Which bow saw is best?
Shaped like the weapon for which it’s named, a bow saw has a metal frame attached to a sharp blade. Also known as a Swede or Finn saw, it makes short work of wood cutting tasks that are beyond the ability of pruners or loppers. This handheld tool is designed to be used by one person and is a lightweight solution for cutting both green or seasoned wood.
If you’re looking for a versatile saw that can handle different types of wood, the Bahco 10-30-23 Ergo Bow Saw for Green Wood is an excellent choice. It comes with safety features that protect inexperienced woodworkers.
What to know before you buy a bow saw
Length of blade
The length of the saw’s blade influences the size of wood it can handle. Bow saws come in blade lengths from 12-36 inches. Choose the blade that most closely matches the primary purpose of the saw — for example, pruning small branches or cutting firewood to length.
Triangular vs. bow-shaped
There are two primary shapes available. Triangular saws work best for maneuvering in tight spots, such as pruning young trees, but these are generally smaller and can’t handle larger wood. Choose a traditional bow-shaped saw if you need to cut wood with a larger diameter.
Type of wood
If you’re clearing a paddock of small, green trees, select a bow saw with teeth that resemble rakes. These are more widely spaced and stay clear of the softer fibers of green wood.
If you’re cutting seasoned wood, these blades feature longer teeth that are sharpened to efficiently cut through harder wood.
Bow saws are unique in that they cut through wood on both the push and the pull stroke, but this is only true if your blades are sharp. You should be able to use your saw right out of the box.
Blades should be made of either hardened carbon steel or stainless steel, for both strength and durability. If you choose carbon steel, make sure the blade is treated with a rust inhibitor to keep corrosion at bay.
Steel maintains a sharp edge through hours of use. Even so, nothing lasts forever, including your blade, so it should be replaceable with just a few turns of the screw.
What to look for in a quality bow saw
Automatic tension adjuster
With use and in humid conditions, the tension on your bow saw loosens, leading to a blade that’s wobbly, inefficient and dangerous. Higher-quality saws come with an automatic tension adjuster that keeps the blade tight. At a minimum, you should be able to adjust the tension manually as needed.
The safest saws have features to protect you from harm. Look for a grippy handle, a protective blade cover and a hand guard. Each of these is designed for safe operation. The handle grip and guard provide more stability and keep your hand in the correct position for more efficient operation. In addition, the protective blade cover helps keep your blade sharp, and a sharp blade is a safe blade.
No matter how diligent you are, it’s inevitable that eventually you’ll set your bow saw down in tall grass. A brightly colored saw is easy to spot when it wanders off.
How much you can expect to spend on a bow saw
Depending on the size of the saw and the length of the blade, you’ll spend $11-$30.
Bow saw FAQ
What is a bow saw used for?
A. Bow saws are best for small woodcutting jobs. These might include things such as pruning trees or cutting larger branches into wood for a fireplace. Reach for this type of saw when pruners and loppers don’t have the capacity to cut. These include tasks such as pruning shrubs, taking down small trees (5 inches or less), cutting wood for a stove or removing downed trees.
What are the safest ways to use a bow saw?
A. Whenever you’re working with hand tools, safety should be top of mind.
- Keep your blade sharp, and cover it with a protective cover when not in use.
- Wear protective clothing such as goggles and gloves.
- Keep your stabilizing hand clear of the blade as you saw.
- Never stand directly beneath the branch of the tree you’re cutting.
- Walk with the blade facing away from your body.
- Keep the saw away from young children and supervise older children who are helping you.
What are the best bow saws to buy?
Top bow saw
What you need to know: This is a good all-around saw for both green and seasoned wood.
What you’ll love: The blade is 30 inches to accommodate larger wood. It easily saws 3- to 6-inch pieces of wood and can cut through logs up to 12 inches with time and persistence. Safety features include a knuckle protector and additional handgrip, plus a snap-on blade protector.
What you should consider: Due to the longer blade, this saw weighs in at almost 2 pounds, which is heavy for a bow saw.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top bow saw for the money
What you need to know: Gardeners on a budget love this option.
What you’ll love: The 21-inch blade is made from hardened carbon steel and treated with a rust inhibitor. The safety tensioner on the side provides better control, and the tubular steel frame is strong but lightweight. Fiskars offers a lifetime warranty on this saw.
What you should consider: The blade may rust more quickly than stainless steel blades.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This works well for novices who are just learning how to use a handsaw.
What you’ll love: It features a cam and lever tension system and is lightweight at just over 1 pound. The blade is 21 inches and can handle branches up to 5 inches. It has additional knuckle and hand protection on the handle.
What you should consider: The same short blade length that makes this easy to handle also means the saw isn’t as versatile when it comes to larger branches.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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