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Metal Circular Saw vs. Portable Band Saw

Which is best? Metal circular saw or portable band saw. A quick Google search will reveal the popularity of both the metal circular saw and the portable band saw. It will also show you that everyone asks a similar question, “Which saw should I buy for cutting metal?” Both saws are excellent for their intended jobs, and metal is a specific job in itself. But because it’s a burning question, we decided to write up a blog post today to explain the differences between a metal circular saw and a portable band saw.

A Background To Cutting Metal

Cutting metal is different than cutting wood or other materials because of the heat that the cutting process creates. Saw blades and the material they’re cutting create heat through friction. Some saw blades and saw types make a big difference in the way you cut a variety of materials; for today we’re talking specifically about metal.

Metal Circular Saw

Milwaukee Electric Circular Saw for cutting metal

A metal circular saw is a saw that is designed for ,well, cutting metal. It may be hand held or mounted to a machine for more ease of use. Another term for a metal circular saw is a cold saw. This type of saw is designed to use a toothed blade to transfer the heat generated to the chips that are created by the saw blade. This design helps ensure that both the blade and the metal being cut remain cool to the touch.

Howe Does a Metal Circular Saw Work?

Abrasive blades create heat and should not be used to cut metal. Heat causes both the metal and the blade to expand and will cause the metal to warp or bind. It also generates more wear and tear on the saw and increases energy consumption.

A cold saw is capable of cutting through most metals with relative ease. The powerful electric motor and gear reduction unit are designed to reduce the blade’s speed without a reduction in torque. This creates a high chip load per tooth with great consistency.

Blade Types for Metal Circular Saw

  • Solid Tooth High Speed Steel
  • Segmental Tooth
  • Tungsten Carbide Tipped

More Information about the Metal Circular Saw

  • Power – Electric variable speed motor. Steady torque. Gear reduction.
  • Cutting Speed – Consistent cutting speed without overheating.
  • Sparks – Fewer sparks than competitors.
  • Dust – No dust.
  • Discoloration – Less discoloration than competitors.
  • Switch Materials – Change the blade on the saw to cut different materials
  • Switch Directions – The circular saw does not change directions quickly.
  • Cuts Thick Materials – The circular saw can cut materials as thick as the blade allows. A larger blade can cut thick materials.
  • Weight and Manageability – Very easy to manage, and light weight.

Portable Band Saw

DeWalt portable band saw with caseThe band saw is a saw that is often used for structural steel in metal fabrication shops. They are also used for bar stock in machine shops. They are available in horizontal or vertical styles for a variety of uses.

How Does A Portable Band Saw Work?

The blades available for a portable band saw are made in the shape of a ring, or a band. The band continually rotates on the wheels, creating a smooth cutting motion. The band saw can cut straight lines or change direction quickly to create curves.

More Information about the Portable Band Saw

  • Power – Powerful electric motor.
  • Cutting Speed – Consistently fast cutting speed with little heat production.
  • Sparks – Few sparks.
  • Dust – Very little dust.
  • Discoloration – No discoloration.
  • Switch Materials – Change materials any time or as often as you wish.
  • Switch Directions – Change directions carefully and as often as you wish.
  • Cuts Thick Materials – The portable band saw cuts thick materials with ease.
  • Weight and Manageability – The portable band saw is not as agile or manageable as the circular saw.

The Final Say

Both saws have their strong points and their weak points. Each can be used for a variety of cutting needs. Both can cut through relatively thick materials based on the size of the saw and blade you’re using. So how do you choose?

Basically it boils down to the way you need to use the saw. The band saw is better with irregular and curved cuts where the circular saw is better with straight lines. The mobility requirements of the job also play a big part in the type of saw you use. If you need to be nimble and use the saw at odd angles, you may need a circular saw for the lightweight maneuverability.

Remember: Saw Safety

Both saws are powerful and can be dangerous in the wrong hands or in inexperienced hands. Always use safety equipment including goggles, gloves, and ensure that you’re standing to the side of the saw to prevent injury due to kickback.

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