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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.

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How to choose a hacksaw blade

For any DIY’er, even the most basic tool collection should consist of a hacksaw. You’ll be able to tackle many indoor and outdoor cutting projects, but to get the most out of these saws, you’ll want to use the best matched blade for a particular cutting project.

The following chart is a general guideline. Continue reading to find more in-depth cutting information for each blade.

How blade TPI relates to material

Hacksaw blade tooth (TPI) comparison

The lower the TPI…the larger the gap between teeth…and the longer the tooth. This allows more material to be removed and cleaned out with each saw stroke, thus saving time in the cutting process.

The higher the TPI…the smaller the gap between teeth…and the shorter the tooth. This allows thin material to be cut without getting hung up on the material. Reference the section below (Cutting with a 32-TPI blade).

Cutting with a 14-TPI hacksaw blade

Cut thick metal 1/8″ – 1/2″ (3.2mm – 12.7mm), including: steel, stainless, aluminum, and brass.
Square Bar Round Bar Plate / Sheet Angle Structural

Finding 14-TPI blades at local home improvement stores may not be possible and many of the hacksaw blade brands don’t even offer a 14-TPI model.

Now that I mention this information, these reasons may be why I don’t recall ever using a 14-TPI hacksaw blade in the past.

But we got our hands on these blades anyways in order to complete our hacksaw blade guide.

I am not sure why blade manufacturers suggest using a 14-TPI blade for cutting wood. As I said, I don’t recall using a 14-TPI blade in the past, so when tests were performed on a number of wood applications, I was left confused as to why it’s a recommended blade TPI for wood. Whether, trying to cut softwood or hardwood, a 14-TPI hacksaw blade is near hopeless, but does get easier to cut with once heavily broken in after multiple cuts through heavy metal. The blade gets hung up constantly in the material; creating a lot of struggle.

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 hacksaw blade and it’s struggle to cut wood with such low tooth count.

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

Cutting thick metal with a 14-TPI blade works well…but. Unlike the struggles with cutting wood, cutting thick metal proved to be more successful. Although, if I were to be consistently cutting heavy metal, which a 14-TPI blade is designed for, I’d be using a power tool or cordless saw.

Final thoughts – Considering a 14-TPI blade isn’t easily found locally like all the other blade types, and has such limited use for a homeowner, I don’t see a need to purchase these ever again. However, a tradesman that may regularly require a hacksaw to cut heavy metal, may want to experiment more with a 14-TPI blade compared to using a 18-TPI blade.

Cutting with a 18-TPI blade

Details and video in progress

Cutting with a 24-TPI blade

Details and video in progress

Cutting with a 32-TPI blade

More details and video in progress

A 32-TPI blade is required to cut thin material, e.g. electrical conduit and copper pipe, so you can actually cut the material and not just hook into it, therefore impeding 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

Hacksaw Cutting Tips

There are a few variations of hand hacksaws; be sure to match the blade length to the 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 hacksaws that accept both 10″ and 12″ blade lengths.

Lenox Full-Size Hacksaw Frame

A 10″ blade commonly fits many mini hacksaw frames too. The mini saws work great in tight confines where a full-frame saw doesn’t fit.

Bahco Mini Hacksaw Frame

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 can be more demanding in creating a precise cut on rigid material.

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

A small detail to consider? Sure! And may not be needed most times, especially when using a miter box with saw guides. But 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.

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.

Use a Miter Box
The use of a miter box; e.g. cutting a replacement shower door seal, will help make a more precise cut, and gives you a cutting surface. If needed, use small trigger clamps (4-6″ models) to secure both the miter box and material to a workbench or tabletop.

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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Hand Tools

Uses of a pick-up retrieval tool and how they work

Eliminate the frustration and struggle of recovering items in tight spots.

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4-Claw grabber tool buying guide

A pickup retrieval tool may be better known in the automotive world to recover bolts, screws, and washers that have fallen in hard to reach areas, but there are also plenty of uses in the household for these specialty tools.

