The Best Folding Saws (Review & Buying Guide) 2021
Folding saws make quick work of unexpected obstacles
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BY Brian Smyth / LAST UPDATED ON October 15, 2020
Whether field dressing a deer in the backcountry or pruning trees in the backyard, a folding saw serves as an invaluable asset. Designed for effortless portability, the best saws are the ones you wish you had until you realize you already have it with you, and folding saws are an adaptable lot, thanks to both all-purpose and swappable blades. Of course, safety is key, and a locking mechanism can ensure you never need to call for help.
Whether punching holes for drywall cutouts or felling small trees for poles, the right folding saw makes all the difference with the perfect combination of adaptability and usability. Know your goals before you start a project, but if anything changes midway through, a folding saw will adjust right alongside you.
This set includes a foldable, general-purpose saw with a 7.5-inch blade and a multipurpose fixed-blade knife with a sheath and stainless steel blade.
The saw’s coarse 7 TPI blade has tough, long-lasting XT teeth and is coated for rust resistance and low friction. The knife arrives with a razor-sharp blade.
The stainless steel knife blade makes for a poor fire-starting tool, and the plastic sheath does little to retain the knife.
This folding saw includes three interchangeable blades, resulting in a true multipurpose blade. It works well for hunting, camping, and other outdoor activities.
The interchangeable blades are perfect for cutting through wood, bone, metal, and PVC. It locks into two cutting positions and takes advantage of the common push-style blade.
The blades are a little thin, leading to some flex and play while in use. The blades are also more prone to wear and dulling than more expensive options.
This pull-stroke saw takes advantage of high-quality Japanese steel and engineering to create an incredibly smooth cutting experience and heirloom-level quality.
This saw is well-built and durable, but the pull-stroke blade steals the show. This blade cuts through wood like a knife through butter but without exerting extra pressure or force.
The pull-stroke blade is prone to breaking under excessive force thanks to its thin design. Be sure to understand this saw’s intended technique before using it.
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What is a Folding Saw?
As the name implies, a folding saw is a compact, lightweight saw that combines portability with functionality. Most folding saws either hide the blade in a groove alongside the handle or store their entire blades inside the handle itself.
What is a Folding Saw used for?
Most folding saws are used primarily for cutting wood and pruning trees and shrubs. Some are intended for use by construction workers, while others are meant for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.
Benefits of a Folding Saw
- Easy Storage. As the name implies, folding saws tend to be compact units. These saws usually fit well into backpacks, canoes, survival kits, tool bags, and other storage spaces with limited capacity.
- Portability. Due to their compact and lightweight designs, most folding saws make an excellent companion on the trail, in the backcountry, or at job sites. Even the largest folding saws make life easier for ranchers, farmers, landscapers, and others.
- Versatility. While each type of saw is made with a particular use in mind, most can adapt to accomplish a variety of jobs. From trimming cutting logs to field dressing game, most saws will adapt well to the job at hand due to either a versatile blade design or interchangeable blades.
Types of Folding Saws
Pruning saws are designed for trimming live trees and shrubs and occasionally felling live specimens with small trunks. They feature a relatively thick blade that curves inward and an ergonomic, pistol grip handle that can accommodate either one-handed or two-handed use. The large, hard-point teeth on the blades do not easily retain sap and resin, but they tend to leave behind relatively smooth surfaces. Due to their design, pruning saws also provide users with a long reach, making it easier to remove high branches.
Bow saws are designed for quickly trimming or felling trees and cutting logs. They feature a bow-shaped metal frame (typically aluminum) with a coarse blade suspended between its two tips. The frame is usually semi-flexible in order to retain and reinforce the blade with tension, and the coarse blade does an excellent job of generating crosscuts and other rough cuts. Unlike most saws, bow saws are designed to cut on both the push and the pull stroke, increasing their cutting speed and efficiency; however, their bow-like design can limit its use in certain situations.
Unlike most folding saws, jab saws are designed primarily for use with drywall, making them more at home at a worksite than at a campsite. They feature a long, narrow blade with a straight handle and usually feature a semi-sharpened point to easily penetrate and start holes in drywall with a simple jab. Since they require more pressure than many saws and can be used for relatively large jobs, jab saws have an ergonomic handle with many sporting a rubberized grip for added comfort and minimal slipping.
Canadian company Agawa Canyon was founded in Ontario by a small handful of outdoor enthusiasts. The company is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, and specializes in using solid engineering and industrial design techniques to produce exceptional outdoor adventure gear, such as the Agawa Canyon Boreal21. Agawa Canyon donates one percent of all annual sales revenue to wildlife conservation.
