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Hack Saw Vs Bow Saw [All You Need to Know] [Explained]

Saws have been in use for centuries and like everything else, have evolved with the advent of technology!

Close up of Craftsman worker sawing a steel pipe, Technician concept.

We're sure your dad's garage will have these tools tucked in somewhere. After all, their functionality has made them akin to a family heirloom.

It isn’t surprising in the least, though, that these saws are often confused. The hack saw and bow saw, in particular, are usually used as substitutes.

Although they are very similar in appearance, they have different cutting needs. With its fine-tooth, the hack saw is mainly meant for cutting metal, whereas the bow saw, with its wide blade, is designed for trimming wood.

We understand how indistinguishable these two saws are and have decided to help you by compiling this guide. Here, you will find everything you need to know about the differences, functions, and advantages of these two types of saws.

So, without further ado, let’s cut to the chase!

Difference Between Hack Saw And Bow Saw

Horizontal medium studio portrait of young adult carpenter holding bow saw standing against turquoise wall background

We don’t want to straightaway jump into details without giving you a brief overview of the two saw types. Out here, we have listed their significant differences.

  1. Function

The fundamental difference between the two saws lies in their purpose. The hack saw is used to cut metal, steel, and some plastic materials, as mentioned earlier. Even though it can cut wood, it is not as efficient as the bow saw, which is designed especially for woodwork. It can cut logs, firewood, prune trees, and carve wood as well.

  1. Design

At first glance, the two saws might look very similar. However, their blade types are poles apart. The blades of a hack saw are serrated and small to ensure precision. The bow saw has a coarse wide blade that can cross-cut branches.

Despite their differences, both tools are manually powered, need proper blades, and you are required to follow the same precautions while using them. Furthermore, both these tools have an ergonomic design and are easy to operate and carry around.

Now that we’ve laid out the fundamental differences, it is time to delve individually into these two saws and their features.

What Is A Hack Saw?

The hack saw has a metal frame and comes with a thin blade that is best suited for cutting plastic, steel, and metal. Since these three materials are used almost in every sphere, the hack saw becomes a versatile tool with numerous uses. Not just this, it can also cut wood.

Now, it’s time to talk about the blade. The hack saw can have multiple blade options with different configurations. The TPI or tooth density of the blade ranges from 14 to 32 teeth per inch. It has jagged edges and points forward since the hack saw operates on the principle of pushing stroke instead of pulling stroke.

The material used to make the teeth is vital because it improves the cutting and tooth life. Usually, the teeth are fashioned either out of high-speed steel or high-carbon steel.

If you want to cut large items, aluminum or some other soft metal, you must use the 14 teeth per inch blade. The standard tooth density of the blade for cutting metal is 18. Moreover, a blade with 24 TPI can easily cut steel plates, whereas the 32 TPI blade can cut hollow sections, pieces, and tubes.

Moving on, we must talk more about the hack saw’s distinctive bow-shape, which holds the blade under tension. It is fashioned out of metal, usually steel, and has a strong handle, which comes with pins for attaching the blade. The standard blade has a length that varies between 250mm to 300mm, but if the saw’s frame is adjustable, it allows for various blade lengths.

Understanding The Hack Saw’s Uses

Now that we’ve spoken about the hack saw's blade and frame, it’s time to talk about its uses. It is a handy cutting tool and can be used efficiently for a variety of tasks. We’ve listed examples of a few things that can be cut using this tool:

    • Electricians and plumbers often use hack saws for cutting plastic conduits as well as plastic pipes.
    • Can cut stainless steel items like steel pipes, bars, or rods.
    • This hand-powered tool sizes copper pipes, shortens curtain tracks and helps in roller blind adjustment.
    • Can also cut wires and cables; since most of these wires have copper or other similar metals, the tool can cut through them with ease.

Before you start working with the hack saw, choose the perfect blade for the task. Moreover, you should securely place it on the frame for safety reasons and smooth operation.

Believe it or not, these tiny steps will make your job much more comfortable. Also, the blade is readily available and can be changed with little to no effort.

The hack saw is an exceptionally efficient and economical tool and can be used in sawing a wide range of materials. Low capital investment is required in their operation, and the tool’s maintenance cost is also low.

Furthermore, it is compact and portable and allows you to do the job at any time and any place.

When trying to make a very detailed cut, a hack saw will give you much more precision than a power saw ever could. You can focus, be slow, and very deliberate.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hack Saws

  1. What Is The Best Way To Use A Hack Saw?

We're sure you think using this tool is pretty simple, but we'll stop you right there because this cutting tool requires perfect focus and accuracy.

The best way is to secure the blade on the frame and point the teeth forward. The blade should be rigid, and you must always cut using long, stable strokes. Also, use the entire length of the blade to get precise results.

  1. How To Maintain A Hack Saw?

The hack saw is made of metal and should always be cleaned and dried after each use. It can also be lightly oiled as a further precaution and frequently inspected to ensure all bolts, nuts, and blades are in proper order.

