What is a Hacksaw Used For? (A Quick Guide For Beginners)
When it comes down to manually powered saws, the hacksaw is one of the most popular tools around. Ultimately, the reason for this tool’s popularity comes down to its diverse functionality. If you’re wondering what a hacksaw is used for, you’re in the right place!
A hacksaw is a manually powered saw that can be used to cut through almost anything. Primarily, hacksaws are used to cut through various metals. It can cut through aluminum, steel, copper, brass, iron, and more. However, a hacksaw can also be used to cut through plastic and wood. To do this, you’ll need the correct type of blade for your hacksaw and material.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about this versatile tool. We’ll give you an overview of why a hacksaw is capable of cutting almost anything. Once we’ve done this, we’ll look at the materials it can cut and the blades that make this possible.
The Hacksaw Blade That Could (Cut Almost Anything)
Essentially, a hack saw is a handheld saw that is manually powered. Before we take a look at what a hack saw is used for, let’s look at the design of this saw. One of the hallmarks of a handsaw is the bow-shaped frame. When operating a hacksaw, you’ll hold the U-shaped handle and push and pull the blade across the material.
Perhaps the most commonly identifiable hacksaw features a grip known as a “pistol grip” and features an adjustable frame. This type of frame is capable of accepting blades of different lengths. This makes it a highly versatile hacksaw. However, it can be less rigid than the other type of common hacksaw.
The other type of hacksaw features a fixed frame. This means that the hacksaw will only be able to accommodate a certain blade length. You will, of course, need to keep this in mind when buying blades for your hacksaw with a fixed frame. However, you’ll come to find that the fixed-frame hacksaw offers more rigid performance when you’re cutting through tough materials.
Typically, there are three class sizes of hacksaws. The first is a full-sized hacksaw, which is optimized for cutting through a variety of materials. The following size is known as a junior hacksaw. These will utilize half-size blades and are more compact than a full-sized hacksaw.
Then there’s the mini hacksaw. This type of hacksaw features an ergonomic, compact design. This allows the saw to be used in confined spaces where another hacksaw might not work. This can be highly useful to those who need to get into the nitty-gritty of it all with their hacksaw!
Typically, hacksaws are used to cut materials that are stronger or harder than wood. We’ll take a look at the materials that can be cut by a hacksaw in more depth in the following part of this article – but suffice it to say that this manual saw can cut almost anything.
In terms of hacksaw blades, there are many different sizes available. These blades will also differ in tooth density – that is, how many teeth are on the blade. This is an important aspect, as you’ll want to ensure that the blade is adequately suited to the material you’re looking to cut.
On average, a hacksaw will have a tooth density ranging between 3 to 32 teeth per inch of blade. What makes a hacksaw unique is that the blade is replaceable. This means that you’re able to purchase different blades, effectively expanding the number of materials you’re able to cut.
Hacksaws utilize nuts that hold the blade in place. These nuts can be tightened or loosened as needed. Furthermore, if one blade gets damaged, you always have the option of replacing it! Let’s take a look at the materials a hacksaw can cut before we take a look at the relevant blade you’ll need to cut them!
What Materials Can A Hacksaw Cut?
As we mentioned in the first section of this article, a hacksaw can cut through almost anything. Regardless, let’s take a look at the specifics of what a hacksaw can do! Once we’ve gone through these materials, you’ll understand just how versatile this handheld, manually powered saw is!
While you can, of course, use a hacksaw to cut a variety of materials, perhaps the biggest advantage of a hacksaw is that it can cut through various metals. From aluminum to steel, from copper to brass, your hacksaw is capable of cutting a variety of metal materials. When you need to cut metal pipe rods, the hacksaw is up for the task!
Plastic is another material that a hacksaw is suited to cutting. Of course, to do this, you will need to use a blade suited to cutting plastic. We looked at that in the previous section of this article. However, when you need to cut through hard plastic, the hacksaw is the perfect tool for the job!
Did you know that a hacksaw is a type of handsaw? Handsaws, of course, are commonly used to cut wood. However, your hacksaw can also cut wood, just like the other handheld saw that inspired it. Unfortunately, a handsaw will not be able to cut metal or plastic!
#4: Electrical, Metal, And Plastic Tubing
There’s a good reason handymen and plumbers keep hacksaws on hand. You guessed it: it’s because this versatile tool can cut through so many different materials. From electrical tubing to metal tubing and plastic tubing, one tool can cut through them all. When it comes down to your sawing needs, a hacksaw will always come in handy!
The Different Types Of Hacksaw Blades
Earlier in this article, we outlined the various materials a hacksaw is capable of cutting. However, to cut these materials, you’ll need to use the right type of blade. These are the main types of hacksaw blades and what they’re each designed to cut!
#1: Flexible Hacksaw Blade
With this type of blade, only the teeth will be reinforced. The actual blade, however, will be more flexible than the other types discussed on this list. This type of blade is typically used to cut thin sheets of metal and plastic pipes and tubing.
#2: Course Grade Hacksaw Blade
Hacksaw blades rated as course grade can be used to cut aluminum, copper, brass, and mild steel. Generally, each inch of the blade will feature between 14 and 18 teeth.
#3: Medium Grade Hacksaw Blade
With a hacksaw blade that is rated medium grade, you’re looking at 20 to 24 teeth per inch of the blade. This type of blade is suited for cutting aluminum, brass, and cast iron. With this type of hacksaw blade, you’ll also be able to cut through stronger steel, such as high carbon steel.
#4: Fine Grade Hacksaw Blade
Like the flexible blade discussed above, a fine-grade hacksaw blade is used to cut thin sheets of metal, as well as tubes and pipes. Typically, these blades feature 24 to 30 teeth per inch of blade.
#5: Superfine Grade Hacksaw Blade
Finally, hacksaw blades that are rated as superfine utilize 30 to 32 teeth per inch of blade. While this blade will be able to cut thin sheets like some other types, it will also be able to cut through solid metals like a pro!
