Bow Saw vs Hacksaw

With so many types of saws on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one for the job you need to be accomplished. Two saws that appear similar are the bow saw and the hacksaw.

At first glance, they may seem similar – they both have a distinctive frame design and employ a tensioned blade – but dig a little deeper, and their differences become stark.
In this guide, we’re going to examine the intricacies of bow saws and hacksaws, helping you understand their unique strengths, typical uses, and key features.

Difference Between Hacksaw and Bow Saw

A bow saw and a hacksaw on wood workbench

There are several differences between hacksaws and bow saws. The differences between them are profound enough that many people have both types of hand saws. Their differences start with the materials that the saws are used for cutting.

Difference in Uses of Bow Saw & Hacksaw

The scope of applications is arguably the biggest difference between hacksaws and bow saws.


The primary use of a hacksaw is to cut harder materials such as metals, plastic, and the like. Quite often, hacksaws are found on construction sites where metal frames, conduits, galvanized pipes, and other items need to be properly cut and sized.

Cutting copper tube with hacksaw.

While powered saws are extensively used for most heavy-duty jobs; manual saws have their place as well due to quick accessibility and ease of use.

Hacks are regularly used on the following sites.

  • Construction and remodeling
  • Electrical Work
  • Metalworking
  • Plumbing

In addition to these, a hacksaw is a very useful tool if you are a DIY enthusiast.

Bow Saw Uses

The bow saw is mainly used for cutting softer materials, more specifically wood. You will see bow saws used in the garden and farms, but also in fields where cutting wood is part of the process.

A bow saw is used to cut tree branches

Some of the common applications of bow saw are,

  • Gardening (cutting & pruning)
  • Cutting Green & Dry Wood
  • Cutting Logs

You’ll often see bow saws used by landscapers, gardeners, tree services, and other professionals who cut through wood on a regular basis.

Design & Shape

The design of the hacksaw and bow saw are similar enough to confuse some people. After all, both saws have a frame with detachable blades for cutting. But that is where the similarities end as both saws have unique designs.

    • Hacksaw: The hacksaw consists of a handle, a C-shaped frame, and detachable blades. The blade can be removed rather easily and replaced with other blades.
      It is common for hacksaws to have different types of frame and blades depending on the type of cut and material that the saw will go through.

Hacksaw vs Bow Saw design

  • Bow Saw: Although similar in shape, the bow saw has a frame that is shaped like a bow which is deeper than the hacksaw frame. It is true that different shapes are available depending on the style and brand of the bow saw that you purchase.
    As with the hacksaw, the bow saw consists of a frame, detachable blades, and a handle.

Type of Blade and Teeth

Although there are similarities between hacksaws and bow saws in terms of attaching new blades, they use different types of blades.

Hacksaw: Hacksaws tend to have small, fine teeth that are primarily designed for cutting through metal. While you can purchase blades and teeth of different sizes and designs, the most common types feature small, fine teeth for precise cutting.

Admittedly, the fine, sharp cuts made by the hacksaw are in defiance of its name, which suggests a rougher type of cut. This is because, when it comes to metalworking, there are high precision cutting machines available.

You can get an 8TPI hacksaw blade to cut wood. Nevertheless, most hacksaw blades feature small, fine teeth for metal cutting.

Bow Saw: This type of saw uses blades with teeth designed primarily to cut through wood. The teeth tend to be larger, with deeper gullets that allow ample clearance for the sawdust to be removed. Plus, different blades may be used depending on the type of wood itself.

For example,

  • Raker tooth blade is ideal for cutting green wood, whereas,
  • Peg tooth blades are used for dry wood.

You can find different types of blades that can be used with the bow saw.

Blade Direction

Blade Length

  • The hacksaw blades are typically 10 to 12 inches long, with the latter being the most common.
  • The bow saw blades are longer. The most common lengths for typical commercial bow saws include 21 inches, 24 inches, and 30 inches.


  • Bow saw handle is typically integrated into the frame itself, which means it is made from the same material as the frame – often a metal or hardened plastic. Some bow saws include a knuckle guard, which not only protects your hand from getting scraped but also offers an additional point of leverage while cutting.
  • The hacksaw handle is distinct from the frame, and the user typically holds the handle with one hand and would place the other hand atop the far end of the frame for added control.
    The handle can be made of the same frame metal or different materials such as wood or plastic. Some higher-end hacksaws have handles with soft-grip coatings to allow for a comfortable and ergonomic grip and reduce hand fatigue during prolonged use.

Cutting Techniques

Despite the similarities in both saws, they use unique cutting techniques that must be understood before they are used.

Hacksaw: Because the primary design of the hacksaw frame is to provide stability and accuracy, the cutting occurs during the push stroke. This allows for better overall control, thanks to the frame design. You can place your hand atop the frame for additional stability during the forward stroke.

Bow Saw: Because bow saws blades have straight teeth that are primarily designed to cut wood, particularly tree branches, they can cut on the push and pull stroke.
The main purpose of the bow saw is to cut through the wood quickly and efficiently. Precision and stability are secondary in terms of making the cut.

The bow saw can be used with one hand. In contrast, a hacksaw is often used with two hands, with one hand pushing the saw while the other hand holds the frame steady.

Which One is the Right Tool for You?

The choice here is straightforward.

  • Get bow saw to cut wood, tree branches, pruning, etc.
  • Go for hacksaw when you want to cut metal, screws, metal and PVC pipes etc.