Hand Saw vs. Hacksaw: Which to Use. Wood hacksaw

Hand Saw vs. Hacksaw: Which to Use?

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Hand saws and hacksaws are both commonly used tools for woodworking and construction projects. With that being said, they do have some distinct differences that make them useful for different purposes.

Hand Saws and Hacksaws: The Basics

Before we get into talking about the similarities and differences between hand saws and hacksaws, let’s first dive into the specifics of each.

What Is a Hand Saw?

A hand saw is, simply enough, a handheld saw. Yes, that is a very basic definition, but that is exactly what it is, a manually powered saw. You hold the saw in your hands, and use those muscles to move it back and forth. In general, this specific type of saw is typically only used in woodworking and carpentry.

This saw has the ability to cut various types of wood including plywood, hardwood, softwood, and more. This type of saw usually always has a permanently fixed blade that is fairly wide. They also have between 7 to 10 teeth per inch, coming in various sizes. These saws can be found as all-purpose hand saws, as well as specialty hand saws for specific types of wood.

Hand saw blades may also have teeth that are made for different types of cutting, such as rip cutting or cross-cutting. However, most modern hand saws have universal teeth that can make both types of cuts with ease. Hand saws also have relatively small closed handles that allow the user to saw fairly quickly. These handles also provide the user with an additional safety element.

What Is a Hacksaw?

Next, we have the hacksaw, which is actually a special type of hand saw. A hacksaw, just like a hand saw, is a handheld manual saw, relying on the user’s movements to function. The hacksaw typically has a bow-shaped frame with a fine-toothed blade in between that bow. The frame, or in other words the bow, also acts as the handle.

The main difference with the hacksaw is that it is generally used to cut metal, or any other material that is stronger than wood. These materials may include PVC, plastic, pipes, and various types of metal.

In terms of the blade, there are many different sizes available, all of which have different amounts of teeth. You can find hacksaws that have as few as three teeth per inch, and others that have as many as 32 teeth per inch.

One convenient aspect of a hacksaw is that the blade is attached to the frame using nuts, which can be replaced quite easily. Something else worth noting is that there are four sub-categories of hacksaws, including the full-size hacksaw, the junior hacksaw, the mini hacksaw, and the power hacksaw.

Similarities of Hand Saws and Hacksaw

Now that we know what both hand saws and hacksaws are, let’s take a look at what makes them similar.

They’re Both Manual Tools

One of the most basic similarities here is that both are, of course, manual tools. They aren’t electric, and are powered only by the movements of the user. This makes both extremely basic cutting tools.

They Cut on the Push Stroke

Another similarity that both of these saws share is that they both typically cut on the push stroke. While there are special models of both hand saws and hacksaws that may cut on the pull stroke, these tools are usually designed to cut on the push stroke

They’re Cost-Effective

Another commonality shared by both hand saws and hacksaws is that they are very cost-effective. They don’t have any moving parts, they aren’t electric, and they aren’t expensive at all, meaning you can find both for well under 50 with ease.

Differences Between Hand Saw and Hacksaw

Now that we know what makes hand saws and hacksaws similar, let’s figure out what makes them different.

Handle and Frame

One major difference between these two saws is their shape. The hand saw has a rectangular handle that is closed in nature, with the users hand fitting inside of. Hand saws also don’t have a frame such as that of a hacksaw.

A hacksaw, however, has a frame that is typically bowed or rectangular in shape. The end of this frame serves as the handle, and it is usually not closed. In general, hand saws and hacksaws have very different designs.

Blade Size and Density

Another major difference between these two tools is that hand saws have much larger and wider blades. These larger blades make them ideal for cutting through different types of wood.

Hacksaws on the other hand have fairly small and thin blades, although they are typically much denser and more durable. This blade design makes them able to cut through very hard materials that ordinary hand saws couldn’t. Hacksaw blades also tend to weigh much less than hand saw blades.

Replacing Blades

What also stands out about the hacksaw is that you can easily replace a blade by unscrewing it from the bow, while hand saw blades typically aren’t easy to replace. Although there are some hand saws that may allow you to replace the blade, the blade is often permanently fixed to the handles. This means that on a hand saw, if the blade breaks, you need to buy a new hand saw.

Another interesting thing to note is that there are also specific hacksaws out there that actually allow you to adjust the length of the frame to fit different blades.

