LAST UPDATED: May 7, 2020
The Best Hand Saws (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Of all the hand saws to choose from, these are the best for you
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PUBLISHED ON May 7, 2020
A saw is an invaluable addition to everyone's toolbox. Whether you're a landscaper, a construction worker, a metal worker, or just an avid DIYer, one of the tools you cannot do without is a saw. With a more modern toolbox, most will go for the electric-powered saw first, but sometimes you just can't beat the trusty old hand saw. While it may take a little longer, taking your time often produces better results.
That isn’t to say that power tools don’t have their place. As an example, every shop needs a good band saw to make quick work of extensive projects. But still, a hand saw often has an edge industrial machines do not. There are many different kinds of hand saws intended for different jobs. Because hand saws rely solely on elbow grease, it’s vital that you pick the right one. Unfortunately, that does mean a general search for hand saws will result in a variety of results that you’ll need to sift through. This is why we’ve taken the time to look for some of the best options out there.
Affordable bow saw designed for cutting dry lumber. This is a must-have for any woodworker or individual who intends to cut logs or trim branches.
Affordable pricing on quality hand saw. It features a heavy-duty frame with an enamel coating that preserves the life of the tool.
The tensioning system is delicate. It is very easy to over-tighten and cause damage to the saw.
Compact hand saw every technician needs. It is perfect for cutting small materials one may need to remove from an area or workpiece.
Very affordable and easy to keep in any toolbox. The blades are also replaceable and interchangeable to promote a long and useful life.
It is very small and only ideal for specific situations such as PVC pipe.
This Japanese pull saw is ideal for high detail projects typical of woodworking. The use of high-quality materials and the special design further its capabilities in this setting.
Back pull design offers better control for quick and precise cutting. The use of premium steel ensures a long useful life of the tool.
Premium pricing makes this tool a considerable investment. Purchasing a collection of these saws can be significantly more expensive than one may anticipate.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Hand Saws
- Precision cuts. While hand saws require more manual effort than power tools, they certainly allow for more control over the blade. This translates to a better ability to make precision cuts on softer materials. Another saw type to consider is the scroll saw, especially if you are working with very thin materials.
- Safety. Better control over the blade isn’t only beneficial to detail. The manual operation of a hand saw is much slower, and it is far less likely that you will lose control of the tool. Therefore, they are far safer for the user and objects you do not wish to cut than power tools. If you do need a powered option, you should check out our review of reciprocating saws.
- No power source required. Hand saws are a convenient cutting tool because they do not require an external power source. That means you can use the device in any setting with no need for batteries or cables.
Types of Hand Saws
This is the most iconic type of hand saw and is what most people think of when they hear the term. This is a great all-purpose design that cuts wood perpendicular to the grain. Size and tooth design can vary quite a bit with this type of hand saw.
Wide teeth are ideal for making rough cuts or log bucking, while fine teeth are perfect for making detailed cuts in woodworking projects. Furthermore, fine teeth are often found on smaller saws that are easier to handle while larger saws feature course teeth to increase speed.
Hack Saw/Bow Saw
A hack saw and bow saw are actually two different saws used for two different purposes, but we lump them together because of their similar design. A hack saw features fine teeth and is intended for cutting metal, whereas a bow saw has coarse teeth for wood.
Both feature a C-shaped frame that holds the blade under tension and uses a pistol grip, and the blades are disposable. Variations of these saws are present and can play a significant role in how the saw can be used. Size and blade length are two factors to pay attention to.
A backsaw is very similar to a back cut saw in that it is intended for use on wood only, but there are some key differences. The most notable difference is that they feature a thin blade. Along the thin blade is a reinforced back edge, hence the term "backsaw."
The thin blade and fine-tooth design make these saws ideal for woodworking and other high-detail projects. They are especially useful for cutting dovetails and miters.
There are many variations of pull saws, and they are especially popular amongst Japanese woodworkers. Two examples of these saws are the Ryoba and Dozuki. The blade's shape may change to enhance specific functions, but the basic principle remains the same.
They are called pull saws because the cut is made in the pulling stroke and not the push. They are increasingly popular because this offers better control for making precise cuts more quickly.
A pruning saw features a thin tapered blade and coarse teeth. These are popular in their folding form, but fixed handle versions are available. These are intended for making cuts to branches and tree limbs when a chainsaw is not an option. They can even be attached to a pole for extended reach.
Founded in 1885, Irwin has been supplying tradesmen of every industry with quality hand tools they can depend on. It is headquartered in Huntersville, N.C., and is known primarily for Vise-Grip pliers. However, it does produce plenty of other quality tools, including the Irwin 15-Inch ProTouch Hand Saw.
Located in Tokyo, Japan, Suizan has more than 100 years of experience developing high-quality hand tools. Its claim to fame is its precision saws, such as the SUIZAN Japanese 9.5 Inch Ryoba. All of its tools are manufactured in Japan by skilled craftsmen. The emphasis on quality has helped the acquire respect from woodworkers in all countries.