Swedish tool company Bahco was originally founded in 1886 as a saw blade manufacturer. Since then, the company has grown to compete in the hand tool and pneumatic tool markets, creating a variety of helpful tools, such as the Bahco Laplander & Multipurpose Tradesman Knife Set. It has used the same basic hook and fish logo since its inception.
Corona Tools was founded in 1932 by three California entrepreneurs following their invention of the orange shears. Today, the Corona, Calif.-based company specializes in gardening tools, such as the Corona 7-Inch Folding Razor Tooth Saw.
Founded in 1939, Portland, Ore.-based Gerber specializes in producing tools used by hunters, tradesmen, and soldiers around the world. Today, they continue that tradition with tools such as the Gerber Freescape Camp Saw, and it backs every product with a lifetime warranty.
Klein Tools was launched in 1857 by Matthias Klein, a German immigrant stringing telegraph wires in Chicago. Ever since his first attempt at making tools, Klein’s company has expanded to producing tools for use in electrical work, telecommunications, construction, plumbing, mining, gardening, and more. The Klein Tools Folding Jab Saw is a perfect choice for drywall specialists.
In 1919, Silky was founded by Katsuji Miyawaki of Kishi, Japan under the name “Tamakitsune.” Today, the company is based in Kogyo, Japan, and specializes in pull-stroke saws and blades. Each product, such as the Silky BigBoy 2000, is manufactured in Ono, Japan, birthplace to some of the world’s highest quality steel.
Folding Saw Pricing
- Under $20: Most saws in this price range tend to feature lower quality blades with a shorter lifespan and a simple tooth design. They require more effort to use and maintain.
- $20 to $40: Saws in this price range usually have good quality blades. Occasionally, a small, high-end saw may slip through the cracks.
- $40 to $60: As a general rule, saws in this range tend to be very good to excellent, featuring durable, quality blades and some impressively compact designs.
- $60 and up: These blades are the cream of the crop. Primarily intended for professionals and hardcore outdoor enthusiasts, these saws are well-designed and well-built.
Understanding a saw’s intended sawing technique is critical to success. Most American- and European-style saws employ a push stroke, relying on a combination of the saw’s teeth and the user’s arm strength to slice through materials. The push-pull blade is another common design that allows users to make cuts on both forward and reverse movements of the saw. Japanese-style blades rely on a pulling stroke to do their work without the user exerting extra pressure.
Blade coarseness, measured in teeth per inch (TPI), will vary depending on the job at hand. Coarse blades are usually in the range of five to seven TPI and work best on green, wet, and pressure-treated wood. As TPI increases, blades become better suited first for softwood than hardwood and other tough materials. Most very fine-tooth blades top out around 20 TPI.
Safe folding saws all include a locking mechanism designed to prevent the blade from slipping out of position while in use. Some saws use a locking mechanism that allows the blade to seat into multiple cutting positions, and some feature a lock that keeps the blade securely closed. Avoid saws that lack locking mechanisms or have poor quality locks.
- Folding Design. The majority of folding saws use a simple design, folding in half much like a pocket knife, making them intuitive and easy to use. However, some folding saws use less traditional designs, such as with bow saw variants. While often similar in design, these saws are not always intuitive, and for campers, backpackers, and survivalists, it is wise to invest the time in learning how to both deploy and store these saws properly.
Best Folding Saw Reviews & Recommendations
- Determine if a saw’s blade is designed to cut during the push stroke, the pull stroke, or both. This will determine how the saw performs and how much effort it will require to use.
- When cutting tree limbs over one inch in diameter, consider creating a cut on the limb’s underside (known as an undercut) to prevent the blade from binding under the limb’s pressure as it sags.
Can folding saws be sharpened?
A: Yes. With the proper tools and know-how, most saws can be resharpened, although most users will prefer to avoid this patience-trying hassle by purchasing replacement blades when possible.
How do I clean a blade that’s covered in resin?
A: The recommended way to clean a resin-covered blade is to start by soaking the blade in a shallow tray of water and saw blade cleaner. Next, carefully scrub the teeth with a soft metal brush (toothbrush for Teflon-coated blades). Repeat if necessary, then rinse and thoroughly dry the blade.
What is the best hand saw for cutting trees?
A: Usually, cutting small trees and tree limbs is best done with a pruning or bow saw. These saws have coarse blades, roughly five to 10 teeth per inch (TPI), although finer blades are available for cutting hardwood. For larger trees, a powered chainsaw or ax is a better, safer alternative.
For an excellent all-around folding saw, the Bahco Laplander & Multipurpose Tradesman Knife Set takes the cake. Thanks to its sturdy, reliable blade (and the impressive knife), it’s hard to go wrong with this selection.
If your budget is tight, consider picking up the affordable Mossy Oak 3-in-1 Folding Hand Saw.