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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BY Hank O'Hop / LAST UPDATED 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.
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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
- 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.