There are a few variations of hand hacksaws, but the most familiar and widely used hacksaw will be the full-frame models that use a 10″ or 12″ long blade. These hacksaws are very useful and a common go-to tool for many indoor and outdoor cutting projects.
To get the most out of these saws, you’ll want to use the best matched blade for a particular cutting project.
First thing first – the saw blade length needs to match your hacksaw frame size.
- The 12″ blade is the most common and used in all full-frame high tension hacksaws.
- There are a few economical adjustable full-frame hacksaws that accept both 10″ and 12″ blade lengths.
- A 10″ blade commonly fits many mini hacksaw frames too.
Hacksaw blade quick guide
Matching the proper TPI to the material is the most essential for cutting. What brand of hacksaw blade to use falls under the personal preference category in my opinion.
I have mainly stuck with Lenox blades because they are readily available, have worked fine for my use, and Lenox is a tool brand I respect overall. I have experimented with other brands of hacksaw blades over the years, but always find myself going back to Lenox for the reasons given.
|TPI||Minimum Material Thickness||Purchase|
|Wood and Thick Metal Use||14||1.8mm|
|Heavy Metal Use||18||1.4mm|
|Medium Metal Use||24||1.1mm|
|Thin Metal Use||32||.8mm|
|Glass, Ceramics, Marble, Fiberglass and Steel||Carbide Rod||–|
How does blade TPI relate to material?
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.
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.
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.
Note: 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.
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.
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.
A standard hacksaw can be used for smaller diameter PVC cutting, but there are specific PVC hand saws and blades designed with a taller blade and lower TPI to make larger diameter PVC pipe cutting easier.
What’s wrong with a using standard full-frame hacksaw? For large diameter pipes, or any large material, the space between the top beam of the hacksaw frame and blade limits cutting material diameters that fit in this space, unless you cut partial way through then turn the material, which can lead to an uneven cut.