In this article, we looked at what a hacksaw is used for. Of course, this manually powered saw is capable of cutting through a variety of different materials, from metal to plastic. It can even cut wood! To do this, however, you’ll need to use the right type of blade for your type of hacksaw and the material you wish to cut!
Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.
How to Choose the Right Hacksaw Blade
A 24 TPI hacksaw blade offers the most range. It’s good for cutting aluminum, steel rods and plates, and more.
A 18 TPI hacksaw blades is perfect for cutting wood, PVC pipes, as well as hardened steel and general workshop cutting.
Good quality 14 TPI hacksaw blade that’s great for cutting thick metals like aluminum, copper and even stainless steel.
A 24 TPI hacksaw blade offers the most range. It’s good for cutting aluminum, steel rods and plates, and more.
A 18 TPI hacksaw blades is perfect for cutting wood, PVC pipes, as well as hardened steel and general workshop cutting.
Good quality 14 TPI hacksaw blade that’s great for cutting thick metals like aluminum, copper and even stainless steel.
A hacksaw blade is available in different TPI (teeth per inch) to best cut a specific range of material thicknesses. Hacksaw blades are usually meant to cut metals, but in very specific rare cases they are used to cut wood.
The higher the TPI, the finer the cut will be. The lower the TPI, the coarser the cut is going to be.
The lower the TPI…the larger the gap between teeth…and the longer the tooth. This allows more material removal and clean-out with each saw stroke, thus saving cutting time.
The higher the TPI…the smaller the gap between teeth…and the shorter the tooth. This allows the blade to cut thinner material thicknesses without getting hung up in the material.
|WOOD AND THICK METAL USE||14||1/8″ – 1/2″|
|HEAVY METAL USE||18||1/8″ – 1/2″|
|MEDIUM METAL USE||24||3/32″ – 5/16″|
|THIN METAL USE||32||less than 1/8″|
|GLASS, CERAMICS, MARBLE, FIBERGLASS, AND STEEL||Carbide Rod||–|
The values provided on this chart are a general guideline. Blade TPI recommendations can be found on each manufacturer’s product packaging. Read the entirety of the article for more details.
Material thickness – not diameter – relates to blade TPI.
An economical and easy method to measure material thickness is to use a rule.
If you’re looking for the best high-tension hacksaws, check out our recommendations.
Best Hacksaw Blade for Mild Steel: 14-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview
Use a 14-TPI blade to cut thick metal (over 1/8″) will speed up cutting compared to an 18-TPI blade.
|1/8″ STEEL U-CHANNEL||27 sec.||30 sec.|
|1/2″ REBAR||24 sec.||26 sec.|
Speed tests are an estimation based on hand cutting. New Lenox hacksaw blades were used for consistency.
Note 1: I am not sure why Lenox suggests using a 14-TPI blade for cutting wood. After several thick wood cutting tests (softwood and hardwood), I discovered a 14-TPI hacksaw blade is hopeless at cutting wood; the blade constantly gets hung up in the material. I also tried a Morse 14-TPI blade and had the same ineffectiveness.
I find that a 18-24 TPI blade works best for cutting wood, or switch to a dedicated wood cutting hand saw for better performance.
Note 2: A Lenox 14-TPI blade has a minimum thickness rating of 1/8″, whereas a Morse 14-TPI blade has a minimum thickness rating of 3/16″. We tested both brands of blades to find the truth in these guidelines.
- The Lenox 14-TPI blade effectively cuts 1/8″ thick material, as stated.
- The Morse 14-TPI blade struggled to cut below 3/16″ and is ineffective in cutting 1/8″ thick material.
- Used to cut pipe, tubing solids, wood, plastic or any machinable metal
- Increased heat and wear resistance for long life
- Flexible to prevent shattering during use
- 10 blades per pack
Note 3: Finding 14-TPI blades at local home improvement stores may not be possible, and many of the hacksaw blade brands don’t offer a 14-TPI model. Don’t worry, a 14-TPI blade isn’t needed for homeowner projects. However, a tradesman that cuts heavy metal regularly may want to experiment with a 14-TPI blade compared to using a 18-TPI blade.
Best Hacksaw Blade for PVC Pipes, and Steel Rods: 18-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview
A 18-TPI blade gives you many of the same cutting abilities as a 14-TPI blade, but with less effort and smoother cutting.
Cut a wide range of wood thicknesses. A hacksaw isn’t the ideal choice for cutting wood, but for random projects where precision cutting isn’t needed, a hacksaw will get the job done, e.g. cutting a tree limb, demoing a small wall or building structure.
A hacksaw is very effective for plumbing projects that use PVC. A 18-TPI blade cuts through PVC tubing, whether trying to cut and remove existing plumbing, or cutting new PVC to length for a plumbing project. E.g. replacing a garbage disposal, sump pump, or an outdoor drainage project. A heavy-duty utility knife works well to deburr the PVC after each cut.
- T2 Technology provides a long hacksaw blade life
- Shatter-resistant, bi-metal construction allows saw blades to bend and flex without breaking
- Saw blades cut through black pipe, Unistrut, copper pipe, hardened steel, threaded rod and rebar
- 18 TPI
- 12″ L x 1/2″ W
Note: A DeWALT 18-TPI blade has a material thickness rating of 1/4″ – 1/2″. Most other 18-TPI blades have a minimal material thickness rating of 1/8″, which the DeWALT 18-TPI blade cut effectively too. A confusing discrepancy in DeWALT’s 18-TPI nominal material thickness recommendation.
- Model Number: DWHT20558
- Item Package Length: 13.8582677024″
- Item Package Width: 8.0314960548″
- Item Package Height: 0.2362204722″
Best Hacksaw Blade for Cutting Aluminum, Steel, and more: 24-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview
A 24-TPI comes standard on hacksaws and from our tests offers the most range. The tooth count and size isn’t too small nor too large.
Note 1: Lenox rates their 24-TPI blade to cut 3/32″ thru 5/16″ for hardened materials, but a wider range of softer materials can be cut.
