This article will focus on the CB18DBLP4 18 Volt Brushless Lithium Ion 3-1/4” (83mm) Band Saw from Hitachi. It falls in the “compact” band saw category since it does not have the capacity of the deep-cut 4-3/4” (120mm) models, however it has greater capacity than the Dewalt, Makita, Bosch & other models that use the 32-7/8” (835mm) L blades with a 2-1/2” (63.5mm) capacity. This model uses the 35-3/8” (900mm) L blade like the Milwaukee so the capacity is mid-range up to 3-1/4” although I was able to remove the blade covers and cut 4” (101.6mm) EMT with an OD of 4-1/2” (114.3mm). I would love to see the Manufacturers develop this midrange category further as it makes for a lighter weight, smaller option great for lift or overhead work but increased capacity to the true compacts. Hats off to Hitachi for starting with this underutilized but effective category.
With the 5Ah battery it weighs an advertised 7.7 lbs. (3.7 kg). The weight of just the tool is advertised at 6.45 lbs. (2.9 kg). I have used the saw with the newer 6Ah battery which provides plenty of runtime to the powerful Brushless motor for the last 3/4 months on a dozen jobs. If you are not already on the Hitachi battery platform, this saw might tip the scales that way as they recently slashed their battery prices. You can get the 1.5Ah for $30 US and the 3Ah for $40 US from various suppliers, both are slide on style Li-Ion packs that fit this saw.
The saw has an elastomer grip designed to reduce vibration and provide comfort and a secure grip. They have also provided a threaded second handle which isremovable, a very useful feature to allow greater access to tight areas on field cuts. There is an on-tool LED light to illuminate your cut on dimly lit work sites. There are no built-in hook on this model.
One of the best features on this saw is the Soft Start feature when used in the Auto cutting mode. It reduces the torque recoil when you pull the trigger and allows you to stay on your cutting line easier. Once the blades engage the material it ramps up to proper cutting speed prolonging battery life and reducing noise. It also has 5 set speeds on the dial for a more traditional feel with a range of 260 – 640 SFPM (80-195m/min) to work on a variety of materials and prolong blade life. We used the saw on steel channel strut, threaded rod, rigid/EMT conduit, aluminum & copper conductor 600V cables and 2″ schedule 40 electrical PVC conduit. The included blade works well and has a decent life depending on the materials cut. I struggled to find blades for this saw online and in stores as big box stores in my area do not stock them.
The battery placement is different from other saws requiring a bit for me to get used to as I kept wanting to grab the handle incorrectly. Once I got used to it the placement results in a balanced light weight feel having the battery over the blade. Enhancement requests for this tool I have two. The first is the on-tool battery meter, I prefer the meter on the battery which enables you to check it without placing it on a tool. The second is the blade covers. While a nice safety feature that other saws do not have, the covers trap the metal shavings which leads to heat buildup and shavings getting on the rubber drive wheel causing the blade to slip. Since the drive wheel does not have grooves as larger saws do but are smooth, the blade of rubber drive wheel can slip while cutting with the shavings in the cover. Fortunately, if you own or purchase this saw the covers can easily be removed, which increases the cutting capacity a bit on round pipe if you ring cut the material.
As before mentioned on this website in discussing bandsaws, a huge advantage to using them is safety. One area is the noise factor. A band saw is much quieter than a reciprocating saw, and most carbide toothed circular saw or grinder blades. Second is the lack of sparks flying resulting in a lower risk of fire. I also feel there is a lower risk of injury from encountering the blade since it continuously moves in one direction with very little exposed.
For pipes, channel, angle and tubing that fits it will cut it. The comfort of the tool as well as the ease with which you can get straight fast cuts makes it a useful tool especially for the MEP & metal fab trades. I recommend checking one of these out to see if its right for you.
· Covered by Lifetime Warranty
· Brushless motor for higher efficiency, increased battery and tool life
· Soft Start and Variable speed dial for cutting a range of materials
· Dual bearing blade guide rollers
· LED work light with delay illuminates dark work surfaces for accurate cutting
· Uses a 35-3/8” L (900mm) blade with tool less blade changes
· 3 1/4 in. cut throat capacity exceeding most compact bandsaws
· Removable side handle
Contributed by Daniel Swindler (IG: DCS_Contracting)
Electrician in Indianapolis, IN, US