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What is a hacksaw? Whether you’re a casual DIY fan or a professional, it helps to understand this powerful tool. Hacksaws are often used by plumbers, electricians, and even creative sculptors. We’ve taken a look at everything you need to know before you use one.
Hacksaws are saws with small teeth. They are powered by hand rather than by a battery. You can use them to cut through a variety of tough materials, including plastic and metal.
What is a hacksaw used for?
A hacksaw is built to cut through materials like metal and plastic. The goal is to shear through these easily, without taking up too much of your energy. When cutting wood, the tool is usually called a bowsaw. Hacksaws are more heavy-duty than bowsaws.
You’ll most commonly see these tools used by e mechanics, electricians, and plumbers. Anyone who frequently works with metal or PVC pipe.
Some of the typical uses include:
- Cutting through hard plastic
- Shaping metal sheets to the correct size
- Sawing through pipes when installing or uninstalling plumbing
Can I use a hacksaw to cut metal?
The main purpose of a hacksaw is cutting through metal. The teeth are short and sharp enough to bite into piping and sheeting. At the same time, you can move the saw precisely enough to get an accurate cut.
It’s important to understand how to use this tool and how to be safe in your technique.
When to Use a Hacksaw
You’ll want to use a hacksaw when you need to cut through hard materials like metal pipes, sheet metal, and thick plastic. If you’re planning to cut through wood, you’ll want a bowsaw instead. Bowsaws are similar in shape, but they’re optimized for different materials. Hacksaws have a greater number of teeth, referred to as teeth-per-inch or TPI, which lets them do metal cutting.
Using the saw is relatively simple, as long as you understand how the blade works. Since you’re using your own strength, you don’t need to worry about electrical cords or maintenance.
When you want to use a hacksaw on your piping, these are the steps you should follow:
- Tighten the blade to the appropriate tension. The blade should be tense enough that you can shear through the metal without any hassle.
- Make a mark on the pipe at the place where you plan to cut.
- Line the cutting blade up against the mark, taking care to place it at the correct angle.
- Using the handle, drag the teeth of the blade back and forth along the pipe until you’ve sawed through it.
There are a few quick safety tips that you should keep in mind as well.
For one, you should use safety glasses and thick gloves to prevent potential injury. It’s possible that metal shards will fly off the pipe during the process.
Similarly, you should be aware that hacksaws often create sharp metal edges. The pipe might be too sharp to touch with your bare skin, and doing so might cause injury.
You should read your owner’s manual for information about how to achieve the appropriate blade tension, how to maintain the hacksaw for ongoing use, and how to get the most out of the product.
Parts of a Hacksaw
Hacksaws have a fairly simple design. The U-shaped frame has a handle on the curve. On each side of the hacksaw frame, there are pins. These hold the blade in place. You then turn a tension knob until the frame’s length extends, which locks the blade and causes tension.
The more tension a blade has, the more easily it will shear through metal. But you don’t want to overstretch it, either. Blades can cut either when you push or pull. Since you tend to have the most power upon pushing, that’s the most common setup.
Every hacksaw comes with these basic parts:
- A handle for holding and controlling the movement
- A tensioner knob to increase and decrease the tension
- The tensioner mechanism, which is controlled by the knob
- A hacksaw blade, which is responsible for cutting through metal and plastic
- Pins, which hold the blade in place while you use the knob to lock it
- The frame, which allows you to position the blade at the right angle to get the perfect cut
The handle might be shaped like a D or like a pistol grip. It’s also common for hacksaw models to have dual adjustable frames.
What to Look for in a Good Hacksaw
Hacksaws were originally called hacksaws because of how roughly they cut. They were known for making sharp, uneven cuts on metal. But today’s saws tend to allow for much more precision. A reciprocating saw can be used for most metal jobs, but a hacksaw is the best for delicate precision.
There are several different types of hacksaw available today. The right one for you will vary depending on the job.
Regardless of the type of hacksaw you get, you’ll want to meet these qualifications:
- The frame is sturdy and easy to stabilize.
- The handle is ergonomic, so it’s comfortable to hold onto while doing long jobs. Look for a hacksaw with a pistol grip handle.
- You can pivot the blade at an angle, allowing you to make precise cuts in sheeting and piping.
- The tensioner can be easily adjusted, so you don’t have to worry about wrestling with it.
Many hardware manufacturers make solid hacksaws, but Stanley’s tends to be the best and most affordable option for professionals.
Differences Between Hacksaw Types
Here’s what you need to know about the differences between different hacksaws if you want to choose the right one:
- Six-inch junior hacksaws are available for those who only need to do small jobs.
- Some heavy duty options can hold 10 and 12 inch blades interchangeably, making them more versatile.
- A mini hacksaw comes with a handle and blade without a frame, so it functions more like a knife than a traditional saw.Pivoting blades are best when they can move to a 45 degree angle, as this lets you make flush cuts.
- The tensioner mechanisms vary depending on the model. The best one is whichever is both strong and easy to use.
Hacksaws have been used by professionals for decades. Though they used to be known for their ragged cuts, today’s models are good for delicate work. They are often used by mechanics and electricians on jobs that need more precision than a reciprocating saw can manage.
The best tools are easy to adjust, with blades that can cut at whatever angle you need. Consider whether you need several different blade sizes, a compact model, or a model built specifically for precise shaping of metal sheeting.