- The LENOX hacksaw uses an I-beam construction, allowing the blade to tension up to 50,000 psi
- Rubberized handles allow for confident handling, even in wet and cold environments
- Hacksaw accepts any LENOX reciprocating saw blade to be used as a jab saw
- LENOX hacksaw stores up to 5 extra 12-inch hacksaw blades in the I-beam
- All hacksaw come with one 12-inch, 24 TPI hacksaw blade
Introduction: Top 10 Ways to Cut Metal. Without an Angle Grinder!
About: I’ve been making Instructables since I was 13. Now, I mostly make videos of my projects, however I’m still active here, so don’t hesitate to reach out! Sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis! About Yonatan24 »
Are you terrified of using angle grinders, like me?
Metal Cutting || Mild Steel Cut by Hacksaw || Metal Cutting Machine || Power Hacksaw
After spending hundreds of hours over the past few years cutting metal steel by hand for projects, in this Instructable, I will show you my beginners’ guide for cutting metal and steel. what I wish I had back when I got started. These 10 affordable alternatives for an angle grinder should be ideal for weekend-DIYers, woodworkers, and beginner metalworkers who want to save money and work safely. well. most of them!
From hacksaws to jigsaws, and circular saws to. chisels?! This Instructable will cover them all!
Tired of skipping through boring DIY videos? In case you don’t already know, I now make short, tightly edited YouTube videos about homemade tools, tool hacks, woodworking, electronics, metalworking projects and much more. Subscribe to so you don’t miss out! 🙂
I will link to each tool and its accessories in each step, but I recommend these for all tools:
- Safety equipment (see my PPE kit)
- Bench vise (for holding materials)
- Measuring and marking tools (see my kit)
- Deburring: Deburring tool, or X-acto knife, files, diamond rotary tool disc (more about this in the next step)
Step 1: Flex-shaft Rotary Tool (70). VS a Dremel
Rotary tools. basically a faster drill, that cuts from the side? It’s much more nuanced than that.
After starting with a Dremel, I’ve been using a Foredom flex-shaft rotary tool (abbreviated: FSRT) for the past few years and love it! My Dremel spins at a no-load speed of 35,000 RPM, however the motor is very small and weak, so it bogs down very easily. With a Dremel, I end up wasting half of my time waiting for it cool down, after it overheats every couple of minutes.
FSRTs are very different. There’s a large external motor that rotates the handpiece (chuck) through a flexible shaft. The shaft is made up of a flexible plastic pipe that encloses a titanium coated spring which encloses a stiff spring-like rod which is what the motor rotates- all of which are flexible to increase maneuverability and reduce friction. Since it has a large, external motor, it’s much stronger, and I’ve never come close to overheating the motor, even after hours of non-stop work. While it spins only at half the no-load speed (18,000 RPM), I still work at lower speeds because the motor is quite powerful, unlike my Dremel where I need to turn up the speed to compensate for the weak motor. Another upside to the FSRT is that it comes with a foot pedal, so I can control the speed with my foot.
I’ve also found that holding a Dremel can be uncomfortable, because you have to make sure not to cover the air holes that pass air through to cool down the motor. FSRTs also come with larger chucks, but this usually isn’t relevant for cutting metal. Once I used a carbide burr to cut off a metal rivet, something I wouldn’t have been able to do with a Dremel due to its small chuck.
One downside is that the flex shaft requires more maintenance, the inner shaft requires relubrication every 50 hours of use, and if you stall it (if a disc gets stuck, a burr catches in your shirt, etc) the inner shaft can break. Replacements are very cheap, though cleaning dirty grease is never fun and takes a while to clean up. After ~200 hours of use, the handpiece in my FSRT overheats, likely because grease from the shaft got into the handpiece bearings and is increasing the friction, so I’ll have to replace it or the bearings inside.
If you need a rotary tool for doing actual work, I highly recommend a FSRT because they don’t cost significantly more. You can also get pneumatic tools, but I have no experience using any, and the sounds they make are unbearable to me.
This isn’t to say Dremels are useless, they just aren’t made for the work I do. They are more portable and can be operated with one hand, without the need for supporting the foot pedal. also you can get cordless Dremels!
There are three main types of cutting discs (wheels), with major differences:
- Tend to shatter immediately (see the video for slow-mo of this!)
- Wear out in less than a minute, faster than it takes to replace them.
- If you aren’t cutting tiny pieces that require extreme precision and a thin kerf (cut thickness), these are useless.
- Not all non-reinforced discs are this thin, I’ve had more success with thicker ones, but can’t find any unfortunately.
- Don’t fill the air with stinky abrasive dust, so they’re great for working indoors or around sensitive components (bearings, etc)
- Are available in many different sizes
- Stay a consistent size, they don’t wear out and get smaller.
- Cut slower than fiberglass reinforces abrasive wheels because the diamonds on the cutting edge wear out, with heat likely being a factor, though this requires more research.
- The sides of the discs are coated with diamond dust, which makes them amazing for grinding! I’ve had a single disc last for more than 10 hours of grinding steel. about this in the step about the chisel.
Step 2: High-tension Hacksaw (15)
Hacksaws are by far the simplest and most versatile tool. a must have for every workshop. but there are many different kinds. which is why this requires 2 steps!
Hacksaw Basics: How to buy and use a hacksaw.
In my opinion, the most important thing about a hacksaw is the ability to tension the blade. A high tension hacksaw is ideal, though as long as there’s some type of mechanism for tightening it, it will work. A tight blade won’t bend, is less likely to break, and will help you cut straight.
In terms of blades, I use blades with larger teeth (low TPI) for cutting aluminum because they cut very fast, and the rough edge they leave can be fixed quickly for soft materials. For harder materials, I use high TPI blades, usually HSS or bi-metal. The difference between them hasn’t been noticeable in my experience, though that’s likely because I cut scrap steel whose hardness is unknown, so it’s hard to compare. The real question is simple at what point you replace the blade, but it’s an economical question.You can even get carbide grit and diamond hacksaw blades that can cut through hardened steel and other materials, though I’ve never used these. If you have any experience with them, I’d love to update this Instructable with your experience and credit you!