Materials They Cut

As mentioned previously, one of the primary differences between hand saws and hacksaws is that they were simply made to cut different materials.

As we have covered, a hand saw is a tool used in carpentry and woodworking. The one and only purpose of a hand saw is to cut through various pieces of wood, whether that be plywood, hardwood, softwood, or anything in between.

Tooth Density

Due to the fact that they are designed to cut wood, a hand saw usually has anywhere from 7 to 10 teeth per inch. The hacksaw, on the other hand, may have anywhere between 3 and 32 teeth per inch. The exact number of teeth per inch can vary for both types of saw, depending on their more specific uses. 6. Variations of Both

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are different variations of both hand saws and hacksaws. You can find hand saws designed for various types of wood and specific cuts.

As covered above, there are also four different types of hacksaws, and many of them are designed for different jobs. Now, do keep in mind that there is one specific type of hacksaw, the power hacksaw, that is electric and utilizes a motor.

Hand Saw vs. Hacksaw: Which of the Two Should You Use?

As you can probably tell by now, there is one major deciding factor that will determine which of these two saws you should use. This, of course, is what material you are trying to cut.

If you are cutting any type of wood, it is absolutely the hand saw that you need. However, if you are cutting plastic, PVC, or metal, then a hacksaw will most likely be better suited for the job.


Hopefully now that you know the major differences between hand saws and hacksaws, you can make an informed purchase that will help you complete whatever task you desire.

How Do Hacksaws Compare with Other Tools?

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How to Choose the Right Hacksaw Blade

A 24 TPI hacksaw blade offers the most range. It’s good for cutting aluminum, steel rods and plates, and more.

A 18 TPI hacksaw blades is perfect for cutting wood, PVC pipes, as well as hardened steel and general workshop cutting.

Good quality 14 TPI hacksaw blade that’s great for cutting thick metals like aluminum, copper and even stainless steel.

A 24 TPI hacksaw blade offers the most range. It’s good for cutting aluminum, steel rods and plates, and more.

A 18 TPI hacksaw blades is perfect for cutting wood, PVC pipes, as well as hardened steel and general workshop cutting.

Good quality 14 TPI hacksaw blade that’s great for cutting thick metals like aluminum, copper and even stainless steel.

hand, hacksaw, which, wood

A hacksaw blade is available in different TPI (teeth per inch) to best cut a specific range of material thicknesses. Hacksaw blades are usually meant to cut metals, but in very specific rare cases they are used to cut wood.

The higher the TPI, the finer the cut will be. The lower the TPI, the coarser the cut is going to be.

The lower the TPI…the larger the gap between teeth…and the longer the tooth. This allows more material removal and clean-out with each saw stroke, thus saving cutting time.

The higher the TPI…the smaller the gap between teeth…and the shorter the tooth. This allows the blade to cut thinner material thicknesses without getting hung up in the material.

HEAVY METAL USE 18 1/8″ – 1/2″
MEDIUM METAL USE 24 3/32″ – 5/16″
THIN METAL USE 32 less than 1/8″

The values provided on this chart are a general guideline. Blade TPI recommendations can be found on each manufacturer’s product packaging. Read the entirety of the article for more details.

Material thickness – not diameter – relates to blade TPI.

An economical and easy method to measure material thickness is to use a rule.

If you’re looking for the best high-tension hacksaws, check out our recommendations.

Best Hacksaw Blade for Mild Steel: 14-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview

Use a 14-TPI blade to cut thick metal (over 1/8″) will speed up cutting compared to an 18-TPI blade.

1/8″ STEEL U-CHANNEL 27 sec. 30 sec.
1/2″ REBAR 24 sec. 26 sec.

Speed tests are an estimation based on hand cutting. New Lenox hacksaw blades were used for consistency.

Note 1: I am not sure why Lenox suggests using a 14-TPI blade for cutting wood. After several thick wood cutting tests (softwood and hardwood), I discovered a 14-TPI hacksaw blade is hopeless at cutting wood; the blade constantly gets hung up in the material. I also tried a Morse 14-TPI blade and had the same ineffectiveness.

I find that a 18-24 TPI blade works best for cutting wood, or switch to a dedicated wood cutting hand saw for better performance.

