Do you often find yourself frustrated by pruning needs that your clippers can't handle? Does cutting through branches vex you? You might just be using the wrong tool. A bow saw is an excellent addition to any gardener's collection of tools.
Bow saws are used for making curved and straight cuts when woodworking. They can serve a variety of other purposes as well. Since they come in so many different shapes and sizes, choosing the right one can seem daunting.
We've reviewed some of our favorite bow saws on the market today. We've also answered some questions about how to narrow down the best saw for your purposes.
Top 4: Best Bow Saws
This bow saw is available with two different blade edges. One is for wet and green wood. It has teeth that remove the wooden shavings while you cut. The other is for dry wood. It efficiently cuts through dried logs, but it will get jammed if you use it for wet and pulpy wood.
The tool makes an excellent addition to any gardener or landscaper or craftsman's toolset. It is built to deliver professional-grade results for industry workers, which means that it's a good choice if you have a lot of heavy-duty pruning to do.
According to the manufacturer, the saw is specifically made for use in the demanding and difficult environments around construction projects.
The tensioning mechanism keeps significant tension in the blade. This leads to quick, straight cuts with every stroke. An ergonomic handle is mounted near the blade. It has a hand guard that protects your knuckles from the edge of the metal. This comfortable grip allows you to retain control of the saw throughout the project.
The pointed nose of this design allows for easier maneuvering in small spaces. That makes it a good choice when you're gardening or working on the roof. The frame is also lightweight, built from steel. Enamel paint has been used as an anti-corrosion coating, so the blades won't rust or wear away.
The triangular teeth on the blade have all been hardened to the maximum level. The metal is denser and more durable than standard steel, so it won't break down during aggressive sawing sessions.
This bow saw is one of the more versatile options on the market. It can cut through a variety of different types of wood, including green wood, fireplace logs, and treated wood. Changing the blades is a simple process, and the frame is made from lightweight steel.
You can use this saw in your workshop or in your outdoor projects. It's versatile enough for use as a camping saw, wood saw, log saw, and hand saw to bring trees down.
The drive end is chambered to allow for fast attachment to the blade tightener. You can release it just as quickly. This makes it extremely easy to switch between different blades for different projects. It also allows you to install replacement blades without breaking a sweat.
The metal tubes making up the frame are crafted from hardened chrome alloy steel. This durable material is capable of performing for years without wearing down.
All of the included blades can cut deeply, making cuts of 6.5 inches through logs and trees. You can saw through the majority of medium-sized branches and even some tree trunks. Whether you're using this for green wood or for trees, this is a great hand saw.
You can also use the product for non-chopping activities. If you need to clear brush from a trail, prune your shrubbery, or cut your dry firewood into pieces, this saw has you covered. It can take on many of the jobs usually accomplished by an axe or a motorized chainsaw.
The design is built to be both lightweight and compact. You have a greater degree of control over each cut.
This folding bow saw is super easy to bring with you on outdoor excursions. It's a compact and portable tool that can be brought along on camping trips, backpacking adventures, canoe rides, hunting trips, and at-home adventures.
It's extremely easy to set up and use. The saw opens and is ready for use within seconds. You just need to unfold the sides, snap the blade into position with the locking mechanism, and you're ready to go. You don't need to do any manual tension adjustment or maintenance.
The automatic blade tensioning has no loose components, so you don't need to worry about accidentally hurting yourself. You don't even have to touch the blade itself when you open and close the model.
When folded, the saw has a length of just 21 inches. It can be tucked into a backpack or underneath the seat of a car. It's also one of the most lightweight options on the list, weighing just 18 ounces in total.
The ergonomic frame is built to deliver tension to the right places, which allows for more precise and deep cuts. You can cut through a larger diameter than most competing swords can, mostly thanks to the optimized geometry. Every single stroke has maximum power and efficiency behind it.
The frame is made from lightweight anodized aluminum. Meanwhile, the handle is crafted out of nylon reinforced with fiberglass. All of the hardware uses stainless steel components. The saw blades have been hardened for maximum durability, and then they've been coated in an anti-rust material.
Since all the pieces are connected together, you don't have to do any assembly or dissembly. All of the blade tensioning happens automatically. You never have to use tools to change the blades or assemble the product.
You can use the blade to chop firewood and create campfires. You can also use it to clear trails and prune shrubbery.
This bow saw has a slightly different shape. It uses a pointed nose design to hold the tension. Saws with a pointed nose can be more easily maneuvered into difficult spaces, so it's a good choice for pruning dense shrubbery and trees.