I’ve encountered this odd debate online about the TRUTH FACTS LOGIC You’re doing it WRONG of how a blade should be mounted in a hacksaw. which way the teeth should point. But I find it’s not that complicated. Blades are meant to be used in a way where the force is applied in the direction in which the teeth point to. So there’s no “correct” way. Before cutting, think of the position you’re in, and whether it makes more sense and is easier to push or pull the saw, and that’s how you should mount the blade. So if you’re trying to cut an underground pipe, make sure the teeth point forward and FOCUS on pushing the blade. And if a short kid is cutting a bolt that’s mounted in a tall bench vise, make sure the teeth point backward, and FOCUS on pulling the blade.
While you should let the blade do the work and not apply too much additional pressure, hacksaws can be a great workout that uses your whole body (I only realized this after spending a whole day cutting, and ending up with sore muscles that I didn’t even notice I was using!), but a nightmare to use during hot summer days! And with enough practice and muscle memory, you’ll be able to cut things very straight (see picture 6).
If you find that you aren’t able to cut accurately with a hacksaw and can’t afford more expensive tools, consider buying a miter box for your hacksaw (see this or this). Miter boxes usually come with additional slots for cutting at 45° miters.
Step 3: Mini 6″ Hacksaw (5-20). and
Small hacksaws. Yes, there is a difference!
Small hacksaws use thinner blades that come in handy under many different circumstances. Thin blades allow you to cut faster and require the removal of less material. Very often, even the highest TPI blades (in large hacksaws) get stuck in thin material such as metal tubing with thin walls. I use mine mostly for cutting bolts, since the blades fits right between the threads of even the smallest ones, unlike my larger hacksaw where the blade can jump and “dance” off. I’ve even used it to repair the worn-out notches of an antique bar clamp!
Mini hacksaws are more of a light-duty tool and usually aren’t as comfortable for continuous use, without much variety in blades, that break often if abused.
In the video, I also show a simple trick for cutting multiple bolts to the same size, and without having to worry about damaging the threads.
In my experience, one-sided hacksaws that don’t allow you to tension the blade are basically useless (see the 3rd to last picture). Instead of having to break blades, I made a small hand saw from a broken jigsaw, utilizing the blade clamp for replacing blades quickly! Metal cutting jigsaw blades are shorter, thicker, and stiffer (see the last picture).
Step 4: Jigsaw (40)
While a woodworking jigsaw cuts faster than a hacksaw, I don’t recommend it for long term use. if you have adequate alternatives. I’ve used mine to cut metal several times and it works. but it doesn’t cut as precisely as I can cut with a hacksaw, and using it for long periods of time is an absolute nightmare, the vibrations destroy my hand and make it go numb, and there’s plenty of research proving that years of prolonged use of vibrating tools can lead to nerve problems.
Trimming a small piece off the edge of the material I’m cutting can also be challenging because the shoe (base) needs to be supported on both sides, though I show a solution to this problem in the video. but it’s not practical for multiple cuts. Sometimes starting the cut with a hacksaw can also make it easier.
When cutting steel with a jigsaw, keep your fingers well away from the shoe. I once had a blade catch in a piece of square tubing on the down stroke, and on the up stroke it came crashing down in my thumb AT FULL SPEED! Not something I would recommend. believe me!
However. with all that said, I don’t think it’s a tool that should be avoided: for making curved cuts in sheet metal it’s ideal. but making straight cuts in thick steel. not so much.
Reciprocating saws, like jigsaws, also utilize a reciprocating blade. I’ve never used one so I can’t speak in terms of vibration, and there is a wide variety of different blades you can buy for different materials. some of which might fit in a jigsaw blade clamp, despite being intended mostly for demolition work. I’ve also found this drill powered reciprocating saw attachment, in case all you have is a drill.
Step 5: Circular Saw W/ a Carbide Tipped Blade (50)
I tried cutting metal on my horrible, antique, guard-less, drill powered circular saw, that had over a millimeter of play in the blade (arbor).
And to my surprise, it worked much better than I had expected. so well I bought an actual circular saw. I bought a corded Worx mini 710w circular saw. (If you’re interested in this saw, I have a detailed 5-min review video on it)
First, I tried using my circular saw to cut aluminum, the same way I would cut wood. and it worked perfectly! It cut very fast (~30x faster than hacksawing), and as long I was careful, it left a smooth edge, even on a solid aluminum rod (see picture 5).
Next, I also tried cutting brass flat bar. Cutting it took more time, but it also worked very well.
After that, I moved on to steel, knowing it would be the hardest to cut. I adjusted the blade height and cut successfully through steel flat bar. Next, I tried cutting through stainless steel, and the blade just wouldn’t budge, and I didn’t want to push it through with too much force. The stainless didn’t feel hardened, but suspecting it had damaged the teeth, I tried cutting through thin aluminum angle, which it cut through easily.
I quickly built an improvised chopsaw using an door hinge (don’t try this!), and tried to cut through rebar, failing multiple times, and despite securing it properly, the rebar flew off while cutting, which I caught on a slow-motion camera. it’s in the video! I didn’t know if it would cut all the way through, but expected it to cut at least half way, yet it didn’t budge. I have a few theories for why this happened, since I’ve seen rebar being cut easily with a carbide tipped blade in the past. The blade was damaged, the 3 carbide tipped blade I bought was very cheap and had low quality carbide teeth, they didn’t have the right geometry, I was cutting at the wrong angle, and the hinge had way too much play in every direction. my fault.
This, as expected, destroyed the blade, breaking off half of the carbide teeth, so I moved on to the next step. cutting sheet metal! Vibrating and rattling material can break off teeth, so I decided to try something new. I clamped the sheet metal between two sheets of plywood, which I clamped to my workbench, effectively eliminating the possibility for any vibrations could ruin the saw blade. To my utter surprise, my circular saw managed to cut through it without stalling the motor, though I could clearly hear it was struggling, definitely something I will be repeating in the future.
Most circular saws are larger than mine, and using a small blade in a large circular might theoretically not be a bad idea because small blades are supposed to spin faster, and larger circular saws are supposed to spin slower. The slower the speed, generally the longer the blade will last. This is measured in FPM. Always follow the instructions and do your own research!
