How to Sharpen a Bow Saw and Other Bow Saw Maintenance


Our tools require proper care and maintenance to keep them operating at their very best. No matter what type of tool you are using, you should be aware of the proper ways to both sharpen it and maintain it in order to make it last as long as feasibly possible.

Tools can be quite an investment, especially if you’ve got a top rated bow saw. They aren’t usually cheap and therefore we need to take care of them. After all, if you’re going to spend the money, let’s not waste it by not taking care of the tools we purchase.

In this guide, we will be sharing with you the steps that you should know for how to sharpen a bow saw as well as some other bow saw maintenance that you should be aware of. These steps are simple and not overly challenging but you need to do it right to get the most out of your efforts!

Stick with us to learn how to sharpen a bow saw and more.

How to Sharpen a Bow Saw

how to sharpen a bow saw
Some bow saws can be large and challenging to wield, particularly those old ones that you inherited from your grandpa’s work shed. The good news is, you can still sharpen them, and we’re here to walk you through the process.

If you take a look at the blade of the saw, you will notice a combination of teeth in triangle shapes, as well as teeth that resemble fishtails. The majority of teeth are triangular. The cutting teeth (triangle) and the raker teeth (fishtail) are sharpened differently.

To prepare for the sharpening process, you should set the saw up, with the teeth point upwards, in a vice or something that can hold it strong and steady while you work. We recommend that you use a flat file and run it along the tops of the blade to get all of the teeth to the same height.

Don’t worry, you’re not focusing on sharpening yet. You’re simply lightly filing. This part applies to the teeth and not the rakers. The rakers will be slightly shorter than the teeth and that is ok.

wood tool saw

Here are the steps for sharpening a bow saw. We will break these down more for you next.

  1. Start by sharpening the triangular teeth at a 75-degree angle.
  2. File the fishtail raker teeth at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Use pliers to set the teeth, pushing them out slightly in an alternating fashion.
  4. Perform a test cut and make adjustments as necessary.

This process will probably take a considerable amount of time. You should plan to spend some time focusing on sharpening the blade and not rushing through the process. Additionally, it is important to be careful and practice safety. You may want to utilize work gloves while you are filing the teeth appropriately.

Now, let’s go through these steps with a little more detail.

1.   Triangular Teeth

After you’ve got the saw safely set up in a vice or similar device and you’ve filed the tops, it’s time to start filing the triangular teeth of the bow saw blade. You can use a slim taper file for sharpening the triangular cutting teeth.

You file at 75 degrees to the tooth line. Your cutting angle will always be on the inside, which means you are alternating sides while you sharpen on each tooth. You will work through this step of the process one tooth at a time.

As you progress, be sure you’re not placing pressure where it is not needed. You want to maintain your file and the saw blade for the entirety of the process.

On the exterior edges of the blade, you will notice that they remain flat on both sides. It’s just inside the teeth that you are sharpening.

If you have extensively sharpened your blade, it may be time for a new one. Otherwise, you are also able to deepen the depth of the grooves using a chainsaw sharpening tool. This process is a bit more involved.

You will file your triangular cutters to a knife point.

2.   Fishtail Raker Teeth

The fishtail raker teeth are filed at 90-degrees to the tooth line, rather than 75. You will want to sharpen the fishtails into chisel tips. These tips should be slightly lower than your triangular cutter line from the teeth.

In a moment, we will set the teeth. Your fishtail raker teeth are not set so be sure to exclude them from that step in the process. You can use either a chainsaw file or a rat tail file to sharpen and to

As with the triangular teeth, you should only apply pressure when you’re using the push motion on your file. Otherwise, you will probably wind up with a dull file that isn’t sharpening the teeth like you want it to.

3.   Set the Teeth

Now you want to set the cutting teeth. Remember that this part will not include raker teeth. You will set them in an alternating manner with the cutting edge outwards along the blade. You can use adjacent cutters for the setting process.

This will widen the kerf and give you more cutting friction.

4.   Test Cut

Finally, run your test cut to see if the blade cuts better. You may find that you need to make some additional adjustments to the blades or the set.

Most likely, you will find that your blade operates far more functionally and smoothly than it did before your sharpening techniques.

Other Bow Saw Maintenance

Sharpening the blade of your bow saw is probably one of the most necessary processes but there are other things you may need to do as well. You need to store it properly and take proper care of the saw overall.

It’s not unusual for the saw to rust or discolor through the years. As long as the saw is still functional and you are able to sharpen the blade, you can continue to use it for many years to come.

Here are some other things to consider when you are maintaining your bow saw.

  • Store the saw in a dry location. If you store it in a garage or shed, you can hang it. You want to try to prevent rust as much as possible. Storing in a dry and covered location will help.
  • Handle care – If the bow saw that you use has a wooden handle, you should oil it occasionally. This will protect the wood from the elements and keep it from becoming split or splintery.
  • Lubricate the blade – the best practice is to lubricate the blade after each use. You can use WD-40 or a similar lubricating agent. You can also use gun oil or paste wax. Use a rag to wipe the lubricant over the blade. This will keep it running smoothly.
  • Remove rust – when rust starts to appear, you can remove rust using a razor blade. You will lay the saw down and use a blade to scrape the rust off. Be very careful as you are working with two sharp instruments. You can also scrub the blade with steel wool. You should finish by wiping the blade off with a dry cloth and then oiling the blade.


Bow saws can last you for many years to come if you treat them right.

Follow these steps to properly sharpen your bow saw blade and maintain your bow saw and you will be happily using it for generations to come.

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Amazon Recommends:

Bestseller No. 1
Bahco 10-30-23 30-Inch Ergo Bow Saw for Green Wood
  • 30 inches long
  • Designed to cut through Green wood
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Bestseller No. 2
BAHCO 332-21-51 21 Inch Pointed Nose Bow Saw
  • Small and handy bow saw for all around use
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  • Used for pruning and roofing work
  • Model 332 is equipped with an Ergo handle
Bestseller No. 3
Hooyman Bow Saw with Heavy Duty Construction, Ergonomic No-Slip H-Grip Handle, Impulse-Hardened Teeth, SK5 Steel Blade, and Blade Tension Knob for Land Management, Yard Work, Gardening, and Outdoors
  • DIMENSIONS: 24” L x 8.75” W x 1.25” D and weighs 1.8 pounds with a 21" blade
  • DURABLE: Constructed from high carbon SK5 steel combined with a peg and raker tooth design and impulse hardened teeth this blade is ready for unmatched cutting and a longer cutting life
  • RELIABLE: Features the new, No-Slip H-Grip on the ergonomic handle that turns tacky when wet and a hand guard to ensure a secure grip in all conditions
  • CONVENIENT: High density EVA grip located on the frame adds stability and force
  • BE PREPARED: Handle features a tension adjustment knob for adjusting the stress on the blade for different cuts as well as for safety and removal when traveling or storing

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