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Hand Tools

Choosing the Correct Hacksaw Blade

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

There are a few variations of hand hacksaws, but the most common will be the versions that use 10″ or 12″ long blades. These saws can be a very useful and common go-to tool for many indoor and outdoor cutting projects.

The saw blade length needs to be matched to the proper hacksaw frame size:

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How hacksaw blade tooth count affects different materials for cutting:

TPI (teeth per inch) related to minimum material thickness. Hacksaw blade thickness = .028″ (.7mm) on average.
TPI Minimum Material Thickness General Use
14 1.8mm Wood and Metal
18 1.4mm Heavy Metal
24 1.1mm Medium Metal
32 .8mm Thin Metal
TOOL TIP: Even though an object may be solid and therefore meet the TPI to material thickness requirements, you can still struggle to cut. Sometimes more passes with a higher TPI blade creates the finesse and accuracy needed.

The lower the TPI…the larger the gap between teeth…and the longer the tooth.

  • Allows more material to be removed and cleaned out with each saw stroke, thus saving time in the cutting process.
  • Starting a cut on hard material can be tricky as the tips of the teeth ride on the material longer before making a cutting groove, and the blade can slide around if forced. Gently work in a cutting groove if precision is needed.
Hacksaw blade tooth count explanation and comparison
Hacksaw blade tooth count comparison

The higher the TPI…the smaller the gap between teeth…and the shorter the tooth.

  • A high TPI blade is required on things like conduit or copper pipe so you can actually cut the material and not just hook it, therefore impeding the cutting process.
  • A higher count TPI blade can be useful in getting a cut groove started more easily, and then switch to a lower TPI to speed the cutting process.
Use a 32 TPI hacksaw blade on rigid copper tubing
Use a 32 TPI hacksaw blade on rigid copper tubing and conduit

There is another blade option that’s doesn’t have teeth.

A carbide rod saw blade can be found in 10″ and 12″ versions to fit a hacksaw and allows the cutting of glass, ceramics, marble, fiberglass, and steel.

Stanley tools carbide rod saw blade
Image Credit: Stanley Tools Carbide Rod Saw Blade

Hacksaw cutting tips to make cutting easier:

The above information explains tooth blade count in detail, but you may be surprised to know a few extra things that will maximize performance, allow you to take extra advantage of a hacksaws use, and what may be a better alternative for a hacksaw when cutting certain materials.

TOOL TIP: Like any cutting blade with teeth, let the tool do the work, whether a hand or power tool. At some point the cutting blade struggles to keep up when too much force is applied.

Blade Break In

A new blade that is not broken in can sometimes be difficult to work with (cuts hard and may jump off-line). This is even more true with a lower TPI blade that is already more demanding in creating a precise cut.

A test cut can be helpful, as it removes some of the finish on the blade and tooth machining burs, which then allows the blade to work more smoothly.

This break in process helps eliminate any errors on the final cut piece as you now have a blade that cuts more easily and precisely.

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Cutting Very Thin Material

Even with trying to use the proper blade, very thin material like sheet metal, gutter material, etc. can be difficult, and may move around when trying to cut. Using a metal cutting snip on flat material, or a circular saw with a metal cutting blade on 3D objects works better.

How to cut a shower door sweep
A basic miter box helps cut a straight edge

The use of a miter box; e.g. cutting a replacement shower door seal, will help secure the material to be cut, and can be accompanied by clamps for even more assistance.

Cutting PVC

A standard hacksaw can be used for PVC cutting, but there are specific PVC hand saws and blades designed with a taller blade and lower TPI to make PVC pipe cutting easier.

Lenox PVC plastic pipe hand saw
Image Credit: Lenox PVC/ABS plastic pipe hand saw
Tags : metal cuttingwood cutting