I reached out to two professionals with my questions, and here are their replies:
John Heisz: “Here’s what experience has taught me: the deeper the blade is, the faster (and cooler) it will cut, but the greater the risk of snagging on the metal with the blade shallow, it will cut slower, run a bit hotter but is much less likely to catch on the steel. If you are cutting metal that’s thick, (1/4″ or more) it’s better to have less teeth cutting the metal at a time, since the teeth can’t snag as easily. So deeper is better in that instance.” Though John has deleted his reply for an unknown reason.
Wide Vision Metal Fab started using woodworking blades originally because they were significantly cheaper than metal cutting blades, and claims they last the same amount of time: “I never had [carbide] teeth fly off or explode, but they could chip if in a bind. But the “correct” blades also can chip when in a bind. About the only difference I could tell between the blades was the metal chips. They seemed to be cooler and smaller with the steel cutting blade, which makes sense given the geometry of the teeth, and that wood is softer, which means more can be removed by each tooth.” WVMF has since stopped using woodworking blades because they were too small by a fraction of an inch, and the price of metal cutting blades has decreased.
I didn’t ask, and none have advocated for it. so try it at your own risk. If you have experience in these subjects, I’m curious if you have any recommendations regarding lubricating the blade, using diamond blades, and your overall experience.
In addition to standard circular saw best-practices and common sense, stay safe!:
- Always use safety glasses! The blade shoots tiny pieces of metal everywhere, consider also wearing a face shield
- Never remove the blade guard from your circular saw.
- Use a blade with as many teeth as possible. I used a 4″ (110mm) 40 tooth blade. Larger blades should only be used if they have more teeth.
- If the blade suddenly explodes, will you be in the line of fire? Make sure your face, hands, legs, other people, or any Windows won’t get hit, and always stand to the side.
- Always make sure that the material you’re cutting is not hardened steel. Try filing off a bit with a file, if the files slides off without its teeth biting into the material, it’s hardened and should not be cut with a carbide tipped blade. Cutting hardened steel can cause the teeth to chip, sending small, sharp pieces of carbide everywhere very fast. and it the worst case it can cause the whole blade to explode.
- Don’t overtighten the bolt that holds the blade.
- Don’t use a blade with damaged teeth, inspect it before each use.
- Don’t put a carbide tipped steel blade in a saw made for abrasive discs (the opposite)
- I’ve seen carbide tipped blades with large slots (I believe these are for cooling and reducing sound), and would avoid using them because they’re likely more prone to bending sideways.
- If you plan on using yours a lot, I recommend investing in a proper “cold cut” metal cutting circular saw that’s built for the job, with adequate RPMs and proper chip collection. Check out Milwaukee and Evolution.
Step 6: Circular Saw With an Abrasive Disc (50)
An angle grinder cutting disc in a circular saw? I tried this a few years ago and got called every name in the book. for no reason, so I knew I had to do it again!
As I outlined in the previous step along with other recommended safety precautions, cutting hardened steel with a carbide tipped blade in a circular saw is a horrible idea. But how about using a disc that’s engineered to cut steel?
I bought a 2 angle grinder cutting disc (also known as a cutoff wheel), but it wouldn’t fit as it was meant for an angle grinder with a larger arbor. I rummaged around in my collection and found a washer whose internal diameter fit my circular saw, and whose external diameter was just slightly smaller than the internal diameter of the cutting disc. It fit, but was too thick, so I spent a few minutes sanding it down, and used it to bolt on the disc along with another thin washer to assist in spreading the clamping force. I recommend turning the saw on and off several times for a few seconds. It should feel and sound normal, if you feel any vibration, the disc is off centered and should not be used.
I decided to try it first on hardened stainless steel tubing (don’t use these on soft metals) that dulled a hacksaw blade in less than a minute. Once again, I was surprised at how quickly and cleanly it cut, leaving a square edge with only a small burr. I also cut through the same piece of rebar from the previous step and threaded rod easily, with virtually no wear on the disc. So it’s a huge success.
Other than the possibility of abrasive dust getting trapped in the bearings, I have yet to hear a logical explanation for why this shouldn’t be done. Circular saws spin slower than angle grinders, have additional guards that protect you from the blade, and have a base plate that can help you cut accurately. The instructions for this saw say not to use an abrasive disc, though this makes no sense because it comes with a diamond blade for cutting. you guessed it. abrasive materials.
Step 7: Shears (10)
Shears, also known as tin snips. I choose to use them whenever possible. As long as what I want to cut isn’t too thick, the act of shearing will always be faster than cutting with a saw blade. They make quick work of angled tubing, especially steel drywall studs and aluminum angles. Cut, use them to bend, cut again, and repeat if necessary.
If you’re planning to make many cuts, I recommend wearing gloves. Not only do they shear metal, but the continuous pressure creates a lot of shear stress between layers of skin and can cause nasty blisters. Also, whenever possible, I try utilizing something to press the shears against, my workbench, the floor, or (in) a bench vise, and use the weight of my body instead of the muscles in my hand.
Dull tin snips tend to warp/bend the material they’re cutting, but if you have a rotary tool, there’s no reason to have dull tin snips. All I do to sharpen them is match the angle which they were sharpened to originally, and remove a bit of material with a diamond disc.
Step 8: Bolt Cutters (20)
I found these half-mangled bolt cutters (accidentally!) in the dumpster of a construction site. They were probably used on rebar, rendering the middle of jaws useless (though they can be sharpened!). Despite being able to use only the front part of the jaws, I’ve used them to obliterate almost everything I’ve tried so far, saving time cutting on materials I didn’t want to cut by hand.
But there’s a problem. one that leads me to believe they were called bolt cutters for legal reasons. Despite being called bolt cutters, they are completely useless as cutting bolts. if you want to reuse the threads.
But for cutting random steel parts. you can’t beat them. I’ve even used them on hardened steel (this can be dangerous), they just cut everything.
