What Are the Different Types of Portable Machine Tools?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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Portable machine tools come in various forms that make tasks such as cutting, drilling, or sawing much simpler than if using bulkier and heavier tools. They can be transported to the workspace and are often hand-held, and larger portable machine tools can be supported by other types of equipment. Types of machine tools that are portable include cutting devices such as drills and metal sawing machines, as well as sanders, grinders, polishers, and other finishing tools. Most of these are either electric- or air-powered.

Portable drills make up a large category of portable machine tools. Each model is designed to work with a certain sized hole, and is suitable for drilling any hole that is smaller than that size. If the machine is used to cut larger holes than it is specified to, the drill can be damaged or there could be a risk of injury to the operator. These drills come in either single-speed models or ones that can be set to different speeds, some models work at angles, and others reverse direction for use with screwdriver attachments.

Machine shop portable machine tools also include grinders. They can be used to remove unwanted metal pieces from parts after welding, remove rust, and shape and smooth out parts. These tools can be hand-operated or used with a special stand that keeps them steady. They have an abrasive wheel that is designed to work at high speeds.


Sanders and polishers are portable machine tools that operate similar to grinders. These high-speed tools are used for surface finishing. A handle is usually included to help hold the unit while working on metal, wood, ceramic, or plastic materials. Various kinds of abrasive disks attach to these tools, and the type of disk used depends on the material that the tool is being used to finish.

Portable metal sawing machines are another type of tool that are used for cutting steel tubes and pipes. They are often used by auto body shops. Hacksaw, band saw machines, and reciprocating saws are portable machine tools that are both hand-operated and relatively light, and are used to cut specialized, heavy materials. Although most portable machine tools are hand-operated, great care must be taken when using a professional portable machine tool. Operators need to be skilled in using them so that the work is done accurately and that the chances of getting injured are low.


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