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How to choose the right hacksaw blade

By using the appropriate TPI hacksaw blade; your cuts will be quicker, cleaner, and more accurate.

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How to choose a hacksaw blade

To make an effective cut and get the most efficiency from a hacksaw, the blade TPI (teeth per inch) needs to match the specified material thickness.

The following chart is a general guideline, based on Lenox hacksaw blades.

Blade TPI and nominal material thickness varies slightly between blade manufacturers. This information is printed on individual packaging and we suggest following manufacturers guidelines for best results.

We’ve made a few notes describing the possible variations from one blade manufacturer to the next.

Note 1: 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 specifications.

  • 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.

Note 2: 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″.

The DeWALT 18-TPI blade also effectively cuts a minimum of 1/8″ thick material. A very confusing discrepancy in DeWALT’s nominal material thickness.

Note 3: Material thickness (not diameter) relates to blade TPI. When cutting a tube – the wall thickness relates to the required blade TPI – and not the overall diameter.

Continue reading to find more in-depth TPI blade and material cutting information…

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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 different blade TPI to cut a minimal material thickness without getting hung up in the material. Reference the image: Cutting with a 32-TPI blade.

Hacksaw blade tooth (TPI) comparison

Cutting with a 14-TPI hacksaw blade

1) Cut thick metal 1/8″ – 1/2″ (3.2mm – 12.7mm), including: steel, rebar, stainless, aluminum, and brass.
2) Cut U-channel / C-channel, etc. with a minimum wall thickness of 1/8″.
Square Bar Round Bar Plate / Sheet Angle Structural

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. We also tried a Morse 14-TPI blade and it too suffered the same ineffectiveness to cut thick wood.

Considering a hand saw to cut wood has an even lower TPI blade, I’ll chalk this up to the more generic design of a a fine-tooth hacksaw blade and its struggle to cut wood with such a low tooth count.

If you want to cut wood with a hacksaw, a 18-24 TPI blade works effectively.

Cutting thick metal with a 14-TPI blade works well. Using a 14-TPI blade to cut thick metal (over 1/8″) will speed up the cutting process compared to a 18-TPI blade. Although, I question the need for a homeowner projects.

Speed tests are an estimation based on hand cutting. New Lenox hacksaw blades were used for consistency.
Material 14-TPI 18-TPI
1/8″ Steel U-Channel 27 sec. 30 sec.
1/2″ Rebar 24 sec. 26 sec.

Note: 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 may want to experiment with a 14-TPI blade compared to using a 18-TPI blade if hand sawing heavy metal regularly.

Cutting with a 18-TPI hacksaw blade

1) Cut thick metal 1/8″ – 1/2″ (3.2mm – 12.7mm), including: steel, rebar, stainless, aluminum, and brass.
2) Cut tubing, U-channel / C-channel, etc. with a minimum wall thickness of 1/8″.
3) Cut wood 1/2″ and larger.
4) Cut PVC 1/2″ and larger.
Square Bar Round Bar Plate / Sheet Angle PVC / Tubing

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. Use a utility knife to deburr the PVC after each cut.

Cutting with a 24-TPI hacksaw blade

1) Cut thick metal 3/32″ – 5/16″ (2.4mm – 7.9mm), including: steel, stainless, aluminum, and brass.
2) Cut tubing, U-channel / C-channel, etc. with a minimum wall thickness of 3/32″.
3) Cut wood 1/16″ and larger.
4) Cut PVC 1/2″ and larger.
Square Bar Round Bar / Wood Dowel Plate / Sheet Angle PVC / Tubing

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.

As an example: Lenox rates their 24-TPI blade to cut 3/32″ thru 5/16″ for hardened materials, but you have more cutting flexibility on other materials.

  • Cutting PVC with a 24-TPI blade is just as effective as using a 18-TPI blade.
  • Rough cut wood lumber and wood dowels from 1/16″ and thicker.

Because of the softer materials compared to hardened metals, material thickness isn’t as much a consideration.

Note: For precision cutting, a power or hand miter saw is recommended. I recommend the Nobex Champion 180 miter saw for many reasons, including: quick and precise cuts without the dust of an electric miter saw. Great for indoor projects. We’ll be doing a future review of the Nobex saw.

Cutting with a 32-TPI hacksaw blade

1) Cut metal up to 1/8″ (3.2mm), including: steel, stainless, aluminum, copper, and brass.
2) Cut U-channel / C-channel, etc. up to 1/8″.
3) Cut rigid copper tubing and conduit.
4) Cut wood 1/16″ and smaller.
Square Bar Round Bar / Wood Dowel Plate / Sheet Angle Tubing


A 32-TPI blade is a must when cutting thin material, e.g. electrical conduit and copper pipe. The short and closely spaced teeth can cut the material – and not just hook into it (impeding the cutting).

Use a 32 TPI hacksaw blade on rigid copper tubing

Use a 32 TPI hacksaw blade on rigid copper tubing and conduit

Stay at the lower range of specified material thickness. A 32-TPI blade is rated to cut material up to 1/8″ material, but a 24-TPI blade cuts just as effectively and faster for materials above 3/32″ (roughly).

Cutting gutter downspouts. Once in a while a gutter downspout gets damaged and needs replacing. Unfortunately, a hacksaw (even with a 32-TPI blade) isn’t an economic solution to cut a new downspout to length. The ultra thin material causes the teeth to get hung up. For cutting gutter and downspout material use a circular saw with a metal cutting blade.

Additional information

Combining a hacksaw with a basic miter box is an economical way to help make more precise cuts.

Read our replacing shower door seals article on how a hacksaw and miter box is a great solution for cutting new shower seals to length.

How to cut a shower door sweep

A basic miter box helps cut a straight edge

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. vernon aguirre

    August 11, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I am cutting stainless steel 1/4″ solid rod and want a smooth cut. Which blade should I choose?

    • Editorial Staff

      September 12, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      A 32 TPI blade is what you want to use, but you may still have to use a metal hand file to deburr.

  2. L lamaur

    October 12, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    This is great basic information and is a help to me. thanks,

  3. Ellen Martin

    May 14, 2016 at 6:58 am

    I appreciated the information very much. I had bought a hacksaw with three blades, but there was no information regarding which blade to use for metal and which one for plastic. I did not want to ruin one as two of them looked similar – one had 24TPI and the other 10TPI, but didn’t say which one was for metal.

    • Editorial Staff

      May 15, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Hi Ellen,
      Thanks for the comment and glad the article was informative. I don’t think there were any further questions?

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