A trick I’ve found for cutting large steel rods is to nibble away at them slowly with the tip of the jaws, then cut them, wedging the jaws into the rod. I used this technique to cut a large steel rod to be used as weights for a homemade light stand. I even tried cutting through pliers since I got the impression they weren’t hardened, but failed (see the last picture).
I’ve never used them, but Knipex sell compact bolt cutters and flush cut bolt cutters that have one flat side than can be used for cutting bolts without destroying them
Step 9: Chisel (0-20)
This is the only tool that you need to make to be able to use, but it’s very simple. I got inspired to try making it when I first saw Matthias Wandel using this technique to cut sheet metal for an electrical box. I would’ve never imagined it was possible.
It can be made out of virtually any flat piece of hardened steel: an old chisel, masonry chisel, flat screwdriver, spade drill bit, or maybe even a carbide-tipped chisel made for stoneworking.
I found an old chisel that was made in Japan, assuming its steel was going to be hard enough. I scraped away all of the spackle hoping it didn’t have any asbestos, ground away all of the rust with a diamond disc in my flex shaft rotary tool, and used a fiberglass reinforced abrasive wheel to cut a new angle as close to square as I could, making sure to keep it cool. I’m sure I could spend whole week testing and optimizing the cutting angle (or even adding a micro-bevel), but I find it doesn’t matter that much. the sharper the angle, the faster it’ll dull.
If you show what you’ve done to a woodworker and they get mad, congrats, you can move on to the next step!
It’s simple: use the vise jaws as a guide for cutting on the line, hammering and shearing metal as you go. It worked much better than I had expected, especially when the rectangular hole I made was too small, and I used it to carve away a few slivers of steel. faster than filing could ever be. (see the 2nd to last picture)
Ideally, I wouldn’t hammer through the handle, but I couldn’t think or a better idea that would still be easy to hold.
If you find the cutting edge is rounding over, here are several reasons for why that might be happening:
- The angle you sharpened the chisel to is too sharp.
- You’re hitting hardened steel, which it can’t cut.
- What you’re cutting is too thick. Try cutting it slowly with the corner of your chisel
- Your chisel isn’t hardened. It could be a cheap chisel, or it got too hot during the grinding process and the steel got annealed.
Step 10: Brute Force. Pliers. Metal Fatigue. Improvise (it’s Free!)
The last idea. is an odd mix of many ideas. I often find myself stuck without any tools that can cut metal, and have to improvise.
Pliers, can be used to bend small pieces of metal back and forth and cause it to break due to metal fatigue, a technique I’ve used many times. Sometimes I just use my hands to generate leverage and break bolts, welds, connections, etc. In one instance, the best way to break apart dozens of welds was to bash them continuously with a brick that was laying across the street. Violence FTW!
Once I was able to salvage four large threaded rods from an odd bathtub stand. I didn’t have a saw to cut them off (it would have taken hours anyway), and I didn’t have two wrenches to undo the nuts, so I just bent the steel around the bolts, bolt by bolt, until it broke.
Step 11: Even Tools!
Don’t forget to watch the YouTube video if you haven’t already!
- I find that more expensive tools buy you accuracy and save you time, usually not much more.
- If you’ve bought any metal cutting tool and are happy or regret the decision, I’m interested in hearing why!
- If you’re like me and love building your own tools, don’t forget to check out The Ultimate Collection of DIY Workshop Tools, which contains dozens of Instructables on all sorts of homemade tools, perfect for your budget!
If my tools aren’t don’t suit your needs, check out these specialty more expensive tools:
- Portable bandsaw ( you can convert it). Also cordless Portabands (how adorable!)
- Drill-powered nibbler
- Abrasive chop saw (like step 6, but cuts more accurately faster)
- Carbide blade “cold cut” saw: Circular saw or Miter saw. (like step 5, but more accurate faster)
- Reciprocating saw. Also cordless ones, an alternative for hacksawing. And crazy carbide blades!
- Plasma cutter
- Impact driver powered shears
- Fein oscillating tool
- A uhhh. 100K Waterjet (YouTube)
Are you following me on Instructables? Join 1000 members that don’t miss my future Instructables by clicking the Follow button! (located at the top of my member page)
I read ALL Комментарии и мнения владельцев, and reply to as many as I can, so make sure to leave your questions, suggestions, tips, tricks, and any other ideas in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев below! Thanks!
Be the First to Share
Did you make this project? Share it with us!
Repair and Reuse Contest
Комментарии и мнения владельцев
Try a Radio Shack Nibbler tool on thin/soft metals. manually operated, great for cutouts in aluminum boxes for electronic projects,Typically 12 they said on Googol. I also own an air-shear Noomatic! runs off a compressor. HFT cheapie! Had the HFT air file and used it once, then forgot about it for years. Went to use it again and Kaputski! No repair parts from HFT and they had closed out the item. One of these days I’ll have to take it apart and hope I’ve the right O-rings! Nice tool when it worked!
Terrified of an angle grinder but perfectly happy to use a hand held circular saw?!
Hi Great Info! I purchased a Decent Cutoff Saw 6” Blade from HarborFreight for under 50. I needed something to Cut long Round Aluminum Dowels into sections to use on my Mini Metal Lathe. Works very well, with the blades that HF sells for it that we’re 3 for 7 I think (I found EXACT SAME blades on eBay for 60 )Lee
Yes, it feels safer with the additional guards and lower RPM.
The higher RPM means you can cut with significantly less pressure and therefore have far more control. I really suggest you overcome the fear. if you’re happy with the handheld circular saw then you already know how to handle similar tools safely.
I’ll try one day. So far I’ve been pretty impressed at how well a cutting disc works in my circular saw. I was able to cut through a 1x5cm (3/8×2″) steel bar recently in less than 5 minutes which is probably a tenth of the time I would spend hacksawing. with better results. The 1-2min I would save with an angle grinder aren’t worth it. yet! 🙂
You need a portaband if you’re cutting thick steel. I have one and I cut through a 2″ bolt in a few minutes.
I mean you’re not wrong there, the time (and elbow grease) saved over a hacksaw is the real benefit
Definitely. I’ve been avoiding projects I want to make with thick steel. not anymore!
