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Portaband blades and technique?


Jul 22, 2023
I've tried the Amazon specials, eBay economy, Starrett and Lenox bimetal blades and all have dulled very quickly. I think the one that lasted the longest was the Starrett bimetal at about 4-5 cuts (sometimes not even 1 cut). Pretty sure my issue is that I'm cutting relatively thick carbon steel sometimes 1-3" round a square stock. Is the technology just not Advanced enough to be able to do this? You figure it wouldn't be any different than a bandsaw on a horizontal or vertical.

So I guess my questions are if you found a blade that last on thicker stock?

And also what is the best technique for cutting with a portaband? Heavy pressure and running slow like a drill or fast and light? In my situation I tried both and it hasent really made a difference. Maybe I haven't had the right blades?

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I've cut through six inch shafts and the blade still had life.

Keeping the blade somewhat straight and not bound, slow speed, as well as oil (TapMagic) has been my technique.
don't push them too hard or you'll dull the teeth or fatigue crack the band. Keeping the correct constant blade pressure is probably the biggest advantage to a horizontal bandsaw over a portaband. That and not having to stand there holding it.
I have one of the smaller ones and I've cut lots of stock with it on the same blade. My only problem I have is not holding the blade straight, can't saw straight worth a darn!
I ripped the teeth off my 18tpi Milwaukee branded blade two days ago when I caught a hard spot in some cheap angle iron. I went to Amazon and they wanted about $42 for the 3-pack with prime shipping. It seemed high, so I checked Home Depot and they had the same item for about $21 with free shipping. They arrived the next day.

Milwaukee makes both a 10 tpi and a 10-14 variable blade.
I buy my portaband blades from mcmaster. They cut great and last way longer than I think they ought to. Mine is a porter cable. Wonderful tool!
Who? No. The form factor of the tool driving the blade doesn't change the fact that there's not enough gullet area to absorb the swarf in a high-pitch blade.
Wavy set changes the rules some. That and you can not readily push hard enough to get lots of teeth to dig in that far. That and the blade will ski out of cut if truely full.
Not going superfine on 2 inch stock- not running a 4-6 either.

Slow the blade speed down a lot on cut start. Once you stop bobbing around and feel a good cut happening pull the gas trigger open.
It seems opposite for portaband. They say high tooth count for thicker material

I have never heard them say this. Maybe they mean a higher tooth count than you'd use on a stationary bandsaw. Here is a shot of Milwaukee portaband manual.


I can understand how it might be difficult to get a 6 tpi blade started!
Slow the blade speed, and rock the saw to lessen the cutting length on larger stock. Like Jason said, the gullet has to be large enough to carry the chip from one end of the cut to the other. If the set corner of the tooth is getting dull first you may be wiggling the saw from side to side.
I keep one at the sub-spindle lathe for chomping off the extra end of bar length. Cutting 2.5" stainless 304 and I've done dozens of cuts on the cheap included Milwaukee blade. Your blade life seems low. Cutting janky thin stock is harder on the blades.
I use Milwaukee's Extreme Thick Cut 8/10 blades and they seem to last reasonably well. The blades are short compared with a horizontal saw, so you can't expect them to last that long. They're only like 6 bucks a piece though. Cut through some 4.5" rounds the other day without issue. The 5 speed is approriate for steel. I do have a stick of lubricant I'll use from time to time.
I use variable pitch Milwaukee branded blades cutting 1" mild steel with good results and good blade life. I don't use any down pressure, just let the weight of the tool do the job. Speed setting is pretty low, maybe 4-5?
I have a Milwaukee in a vertical stand, and find the 10/14 pitch to be the best all around blade. The 16-18 don't last long. The thing that extended my blade life, and cutting performance more than anything, was mounting a mist cooler on it. Total game changer. Not applicable to a hand held saw, but if you have one in a stand, its great.