Note 2: A Lenox 14-TPI blade has a minimum thickness rating of 1/8″, whereas a Morse 14-TPI blade has a minimum thickness rating of 3/16″. We tested both brands of blades to find the truth in these guidelines.

  • The Lenox 14-TPI blade effectively cuts 1/8″ thick material, as stated.
  • The Morse 14-TPI blade struggled to cut below 3/16″ and is ineffective in cutting 1/8″ thick material.
  • Used to cut pipe, tubing solids, wood, plastic or any machinable metal
  • Increased heat and wear resistance for long life
  • Flexible to prevent shattering during use
  • 10 blades per pack

Note 3: Finding 14-TPI blades at local home improvement stores may not be possible, and many of the hacksaw blade brands don’t offer a 14-TPI model. Don’t worry, a 14-TPI blade isn’t needed for homeowner projects. However, a tradesman that cuts heavy metal regularly may want to experiment with a 14-TPI blade compared to using a 18-TPI blade.

Best Hacksaw Blade for PVC Pipes, and Steel Rods: 18-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview

A 18-TPI blade gives you many of the same cutting abilities as a 14-TPI blade, but with less effort and smoother cutting.

hand, hacksaw, which, wood

Cut a wide range of wood thicknesses. A hacksaw isn’t the ideal choice for cutting wood, but for random projects where precision cutting isn’t needed, a hacksaw will get the job done, e.g. cutting a tree limb, demoing a small wall or building structure.

A hacksaw is very effective for plumbing projects that use PVC. A 18-TPI blade cuts through PVC tubing, whether trying to cut and remove existing plumbing, or cutting new PVC to length for a plumbing project. E.g. replacing a garbage disposal, sump pump, or an outdoor drainage project. A heavy-duty utility knife works well to deburr the PVC after each cut.

  • T2 Technology provides a long hacksaw blade life
  • Shatter-resistant, bi-metal construction allows saw blades to bend and flex without breaking
  • Saw blades cut through black pipe, Unistrut, copper pipe, hardened steel, threaded rod and rebar
  • 18 TPI
  • 12″ L x 1/2″ W

Note: A DeWALT 18-TPI blade has a material thickness rating of 1/4″ – 1/2″. Most other 18-TPI blades have a minimal material thickness rating of 1/8″, which the DeWALT 18-TPI blade cut effectively too. A confusing discrepancy in DeWALT’s 18-TPI nominal material thickness recommendation.

  • Model Number: DWHT20558
  • Item Package Length: 13.8582677024″
  • Item Package Width: 8.0314960548″
  • Item Package Height: 0.2362204722″

Best Hacksaw Blade for Cutting Aluminum, Steel, and more: 24-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview

A 24-TPI comes standard on hacksaws and from our tests offers the most range. The tooth count and size isn’t too small nor too large.

Intertool HT 3104 Hacksaw for wood Ножовка по дереву с каленым зубом и трехсторонней заточкой

Note 1: Lenox rates their 24-TPI blade to cut 3/32″ thru 5/16″ for hardened materials, but a wider range of softer materials can be cut.

  • The LENOX hacksaw uses an I-beam construction, allowing the blade to tension up to 50,000 psi
  • Rubberized handles allow for confident handling, even in wet and cold environments
  • Hacksaw accepts any LENOX reciprocating saw blade to be used as a jab saw
  • LENOX hacksaw stores up to 5 extra 12-inch hacksaw blades in the I-beam
  • All hacksaw come with one 12-inch, 24 TPI hacksaw blade

What is Hacksaw and How To Use it?

A hacksaw is a tool that comes with sharp teeth. It can cut almost anything mostly hard substances. It is available in different sizes and designs which makes it ideal for different purposes. The hacksaw is powered manually and serves great for cutting different metals including steel, brass, aluminum, iron, and copper.

It is equipped with a single handle. There are exceptions for some models that have two handles to offer better comfort. It features a straight and wide blade that is under stress in a C. An adjustable design features a U-shaped steel bow frame. There are also hacksaws with an adjustable frame.

What Are The Applications Of Hacksaw?

Hacksaws can cut different types of materials. The handy cutting tool lets you use it for the following purposes.