For any object that has fallen…gotten stuck behind…or under a very confined area, you will be greatly aided with a compact grabber tool for retrieval.

Many times over the years I’ve found these to be great go-to tools in recovering:

  • Laundry that has fallen behind washing machines and dryers, or furniture.
  • Batteries that have rolled under washing machines and dryers, or furniture.
  • Anything that may have fallen down a sink drain.
  • Keys or small toys between car seats.

Flexible Claw Pick-up Tool

OEMTOOLS 4-Claw lighted pick-up tool 25293
OEMTOOLS 4-Claw lighted pick-up tool 25293 Maxcraft 4-claw lighted pick-up tool 60184 Mayhew 4-claw lighted pick-up tool 45046 OEMTOOLS magnetic lighted pick-up tool 25209

The small diameter flexible shaft easily fits in most tight spaces and the 4-claw models are good for non-ferrous items that magnetic models alone cannot attract.

Try one of the claw and magnetic combination pick-up tools for the ultimate in retrieving magnetic and non-magnetic items.

LED models are available to help see in those low lit spaces.

Update: As of 2017, the Tekton tool brand has discontinued both their claw and magnetic retrieval tools, but existing inventory may still be available online.

How To Use 4-Claw Models: Press the top knob while holding the grip with your index and middle finger. The claws will extend out and apart. Release the knob to collapse the claws, and grab hold of the object. Repeat Step 1 to free your object.

Telescoping Magnetic Retrieval Tool

Telescopic magnetic pick-up tool
Telescopic magnetic pick-up tool Tekton LED Telescoping Pick-up Tool 7610 Tekton telescoping pick-up tool 7601 General Tools telescoping pick-up tool 759398

These telescoping magnetic pick-up tools can mimic the look and size of a pen when completely collapsed, but extend in increments of up to 2-feet or more when needed.

This small, yet long, tool is great for retrieving batteries, screws, or any other ferromagnetic object that has rolled under or fallen into tight spaces.

Want a larger grip area and stronger magnet? There are models available to fill those needs too.

How To Use: Extend shaft to needed length for retrieval. Completely collapse shaft for easy storage.

All products listed in this buying guide were chosen by DIY House Help based on independent research and analysis performed by our editors. However, not all products listed in this buying guide have been purchased and independently tested by our staff. When a retailer is listed, this is purely a suggestion for the convenience of our readers, but we are not obligated to endorse specific retailers. However, some of the links we provide throughout the site may earn us an affiliate commission when you decide to purchase.
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Hand Tools

Safely check for voltage with a non-contact voltage detector

A non-contact voltage detector is a simple, safe, and relatively affordable device to detect the presence of voltage.

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Santronics Ultimate AC Voltage Detector

This is one of the easiest tools to use. Simply touch a cord or insert the tip into an outlet. The tip of the detector will light up if power is present, while some models also have an audible alarm as a secondary indicator. These are very safe and useful tools to address any home electrical project.

Replacing or testing a switch or receptacle: I’ve been guilty of using a small appliance or portable fan as my power indicator to confirm that I’ve turned off the appropriate power breaker. Not 100% safe. These voltage detectors have a tip that fits inside the receptacle to properly detect power and are 100% safe.

Open ended wires: If you ever locate or discover open-ended wires, you want to know if power is present before addressing.

Power strip troubleshooting: A power strip may have one or more outlets that are not working. You can test if the power strip itself is receiving power or an individual outlet is not transferring power.

Broken wire: Go along a cord or wire path and see where the power is disrupted. When testing power cords keep in mind that the internal wires are wound together in a spiral. You may have to move the detector around or along the cord to find the live internal wire. Also, non-contact voltage detectors do have sensitivity variations between brands and models.

Spiral Wound Electrical Wires

Terms and Descriptions

Voltage Rating: Depending on the voltage range you want to detect, be sure to choose a detector or possibly multiple detectors that suit your needs. Some voltage detector models come with dual-range, so you can detect low and high voltage.

