The Takeaway: While there are several ways to accurately, and easily, cut metal with larger stationary tools, that number drops off quickly when you move outside the shop environment. Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel Deep Cut Band Saw helps make untethered, precise cuts anywhere—requiring minimal practice or experience from you. And with a 5.0-Ah battery, you’ll get plenty of runtime before recharging or swapping batteries. Ideal for cast-iron pipe, black or galvanized pipe, square or round tubing, angle iron, rebar, and PVC pipe, the Deep Cut Band Saw can slice through almost any material up to five inches wide. After we made just a couple of clean cuts making parts for some test equipment, we found excuses to use it on any project.
- Variable blade speed to optimize for cutting any material
- Well balanced, for precise vertical cuts
- LED light illuminates cutting area
While the Deep Cut Band Saw has been on the Popular Mechanics shop shelf here for a while, I only recently reached for it when we needed to make a metal bracket for test equipment we were building. The saw impressed me with how well—and easily—it made clean straight cuts, which left me searching the shop for more things to chop up.
A Tool for the Trades = Reliability
Milwaukee has a long history of designing and manufacturing tools for trades people in the plumbing and electrical fields, and this hand-held band saw is aimed squarely at them. However, its capabilities transfer to any job or task that requires metal cutting, in or out of the shop. And you can rest assured it will withstand some abuse, since it was designed for daily use in the trades.
Make no mistake, it’s heavy—15.4 pounds, with the 5-Ah battery, to be exact. We noticed this as soon as we lifted it with one hand. This is largely due to the all-metal direct drive system and the full-metal saw frame. But that doesn’t mean Milwaukee just piled on the metal in the name of durability. We found the saw to be incredibly well balanced. In fact, when we held it in both hands—one gripping the forward handle and one the rear—we discovered the saw hangs with the blade perfectly vertical.
Our initial inspection revealed several features that will prolong the life of the Deep Cut Band Saw. To protect the saw blade, drive wheels, and saw frame, Milwaukee covered the front and rear of the saw with a composite material designed to absorb impact. A similar material covers the hubs of both wheels, as well as the tension lever for removing the blade. And if we cracked or broke any of these parts, they’re all replaceable—the saw can be repaired through Milwaukee, or you can purchase parts online and replace them yourself. Also replaceable are wearable parts like the blade guide bearings and mounts, the wheel brush that wipes debris from the drive wheel, and the LED work light.
Making the Cut(s)
The Deep Cut Band Saw has one basic purpose: making clean, straight cuts—and it does this very well. Since I first used the saw to cut steel bar stock, I’ve also cut steel and PVC pipe, steel tubing, conduit, and aluminum bar stock. I found the weight of the saw, mentioned earlier, actually helps it perform its job. While the saw hung perfectly vertical in my hands, once I pulled the trigger, I was able to let the weight of the saw do all the work.. The only things my hands needed to do is guide the saw, keeping it straight—which I discovered required very little practice to make nice, square cuts.
Aside from making very clean, accurate cuts, the Deep Cut Band Saw’s portability is one of the biggest features that makes it useful for me. It’s a big time-saver, since I don’t have to make trips back and forth to the shop to use a stationary tool or stretch out extension cords to reach where I’m working. I also like the fact I don’t need to bring a work light, since the saw has an LED that illuminates the cut area and makes seeing and following scribe/measurement marks very easy.
Blade speed needs to be matched to the material being cut—harder materials like steel need slower speed, softer need faster—so this Milwaukee saw features a variable speed control. I really like the way the brand implemented it, with a dial right above the trigger. Unlike a variable speed drill, where the farther you pull the trigger, the faster the drill turns, this band saw stays at the speed set on the dial for the duration of the cut. This is important because the saw has a capacity to cut materials up to five inches wide and a steel pipe that big might take a little time to get through—it could be difficult maintaining a constant speed with a variable speed trigger.
Typically, the Deep Cut Band Saw is used to cut pipe and conduit, but outside those trades, it's useful for virtually any fabrication project that requires cutting metal flat stock, angle iron, tubing, or pipe. Without resorting to a stationary cutting tool, it would be difficult to replicate the ease and speed of cleanly cutting material with this saw from Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Deep Cut Bandsaw helps make untethered, precise cuts, anywhere they need to be made. Ideal for cast iron pipe, black or galvanized pipe, square or round tubing, angle iron, rebar, and PVC pipe, the Deep Cut Bandsaw can cut almost any material up to five inches wide. It comes with a 5.0Ah battery, which means you’ll get plenty of cutting done before needing to recharge or swap batteries.