  • Cutting metals like rods, pipes, and bars into the desired length.
  • Suitable for cutting woods and plastics.
  • Ideal for cutting thin materials. The blade of the saw can be damaged while cutting thick materials.
  • Perfect for sawing and cutting.
  • Usually used by professionals such as electricians and plumbers for cutting conduits and pipes.
  • Hacksaws are suitable for industrial purposes as well as household works.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Hacksaws?

Here are the different types of hacksaws that you should be aware of.

Power Hacksaw: A power hacksaw is machine equipped and is generally powered by an electric motor. In some cases, it is also connected to a stationary engine. It is perfect for larger tasks. These types of hacksaws are easy to handle and let you save time and effort. It helps to create a precise cut. A power hacksaw is now not so common in metalworking industries.

Sawing Machine: Next comes the sawing machine which is perfect for cutting material bars into appropriate sizes and lengths. A sawing machine is also easy to use and helps in quick performance. It is classified into a circular saw, Band saw, and reciprocating saw.

Automatic Cut-off Saw: With an automatic cut-off saw, you can cut workpieces into different sizes. It features a control memory that stores different programs. One of the best things about these is that you can control them by touching keys. These types of saws are basically used for heavy work.

Junior Hacksaw: Also called a mini hacksaw, these are perfect for metalwork and woodwork classes. It is perfect for DIY purposes and can be used for different purposes. However, these types of hacksaws come with a restricted blade.

Handheld Hacksaw: Suitable for small jobs, a handheld hacksaw features a metal arch and a pistol grip handle. The teeth can be inwards or outwards and can be used in push or pull forms.

Panel Hacksaw: In a panel hacksaw, you will find a deep thin sheet frame. This makes it ideal for cutting panels of sheet metals without any restriction by the frame.

What Are The Different Types of Saw Blades Used?

The following are the different types of saw blades you should be aware of.

  • Flexible Blade: As the name describes, the blade is very flexible as only the teeth will be reinforced. It is perfect for cutting thin sheets of metals as well as plastic tubes and pipes.
  • Medium Grade Blade: A medium grade hacksaw blade comes with 20 to 24 teeth/inch of the blade. You can use it for cutting metals like cast iron, aluminum, brass, and high carbon steel.
  • Fine Grade Blade: Similar to the flexible blade, a fine grade hacksaw blade is also used for cutting thin sheets of metals. They usually come with 24 to 30 teeth per inch of the blade.
  • Superfine Grade Blade: The superfine grade hacksaw blade has 30 to 32 teeth per inch of a blade. You can use it for cutting not only thin sheets but also solid metals
  • Course Grade Blade: Equipped with 14 to 18 teeth. Course grade hacksaw blades are ideal for different purposes. It can be great for cutting metals like mild steel, copper, aluminum, and brass.

Additionally, hacksaw blades are also classified as Regular, Wavy, and Raker.

  • Regular: In a regular blade, the teeth are set in such a way that they will touch each other. They are suitable for cutting soft materials.
  • Wavy: A wavy blade comes with teeth placed from left to right. It can be perfect for cutting hard and thin metals in a wavy pattern.
  • Raker: A raker blade is suitable for cutting thick materials. In this, the teeth are in three sets.

Bahco HandSaw PrizeCut Testing. Universal Hand Saw for Plastics Laminates Wood 7/8 TPI 19″

What Is The Frame Type for Hack Saw?

You will find hacksaws that have both adjustable as well as fixed frames. In an adjustable frame, the length of the blade can be 10 to 12 inches. However, in a fixed frame, there is only a single blade length. There are also handles that can accommodate blades of different sizes. These types of frames feature a hole that makes them move left, right, up, and down.

What Are The Different Materials Can Hacksaw Cut?

A hacksaw lets you use it for cutting different materials. This makes it perfect for professionals like plumbers, handymen, and electricians. The versatile tool will meet all your sawing needs and you can power it either manually or with electricity. They are typically used for cutting materials that are harder and stronger than wood. Here are the materials that a hacksaw can cut.

  • Wood: You can use a hacksaw as a handsaw. This makes it perfect for cutting wood. Even though you can use your hacksaw for cutting wood, you will not be able to use your handsaw for cutting other materials.
  • Plastic: Another popular material that a hacksaw can cut is plastic. By utilizing the right type of blade, you can easily cut through hard plastic.
  • Metal: One of the biggest advantages of a hacksaw is that you can use it for cutting metals. Whether it is steel, copper, or brass, you can use it for cutting metal pipe rods.
  • Tubing: Whether it is electrical, metal, or plastic tubing, your hacksaw can cut it.