I guess my point is that you don’t need to worry 🙂
I have mostly stopped cutting metal with abrasive tools after I got my hands on good metal cutting saws. The exception would be metal that is harder than what the saws are rated for.Saws provide cleaner cuts with little to no heating, and the parts require much less work afterwards.
Aluminum, brass and other soft metals can be cut by good wood cutting machines. If you want to know if your chop saw is good enough for soft metal, put a good wood cutting blade in it and cut a piece of wood. If the cut edge of the wood looks like it is polished, the saw is good enough. Then just buy a non-ferrous cutting blade of the right size for the saw and you are good to go. Carbide wood cutting blades can cut these metals, but it pays in the long run to buy the right blades for the material you are cutting.If the wood edge is rough, even with a good saw blade, the saw is wobbling or vibrating too much. If you try to cut metal with this saw, those vibrations will both rough up the metal you are cutting and damage your metal cutting saw blade. Over time you will spend more money on replacement blades than you would by getting the right saw in the first place.
Don’t try to cut steel with woodcutting machines. They run too fast. The main difference between wood cutting and steel cutting machines is the speed. You can sometimes see people converting wood cutting Band saws to steel cutting by reducing the speed of the blade. This works if the conversion is done well.
Clamp down everything as much as possible, both the tool and the material you are cutting. You want the energy of the tool to be used on cutting, not on vibrating stuff and breaking expensive blades. For the same reason, always use cutting oil, even when using a hacksaw. If the steel or the saw blade heats up, the saw may bind, requiring even more force.
Jigsaws and reciprocating saws (Sawzall) saws should be avoided if possible.They do not support the blade end well enough. Steel cutting Band saws are much better, and are not that expensive anymore.
The carbide blade “cold cut” saws mentioned in the list at the end of the Instructable are wonderful tools if used right. They cut steel like butter. A hand held tool like the Milwaukee circular saw will necessarily wear blades faster than a miter saw, but clamping down a straight edge and being careful not to let the saw wander will allow the saw to produce clean, straight cuts with almost no heating. Not cheap, but worth it if you need it. It really saves time. I don’t regret getting mine.Video by someone really going out of their way to abuse this saw here:
What is a Hacksaw?
A hacksaw is a handheld tool used to cut through materials like plastic tubing and metal pipes. Its cutting mechanism is provided by removable blades which feature sharp teeth along their outer edge. Before using a hacksaw, it is important to understand how the tool works, as failure to do so can lead to broken blades, wasted materials, and even injury.
In most cases, a hacksaw consists of a metal frame that resembles a downward-facing U. A handle of plastic, wood, or metal is typically affixed to one end of the frame. The frame’s ends feature adjustable pegs that can be tightened to secure a blade in place, and loosened to remove it.
Hacksaw blades are long, thin strips of hardened steel that feature a row of teeth along their cutting edge. Each end of the blade is punched with a small hole that fits onto the saw frame’s pegs. Most blades range in length from ten to 12 inches (25.4 to 30.48 cm), although six-inch (15.24 cm) blades can be purchased to fit smaller hacksaw models.
The number of teeth on a blade can also vary. This figure is expressed as teeth per inch (TPI). Most hacksaw blades have a tooth distribution that ranges from 14 to 32 TPI. Tool experts recommend that, while cutting, at least two teeth should be in contact with the material being cut at all times. Thus blades with a higher TPI are best suited to small, thin materials, while those with a low TPI are useful for materials that are large or thick.
When cutting with a hacksaw, the user should first select an appropriate blade and, using the blade pegs, fasten it onto the saw’s frame. The object to be cut should be secured in place, ideally with a vise or similar device. To begin sawing, the user should center the tool’s teeth on the cutting target. He should then make long back and forth strokes with the saw, using slight pressure if necessary, until the desired cut has been achieved.
To avoid broken tools, wasted material, and injury, hacksaw users should follow a few basic operating principles. First, all body parts should be kept away from the saw’s blade while in use. Further, the item being sawed should be firmly secured into place to prevent it from slipping and potentially striking or cutting the user. Finally, to prevent breakage, saw blades should be oiled before use and thoroughly cleaned afterward.
You might also Like
AS FEATURED ON:
AS FEATURED ON:
Discussion Комментарии и мнения владельцев
@zeak4hands. I only have a mini hacksaw, but I use it for metal and plastic. I do a lot of 3D artwork so having a hacksaw makes cutting out complicated shapes a snap.
If you’re cutting smaller piping, you can do what I do. I strap it to a flat board.- like a 2×4.- with either duct tape or a belt as tight as I can. It holds it still and I don’t have to sit on it. I use a lot of dowel in my work and I always duct tape it down to cut it.
@zeak4hands. You might try using an actual pipe cutter. They’re not as versatile as a hacksaw, but they get the job done. Pipe cutters work for both metal and plastic.
There is an adjustable pipe clamp out there by HM. It’s a little expensive, but if you do a lot of pipe cutting.- it might be worth the cost.
You also might try changing your hacksaw’s blade. The slipping might be just because the blade is too dull. amsden2000 July 15, 2011
@Zeak4hands. I’ve tried the sitting-on-it technique too! I don’t cut piping with my hacksaw, but plenty of boards. C-clamps are good for holding whatever you’re cutting still.- but I don’t know if that would work on piping since it’s rounded.
You might try a Bessey H pipe clamp. They aren’t too pricey, but you have to get different ones for each size of piping. They aren’t adjustable. It’s better than having the blade slip around and it gives you a flat edge to line the saw up with. zeak4hands July 14, 2011
If anybody else is going to use their hacksaw to cut metal piping, make sure you hold it down correctly. Since the piping is round, I’ve had the blade slip up. Even when I’m cutting plastic piping.- the blade can still slip around all over the place.
As silly as it sounds, I usually sit on one side of the piping to hold it still while I cut it. It keeps it in place and I can still press as hard as I need to cut it. It’s a pain in the butt.- figuratively and literally.- but it works.
What is Hacksaw and How To Use it?