Hand Saw Pricing
- Under $10: Many hand saws list for under $10. While quality small-scale saws primarily occupy the space, back cut and hack saws can also be found.
- $10 to $20: Virtually any type of hand saw can list in this price range. However, consumer-level options are more common than professional-grade saws.
- Above $20: Hand saws that list for more than $20 are typically professional-level options or those that are meant for high-detail work such as Japanese pull saws.
Proper Blade Design
Perhaps the most essential quality of a hand saw. Of course, selecting the appropriate blade does depend on the type of work you will be performing. You should ensure the tooth count, tooth orientation, blade shape, and even thickness are compatible with the tasks you intend to use it for.
A good design means nothing if the tool won’t hold together. You should never exert too much force on a saw, but manual pressure can be stressful at any level. You must always make sure you are investing your money in quality tools, especially those that have sharp edges. Otherwise, they can break and cause harm to the workpiece and the user.
Be considerate of your hands. You will be manually operating the saw, and a poor grip can cause severe discomfort and blisters. Furthermore, it will reduce the control of the blade and can negatively impact the quality of cuts. Woodworkers especially should take the time to make sure each saw in their collection has a good grip design to prevent these issues.
- Blade Size. Bigger isn't always better. Neither is smaller. Some jobs call for very large blades for quick cutting through branches or large boards. Others require you to be far more precise, and a shorter blade is desirable. Selecting the right size does take some experience, and research does help but is not always required. You just need to be mindful of the workpiece and the environment you will be working in.
- Interchangeable Blades. This may pertain to specific types of saws, but it is essential nonetheless. On many designs, The blades are interchangeable and should be replaced over time. Before investing in one of these saws, you should make sure that an abundance of blades is available for your particular saw. You can rest easy as the blades are often compatible with saws produced by other manufacturers.
- Folding Blade. This feature makes a saw very easy to carry, which may be crucial when hauling equipment to a remote location or to a campsite. A folding handle is acceptable for these saws because they will not impact the tool’s structural integrity.
Best Hand Saw Reviews & Recommendations 2021
This model has topped our list as the best overall saw. The great thing about a 24-inch bowsaw is that the blades are replaceable and adjustable, so you can cut more material with less effort and without having to sharpen a blade. This particular saw is set up to cut dry lumber and is perfect for the farm, construction site, or for projects around the house. It features an ergonomic handle with a knuckle protector, and the heavy-duty frame is protected from corrosion by a high-impact enamel coating. This model also employs an innovative tensioning mechanism for high-blade tension and straight cuts, and the blade is high-frequency hardened for aggressive cuts on push and pull.
The only real problem with this saw is that the tensioning system is kind of delicate and is susceptible to failure. However, it’s easy to prevent issues by avoiding over-tightening the mechanism.
The Japanese are known for creating what is commonly referred to as the pull saw. By relying on the pull of the saw instead of pushing the blade, cuts are easier to start and come out cleaner. This saw has a 2-in-1 blade with a cross-cut on one side and a rip-cut on the other, giving you the ability to accurately and easily cut hardwood and softwood. Some of the benefits of this saw are the lighter weight and narrower kerf. The cane-wrapped handle and sharp, thin blade make this truly unique saw a must-have. Whether you are a master at making handmade furniture or are a beginner do-it-yourselfer, this saw will diversify your toolbox and undoubtedly make your cuts smoother.
This particular model is on the more expensive end of options that are available. However, this is not much of a drawback considering the level of performance it brings to the table.
We believe that this is the best hand saw for pruning. It features an 11-inch, durable SK-5 steel blade and a comfortable rubber-coated polymer handle. The extra-long folding design is perfect for landscaping and general yard work around the house and can be thrown in a backpack for the campsite. The aggressive and staggered teeth allow really smooth sawing of branches up to 7inches in diameter. This saw cuts both green and dry wood equally as well and can also be used to cut through other materials.
Be aware that there are limitations to the overall blade design, which is typical of folding saws. During deep cuts and while working with green wood, it tends to bind. Of course, this is easily avoidable but it is still something worth knowing before buying.
For coping, we strongly believe that this is the best hand saw. This sturdy and professional saw is a great addition to any toolbox, especially if you are installing trim and molding in a house or on furniture. The tension system allows standard pin-end coping blades to be tensioned at both ends and blades can be turned 360-degrees to saw in any direction, so it doesn’t matter if you are used to push-saws or pull-saws, you will like this saw. The nice hardwood handle looks good and feels great in hand. If you need the complete control required to cut intricate and irregular shapes with a maximum cutting depth of 4-3/4 inches, this is the saw for you.
There really isn’t much to not like about this handy little saw. The only thing worth noting is that it has a very thin blade that will easily twist and bend.