What Are The Safety Measures For Using Hacksaw?

It is important to maintain better safety while using a hacksaw. You will have to make sure that the teeth are pointed away from the handle. The adjuster on the frame or handle must be turned so that it will slack into the spigots. Once you do it, you can tighten the adjuster. When it comes to using a hacksaw with safety, always use gloves for hand protection and eye protection gear.

If we have to discuss the cutting task, you will have to choose the material carefully by reversing the blade to cut. Do it nicely by pushing and pulling the stroke. Make sure that you do it carefully and slowly. While cutting metals, there can be tremendous heat and the likelihood of damaging your blade can be high. For this reason, it is important to use oil on the blade which helps to reduce friction and keeps the temperature down.


We have discussed what a hacksaw can perform. What is more important is that you use it safely. Always clean the blade properly and use light oil that helps to prevent overheating and damage. Make sure that you use it for cutting the right type of material. After you are done using the blade, you will have to secure it carefully by keeping the teeth pointing forward. Also, the frame of the saw and the blade must be properly aligned. Again, you will have to choose the right type of blade for cutting the appropriate material.

hand, hacksaw, which, wood


About: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through understanding, and strives to inspire others to learn … About ewilhelm »

Hacksawing is a great way to cut a wide variety of materials.

Step 1:

Measure and mark the material to be cut.

Step 2:

Choose the right blade for the material you are going to cut. Typically, blades for harder materials such as metal will have smaller teeth than blades for softer materials such as wood and PVC

.It is often possible to cut softer materials with a metal blade, but difficult to cut metal with a wood blade.

Hacksaw blades only cut in one direction. The blade in the image only cuts when moving from right to left. Don’t try to cut in both directions by really bearing down on the blade; you can damage your blade that way.

Step 3:

Step up the material to be cut. If you don’t have a vise, clamp the material to the edge of a table.

Step 4:

Cut the material with even strokes and slight pressure against the material (use a reasonable amount of pressure along the direction of the cut).

Step 5:

Smooth any sharp edges or square the ends of the workpiece by sanding, deburring, or other processes.

hand, hacksaw, which, wood

Step 6:

Vacuum or sweep up any chips and put away all tools.

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Комментарии и мнения владельцев

Just so you know, your vice has a pipe holder built in. Pivot the arm 360 🙂 Of course you already know this, but I like to pretend to be observant.

Erm. Doesn’t pivoting 360 degrees bring you back to where you started? 180 degrees perhaps? ;]

You’re right! I was being lazy, and wasn’t worried about scratching up the PVC.

As a machinist, I was taught that the proper way to select a saw blade, whether it be hacksaw or whatever, is that a minimum of 3 teeth should be engaged into the workpeice when cutting. Thin materials need a finer toothed blade than a thick workpeice. If you are sawing something extremely thin, like a piece of tin, angle the blade to the workpeice so that at least 3 teeth are in contact with the workpeice and the results will be smoother and straighter. As you pointed out, there should be no downward pressure on the back stroke of the blade.

I just mentioned on my new instructable the importance of a good blades and Hacksaw, Life is better with a good constant tension style as described in my new post:

And A photo of my hacksaw and choice of blades.

And old salt once told me if you don’t like a hacksaw, its either lousy or do not know how to use it.

the instructor omitted to warn first time users of a hacksaw that the saw will suddenly go through the material on the final cut and most first time users will cut them selves on the projecting sharp edge. So be warned.

But is basic to know how to use tools this is a good one, more people should teach us how to improve techniques in how we must use tools and safety tips thanks

Always hold clamp work as close to the cut as possible to avoid vibration. remember that screeching noise is wasted energy. stand to the side of the saw, using a stance like the classic Weaver shooting position, hold the saw with BOTH hands one at the front for control and let the saw do the work. there is no replacment for good quality bimetalic blades for general work i use 24t.p.i.

Thank you for posting this valuable information. I’ve seen hacksaws used, but it is good to have an actual set of instructions with all the safety info.

“Instructables is a venue for showing what you make and how others can make it.” What next, a demo on how to open a door or maby how to use a fork. Haz

There’s people that don’t know basics as this one, but really want to start working on projects, so they have to learn these things.