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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

A hacksaw blade is available in different TPI (teeth per inch) to best cut a specific range of material thicknesses.

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 blade to cut thinner material thicknesses without getting hung up in the material (ref. section: 32-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview).

Hacksaw blade tooth (TPI) comparison

14-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview

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

Use a 14-TPI blade to cut thick metal (over 1/8″) will speed up cutting compared to an 18-TPI blade.

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 1: 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. I also tried a Morse 14-TPI blade and had the same ineffectiveness.

I find that a 18-24 TPI blade works well for cutting wood; or switch to a dedicated wood cutting hand saw for better performance.

Note 2: 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 guidelines.

  • 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 3: 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 that cuts heavy metal regularly may want to experiment with a 14-TPI blade compared to using a 18-TPI blade.

18-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview

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. A heavy-duty utility knife works well to deburr the PVC after each cut.

Note: 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″, which the DeWALT 18-TPI blade cut effectively too. A confusing discrepancy in DeWALT’s 18-TPI nominal material thickness recommendation.


24-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview

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.

Note 1: Lenox rates their 24-TPI blade to cut 3/32″ thru 5/16″ for hardened materials, but a wider range of softer materials can be cut.

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

Note 2: Use a power or hand miter saw to make highly accurate cuts. 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!

32-TPI Hacksaw Blade Overview

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.

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

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

Note 1: 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).

Note 2: 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.

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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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