Furthermore, store the tool in a cool, dry place to avoid rusting.

  1. Why Are Different-Sized Teeth Used For The Blades?

Different-sized teeth offer different levels of cutting power. Larger blades with fewer teeth are better suited for tough materials. For more refined work, we have smaller blades with more teeth.

  1. What Material Is Used For Making The  Blades?

Typically, hack saw blades are made of high-speed stainless steel. This is because they are tough and abrasion-resistant. Due to their accuracy, strength, and resistance to breakage, they are used in making tools and cutting blades.

  1. What Are The Different Types Of Hack Saw Frames?

Hack saw frames are usually of two types- solid and adjustable. The solid frame can accommodate only a standard blade length. In the adjustable frame, we can fit varying lengths of the blade.

What Is A Bow Saw?

A bow saw is an ancient tool. It's been used by carpenters forever and there's a good reason for it.

It is a crosscut saw, which comes with a metal frame. It is ideal for woodwork, especially for straight or curved cuts. Unlike the thin hack saw blade, it has a broad blade attached to the handle, far less dense and whose tension can be adjusted using a twisted cord or a turnbuckle.

The blade of this cutting tool is removable as well but is not readily available. This is one reason why the hack saw is often preferred over it. However, some good-quality blades get sharpened easily.

Bow saw usually require two different types of blades-one meant for cutting dry wood and the other for greenwood. Some blades serve both purposes.

The tool has a sturdy frame and usually comes with a knuckle protector. It is easy to cut wood of nearly any size or thickness, and the results will be way more precise than what a hack saw could offer. It can cut firewood, branches, hardwood, and softwood flawlessly.  However, the bow saw cannot cut steel or plastic.

Furthermore, unlike the dense TPI of the hack saw blade, the bow saw blade is comparatively less dense. Besides TPI, it also relies on tooth angle to get a precise cut. Ideally, 60 degrees angle can cut hardwood, and 45 degrees angle is recommended for softer woods.

Before we move on to its uses, we’d like to talk about the tool's working mechanism. It needs to be moved back and forth across the surface that needs to be cut, in short, swift strokes.

Understanding The Bow Saw’s Uses

There are many advanced tools available today, but the bow saw’s efficacy and simplicity remain unmatched. Given below are a few examples of things that the bow saw can cut:

    • Bow saw is often used by carpenters since it can cut through wood quickly. It helps in the construction of chairs, tables, and similar types of furniture.
    • Moreover, it assists in gardening work. It can easily trim overgrown branches from your plants.
    • This hand saw can also prune bushes and shrubs with ease.
    • The cutting tool can saw logs with accuracy.
    • You can take the bow saw on your camping trips. The wood that is cut using this tool can make a wood stove or a fireplace.

The bow saw is known as the woodworker’s essential tool. So, it is highly unlikely that you won’t be satisfied with the results once you start using it for intricate woodwork.

Besides, they are sturdy and efficient and do your work without wasting any fuel or energy.

It is a man-powered device, and even though working with it is pretty easy, don't get carried away; you must always be vigilant and prioritize safety.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bow Saws

  1. What Is The Best Way To Use A Bow Saw?

The best way to use a bow saw is to secure your hand with cut-resistant gloves and use a pencil and ruler to mark the part that needs cutting.

Once that is done, hold the saw firmly at the right angle and use short rhythmic strokes to cut the wood.

There’s not much to it except precision and experience.

  1. How To Maintain A Bow Saw?

Proper maintenance of the tool will increase its lifespan. Therefore, you must clean the handle and blade, dry it off, and then apply some oil for lubrication. The saw should be stored carefully and preferably hung.

  1. Which Type Of Saw Is Best For Cutting Curves?

Bow saws cut curves quite efficiently and are used in wood carving as well. Besides, circular saws work efficiently too.

  1. What Are The Type Of Blades Found In Bow Saw?

There are two types of blades found in bow saw- peg tooth blades designed to cut hard, dry wood and peg and raker tooth blades that cut through wet wood.

  1. What Are The Types Of Bow Saw Frames?

Steel is the most popular frame material due to its sturdiness, but sometimes wood is used too.

saw small isolated on white background.


That’s all from us, folks! We hope this guide helped you understand the fundamental differences between hack saws and bow saws. To utilize a saw to its full potential, it is essential to understand what purpose each one serves.

Although both have their unique functions, there is no denying that the hack saw has broader applications. However, unlike the hack saw, which tends to leave hacking marks behind, the bow saw cuts much cleaner.

It is essential to be vigilant while using either of these two saws to avoid any kind of injury. That’s why we’ve given detailed instructions on how to use these tools efficiently.

So, now that you know everything about the two saw types, we hope that you'll get them out of the storage, and start using them very soon.

On that note, we will sign off. Take care!

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