Best Hand Saw – Cut The Fancy Go Primitive

Everyone loves to use a quality power saw, but sometimes there are jobs where a hand saw is preferable - even necessary.  Our best hand saw guide will cover exactly what you use them for, and then recommend some of our “top picks” if you are looking to make a purchase.

Top Rated Hand Saws Based on Amazon Reviews

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Top Rated Hand Saws Based on Amazon Reviews

Stanley Handsaw

Stanley 20-045 15-inch Fat Max

Bahco Handsaw

BAHCO 2700-XT-7 24-inch Saw

Stanley Contractor Handsaw

Stanley 20-inch Contractor Grade Saw

Stanley Sharp Tooth Saw

Stanley 20-526 15-inch Sharp Tooth Saw

WHAT IS A HAND SAW?

Hand saws are just what they sound like - a saw that you use to cut things by hand.  Hand saws are important tools for certain jobs, as there are times when a power saw won't fit into the space you need, or times when you are far away from a source of electricity.  Let's talk about some times when a hand saw isn't just handy (pun intended), but is necessary.

best hand saw

​Job #1:  Cutting a 6 x 6 Post.

After you use a power saw on all four faces of a 6 x 6 (or larger) timber, you'll still have a little stem left in the center​ that the power saw can't quite reach.  A quality hand saw will do the trick quite nicely.

Job #2:  Cutting Rigid foam​

Cutting rigid foam insulation​ can be tricky.  A power saw is just too much, sometimes splitting the foam or making a mess of things.  A utility knife can score it nicely, but you don't always get a clean break.  Using a quality hand saw both scores and cuts the foam perfectly.

Job #3:  Trimming Trees

Grabbing a hand saw can be the quickest and easiest way to prune trees and cut dead branches off, especially in hard to reach places where a power saw is either overkill or too big.

Job #4:  Trimming a Door Jamb

​This one should be obvious, but you simply can't fit a power saw of any type at the bottom of a door frame in the correct position to trim off the door jamb.  

So how does a hand saw actually work, how does it cut material?  Before answering that question, there are a few terms to get out of the way.  First, there are the teeth - these are the sharp, pointy metal pieces all along the blade of the saw.  The more teeth, the finer the cut, but the slower the cut too.  Fewer teeth generally means a faster cut, but a more coarse cut too.  The space or trough between the teeth is called the gullet.  Also, each tooth has a face, a back, and a point - these terms should be self-explanatory. 

Here's how Bob Vila describes the cutting action of the saw:

​The sawteeth on a saw blade work by making two grooves in the material being cut. The sawdust is pushed out of the resulting kerf by the bevels on the teeth. 

Bob Vila 

HOW TO USE A HAND SAW

A hand saw is one of those tools where you watch an expert do it and you think “oh, that looks easy!”  

Then you try it and find out that there is a fair amount of skill and finesse involved.

So if this is your first attempt at using one, start with some pieces that you aren’t too emotionally attached to – that’s all I’ll say!

One of the most important parts of successfully using a hand saw is allowing the saw to do the bulk of the work.  Many people try pushing really hard, forcing the blade to cut too fast. This just won't work!  You want to start with a backward motion, allowing the saw to cut the first groove.  Once you get the groove started, then smoothly push back and forth, allowing the saw to do the cutting.  Check out this video to get an idea:

TEETH PER INCH

Another important measurement is teeth per inch or TPI for short. Like many power saws, there are a variety of blade styles available for hand saws. Generally speaking, the finer cut you need the more teeth you need on your blade.

So if cutting a piece of trim such as a baseboard or crown molding, you'll want to have more teeth per inch. For more coarse or rough cuts, you’ll be using blades with less teeth per inch, AKA a wider separation between teeth.

GENERAL HAND SAW BUYING TIPS

Before we talk about our top picks for best floor top and bench top hand saws, I want to give you some things to look for when evaluating any particular model.