The design is built for use in roofing and pruning work. Whether you're a casual gardener, professional landscaper, or professional roofing contractor, this saw is designed to meet your individual needs.
This model comes with an ergonomic handle that's comfortable against the hands. The handle also has a protective D-ring grip that keeps the fingers from touching the blade. If you're nervous about your control, this might be a reassuring feature.
The blade is meant to cut through lumber and dry pieces of wood. It can't handle green wood and other moist wood.
Bow saws are a tool with a long history. The tension in the blade allows you to make more precise, straight, and high-energy cuts than you can with a normal saw. Today's models improve upon the designs of the past by using durable metal frames, automatic tension adjustment, and hardened steel edges that don't wear down.
The right bow saw just depends on what you're using it for. It's important that the blade can handle the projects you plan to do. It's also important that the design is convenient enough for you to store and bring with you to your work sites.
Whether you're a professional looking for a new tool to add to your toolbox, or you're a hobbyist gardener who wants to get into crafting, there is a bow saw on the market for you.
Overall, we recommend the Bahco 10-24-23 saw to anyone looking for a good option. It's an affordable and lightweight model with a comfortable grip and a high-tension blade. The frame can be easily maneuvered into tight spaces.
In addition, you can choose whether to get a wet or dry wood blade. Unfortunately, there is no reversible blade available.
If you want a more versatile blade that can handle dry wood and green wood, the GreatNeck bow saw is a good choice. The handle grip doesn't have the protective covering of the Bahco, but that might give you more freedom to move your fingers.
For a portable option that can be brought on outdoor adventures, we're huge fans of the Agawa Canyon folding saw. The blade unfolds and automatically tensions without needing any tools. The folded saw can be packed securely in any luggage. The blade itself is multipurpose and can cut through any kind of wood, with optimized tension for greater power.
Frequently Asked Questions
Records indicate that bow saws have been used for hundreds of years. These tools might also be called buck saws and swede saws. There are examples of the saws being used in multiple cultures all over the world, with the earliest ones being in ancient China and ancient Rome.
Modern versions of the saw tend to be constructed differently from their ancient counterparts. Instead of using a wooden frame, they tend to use lightweight metal tubes. These last longer and are easier to wield without growing tired.
Other than that, though, the modern saws are extremely similar to the ancient ones. They are built with a curved, triangle, or square frame that stretches a metal blade. This tight-stretched metal blade creates even cuts when chiseling the wood.
There are some differences in the bow saws seen across different cultures, though. British bow saws are often mistaken as the predecessor for the modern saw. Also called framing saws and frame saws, these items might look similar to modern saws at first, but they have very different blades.
British saws are built with variable tension. That means that you can relax or tighten the tension in the blade by pulling on or releasing the wire attached to the upper portion of the saw.
This is an ideal feature for crafters who need to cut at very specific angles when making their art. But it isn't a necessary feature while you're cutting wood. Arborist's bow saws, which are the type of saw you're likely to use, do not have variable tension.
Another common misconception is that modern bow saws are related to chainsaw bow saws. These saws were actually the ancestor of the modern chainsaw. The bow-shaped chainsaw was used to shear logs down into tiny segments.
Chainsaw bows are extremely dangerous tools. As such, they are almost never manufactured or used today. In fact, most forestry agencies have either outlawed them or come close to outlawing them. It's better to use a modern chainsaw, which has safety precautions and failsafes in case someone loses their control.
Bow saws can be used to handle a variety of gardening, landscaping, and forestry needs. If you have large and thick shrubs or any trees around your home, you'll need the saw eventually.
These tools work using your physical strength instead of running on electric power. They're good for projects that aren't quite heavy-duty enough for a chainsaw. They can also be maneuvered more easily than a chainsaw, since they don't need to attach to a cord or worry about battery life.
In addition to taking on small tree-related duties, a bow saw can also do the work of several other common tools. When you have smaller projects, you can use the bow saw to split wood instead of an axe or splitter.
They can be used to prune branches of medium and small thicknesses. Trees and shrubs often need to be pruned when they encroach on other parts of the yard. Upkeeping your property might seem like a constant chore, but the bow saw makes it easier. You can easily trim the branches at whatever angle is necessary.
It's even possible to chop down a tree with a small diameter using this saw. That said, you will need to be skilled in wielding it, and you'll need to take safety precautions. But the tool is extremely convenient. It doesn't require the same maintenance as a chainsaw, and it doesn't require you to swing repeatedly like an axe.
Another point is that motorized tools tend to be fairly dangerous. They're manufactured with safety switches and failsafes, of course, but those aren't a guarantee. An electric motor is powerful, and a moving blade can be destructive.
