Bandsaws are well known for making any construction or carpentry job much easier to perform, and portable bandsaws are an even more accessible version of this technology.
Sometimes referred to as portabands, portable bandsaws use a wide range of blades to function. The blade type depends on several factors, including the size of the portaband and the intended depth that the saw cuts at.
Let’s get into what makes a portaband blade different from the typical blade you might find on a bandsaw and how to use it correctly to avoid injuring yourself and causing damage to your project.
So, What Is a Portaband Blade?
Portaband blades are typically toothed metal blades inserted into portable bandsaws and used to cut various objects. These objects can include threaded rods, strut channels, different kinds of metal pipes, and more.
The materials utilized to manufacture portable bandsaw blades can also vary but usually are composed of different kinds of metal, such as stainless steel and iron.
However, types of metal can vary depending on the thickness you’re looking for. Judging what type of metal is preferred for different thicknesses can be difficult, so you should stick with what experts recommend.
What Are Portabands Used For?
While there used to be a wider variety of saws used for metal cutting applications, bandsaws are the preferred tool for cutting all kinds of metal these days. Hacksaws and the like were more popular back then, but portable bandsaws are usually found in professional environments.
This is due to several reasons, a big one being that bandsaws are easier to control for professionals and amateurs alike. While hacksaws have fine-toothed blades ideal for cutting metal, they can be much more cumbersome.
Portabands give users much more control when maneuvering them, which you would want when engaging in a potentially dangerous activity.
Portable bandsaws can be used for all kinds of jobs. While they are most commonly known for their handiness when cutting metal, you can also use a portaband to cut wood and other materials. There are all kinds of jobs that you can do with a portaband, including:
- Pipe fitting
- Wood jointing
- Metal fabricating/steel cutting
- Resizing rebar
- Cutting electrical conduits
Another type of material commonly cut by portable bandsaws is strut channels. These structures are essential to setting up support structures in many different areas.
Strut channels come in various styles and cuts, but they are commonly made of metal or fiberglass bent or folded into long rectangles with slots or holes. This makes them easy to attach to buildings and various structures, ensuring their usability.
Portable bandsaws are ideal for cutting strut channels of all types, including solid channels, punched channels, half-slotted channels, slotted channels, and half channels.
If your strut channels are fiberglass, you probably won’t want to use a portaband blade to cut them, but if they are made out of metal, your average portable bandsaw should do just fine.
What Sets Portabands Apart?
The big reason why portabands are so sought after is they allow for precise cuts. They provide workers with a high degree of control due to the unique handle structure that they provide.
As far as versatile handheld power saws go, there aren’t many better options. Portabands are tough but easy to wield, making them a go-to option for seasoned professionals and beginners alike.
Let’s get into how exactly you can use a portaband yourself so that you know what to do when someone whips one out at your next job site or DIY project.
How to Use a Portaband Blade
When you set out to learn how to use a portaband and its blade for yourself, you should keep a few things in mind. First, you’ll want to figure out how big of a portaband you’re trying to get.
There are a few general sizes: compact, standard-depth, and deep-cut. Compact blades typically don’t exceed 10-9/16” in length, while deep-cut blades are longer than 44-7/8”. As you can likely guess, standard-depth portaband blades will fall between these options.
Once you’ve figured out the size of the portaband you’re looking for, you can start thinking about your saw’s power source option. Like most power tools, you can choose between battery-powered and A/C power sources.
In most cases, we recommend a pluggable portaband, as it gives you more reliable power. Wired saws are also usually cheaper and don’t require you to stop work to charge up your saw. Why wait for your saw to function when you could just plug in a power tool that works right away?
Familiarize Yourself with Your Saw’s Components
Now that you’ve figured out what kind of portaband you’ll get and what power source is ideal for you, we can start thinking about the different components that make up a portaband saw.
The blade itself is the first and most important part to pay attention to. Thin and flexible, a portaband blade is strong and durable as long as it is treated properly. Ensure that your tracking adjustment feature is set correctly so you always know where your blade will go when using your portaband saw.
The tracking adjustment is a modern feature that you can find on most modern portable bandsaws. It essentially smooths out your blade’s path and helps you guide it in a measured fashion.
The next component you will want to consider is the guide rollers. These help to ensure that your portaband blade is fully supported when cutting. Portaband blades are quite thin, so the second they go awry, they are much more prone to bending or breaking, which can cause injuries and accidents. Guide rollers work to make sure your blade is fully supported.
Finally, the arguably most important component is the tension release handle, a failsafe when your blade isn’t cutting properly. It allows you, the operator, to disengage your portaband blade quickly.
If your blade seems to be dragging or not cutting properly, this feature will help keep your sawing experience from messing up during the most crucial moments.
Keep in Mind the Job at Hand
Once you’re familiar with how your portable bandsaw and its blade function, you can start with whatever job you have to tackle. Different tasks require different applications of skill.
You wouldn’t approach every job the same way, so make sure you know what you’re doing before getting started. A portaband blade is ideal for cutting things like threaded rods, which are prone to throwing up sparks, but keep in mind different cutting techniques and what to look out for when applying them.
We hope our guide to portaband blades and using them properly was helpful to you. At Ecenrode Welding Supply, we always aim to ensure that our customers know what they’re getting into when using our tools.
A well-educated amateur is a thousand times more effective than a professional with no experience, so get some experience under your belt, and you’ll be cutting wood, metal, and other materials with your portaband blade in no time.