  • What size do you need? Hand saws come in a variety of sizes.  If you want one to fit in your tool chest, consider a 20 - inch (or maybe even smaller) size.  
  • What will you be cutting? Do you need to cut trim that will look nice?  Buy a hand saw with a higher TPI.  Are you cutting 2 x 4's for framing?  But a hand saw with a lower TPI.  The lower TPI saw will cut faster, but keep in mind that it will not cut as precisely as one with a higher TPI, leaving you with a rougher cut.  
  • Quality Materials above all. The handle, the blade, etc. should be made with high quality materials (not plastic or cheap metal). Always make sure you check into what these items are made of and read some reviews about the cut quality before making a purchase. A hand saw is something you don’t want to skimp on – buy quality and it will last and make great cuts for you.

Without further ado, let’s dive into our picks for the best hand saws in several different categories:


BEST HAND SAW FOR FINE CUTS

Overall, if you are into woodworking or getting into it, then you really do need a high quality hand saw. As they say, if you “buy on price, you buy twice.”

The 15-inch Stanley Sharp Toothed Saw is a great hand saw for fine cuts.

best hand saw

Stanley 15-inch Sharp Tooth Saw

WHY WE LIKE IT:

  • 12-teeth per inch. Great go-to saw for those fine cuts when a nice finish matters - such as baseboards, crown-molding, or other trim pieces.
  • Induction-hardened teeth.  The teeth on this saw stay sharper up to 5 times longer than standard hand-saw teeth, making it a great value.  Click here to read about induction-hardening.
  • 15-inch length.  It's shorter length makes it a great candidate for your tool-box.  While it's shorter in length, it still does a great job at cutting - and won't wear you out!

“Great saw! It's good and sharp!  The blade is sharp and will hold up well. The handle is strong and very well made. It also feels good in the hands. Stanley makes good stuff! I would buy it again!” 

​“This saw makes crosscuts in softwood fast and straight, I prefer it to a circular saw for most work. Also works well in plywood. Don't get me wrong this doesn't replace a full size circular saw for production work but when I am making single custom cuts throughout the day nothing is more portable and faster then a good hand saw ... and this is a good hand saw.”

The video below is made for an older model with a wooden handle, but you can still see the saw in action.

Perhaps one the best things about this saw overall is the solid, 1-piece construction.  The handle is welded so that there are no rivets to come loose as it ages.

Don’t just take our word for it, click here to read more verified reviews.

BEST HAND SAW FOR ROUGH CUTS

Once again, we found the Stanley Sharp Tooth Saw to be of great quality and value for rough cuts.  The 20-inch, 8 TPI model did the trick for us.

The really nice thing about this model is the quick and easy way it cuts.  It's comfortable in your hand, cuts quickly, smoothly, and easily.  The blade thickness is just right so that it's thin enough not to make too large of a channel between your wood pieces, but think enough that it helps to minimize blade wobble while you're trying to cut.  

This is a longer blade, and so naturally will be a bit pricier than the shorter models.  But with the longer blade you can cut faster since you'll have more blades cutting with each stroke of the saw.

best hand saw

Stanley 20-inch Sharp Tooth Saw

WHY WE LIKE IT:

  • Bind-Resistant Blade. The thickness of the blade makes it resistant to binding or warping while you're trying to cut.
  • Can do Rip cuts or Cross Cuts. Whether cutting with or against the wood grain, this saw does the trick.
  • Long-lasting sharpness. The blades stay sharp for a long time due to the induction-hardened teeth.

One “serious hobbyist” described the Sharp Tooth saw this way: 

“I've had several iterations of this saw, which I regard as one of my most valuable tools when I'm out of the shop and far from a source of power. It cuts cleanly, quickly, and resists binding even going through 6x6's.

The teeth retain their set and sharpness far better than most other hand saws I've owned.”

WRAP UP

I go back to what I said earlier – if you buy on price, you usually end up buying twice. So if you are already interested in woodworking and think you’ll make good use of it, go with the Stanley 20-inch Sharp Tooth Saw.

It can do everything you need and is made with high quality materials.

If you are looking for a shorter saw to fit in your tool-box, the Stanley 15-inch Sharp Tooth Saw is still made very well with a consistent performance.

Best of luck with your decision!