This little tool is our favorite hand saw for small cutting jobs. If you do not do a lot of cutting or you need to put together a small on-the-go toolbox for emergency repairs this is the saw for you. It is small and will, given enough time, cut through anything. It is not a full-sized hacksaw but definitely has its place in the toolbox. The ergonomic grip with thumb rest maximizes comfort, and the built-in blade stop eliminates cutting hazards to your hand. Structurally, this is a solid hand saw with a high-impact polymer coating that should last a long time.
Being a small saw, there are limitations. If you misuse it, it can break very quickly, and there aren’t many uses for it. Regardless, it is still convenient in the right setting and worth every penny.
This handsaw is a great crosscut saw to add to your collection, and it won’t break the bank. The blade itself features an exclusive tooth pattern that is specifically designed to make a quick but clean cut. The teeth are also induction hardened in order to retain an edge and resist breaking. Furthermore, many reviewers state that this is one of the sharpest saws they’ve ever owned and offers superior speed and performance. Its well-designed grip maximizes control of the blade. The position of the pistol grip and the use of a bi-material construction promotes a solid and comfortable grip during operation. This handle also has a square/miter feature for added convenience.
The only downside worth mentioning is the packaging. While it doesn’t seem like a real issue, the sharp blade cuts through the packing materials with ease. But, one only needs to be mindful of the position of the blade during unpacking to prevent any injury.
Another crosscut saw with exceptional performance characteristics is this entry by Irwin. The blade uses M2 tooth technology and true-ground teeth that make it very easy to make clean cuts quickly. Deep gullets are also featured on the cutting edge to remove chipping during cutting. It also features a tapered nose to increase clearance without sacrificing the length of the cutting edge. The blade does all the work, but the handle is also an attention grabber. The bi-material section that covers the pistol grip works to provide superior grip and comfort when using this saw. The wood simply adds a homey aesthetic that matches a woodshop.
Being a comparable offering to the Craftsmen, it’s worth mentioning the slightly higher price point. While it is an excellent performing saw, the extra few dollars in savings may drive many consumers to other options with similar performance capabilities.
This saw’s solid metal construction offers one to mount blades with high tension for optimal performance. It also provides 180-degree blade adjustment for making flush cuts. Despite the solid metal frame, a large comfortable grip is featured on the rear end to promote total control over the blade. Like most hack saws, it does feature a tension knob for making quick adjustments to the blade. What separates it from many others is the size and shape. This knob is very comfortable to operate and won’t cause any strain on the fingers. And because it is large, setting higher tensions requires a little less effort than some others.
One major disadvantage of this model is the lack of a forward-mounted grip. Without this feature, control is sacrificed, and grabbing the front of the hack saw can result in injury.
As a backsaw, it has a reinforcing ridge that lines the back edge of the saw. This allows for a thinner blade to be used without bending or binding during cutting. Furthermore, this model uses premium Japanese steel that is much more resilient to wear and damage than cheaper alternatives. It’s also worth noting that replacement blades are available from the manufacturer, which means you’ll be able to use this saw for years. The handle is a staple of Japanese craftsmanship.
It is another premium offering, so it’s not the most cost-effective model on the market, nor are the replacement blades. However, this is something to expect with such a high-level tool.
Unlike other carpenter saws, this saw features a pistol grip that is positioned below the back edge of the blade. This is very handy for use in tight spots. The blade also features 14-teeth per inch to increase cutting speed. That does limit its performance on wood, but it allows it to easily chew through PVC and plastic pipes. The blade is also replaceable, which means simple maintenance will provide a very long useful life of this saw. Better yet, replacing the blade doesn’t require any hand tools. That means one can quickly replace it without returning to the toolbox.
What we don’t like is the plastic handle. It would be nice to see a more robust material that is less likely to crack under stress at the price point.
- Use slow controlled movements. Safety is always a concern and moving slowly is the best way to prevent injury. It will also give you more control over the blade during precision cuts.
- Always be mindful of fingers. During any project, it’s easy to lose sight of the environment and placement of your fingers. Always keep them clear of the path of the blade to prevent injury.
- Use the right blade. Always be sure to use the right tool for the job. Even if all saws can cut, they are specifically designed to cut in different manners, which is crucial to a quality finish.
Q: What is a hand saw used for?
A: A hand saw can be used for cutting many materials. However, what it is best used for depends on the type of blade and its design.
Q: Can I cut metal with a hand saw?
A: That depends on the type you select. A hack saw with a blade for cutting metal is useful for cutting metal but a backsaw is not.
Q: Can a hand saw cut wood?
A: Most handsaws are intended for cutting wood specifically. However, others are meant for cutting metal or plastic.
Q: How can I choose the best hand saw?
A: It is important to consider the blade type and design when selecting a hand saw. Experience and research are important, but product descriptions often reveal the saw’s intended use.
It’s hard to select a favorite handsaw when they all have intended uses. However, our vote for best overall goes to the Bahco 10-24-51 24-Inch Ergo Bow Saw and the Plastic Mini-Hack Saw by Stanley takes the best value.