A hacksaw is a tool that comes with sharp teeth. It can cut almost anything mostly hard substances. It is available in different sizes and designs which makes it ideal for different purposes. The hacksaw is powered manually and serves great for cutting different metals including steel, brass, aluminum, iron, and copper.
It is equipped with a single handle. There are exceptions for some models that have two handles to offer better comfort. It features a straight and wide blade that is under stress in a C. An adjustable design features a U-shaped steel bow frame. There are also hacksaws with an adjustable frame.
What Are The Applications Of Hacksaw?
Hacksaws can cut different types of materials. The handy cutting tool lets you use it for the following purposes.
- Cutting metals like rods, pipes, and bars into the desired length.
- Suitable for cutting woods and plastics.
- Ideal for cutting thin materials. The blade of the saw can be damaged while cutting thick materials.
- Perfect for sawing and cutting.
- Usually used by professionals such as electricians and plumbers for cutting conduits and pipes.
- Hacksaws are suitable for industrial purposes as well as household works.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Hacksaws?
Here are the different types of hacksaws that you should be aware of.
Power Hacksaw: A power hacksaw is machine equipped and is generally powered by an electric motor. In some cases, it is also connected to a stationary engine. It is perfect for larger tasks. These types of hacksaws are easy to handle and let you save time and effort. It helps to create a precise cut. A power hacksaw is now not so common in metalworking industries.
Sawing Machine: Next comes the sawing machine which is perfect for cutting material bars into appropriate sizes and lengths. A sawing machine is also easy to use and helps in quick performance. It is classified into a circular saw, Band saw, and reciprocating saw.
Automatic Cut-off Saw: With an automatic cut-off saw, you can cut workpieces into different sizes. It features a control memory that stores different programs. One of the best things about these is that you can control them by touching keys. These types of saws are basically used for heavy work.
Junior Hacksaw: Also called a mini hacksaw, these are perfect for metalwork and woodwork classes. It is perfect for DIY purposes and can be used for different purposes. However, these types of hacksaws come with a restricted blade.
Handheld Hacksaw: Suitable for small jobs, a handheld hacksaw features a metal arch and a pistol grip handle. The teeth can be inwards or outwards and can be used in push or pull forms.
Panel Hacksaw: In a panel hacksaw, you will find a deep thin sheet frame. This makes it ideal for cutting panels of sheet metals without any restriction by the frame.
What Are The Different Types of Saw Blades Used?
The following are the different types of saw blades you should be aware of.
- Flexible Blade: As the name describes, the blade is very flexible as only the teeth will be reinforced. It is perfect for cutting thin sheets of metals as well as plastic tubes and pipes.
- Medium Grade Blade: A medium grade hacksaw blade comes with 20 to 24 teeth/inch of the blade. You can use it for cutting metals like cast iron, aluminum, brass, and high carbon steel.
- Fine Grade Blade: Similar to the flexible blade, a fine grade hacksaw blade is also used for cutting thin sheets of metals. They usually come with 24 to 30 teeth per inch of the blade.
- Superfine Grade Blade: The superfine grade hacksaw blade has 30 to 32 teeth per inch of a blade. You can use it for cutting not only thin sheets but also solid metals
- Course Grade Blade: Equipped with 14 to 18 teeth. Course grade hacksaw blades are ideal for different purposes. It can be great for cutting metals like mild steel, copper, aluminum, and brass.
Additionally, hacksaw blades are also classified as Regular, Wavy, and Raker.
- Regular: In a regular blade, the teeth are set in such a way that they will touch each other. They are suitable for cutting soft materials.
- Wavy: A wavy blade comes with teeth placed from left to right. It can be perfect for cutting hard and thin metals in a wavy pattern.
- Raker: A raker blade is suitable for cutting thick materials. In this, the teeth are in three sets.
What Is The Frame Type for Hack Saw?
You will find hacksaws that have both adjustable as well as fixed frames. In an adjustable frame, the length of the blade can be 10 to 12 inches. However, in a fixed frame, there is only a single blade length. There are also handles that can accommodate blades of different sizes. These types of frames feature a hole that makes them move left, right, up, and down.
What Are The Different Materials Can Hacksaw Cut?
A hacksaw lets you use it for cutting different materials. This makes it perfect for professionals like plumbers, handymen, and electricians. The versatile tool will meet all your sawing needs and you can power it either manually or with electricity. They are typically used for cutting materials that are harder and stronger than wood. Here are the materials that a hacksaw can cut.
- Wood: You can use a hacksaw as a handsaw. This makes it perfect for cutting wood. Even though you can use your hacksaw for cutting wood, you will not be able to use your handsaw for cutting other materials.
- Plastic: Another popular material that a hacksaw can cut is plastic. By utilizing the right type of blade, you can easily cut through hard plastic.
- Metal: One of the biggest advantages of a hacksaw is that you can use it for cutting metals. Whether it is steel, copper, or brass, you can use it for cutting metal pipe rods.
- Tubing: Whether it is electrical, metal, or plastic tubing, your hacksaw can cut it.
What Are The Safety Measures For Using Hacksaw?
It is important to maintain better safety while using a hacksaw. You will have to make sure that the teeth are pointed away from the handle. The adjuster on the frame or handle must be turned so that it will slack into the spigots. Once you do it, you can tighten the adjuster. When it comes to using a hacksaw with safety, always use gloves for hand protection and eye protection gear.
If we have to discuss the cutting task, you will have to choose the material carefully by reversing the blade to cut. Do it nicely by pushing and pulling the stroke. Make sure that you do it carefully and slowly. While cutting metals, there can be tremendous heat and the likelihood of damaging your blade can be high. For this reason, it is important to use oil on the blade which helps to reduce friction and keeps the temperature down.
We have discussed what a hacksaw can perform. What is more important is that you use it safely. Always clean the blade properly and use light oil that helps to prevent overheating and damage. Make sure that you use it for cutting the right type of material. After you are done using the blade, you will have to secure it carefully by keeping the teeth pointing forward. Also, the frame of the saw and the blade must be properly aligned. Again, you will have to choose the right type of blade for cutting the appropriate material.