A typical single household circuit ranges from 110-240 VAC. The difference between a 600 or 1000 VAC detector will most likely not be an issue for homeowners. The high ratings are for professionals that want to read full voltage coming into circuit panels, etc. Again not something typical of a homeowner that is not experienced, trained, or properly licensed to work with.

Low voltage wires, e.g. thermostat or doorbell, are typically rated for 24 VAC and lower.

Automotive electrical systems range from 12-16 VDC.

CAT III: Refers to measurements on hard-wired equipment in fixed installations, distribution boards, and circuit breakers. Other examples are wiring, including cables, bus bars, junction boxes, switches, and socket outlets in the fixed installation.

CAT IV: Rated test instruments are designed for testing on the primary supply source, which also includes 120V or 240V overhead or underground lines that power detached buildings or underground lines that power well pumps. The CAT IV rating covers the highest and most dangerous level of transient over-voltage.

WARNING: Electrical Hazard. US household outlets range from 120-240VAC and can cause serious injury or death. Turn off power at the breaker panel when working. Contact a certified Electrician or HVAC tech if unsure of your DIY capabilities.

Comparison Guide

All non-contact voltage detectors have an LED indicator light and replaceable batteries.

Some models come equipped with an audible alarm as well, which may have a silence option.

Product availability and specs may change. Please check a manufacturers website for the latest information.
Manufacturer
& Model
Voltage
Range
CAT
Rating
Audible
Indicator
Work
Light
Power
Switch
Battery
Type
Extech DV40 + IR Thermometer 50 – 1000VAC CAT III – 1000V 3 x LR44
Extech 40130 100 – 600VAC CAT III – 600V 2 x AAA
Extech DV20 100 – 600VAC CAT III – 600V 2 x AAA
Extech DV24 50 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Extech DV25 Dual-Range 24 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Extech DV26 100 – 1000VAC CAT III – 1000VAC,
CAT IV – 600VAC
2 x AAA
Extech DV30 Adjustable Sensitivity 12 – 600VAC CAT III – 600V 4 x LR44
Extech DVA30 + Current 12 – 600VAC,
200mA to 1000A
CAT III – 600V 4 x LR44
Fluke 2AC VoltAlert™ 90 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Fluke 1AC-II A1 VoltAlert™ 90 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Fluke 1AC II A2 VoltAlert™ 90 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Fluke 1LAC II A VoltAlertT™ 20 – 90VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Fluke 1AC II E1 VoltAlertT™ 200 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Fluke LVD2 Volt Light – Dual Sensitivity 90 – 600VAC CAT IV – 600V 1 x AAA
GreenLee GT-12A 50 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
GreenLee TR-12A 50 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
GreenLee GT-16 Adjustable 5 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 1 x AAA
Klein NCVT-1 50 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Klein NCVT-2 12 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Klein NCVT-3 w/ LED Bar Graph 12 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Milwaukee 2202-20 50 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Milwaukee 2200-20 50 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Milwaukee 2203-20 Dual-Range 10 – 49VAC,
50 – 1000VAC
CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Santronics Ultimate AC 50 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Santronics AC 50 – 1000VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Santronics Low AC 24 – 90VAC CAT IV – 1000V 2 x AAA
Santronics DC 6 – 50VDC N/A
Sperry VD6504 50 – 1000VAC CAT III – 1000V,
CAT IV – 600V
1 x AAA
Sperry VD6505 – Adjustable 12 – 1000VAC CAT III – 1000V,
CAT IV – 600V
1 x AAA
Manufacturer
& Model
Voltage
Range
CAT
Rating
Audible
Indicator
Work
Light
Power
Switch
Battery
type

Final Thoughts

Please view all the brands and models we put together in the buying guide to learn the features and what may work best for your needs. We personally tested and compared a few brands, including: Milwaukee, Klein, Santronics, Fluke, and there were notable differences.

