to using the tool, and you will see just how capable it is of making precise cuts.
Maintenance is low-key, but the primary thing to do is to check the blade tension. It changes over time, and your cuts will no longer be as effective.
Overall, you just need to take your time when using this tool. As long as you do that, then I don’t see you having any issues.
So that’s my list of the four best compact band saws available to buy right now, and hopefully, several of them will leap out for you. I know a compact band saw may be viewed as a bit more of a specialized tool, but you would be surprised at how helpful it could prove to be.
But if you are still uncertain about what to look for with all of this, then don’t stress. Just go over the tips I included above and see if they answer some of the questions you have in your mind.
A compact band saw requires little space, and yet what it’s capable of doing means you never know when it could play an integral role in specific projects. Can you afford to potentially run into the problem of needing one, and it’s just not there? Probably not, but then you no longer have to if you go ahead and select one of the compact band saws listed above.