The humble Port-A-Band

Discussion in 'Workshop Tips and Secrets / Tools' started by Little Scrapper, Dec 9, 2016.

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  1. Dec 9, 2016 #1

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    A couple of us on here love our milwaukee Portabands. I
    I know Kevin and I do.

    I've used these since my early apprentice days and have loved them ever since. The portability offers numerous advantages without sacrificing quality of work capacity.

    I figured I'd post this for those looking for a bandsaw but lack room. Portabands are durable and blades are cheap. They run at a low RPM and cut serious metal......accurately once you get used to it.

    I'm building a table, basically a replica of the one pictured below on my 1940's Sears bandsaw.
    20161209_144736.jpg

    The table is for my profile belt sander. I like the simplicity and rawness of my old bandsaw table, so that's my project.

    Below shows how nice it is to use a portaband. Look carefully, the portaband is cutting a miter at 45° 1/8" think steel. With a steady hand it cuts it flat and straight.
    20161209_152459.jpg

    Because it's portable you can cut on clamped parts anywhere.
    20161209_152656.jpg

    If you look closely above the saw is cutting a nice miter on that 1/8" steel.

    And it's accurate in my welding jig. You can see the cut-offs, all this from a stout portable saw.
    20161209_152904.jpg

    Here in the jig mitered, clamped and ready for welding.
    20161209_160059.jpg

    When it comes to homebuilding airplanes and equipping a shop with tools, I wouldn't even do it unless I have one. My standard bandsaw really doesn't get used much.

    Scrap
     
  2. Dec 9, 2016 #2

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    Sorry about the rotated photo.
    20161209_170142.jpg
     
  3. Dec 9, 2016 #3

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    Better shot of the miter cut. Although it's portable the machine is so incredibly stout that as long as you hold it right and let the saw cut on its own terms..... she'll be accurate for you. In the right hands you can literally shave a 1/16" off.
    20161209_170439.jpg
     
  4. Dec 9, 2016 #4

    don january

    don january

    don january

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    Sweet saw, I bet it would be great to cut up my wifes frozen roast beef also.;) I wonder how it would do on spar tappers? probably great with a fence for guide.
     
  5. Dec 10, 2016 #5

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    I don't think I'd get it near a spar. Lol
     
  6. Dec 10, 2016 #6

    billyvray

    billyvray

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    Agreed
    I love mine. I've even converted the guide bar to a plate for "non-portable" use.

    Amazing the things I use this for.

    image.jpg

    Bill
     
  7. Dec 10, 2016 #7

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    Very nice, Bill. Any close ups of that would be great. Did you just bolt a plate on the shoe?

    Throw it in a vice and good to go. Very nice indeed.
     
  8. Dec 10, 2016 #8

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    Got her tacked up and mocked up. Thinking about mounting a grinder on the side.

    20161210_134841.jpg
     
  9. Dec 11, 2016 #9

    BBerson

    BBerson

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    Does that bandsaw work on thin steel tube? Or does it break the blade?
     
  10. Dec 11, 2016 #10

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    Works excellent on thin tube because it cuts slow and you can use fine tooth blades.
     
  11. Dec 11, 2016 #11

    Mark Z

    Mark Z

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    I've been jonesin' for one of those for too long.
     
  12. Dec 11, 2016 #12

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    The Milwaukee brand lasts forever,
     
  13. Dec 11, 2016 #13

    billyvray

    billyvray

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    Replace the normal guide with this plate with countersunk holes and a blade slot cut by the saw.

    image.jpg

     
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  14. Dec 11, 2016 #14

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    I have a stand I got a number of years ago but it was horrible so never used it again. Clamping it up in a vise old school works pretty well.
     
  15. Dec 15, 2016 #15

    BobbyZ

    BobbyZ

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    They are pretty stout saws.I have a friend who does a lot of towers,railings and arch work on boats and he swears by his.They have to cut all sorts of stuff on site,mainly aluminium tubing but it sure sees plenty of stainless too.They have an old one that they use in a fixture that he made to plug into his hitch and he can feed tubing etc right from the truck bed the fence he made and also a newer portable.The fixture is just fancy clamp that allows him to set angles and it has a fence similar to the one posted here.
    I dont know if I'd use his setup to make cuts with aircraft precision from his truck but he manages to make parts fit good enough for million dollar boats from it.But I'd say if someone wanted they could easily make a similar setup for cutting stuff at home and easily get things as precise as needed.
    They really are a great tool and once you have one most times you wonder how you managed without one.
     
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  16. Dec 15, 2016 #16

    Joe Fisher

    Joe Fisher

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    Glad you guys brought this up I have been thinking of a metal cutting band saw and hadn't thought of one of these. Went to Orschlands and was impressed I will save up for one.
     
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  17. Dec 15, 2016 #17

    Kevin N

    Kevin N

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    For you builders reading this it pays to buy quality when buying a port-a-band. Some of the offshore brands are just not worth the headache. If the price of a good one gives you sticker shock think of the term, "buy once, cry once".
     
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  18. Dec 16, 2016 #18

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    I'm a big fan of the "cry once" mantra like Kevin said.

    Just to reinforce what Kevin said about quality, I can tell you this......

    Before I opened my own plumbing business I was a Forman who had between 20 & 40 guy crews running high rises and hospitals. As you can imagine we had a lot of tools to make this happen. Of all the different tools that make up a job site the Milwaukee brand Port-a-band was pretty much the toughest tool on the site. Each plumber had one and each plumber abused the hell out of them daily. They are about as bullet proof as it gets.

    Things may have changed but I remember 2 different sizes. Get the bigger one. Blades are cheap.
     
  19. Dec 16, 2016 #19

    Joe Fisher

    Joe Fisher

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    At the Orschlands They had Milwaukee and DeWalt. The Milwaukee has a trigger and a button that both have to be pushed to turn it on. The DeWalt just has a trigger. I really hate these stupid tools that need both my finger and thumb to operate. Also I expect to put it in a vice and mostly use it stationary, so I would just rap a rubber band around the trigger most of the time.
     
  20. Dec 16, 2016 #20

    billyvray

    billyvray

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    When using mine as a stationary saw, I clamp the handle in a vise on the bench, and use a spring clamp to hold the trigger. I've seen guys wire in a foot pedal but that seems overkill to me. The clamp works great.

     

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