Can a Hacksaw Cut Wood?

Hacksaws are a staple in any DIY toolkit and are pretty versatile. Can they cut wood, though, and if not, which hand saw should you be using to cut 2×4 lumber?

Can You Use a Hacksaw to Cut Wood?

Hacksaw for wood
Yes, you can use a hacksaw to cut wood when equipped with a low TPI (teeth per inch) blade. But it is not the best tool for the job. Hacksaws are meant to cut metal, so applying them to wood is a slow, inefficient process. A panel saw such as a crosscut saw or rip saw is a better handsaw choice for cutting wood.

Why Is Hacksaw Not the Right Tool?

A hacksaw is one of the most useful hand tools; however, the hacksaw blades are designed to cut metal. The saw’s teeth should be close together to improve efficiency when cutting metal. Wood, which is far softer than metal, requires teeth that are more widely spaced. When using a hacksaw to cut wood, the teeth become clogged with sawdust, rendering them inefficient.

This will result in excess heat generation and a poor cutting experience.

If you continue cutting long enough, the teeth will get so clogged that the saw can’t cut at all. So, when you’re making a deep cut into wood using a hacksaw, you’ll need to remove the blade every so often to remove the sawdust.

The other downside here is that the hacksaw blade could get stuck in the groove you’re cutting (kerf) since wood doesn’t act the same way as metal during the cutting process. Here, you could snap off the blade or cause yourself endless frustration.

If you absolutely must use a hacksaw to cut wood, remain calm, work slowly, and apply minimal pressure to the saw. When you work in smooth, even strokes, you have the best chance of success.

Is There a Hacksaw Blade for Wood?

Hacksaw blades have varying amounts of teeth, ranging from 8 to 32 TPI (Tooth Per Inch). When cutting wood, opt for the 8 TPI hacksaw blade. Failing that, go for the blade with the smallest number of teeth you can find.

Cutting wood with Hacksaw
The 8-tooth blade isn’t necessarily meant for wood, but it will do the job for occasional cutting.

Some manufacturers make these lower tooth-count blades specifically for wood, although hacksaw blades are typically meant for metal.

Can You Use a Hacksaw to Cut Tree Branches?

Yes, you can, although this is not necessarily the best tool for the job. If it’s not a big job or you’re worried that the neighbors will complain when you use a chainsaw or reciprocating saw, then a hacksaw will do the trick. Again, you will need patience since cutting wood using a hacksaw is a slow, inefficient process.

The benefit of using a hacksaw to cut tree branches is that you can get into smaller spaces than when using a chainsaw. In fact, there is a hand saw for this job and it is called a bow saw. It is similar to a hacksaw, but with a deeper frame and wood blade. The bowsaw might even provide a cleaner cut than a chainsaw when used correctly.

A power saw such as the pole saw or reciprocating saw will be a good choice for cutting tree branches.
If you need a hand saw to cut tree branches, I recommend a good quality pruning saw which is designed for this purpose.

Can a Hacksaw Cut Plywood?

Yes, you can use a hacksaw to cut plywood in a pinch. There are some essential factors to keep in mind, though. Hacksaw teeth are pretty rough on plywood, so you run the risk of splintering the back of the board. To avoid this, use a woodcutting hacksaw blade.

You should also pay attention to the cutting technique.

Here, it is best to keep the blade as close to horizontal as possible. This makes for a smoother cut and minimizes splinters. Cut in slow, smooth strokes, applying very little pressure to the blade. Following this technique gives you the best shot at making a neat, straight cut.

Best Handsaw for Wood

Now that I explained why the hacksaw is not the best tool to cut wood, you might be wondering what kind of hand saw is good for wood.

The answer depends on the type of work. Are you going to do fine woodworking or do you just need a handsaw to cut tree branches and scrap wood?

When undertaking smaller woodworking projects, you don’t necessarily need or want power tools since they’re far more expensive and maintenance-intensive than hand tools. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best handsaws for woodworking.

1. Woodworking

Woodworking covers various applications, with different saws suited to each. The most common handsaws used in woodworking are the crosscut saw, rip saw, and coping saw.

Crosscut Saw

The crosscut saw is the hacksaw’s woodcutting cousin. It’s meant to cut the standard-sized lumber to the required length. This workhorse is designed to cut across the wood’s grain, so it’s pretty sturdy with large teeth and a thick blade.

Rip Saw

The rip cut saw is another commonly used saw in woodworking. This saw cuts wood parallel to the grain and thus has fewer teeth per inch than other saws. These teeth are incredibly sharp and designed to remove wood chips and sawdust as it works.

Coping Saw

The coping saw is available in various sizes, but they’re typically relatively small at 6” across. As with the hacksaw, the blade is held in place through tension. This saw is meant for making curved cuts in wood, as would traditionally be found in wood joints.

Their narrow blades usually have only 15 to 17 teeth per inch, and they make relatively smooth cuts.

Coping saws and Fret saws also work well to cut complex shaped profiles, templates, wood signs, etc.

2. Cutting Tree Branches

Cutting tree branches can be an uphill task, and having the right tools certainly makes for lighter work. The handsaws most commonly used for this job are the bow saw and a pruning saw.

Bow Saw

The bow-cut saw is the crosscut saw’s more modern brother. This medium-sized hand tool has an efficient blade design. The teeth are positioned to remove sawdust while sliding through the cut. This prevents sawdust from building up on the blade, making for more efficient cutting. The long, narrow blades are well-suited to cutting thick sections of wood, and they can make curved cuts too.

Bow Saw

Pruning Saw

The pruning saw is expressly designed for gardening, meant to quickly and easily prune large shrubs and trees. The curved blade can reach branches in cramped and complicated spaces. The pruning saw’s blade has more teeth per inch than similar saws, so it is best suited to smaller pruning tasks, where a chainsaw would be overkill.

What Can I Cut With a Hacksaw?

Hacksaws were initially designed to cut metal. Using a hacksaw to cut other materials without switching to the appropriate blade will damage the blade. That said, there are other materials that you can cut using a hacksaw if you’re prepared to work slowly and carefully:

  • Soft Metals such as aluminum, brass
  • Steel, cast iron etc.
  • Wood
  • Plywood
  • MDF and particle board
  • Plastic, crown molding etc.

It is good to use the right tool for the job. This minimizes the risk of damaging your tools and workpieces, avoids unnecessary frustration, and gives you the best shot at success.