  • Each varied on the audible sound levels. I would like to see manufacturers list this in their specs as it is important to some) and frequency of the beep, which could get annoying or welcomed, depending on the person.
  • Some models have no work light, while the Milwaukee units have a very bright light.
  • Static electricity is read by all the units, however will only causes flashes of light and single chirps instead of steady light and steady audible alarms for true voltage. The Santronics is the only brand without an audible off switch, but doesn’t create an audible sound for static electricity, which is a nice feature.
  • We found brands like Milwaukee, Klein, and Fluke are very sensitive. The Santronics had to be much closer, if not touching a wire that was open or has sheathing, before the indicators would activate. Though all brands and models tested had to make contact with the exterior of a cord before detecting voltage.

Note: A response from the Santronic said, “Our voltage testers are manufactured, printed, and packaged in the US.”

All products listed in this buying guide were chosen by DIY House Help based on independent research and analysis performed by our editors. However, not all products listed in this buying guide have been purchased and independently tested by our staff. When a retailer is listed, this is purely a suggestion for the convenience of our readers, but we are not obligated to endorse specific retailers. However, some of the links we provide throughout the site may earn us an affiliate commission when you decide to purchase.
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Hand Tools

Review: The Channellock ratcheting 13 ‘N 1 is an outstanding all-in-one screwdriver

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Channellock 13n1 ratcheting screwdriver

I came across the CHANNELLOCK® 13 ‘N 1 ratcheting all-in-one screwdriver in a local tool house and thought, “this is the first brilliant multi-bit driver worth buying”. And my initial instincts were right.

Of course a solid screwdriver shaft always comes in handy for those random prying needs, but that’s the only disadvantage any interchangeable bit screwdriver has in my opinion.

An interesting, yet welcomed fact when doing research for this article, I came to realize that MEGAPRO makes the driver for CHANNELLOCK. After viewing the MEGAPRO site, I wish I knew about all their great drivers years ago. I no longer need to grab and carry a handful of drivers. All the popular bits are in one unit.

What makes this a great ratcheting screwdriver?

Fit the CHANNELLOCK 13n1 Ratcheting Screwdriver in a tool bag or drawer and you’ll always have a very capable tool when you need to remove or insert a screw. The provided bit types address the most common fastener heads.

Channellock 13n1 Ratcheting Screwdriver

Dimensions: Overall Length = 8.75″ / Handle Length (minus locking collar) = 4.75″

  • Well Built: Solid construction and feel.
  • Comfortable: Rubberized and textured grip.
  • 3-Position Head: Locked | Ratchet forward | Ratchet reverse.
  • Handles Tough Fasteners: 225 lbs. torque allows even the most difficult fasteners to be removed and inserted.
  • 360-degree Bit Carousel: The pull out carousel holds 6 double-sided bits and freely spins 360-degrees when pulled out. The snap shut feature (think cabinet hinge action) of the carousel ensures the carousel stays securely closed when pushed in.
Square Tip Screw HeadSquare Tip Phillips #2 Screw HeadPhillips Tip Slot Tip Screw HeadSlot Tip Torx Head Screw TipTorx Tip
#1 #0 #4 #10
#2 #1 #6 #15
#2 #20
#3 #25
CHANNELLOCK 13n1 360-degree spinning carousel

6 double-sided tips and the 1/4″ hex shaft make up the standard 13 ‘N 1 drive options

The ratcheting action makes quick work and requires less effort compared to a standard screwdriver.

CHANNELLOCK 13n1 drive settings

3 drive options: 2 ratcheting + locked

Bit Type and Replacements

Channellock 13n1 Replacement Bits

The screwdriver comes with ¼-inch bits with a pressure fitted ball for securing the bit, and should always be used to ensure best use.

The pressure fitted bits are the only negative I can think of. Like most bits of this design, the bit is not completely locked in the driver and can remain in a screw head at times.

All products listed in this buying guide were chosen by DIY House Help based on independent research and analysis performed by our editors. Products were purchased at retail locations and not provided by manufacturers as sponsorship. When a retailer is listed, this is purely a suggestion for the convenience of our readers, but we are not obligated to endorse specific retailers. However, some of the links we provide throughout the site may earn us an affiliate commission when you decide to purchase.
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