Not every saw is made equally and not every saw has the same capabilities. There are many different types of saw options out there. It’s important to be able to differentiate between the different saw types and to understand when to use which one and for what purpose.
Two saw types that are often considered interchangeable or easily confused are the hacksaw and the bow saw. These hand saws look very similar and are often used for similar things. The most notable difference between these saw types is that one is mostly used for cutting metal while the other is mostly used for cutting wood.
In this guide, we will walk you through the differences between the hacksaw and the bow saw and let you know just what you can expect for your cutting needs where these two saws are concerned. There is a lot of information to cover here to share with you just how these two saw types vary in this guide of hacksaw vs bow saw.
Stick with us to learn what exactly sets these hand saws apart.
The Differences Between Hacksaw and Bow Saw
Before we really start digging into the differences, let’s cover a quick overview of these saw types. What you mostly need to keep in mind that that the hacksaw is primarily used for cutting metal while the bow saw is primarily used for cutting wood.
In terms of overall design, they look very similar. The blade will be different because they are used for different things. With the hacksaw, you hack in a sawing motion, much like the name suggests. Whether you need to cut wood or hack metal, could significantly impact which saw is right for you.
One thing we specifically want to mention is that the hacksaw is quite a bit more versatile than the bow saw, thanks to the blade. You will notice that the teeth per inch varies between the different blade types and the saw options as well.
Now, let’s break these down on an individual level.
The hacksaw is designed with a bow shape. It is made with a metal frame and has a thin blade. The hacksaw is best served to cutting steel, metal, and plastic materials. This makes this hand saw a versatile option that can give you a lot of different uses. You might even be able to use the hacksaw on cutting other materials like wood as well.
With the hacksaw, you will see multiple blade options. The tooth density of a hacksaw can range anywhere from 14-32 teeth per inch on the blade. Most of the time, the blade materials consists of either high-carbon steel or high-speed steel.
The blade can be changed easily and the frame should be adjustable to form to different blade lengths. This could vary by saw so be sure to check out your saws specifications. The blade is one of primary locations on the saw that you will notice significant differences.
The bow-shaped blade of the hacksaw sets it apart considerably. The blade is very thin while also being serrated for cutting purposes. You can picture the hacksaw being more similar to a rip saw as far as the blades and the overall hand saw design is concerned.
The hacksaw is best for cutting metal but its blade can also be used for cutting plastic as well. What size of blade you need could vary depending on what you are cutting.
For example, If you have a blade with 14 teeth per inch, you will most likely use that for cutting large items or items with soft metals, like aluminum. Cutting metal is what the hacksaw was designed for and what it works best at. The tooth per inch density can vary. You might find 14, 18, 24, or 32 options.
18 TPI is typically used for general metal cutting. The 24 TPI is used mostly for cutting steel plates. And finally, the 32 TPI is perfect for tubing or hollow metal sections and pieces. The blade you use or have available will vary depending on the cuts that you are using while you work.
Uses for the Hacksaw
To give you a good idea of what you may want to rely on your hack saw blade for, we thought it might be useful to give you some project ideas. This list is meant to provide you with examples of things that the hack saw can easily be used for as an illustration.
- Shortening curtain tracks
- Metal spindles
- Roller blind adjustment
- Sizing copper piping
- Steel pipes
- Sheet metal
- Plastic pipes
Because of the type of blade and the cutting metal practices, you will probably experience rough edges when you use a hack saw. This typically is not a big deal as the pieces being cut probably will be covered or capped in some way to hide that crude edge from cutting metal.
There are a lot of great hack saws out there. We really like the Lenox hack saw High-Tension model if you want the best of the best!
If wood working is your purpose, you will probably want to stick with a bow saw. The bow saw is another hand saw option. You might even be familiar with a coping saw. The coping saw is a compact version of the bow saw. The saw blades of a bow saw are primarily used for wood cutting where the hacksaw is primarily used for steel and plastic.
The blade of this saw is usually removable, just like the hacksaw. This type of saw is actually harder to find than a hacksaw as well, even though the intentions of their cutting uses are vastly different. The hacksaw is readily available at many stores and retailers and it is even commonly used to replace the bow saw since it is easier to find.
Much like the hacksaw, the bow saw can also be versatile. This type of saw has a thicker blade than a hacksaw and it is far less dense as well. You can cut nearly any thickness or size of wood as needed and the end result will not be as rough as a cut made with a hacksaw. The bow saw cannot usually handle plastic and steel.
This tool is somewhat rough but it is ideal particularly for thing like firewood and branches. It can also come in handy for woodworking and cutting straight as well as curved cuts. This is another frame saw, where the blade is set into a frame. The frame is similar to that of a hacksaw.
The bow saw can sometimes be hard to find but there are some good options out there to choose from. You use the bow saw in a push and pull back and forth motion across the surface you are working with. You can make wide and narrow cuts, especially if you understand how to properly use these tools.
Uses for the Bow Saw
When it comes to understanding which handsaw to use, you have to take a lot of information into consideration. The bow saw is best for small wood cuts. It is most commonly used for firewood and crosscut branches and things along those lines but it has plenty of other uses as well.
Here are some common uses for the bow saw.
- Cutting logs
- Trimming branches
- Pruning trees and bushes
- Cutting trees
- Furniture work (tables, chairs, etc.)
The nice thing about the bow saw is you never have to worry about gas or maintenance issues. There is no fuel necessary, just good old-fashioned man power to get the job done. Of course, you should always keep safety at the forefront as well, no matter what you are working on.
There are a lot of great bow saws out there. We really like the Bahco 10-24-23 model if you want the best of the best!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Bow Saw Good For?
Bow saws are best for any type of wood cutting. You can cut logs and firewood, prune trees, and even practice different woodworking practices.
What is the Best Saw for Wood Cutting?
You can use a hacksaw for wood but it is recommended that you use a bow saw. After all, this is what a bow saw was designed for.
What is the Most Versatile Type of Saw?
When it comes to needing something versatile and effective for a mass of different purposes, we recommend a reciprocating saw or a miter saw for the most versatile use.
What Kind of Saw is Needed to Cut Curves?
You will find that a bow saw can cut curves by hand quite well. You can also try a circular saw or a jig saw for curves as well, depending on your project.
In terms of the hacksaw vs the bow saw, they each stand out in their own categories. Just keep in mind that each of these saws serves a unique and different purpose. The hacksaw leaves hacking marks while the bow saw cuts cleaner. At the same time, the hacksaw is a bit more versatile in what it can cut through while the bow saw is mostly used for wood.
We hope this guide will be helpful to you for understanding the differences between these two saw options and when to use which one.
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- Always keep the saw perpendicular to the object being cut to prevent the saw blade from breaking
- Do not touch the sawtooth when using it to avoid injury
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