Manual tools like bow saws are significantly safer for use. It's also possible for bow saws to reach places that motorized tools can't. For example, triangular designs can move into crevices that traditional chainsaws can't reach.
Early bow saws were crafted from wood. They tended to have tension similar to a framing saw. But ever since the 1920s, the majority of modern bow saws have been made using metal tubes instead.
You can choose from two main shapes: triangular and standard.
Standard bows are curved. They look exactly like a traditional archery bow, with a C-shaped curve. A triangle bow, on the other hand, slants to the front end of the bow. The arch is positioned near the grip area instead.
A triangle bow saw is ideal for people who are going to be sawing at dense foliage. Whether the branches are within a thick shrub or a complicated bend of a tree trunk, the saw can be maneuvered into tight corners.
If you're cutting firewood or doing more straightforward projects, you'll benefit more from a standard saw. This shape allows you to easily approach the wood head-on and create straight, uncompromising cuts.
Both standard and triangle saws will make effective cuts. They're best used in different projects, though. Triangle saws work for high-precision, high-obstacle jobs, while standard saws work for straightforward and routine jobs.
Bow saws are built with two different kinds of blade edge: the peg tooth and the raker.
Peg toothed blades are built to cut through wood that is dry. These blades usually have just one tooth shape, which cuts cleanly across the wood on both the back and forward slides.
The peg and raker edges are built with two teeth shapes. Like with the peg tooth, the peg is capable of cutting during both the back and forward movement. As the blade does this, the raker removes shavings of wood from the cut. That makes it much simpler to work with wet and green wood.
It is possible to get a reversible blade from a manufacturer. On one side will be the peg blade, for dry wood. On the other side, the peg and raker blade will be for wet wood. If you want to switch back and forth mid-task, all you need to do is take the blade out and flip it over.
This is very convenient for industry professionals who need to cut through wood at job sites. You may not be able to predict what will be wet or dry. By having a saw that can handle it all, you save yourself a lot of time and hassle.
Regardless of the type of blade you get, you should make sure that you purchase a blade guard. This guard snaps tightly over the sharp edges of the blade when you're not using it. That helps ensure that no potential accidents happen when you store your blade or transport it from place to place.
Different models will have different instructions for the tensioning latch. Make sure that you consult whatever instructions came with the package. That said, the basic process for using a tensioning latch tends to be the same across most models.
In the oldest saws, the tension was maintained by using a wire. However, modern versions of the saw use a combination of a screw and a tensioning latch. The screw holds the blade in place, and the tensioning latch increases tension.
You will probably not need to adjust the tensioning latch unless you're replacing your blade. If you replace your blade with a typical modern model, you'll follow these steps:
- The tensioning latch will be loosened.
- You will remove the screw and then take the blade out.
- You will put a new blade in its place, making sure that the edges are aligned correctly.
- The screw will be tightened back up, holding the blade in place so it doesn't move.
- You'll pull the tensioning latch onto the hook. This will hold the blade taut.
- Now that the blade has been replaced and the saw is working again, you'll lock the blade guard over the edge.
The process is very simple. You don't need to worry about tightening or loosening any components. As long as you're diligent about following your instructions, there shouldn't be any danger whatsoever.
Blades in bow saws are meant to be slightly flexible. When your tension latch is in place, it pulls that flexible edge tight.
The first bow saws used the frame for gripping purposes. But when you're working with a metal frame today, there will likely be a grip mounted on the side of the tool. The grip might also be attached to the blade's tensioning system, with a handle that locks the blade so it can't move.
These built-in grips are extremely sturdy and comfortable. There might be a D-ring built in as well. This helps to stabilize your hand and keep it from sliding around as you make your cuts. You have a greater level of control and power.
You might also see bows that have a pistol grip. This textured surface will wrap around the bow entirely, so you can hold it more firmly.
Some designs have little to no grip, so you have to hold onto the metal. This isn't ideal because it means that your hand might slide around as you work. There will be significant effects on your overall control and stability.
There is no particular advantage to one grip over the others. It really depends on which feels most comfortable to you. If you can, it's helpful to try a few different bow saws before picking one. That helps you learn what you like.
If you don't think you'll have an opportunity to try out different grips, these are some quick rules of thumb:
- Gripless models put your hand in contact with the frame itself, but if your palms are sweaty, they may slide around.
- D-ring grips allow you to access a little more power when you push with the forward stroke, but they might be too cumbersome for some people.
- Covered frames have the most comfortable places to put your hands, but it might also be hard to figure out where to grip at first.